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On The Horizon

April 30, 2009

Summer's on the doorstep so I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a few Bay Area performing arts events that I'm excited about:

San Francisco International Arts Festival: Despite having its budget slashed by the City of San Francisco a few months ago, this year's SF Arts Festival still has some treats in store. The international lineup includes Sasha Waltz & Guests (Germany), the Akhe Group (Russia), Ranferi Aguilar & Los Hacedores de Lluvia (The Rain Makers, Guatemala) Cho-In Theatre (South Korea), Smita Nagdev (India) and that Gamelan Sekar Jaya, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Bond Street Theatre in collaboration with Exile Theatre of Kabul, Jeff Curtis/Gravity, Scott Wells & Dancers and Ana Nitmar with Ixim Tinamit (People of Corn). The Festival runs from May 20 - 31.

Porgy and Bess at San Francisco Opera: Gershwin's beloved opera had its San Francisco premiere in 1977. This acclaimed new version directed by Francesca Zambello and starring Eric Owens and Laquita Mitchell runs from June 9 - 27.

Best of Playground Festival: PlayGround, a Bay Area nonprofit that develops and presents new plays, presents its 13th annual Best of PlayGround Festival at San Francisco's Thick House theatre. The festival features seven fully-produced new 10-minute plays by such writers as Daniel Heath, Kenn Rabin and Geetha Reddy, each of which has been written in the last several months within a four-day timeframe (from a given prompt). In addition, the festival presents readings of new full-length plays commissioned by PlayGround. Best of Playground runs May 7 - 31.

Faust Part One: One of the Bay Area's most intriguing theatrical auteurs, Mark Jackson, premieres his ambitious new riff on Goethe's Faust with the Shotgun Players at Berkeley's Ashby Stage. Jackson's epic focuses the action on the triangle between Faust, Mephistopheles, and the beautiful Gretchen. The dramatist is also co-directing and starring as the titular character in the work. The play runs from May 20 - June 21.

Robert Lepage's The Blue Dragon: Cal Performances presents the Canadian theatre-maker's exploration of modern China. The production stars Lepage himself, Marie Michaud, and dancer Tai Wei Foo and runs from June 9 - 13.

Fuku Americanus: Intersection for the Arts and resident theatre company Campo Santo present the world premiere of Fukú Americanus inspired by Junot Díaz's Pulitzer Prize Winning novel 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao'. Developed and directed by Campo Santo's Sean San José, and co-directed by The Living Word Project's Marc Bamuthi Joséph, Fukú Americanus is a tale tale about family histories, ancient curses, migration and ill-starred love.

Boxcar Theatre's Ion: As part of its free theatre initiative, San Francisco fringe theatre company, Boxcar Theatre, is presenting a free, roving, three-person production of Euripides' domestic comedy Ion at various locations around San Francisco on three Saturdays in May. Runs from May 9 - 23.

Stale Magnolias: Last, but not least, I have to mention playwright Sean Owens' upcoming drag theatre homage to the 1980s screen romance. Featuring one of the Bay Area's most luminous drag performers, Jef Valentine, the show will no doubt send theatre-goers rushing to have their blue rinses and perms at the Glama-Rama salon in the Mission District, which Owens has co-opted as a setting for the play. Stale Magnolias plays from May 2 - June 14.

The above are just a smattering of the Bay Area theatrical offerings hat caught this performance junkie's eye. I could go on, but I have other deadlines to fry. It's going to be quite a summer.

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