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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Campo Santo, Cal Shakes do some Califas dreaming

Nov 04

Campo Santo, Cal Shakes do some Califas dreaming

There's something extraordinary happening at Intersection for the Arts, and only part of it has to do with theater. Intersection, along with Campo Santo and California Shakespeare Theater have been partners for years, but their current collaboration is kind of staggering.

It began back last April with a production of Richard Montoya's The River directed by Campo Santo's Sean San José (read my review here) and continued with Cal Shakes' season opener, Montoya's American Night: The Ballad of Juan José in June starring San José and directed by Jonathan Moscone (read my review here).

Now we have the culmination of the collaboration in the Califas Festival, a multimedia exploration of what it means to be a Californian.

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Campo Santo’s wild ride on a raging River

Apr 16

Campo Santo’s wild ride on a raging <i>River</i>

Some rivers run with water. This one is a torrent of words – some really extraordinary words.

Campo Santo and Intersection for the Arts' world premiere of The River, a dazzling fusion of poetry, comedy, satire, loss and beauty, heralds the welcome return of Culture Clash's Richard Montoya, who has become a powerful theatrical force. Montoya's American Night: The Ballad of Juan José was a triumph at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and has gone on to be produced around the country. Bay Area audiences will get a second helping of Montoya when American Night opens the season for California Shakespeare Festival in June.

What's so exciting about Montoya's voice is...

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High art, grim lives shaded in ambitious Tree City

Feb 21

High art, grim lives shaded in ambitious <i>Tree City</i>

Tree City Legends leaves you moved and somewhat perplexed. My experience with Dennis Kim's play as directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph was equal parts fascination and confusion.

There are so many creative partners on this project, it's no wonder the thing feels not only like an art installation but also like an entire museum unto itself. You have art, video, performance and music. You certainly can't fault the creative team for lack of imagination or multimedia ability. But you can fault the creative team...

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Fathers and sons, heists and homelands in Habibi

Oct 19

Fathers and sons, heists and homelands in <i>Habibi</i>

Love, tension and desperation are deeply felt in Habibi, the world-premiere production of Sharif Abu-Hamdeh’s drama about always feeling away from home. This is yet another co-production from Campo Santo and Intersection for the Arts that lights an oil lamp from within a dark subject. On one level, the central relationship between a father and a son is completely recognizable by anyone from anywhere. Tariq (Aleph Ayin) should be in college, but he can’t really be bothered. He gets fired from crappy jobs and spends a whole lot of his time doing nothing in the tiny Mission District apartment he shares with his dad, Mohammed (Paul Santiago), a museum security guard. They’re scraping by, and in their cramped quarters, they fight a lot. Tariq sounds like a spoiled, contemptuous brat when he’s talking to his dad – every sentence practically drips with a sneer and an eye roll. Mohammed is rigid in his own way, loving his son fiercely but holding too tight, lecturing too much.

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Intersection breaks walls, audience follows

Mar 03

Intersection breaks walls, audience follows

Watching the audience on stage at Intersection for the Arts was a stunning experience. Sometimes theater companies trying to push boundaries and break down walls really do get it right.

The show in this case is Oakland playwright Chinaka Hodge'sMirrors in Every Corner, and the companies involved in bringing it to life are many: Intersection, Campo Santo and The Living Word Project'sYouth Speaks theater company. They say it can take a village. In this case, it takes a community.

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