TheatreFirst reveals short, powerful HeLa

May 23

TheatreFirst reveals short, powerful <i>HeLa</i>

Chances are good that, unlike so many scientists for so many years, you have heard of Henrietta Lacks, whether from Rebecca Skloots' best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or, more recently, the HBO movie based on the book starring Oprah Winfrey as Lacks' daughter Deborah. The story continues to be told, this time for the stage, in the world premiere play from TheatreFirst: HeLa by Bay Area playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Geetha Reddy.

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Golden Thread traverses a rocky Highway

May 10

Golden Thread traverses a rocky <i>Highway</i>

In his raggedy reflective vest and with his small voice booming, Traffic spends his days unlike most 8-year-olds: he waves traffic around a hairpin turn and in and out of a tunnel on the perilous mountain highway that links Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan. He is one of the "Pepsi boys" who ekes out a living waving a smashed soda bottle at passing cars, hoping for a few coins thrown his way as a tip. He also catches fish in the river at the bottom of the ravine and attempts to sell those as a snack to passing travelers.

The story of the Pepsi boys is a compelling one – check out this feature in the New York Times – and clearly playwright Kevin Artigue thought so, too. Their lives inspired his play The Most Dangerous Highway in the World, now receiving its world premiere from Golden Thread Productions.

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Tense, riveting Brothers from Crowded Fire

Apr 14

Tense, riveting <i>Brothers</i> from Crowded Fire

Not much happens in Jonas Hassen Khemiri's I Call My Brothers, a Crowded Fire Theater production at Thick House. But then again, everything happens.

This is a mostly subterranean drama, which is to say, a little happens on the surface – a young man goes about his day running errands and interacting with friends and family – but a whole lot more is happening in his thoughts, his imagination, his paranoia.

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Far from mangy, this Mutt is a gut buster

May 09

Far from mangy, this <i>Mutt</i> is a gut buster

Between the Shakespearean twists of House of Cards and the utter inanity of Veep, you'd think that we'd have Washington politics pretty well covered by pop culture. Well clearly not because we need to make room for Mutt: Let's All Talk About Race!, the absolutely hilarious and crazy smart new comedy from San Francisco playwright Christopher Chen.

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Family, politics, history tangle in Golden Thread’s Urge

Nov 25

Family, politics, history tangle in Golden Thread’s <i>Urge</i>

The remarkable thing about Mona Mansour's Urge for Going and the work of Golden Thread Productions is how effectively the complex world of the Middle East comes through in a moving family drama. A very personal story set against a sprawling backdrop of history, politics and geography forges a strong emotional connection and brings a distinct perspective to a part of the world that can feel overwhelming if, like me, you know precious little about real-life experiences there.

Certainly drama benefits from conflict and tension, and that's where Mansour's story, set in Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, begins.

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Crowded Fire plays games with death in 410[GONE]

Jun 11

Crowded Fire plays games with death in <i>410[GONE]</i>

One of life's great mysteries has at last been solved. Those outdated notions of the afterlife involving harps and angels and a paternal, white-bearded God never seemed to catch up with our fast-paced, multicultural world – until now. Thanks to Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig's mesmerizing and ultimately moving 410[GONE], now having its world premiere courtesy of Crowded Fire Theater, we know that the afterlife, or at least one vision of it, involves deities from Chinese mythology playing Dance Dance Revolution (an high-energy dancing video game) as a means to transmogrify souls from one life form to the next.

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