Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

Isfahan Blues

April 30, 2015

Here’s the latest article I’ve written for the SF Examiner, in print and online today. It’s about an African-American theatre company and a Middle Eastern-American theatre company collaborating to do a play about when The Duke Ellington Orchestra toured Iran in 1963. I’m really enjoying being able to let people know about cool stuff like this:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/duke-ellingtons-spirit-electrifies-isfahan-blues/Content?oid=2928331

SF Shakes’ “Macbeth” in the Presidio National Park, Sept. 8th, 2013

September 14, 2013

“And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;”

-Sonnet 18

It does seem that way sometimes. But in my home of San Francisco, the summer weather doesn’t usually start till September, and a week after Labor Day the outdoor Shakespeare festival season is still in full swing. And so it was that I found myself last Sunday afternoon, September 8th, in the Presidio watching Free Shakespeare in the Park. SF Shakes has been doing this for 31 years, and this is the first time they’ve done “Macbeth.” I went with some friends and really loved it. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival neatly sums things up in their program:

“We believe that Shakespeare experienced in a communal setting elates the soul, inspires the mind and unifies those who sit beside each other. Just as theatres in Shakespeare’s time were open to the sky, being outdoors in the park connects us all with the natural world around us even as we focus on a shared piece of art. Performing in a pubic park allows all to feel welcome and reminds us that art is a part of our everyday lives.”

The Presidio is the only National Park that is within the borders of a city. It’s got a lot of history, trails, groves and stories. It was a military base for many years – until the army moved out during the Clinton  administration. The old military buildings are now being used for peaceful purposes, and the land is being restored to it’s natural vegetation and flowing water.

We arrived early at the former Parade Grounds, where the soldiers used to march around, and where the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival had their stage set up. We put a blanket on the ground and got comfortable. It was Elizabeth, Ted, Alisa and myself.  Everyone took their shoes off except me. It was a beautiful, lazy sunny day. Ted took out a deck of tarot cards and the rest of us began to explore what else was happening.

We walked to the Disney Family Museum café to get lattes. And we went into the Museum basement and checked out their giant murals of Alice falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland.

We walked back up the stairs and re-emerged into the Presidio. It was exquisite. We could see the Bay, boats, the Golden Gate Bridge wrapped in fog, and the re-born wetlands of Chrissy Field. We meandered around the Parade Grounds, which were filled with people for an “Off the Grid” gathering. Off the grid – indeed.  And in this case that meant food-trucks, a farmers’ market, birthdays, babies, picnicking and in general celebrating the weekend and life.

We returned to our blanket. Food and drink were shared. Before we knew it, 2PM had arrived. Time for the Scottish Play. That was the catalyst for all of this, wasn’t it? Not just for the four of us – by that point a large audience was gathered on the ground to sit in the sun and hear the words that were about to be spoken and see the acting that was about to happen on stage. We all settled back as the story began. And we all watched together. Whatever else may happen in my life, when I go to Free Shakespeare in the Park I am not alone.

A while later I looked over at Alisa, Elizabeth and Ted. They were all blissfully enjoying themselves. I looked at their feet. And their toes. I looked at my shoes. I took them off. I took my socks off. I put my toes in the grass. And it felt like a brave new world. This was big, thick voluptuous grass. This was Mother Earth, ancient and alive.

There haven’t been blades of grass between my toes in decades, not since I laced up my first pair of leather boots in the early punk days. And now I live in downtown San Francisco, and when I go on vacation I go to downtown somewhere else. These aren’t places where one walks around barefoot.

But you can expand your consciousness, your understanding of the world, your love of existence, just by taking off your sox. Or going to a play. Or both.

And the play itself? It was amazing. This was a modern, streamlined “Macbeth.” No intermission. Everyone in the cast was awesome, but Emily Jordan’s performance as Lady Macbeth was, for this particular interpretation of the story, the heart of things. She played the part as some kind of dramatic representation of Kali, or perhaps the Morrigan. They’re Dark Goddesses, like the one the three Witches invoke: Hecate. This Lady Macbeth is Hecate, one could even say –  she’s the one who is controlling what is going on, until she loses control that is. She goes mad; but then madness is also an aspect of Dark Goddesses.  “Macbeth” is about power and greed and much more. As with any of the great plays by Shakespeare, there are many different ways of interpreting it. I’ve seen this production three times in three different cities, and each time my reaction changed. If you go, you can decide for yourself what it means.

It’s also very entertaining, with lots of memorable characters, bloody murders and, of course, those words. 100 minutes went by quickly, and during that time we were also entertained by romantic butterflies who joined us on our blanket and mythic, primal birds flying overhead. I didn’t want the afternoon to end. But there will be other afternoons, and evenings, awaiting, thanks to SF Shakes. As I’ve said before: They’re one of San Francisco’s great cultural treasures. They’ll be in the Presidio for another weekend and then they’ll be moving “Macbeth” to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in McLaren Park on Saturday September 21st and Sunday September 22nd. And they’ve already announced next summer’s play: “The Taming of the Shrew.” Go barefoot!

