Ramping up the teenage angst in Crowded Fire’s Truck Stop

Oct 06

Ramping up the teenage angst in Crowded Fire’s <i>Truck Stop</i>

The whole time I was watching Lachlan Philpott's Truck Stop, a Crowded Fire Theater production at Thick House, I was working myself into a state of anxiety imagining being the parent of a teenage girl. How do you fight the global objectification of women and instill a sense of self-worth that comes as much from intellectual, spiritual, emotional places and not just the physical and sexual, which it seems is all the world cares about if you're watching TV or movies, reading magazines or listening to music.

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Sublime stories from Word for Word and Alice Munro

Mar 08

Sublime stories from Word for Word and Alice Munro

Any celebration of Alice Munro merits attention, but when that celebration comes from Word for Word, the ever-astonishing local company that transforms short fiction into brilliant theater with complete fidelity to the original text, attention must not only be paid but also reveled in and savored.

Word for Word brought a Munro story to life in 1999 ("Friend of My Youth"), and the intervening years have brought more acclaim for the Canadian writer and a Nobel Prize for literature. Now that she is rightly revered for her masterful prose, Munro is given a full Word for Word evening in Stories by Alice Munro: "The Office" & "Dolly," a sort of career bookend.

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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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Four hot bodies heat up Aurora’s Body Awareness

Feb 03

Four hot bodies heat up Aurora’s <i>Body Awareness</i>

Drama in the small college town of Shirley, Vermont, is much like it is anywhere: small, intimate and, for the people involved, earth shattering.

Playwright Annie Baker, one of the theater world's most acclaimed and buzzed-about writers, has a particular skill in writing about the lives of ordinary people. She's acutely aware of the comic absurdity and the fissures of sadness and anger that clash continually and cause tremors, both minor and majorly damaging.

Baker is a humane and very funny writer, and the Bay Area is finally getting a taste of her talent in the Aurora Theatre Company's utterly delightful production of her Body Awareness. In true Aurora form, the production gives us a meaty play and performances by a quartet of Bay Area actors that defy you to find a false moment in this up-close and intimate space.

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What’s up, glitter Lily?

Apr 28

What’s up, glitter <i>Lily</i>?

Sitting at the computer, hands on the keyboard, I’ve been staring at the screen wondering where to begin describing and opining about The Lily’s Revenge at the Magic Theatre.

Adjectives don’t quite do it justice – much the way that a photograph of an oil painting never really captures the essence and vibrancy of the original work. And the usual critical jabber – Don’t miss it! Theater event of the spring! Unforgettably unique! – seem paltry as well.

It’s not that Lily, the brainchild of writer/performer Taylor Mac, is a landmark work in the canon of Western theater or the reinvention of the art form as we know it. But it’s something really special – a completely absorbing communal experience that turns out to be more than the sum of its abundant parts.

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Review: `More Stories by Tobias Wolff’

Sep 13

Anthony Nemirovsky is the son and Jeri Lynn Cohen is his mother in the Tobias Wolff short story “Firelight,” one of three stories in Word for Word’s More Stories by Tobias Wolff at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre. Photos by Clayton Lord   Word for Word remains hungry like the Wolff«««« The particular alchemy of Word for Word and...

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