Joy, power of stories in Cal Shakes black odyssey

Aug 13

Joy, power of stories in Cal Shakes <i>black odyssey</i>

Just when it seems the news can't get any worse, it gets worse. This weekend in Virginia we saw some of the worst of humanity, with terror, death, hatred and ignorance all on full display. At such times, it can be hard not to give in to that helpless, hopeless feeling of things ever getting better, of our species ever giving over to our better natures rather than constantly reveling our worst.

Then there's art. In a quirk of timing for which I will be forever grateful, California Shakespeare Theater opened a new production Saturday night at the Bruns Amphitheater amid the full chilly summer glory of the Orinda Hills. It wasn't just any production, but one so suited to our troubled times that it seems we should find some way to broadcast it nationally over and over.

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Gardley gets a Glickman

Feb 04

Gardley gets a Glickman

Oakland playwright Marcus Gardley is the winner of the Will Glickman Award for the best new play to have its premiere in the Bay Area in 2014. The play is The House that will not Stand, loosely based on Federico Garcìa Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, which had its premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in February of 2014. Read my review of the show here.

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Gardley’s House stands best when it sings

Feb 08

Gardley’s <i>House</i> stands best when it sings

Music is so ingrained in New Orleans culture that it's no surprise when a play set in the area turns out to be full of wonderful choral singing, voodoo chanting and other musical surprises. But what's interesting about Marcus Gardley's The House that will not Stand, now receiving its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, is that music elevates the show in ways the plot and characters do not.

This play about a mixed-race family in New Orleans circa 1836 really wants to be a musical.

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Jesus and his extraordinary Mississippi moonwalk

Mar 21

Jesus and his extraordinary <i>Mississippi</i> moonwalk

On the theatrical spectrum, this is the exact opposite of the sitcom-ready Sunset and Margaritas now at TheatreWorks (read my review of that play in the Palo Alto Weekly here), which is to say this is challenging, thought-provoking material given the kind of sharply etched production that inspires curiosity and wonder. There's nothing easy about Moonwalks, and that's a good thing. Gardley, working with director Amy Mueller, weaves myth, folklore, American Civil War history, personal family history and musings on race in this country.

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Tip-top ten

Dec 23

Happy holidays, Theater Dogs! Thanks for reading the blog in 2006. I’ll try to make it bigger, better, funnier and fresher in 2007. Below you’ll find my Top 10 list of favorite theater experiences in 2006. I’d love for you all to share some of your favorites as well, so use the comment feature liberally. 1.The Clean House,TheatreWorks Sarah...

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