Pax,

Vox

http://sfshakes.org/park/index.html

“Twelfth Night” at Town Hall Theatre

June 18, 2011

I just saw the cool Town Hall production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” I live in San Francisco and took BART out to the suburb of Lafayette; it was an easy walk from the train station to the theatre. I go all over the Bay Area to see Shakespeare plays and I have previously only been to Town Hall once before, and that was 8 or 9 years ago – the play then was also “Twelfth Night.” So I think you can see that I dig the Bard, and can recognize a good production (as this one was.) There were some very talented people in the cast, the set and costumes were creative, and there was live music played mostly on ukuleles. I’ve heard many different arrangements of the songs in this play, but never any for ukuleles! It’s actually a beautiful and versatile instrument, so that was a pleasant surprise. Kate Jopson (who I’ve seen many times performing with Woman’s Will) was a sweet and fun Viola. She definitely had some mojo working with Kendra Lee Oberhauser’s delightful Olivia and Dennis Markham’s snazzy Orsino. And Alexandra Creighton was an outstanding Maria, more clever and appealing than that character usually is,

Town Hall Theatre puts on a quality show, and I won’t be waiting till their next revival of “Twelfth Night” to return. I also enjoyed the road trip to Lafayette. It’s quiet and peaceful out there, and when the play was over and I walked outside the night sky was gorgeous!
pax,

Vox

http://www.townhalltheatre.com/

Persephone’s Roots – An All Hallow’s Eve Ritual

October 21, 2010

VOX: This is my first blog post previewing a play (and not about something I’ve already seen.) A few weeks ago I learned about an upcoming production in Berkeley by the Ragged Wing Ensemble. I’d seen them perform before, most notably in production they did of “The Tempest” in 2007. This play was a new one, based on an ancient myth, called “Persephone’s Roots; An All Hallows Eve Ritual.” What caught my attention was that it looked like it was going to be both a play and an actual Pagan ritual. This seemed like a good combination to me, and one that has historical validity. And it also seemed a natural fit for the Bay Area, where there are lots of theatre people and lots of Pagans!

I contacted Ragged Wing to get more info and ended up talking to the director, Anna Schneiderman.  So here, then, is my first blog interview, an edited transcription of what we talked about on the phone:  

ANNA SHNEIDERMAN: I co-founded Ragged Wing Ensemble in 2004. My background includes doing a lot of work in outdoor pageantry, ritual performance and large spectacle events with Bread and Puppet in Vermont and Redmoon in Chicago. I studied classical literature and philosophy at the University of Chicago – the Greeks mostly. I studied the connection between performance and ritual, and how ritual can be a performance. I strongly believe that theatre is ritual, and that it comes from that, and that there is a reason why it has survived so long.

The type of theatre that we usually see, where we go and sit in a theater and watch something from beginning to end, and there is this separation between the audience and the performers, doesn’t really serve that ritual function anymore – although I feel it has the potential to. On the other side, many rituals today don’t have any craft to them. What I feel is important, and what we’re trying to recreate, is something that is in between: that is crafted and rehearsed and at the same time it involves the audience in a ritual that they can participate in, that feels like they’re making something happen.

I’ve wanted to do something for Halloween for a really long time. I love Halloween, and the sense of accessing the spirit world is compelling to me. It’s my favorite holiday, and I didn’t want to just go to a party. I wanted to celebrate it in a more sacred and intentional way.

So I looked around at what was happening in the Bay Area; I thought it would be great to create something for Halloween that was a ritual and a performance, and some way for community to come together. Then, maybe six or seven months ago it clicked that this Persephone myth would be a great way to work on it. Basically it’s a journey into the underworld, and there is moment where she has this choice, and there is a deal that happens at the end where she goes back and forth between the underworld and the upperworld. The cycle of the year gets created at that moment. It’s a powerful story, and really relevant to the moment of Halloween.

The next step was I found this park in Berkeley – Codornices Park. It has this tunnel that I fell in love with, and it has this field and this wooded area with all these nooks and crannies. It’s really mysterious and beautiful. So these three thoughts came together: the Halloween ritual, the Persephone myth, and this park. And it all made sense to do the show at this place and this time.

I’m not in the Pagan community; I didn’t realize that the gods in this story were living deities; Little did I know that people are actually honoring them in a living religion. I think it’s great. I’m totally thrilled that Persephone and Demeter are still living Gods. I had no idea. This story and its archetypes are in the culture. And people, even if they aren’t Pagan, usually have some awareness of the archetypes. These are archetypes that everyone can connect with, and I hope that the way we handle this myth can be acceptable also to people for whom these are living gods and goddesses.

