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SoCal Envy

September 18, 2007

It's a good thing that South West Air is celebrating the opening of its new San Francisco terminal by offering rock-bottom fares to places like Los Angeles because I'm currently experiencing a rare attack of SoCal envy and need to get myself down there to check out pretty much every show in UCLA's International Theatre Festival this fall.
Last year, I made it to Mabou Mines' jaw-dropping, midget and giant version of Ibsen's A Doll's House. (You had to see this production to believe it.) This year, there's so much badass stuff to see that I might have to make several trips.

The lineup includes:

The National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch, a piece that's based on real-life interviews with soldiers based in Iraq. The production has been getting an enormous amount of buzz since it exploded onto the scene last year at the Edinburgh Festival.

The post-modern Dutch theater company Dood Paard performing a new take on the Medea story, medEia, which interlaces visual imagery with music by The Doors, Joy Division, Twisted Sister and Public Enemy.

The Fortune Teller, a twisted, Tim Burton-like marionette play created by Gavin Friday, Erik Sanko and Danny Elfman.

The Polish company Teatr Zar's Gospels of Childhood, which mixes ancient polyphonic funeral songs with a Jerzy Grotowski approach to movement and acting.

Victoria Chaplin's circus-infused family show, Aurelia's Oratorio.

And, last but not least, Sir Ian McKellan and the Royal Shakespeare Company doing The Seagull and King Lear.

I'm foaming at the mouth just thinking about all this stuff. If only it were possible to see all the shows over an intensive weekend, rather than spread out over six months. I guess I'll have to get online and snap up a few of those $80 round-trip tickets to LAX.

On another, but not unrelated note: We get a lot of world-class visiting theater in the Bay Area thanks to organizations like Cal Performances and the co-production/presenting arms of Berkeley Rep and ACT. But with the exception of Berkeley Rep (which is bringing in Mary Zimmerman's Argonautika and Theatre de la Jeune Lune's Figaro over the next 12 months) this season is mostly lame as far as really exciting theatrical imports go. It's a fallow year. Suppose it makes the trek down to L.A. justifiable.


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