Yay for Yee! Lauren Yee wins the Glickman Award

Feb 03

Yay for Yee! Lauren Yee wins the Glickman Award

San Francisco native Lauren Yee has won the 2015 Glickman Award for the best play to have its world premiere in the Bay Area. She won for in a word, a drama about the aftermath of a child gone missing, which was produced as part of the "Sandbox Series" at San Francisco Playhouse. The award comes with a $4,000 check for the playwright and a certificate of recognition to the producing theater.

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Bay Area theater 2015: some favorites

Dec 22

Bay Area theater 2015: some favorites

One of the best things about the year-end exercise to round up favorite theatergoing memories of the preceding year is that it can be such a powerful reminder of how much good theater we have in the Bay Area and how many really extraordinary theater artists we have working here. Another element jumps out at me this year and that is how, in addition to great homegrown work, our area also attracts some of the best theater artists from around the world to come and share their work (at the behest of savvy local producers, of course). Herewith, some favorites from the year that was.

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Hooked from the start on Yee’s Hookman

May 10

Hooked from the start on Yee’s <i>Hookman</i>

Leave it playwright Lauren Yee to bring clear definition to the sub-genre "existential slasher comedy." That's exactly what her Hookman is, a fascinating world-premiere play from Encore Theatre Company that draws laughs from teen speak and the usual first year of college tropes but blends in a rich and disturbing examination of loss, responsibility, maturity and what it is to be a young woman in the 21st century.

Is the man with the hook a real serial killer?

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Threats of totalitarianism have never been so fun

Dec 08

Threats of totalitarianism have never been so fun

Our sorry political state may be sending the country down the toilet, but it sure is inspiring some grand entertainment. Veep and House of Cards offer two distinct points of view on the absurdity of Beltway power mongering. Lauren Gunderson's The Taming was a comic highlight of last year's local theater scene (review here) in its exploration of political game playing.

Now we have Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's The Totalitarians, a Z Space production in association with Encore Theatre Company and the National New Play Network.

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Annie Baker’s brilliant, reflective Circle Mirror

Aug 08

Annie Baker’s brilliant, reflective <i>Circle Mirror</i>

At once the antithesis of drama (nothing's happening!) and a complete exposure of the theater's guts and bones, Annie Baker's has a particular genius for creating simplicity of the most complex variety.

Earlier this year, the Aurora Theatre Company got the unofficial Annie Baker Bay Area Festival off to a strong start with her Body Awareness about sexual politics in the small university town of Shirley, Vermont. Then SF Playhouse dazzled with the low-key but brilliant The Aliens, also set in the fictional Shirley, about three unlikely friends, music, death and growing up.

Now Marin Theatre Company in a co-production with Encore Theatre Company conclude the Bay-ker Area Fest with what has become her most popular play, Circle Mirror Transformation. Even more than the previous two Baker plays we've seen so far, this one feels even less like a play and more like an actual experience – something carefully captured in the real world and observed within the artful frame of a proscenium stage.

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The Annie Baker dead poets society

Apr 19

The Annie Baker dead poets society

So far, playwright Annie Baker is two for two in the Bay Area. It took a while for the country's hottest young playwright to make her mark locally, but she has done it now. Twice. And a third is yet to come later in the summer.

Berkeley's Aurora Theatre Company was the first to produce Baker locally with Body Awareness (read my review here). Then SF Playhouse did The Aliens (running through May 5, read my review here). The Baker trilogy concludes (at least for now) in August when Marin Theatre Company and Encore Theatre Company partner on Circle Mirror Transformation.

There's always a danger when a new playwright sizzles into popular consciousness...

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