Maryam Farnaz Rostami Has a Vision for the Future of S.F.

We know the long-term fate of San Francisco pretty well: in about 24 million years, the Mission will be somewhere near Alaska. But the fate of our city between then and now is a mystery, although the idea of an ever-wealthier, ever-whiter San Francisco in the mid-21st century isn’t terribly farfetched.

S.F. writer and performance artist Maryam Farnaz Rostami is sounding the alarms. Her one-woman show, Late Stage San Francisco (which plays for two nights at A.C.T.’s Costume Shop at the end of August), shatters San Francisco’s comforting vanity mirror and holds up its twisted reflection in one of the shards. Through the use of sci-fi and fantasy, Rostami’s cri de coeur focuses less on rants about gentrification and displacement today than about how a city of driverless cars will grapple with traffic woes. It’s not all gloom, either. This beautiful city will still be beautiful three decades hence, no matter how apocalyptic the cost of housing.

Like the shadow of a luxury condo over a children’s playground, the cost of housing tends to loom over every discussion about where San Francisco is heading.

“Nearly all my conversations among friends wind up being about real estate,” Rostami says. “How do we escape the housing market fatigue?”

With fondness for the future that never was and a determination to break through cantankerous blather about how everything sucks now, Rostami isn’t satisfied with tech-utopianism or progressive pessimism about how S.F. might turn out to be. Late Stage San Francisco might sound like the final phase of a terminal illness, but it also suggests the end of late capitalism and the birth of some new order. Now that would be truly innovative.

Late Stage San Francisco, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 28-29, 8 p.m., $25, at The A.C.T. Costume Shop, 1117 Market.

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