Magic’s Se Llama Cristina or What’s in a name?

Jan 31

Magic’s <i>Se Llama Cristina</i> or What’s in a name?

There are moments when Octavio Solis' darkly poetic writing leaves me breathless. Take this passage from his world-premiere play Se Llama Cristina as two lovers are driving down a lonely highway. The driver looks at his sleeping passenger and says: "And your head is leanin' against the window and the passing cars light up your face like a Hollywood starlet. Famous, then not. Famous, then not."

Truth be told, there are also moments when Solis' writing leaves me befuddled, and that happens, too, in Se Llama Cristina. But confusion and mystery is part of the foundation – albeit rocky a rocky one – on which this intriguing drama is built.

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Size matters — Magic’s Brothers is a keeper

Sep 22

<i>Size</i> matters — Magic’s <i>Brothers</i> is a keeper

Comparing The Brothers Size, the second part of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays cycle, to In the Red and Brown Water, the first part, is inevitable but ultimately unnecessary.

These are two very different plays, both extraordinary and both extraordinarily well produced by, respectively, Magic Theatre and Marin Theatre Company. Red and Brown opened first and gave us a broad view of McCraney’s world, a working-class Louisiana town where the mostly African-American inhabitants exist in a purely theatrical dimension between reality and poetry, between fact and folklore.

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Entering heavenly Pastures

Jun 06

Entering heavenly <i>Pastures</i>

Spectacular things are happening at the Bruns Amphitheater – on stage and off.

At long last, California Shakespeare Theater is getting a performance venue worthy of its status as one of the Bay Area's foremost theater companies. Improvements to the Bruns include a new box office, new landscaping and, most importantly, a beautiful new 7,850-square-foot building to house its food operations and some spectacular bathrooms (if you ever used the bathrooms in the old endlessly "temporary" facility, you'll appreciate just how spectacular these new facilities really are).

The improvements aren't quite done yet, but they're already upping the ante on the Cal Shakes experience – and just in time for Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone's 10-year anniversary with the company.

So many things to celebrate ̶ not the least of which is the world-premiere production on the Bruns stage.

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival reviews (pt. 1)

Jun 23

Vilma Silva and Armando Durán star in Octavio Solis’ adaptation of Don Quixote on the Elizabethan Stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by David Cooper. The first round of my reviews from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — the three outdoor shows on the Elizabethan Stage — have arrived and were published in the San Francisco Chronicle....

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Theater review: `Lydia’

Apr 03

The cast of Marin Theatre Company’s Lydia includes, from left, Gloria Garayua as Ceci, Adriana Gavria as Lydia, David Pintado as Misha and Elias Escobedo as Alvaro. Photos by Ed Smith Power, passion course through Solis’ startling `Lydia’««« ½ There’s a reason critics across the country have compared San Francisco playwright Octavio...

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Cal Shakes, ACT’s Willis honored

Oct 28

The National Endowment for the Arts – did you know that even existed anymore? – has handed out some $20,000 grants as part of a new NEA New Play Development Program. And one of the recipients was Berkeley-based California Shakespeare Theater, which will spend 20 grand on early play development activities — read-throughs, public readings and workshop...

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