2013: The year’s best Bay Area theater

Dec 23

2013: The year’s best Bay Area theater

If you’re looking for the year’s best, you can shorten your search by heading directly to Word for Word, that ever-amazing group that turns short works of fiction into some of the most captivating theater we see around here. This year, we were graced with two outstanding Word for Word productions. You Know When the Men Are Gone – Word for...

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Twenty years on, Word for Word as brilliant as ever

Aug 19

Twenty years on, Word for Word as brilliant as ever

Here we thought Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart were giving a master class in the fine art of the theater. Turns out there's an equally good master class happening at Z Below, the climate-controlled new space (formerly Traveling Jewish Theater) underneath Z Space. That's where the geniuses (genii?) behind Word for Word are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a sharp-tongued, warmhearted show called In Friendship based on the stories of Zona Gale.

The nine women who founded the company, including artistic directors Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter, are all performing in the show (all together for the first time, which seems hard to believe). So there's more going on here than just another show.

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Great stories, theater and heart in Word for Word’s Men

Feb 03

Great stories, theater and heart in Word for Word’s <i>Men</i>

Sometimes it's too easy to forget we're a nation at war, and that's not at all a good thing to be able to say. But it's true, especially here in the Bay Area bubble, where the war seems especially far away. For that reason, among many others, Word for Word's You Know When the Men Are Gone is a powerful and important piece of theater. Not to mention a moving and beautiful one.

It's nice to see Word for Word, the extraordinary company that turns short fiction into fully staged works of theater without changing the original text, working in such a contemporary mode.

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Extraordinary Day dawns at the Magic

Apr 12

Extraordinary <i>Day</i> dawns at the Magic

Linda McLean's Any Given Day, now having its American premiere at the Magic Theatre, is theater for grown-ups. There's nothing fanciful or sensational about. It's basically duet conversations in two acts and less than 90 minutes. But the richness of McLean's language, seemingly so simple yet so precise in defining the characters and their relationships to each other and to the world.

The pain and sadness is palpable in these people, yet so are the passing moments of joy and kindness and good humor. McLean's world is full of the kind of emotional upheaval you only get to see when you spend time with people and see what's really happening with them under their reasonably calm, reasonably functional exterior selves. To catch glimpses of the real turmoil underneath is an astonishing achievement, and that's what McLean and this powerful production manage to accomplish.

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