I don’t myself pray to these deities. But I feel that by making this performance it’s kind of like I’m praying to them; because it’s a piece of art that we’re creating about them, which is probably the hugest honor you can do. I want it to be open to anybody, not just people who believe in these deities as their own deities. There is a reason for ritual; It’s kind of essential to human nature. But a lot of people in our culture have lost the opportunity to participate in ritual on a regular basis. So I feel that the function of this performance is to be a ritual without being religious, so that people from any background can access that thing that we need.

I have nine people in the creation ensemble. They’re actors, singers and dancers, and we’re creating it together through a collaborative process. They’re coming at it as actors, not Pagans. They auditioned to be in a show. It’s more about creating an experience for the audience than about fully embodying the gods oneself. I think there is something about collectively putting on this performance that is really magical, and then we offer that to the audience so that they can experience it too.

The audience is going to enter the park and we’ll give them certain objects to hold and things to do so that they can interact with the piece as they go through. There will be live music, and the audience will help make it. There will bells to ring, and rhythms to clap, and there will be call and response songs. We’re kind of thinking of the audience as a Greek chorus. But it’s not going to be like a Greek tragedy where we all sit in a big amphitheater and watch it.

They’ll meet the two main characters, Persephone and Demeter. Persephone will discover the underworld. I’m going with the idea that she chooses to go into the underworld; it’s not an abduction. She feels the pull of the underworld. Another thing we’re doing with this piece is that Hades is not represented as a character, but more as like a force, and a place that Persephone wants to go; she is attracted by this dark force and then invites the audience to join her. So we will go with her and go into this tunnel and follow her path.

In my research I found that the myth of Persephone is a marker for the patriarchal religion taking over from the Goddess religion. Basically Demeter, Persephone and Hecate all pre-dated Zeus and the other Olympian gods. The idea of Hades abducting Persephone, and this forced marriage, is part of a series of myths about forced marriages that basically are about sublimating the goddess religions to the patriarchal religions that came in with the Hellenistic gods. One of the reasons I have gotten so excited about doing this particular story was the idea of bringing our society back into balance, and bringing back the presence of the goddess to our culture.

People who come to this might not normally go to something that was fully a ritual, and then maybe they’ll get taken into the ritual side of it as well. The parts where the audience can interact are essential to the piece. But it won’t be intimidating or scary or putting people on the spot. They’ll feel like they’re a part of it and they’re making things happen, but nobody is expecting them to stand up and say something, or to go into a trance. Anybody, including kids, will be able to come and experience this.

“Persephone’s Roots” runs Wed, Oct. 27 – Sun, Oct. 31 @ 5:30 pm at Codornices Park, 1201 Euclid Ave. in Berkeley, CA. This is a free event. More info at http://www.raggedwing.org

Pax, and Happy Halloween!

-Vox

SPRING EQUINOX – REBIRTH OF THE BLOG

March 27, 2010

Okay, now is a good time to get this blog up and running again. Last weekend was the Spring Equinox, when the days began getting longer than the nights. It’s a celebration of renewal, fertility and the plants and flowers coming back to life. With that in mind, here is my first blog post after a long, dark winter.

 On Friday night, March 19th, I saw the ACT Conservatory Class of 2010 do a new (to me) play called “Oh Lovely Glowworm; or Great Scenes of Beauty,“ written by Glen Berger. As usual for an ACT play at the Zeum Theater the set was quite spectacular. It was like the Borg home world (from “Star Trek: Next Generation”) or one of the “Matrix” movies. But this was a fantasy, not science fiction, that took place in Europe around the time of World War I. The characters included a talking stuffed goat, a mermaid, and Irish soldiers. It was a good play for the Equinox – the characters kept dying and coming back to life, there were overlapping stories that would end and then start over again later, and there was a general theme involving a major cultural shift happening.

 Of course most of that was not really apparent to me till a couple of days later, after I’d had time to think about it. While I was watching “Glowworm” I was just enjoying the story and the talented cast. It was three hours long but went by quickly.

(I’d also like to mention that last fall ACT Conservatory opened up a new studio theater at 77 Geary, on the sixth floor of an office building. The first show I saw there was Sam Shepard’s “Fool For Love,” and it instantly became my favorite new performance space in town. It’s intimate! That play is so tightly written and visceral, and the cast of four just ripped into it and made it happen. When it was over I felt exhilarated.)

On Saturday, March 20, the actual day of the Equinox, I went to SF State to see a version of “Romeo and Juliet,” which was just called “Juliet,” and had a cast of six women and one man – all of them playing Juliet. It was marvelous much, a character study exploring different aspects of her personality, thoughts and feelings. That was quite interesting. I have seen recent productions of “Romeo and Juliet” where Juliet herself seemed to have gotten lost somewhere in the rehearsal and directing process. And hey, it’s her story, right? It was nice to see her as the center of attention, presented as being complex and surprising. 

They also brought in other characters to tell the basic plot, using some of Shakespeare’s best dialogue and scenes and combining them with dance, improvisation, and newly written material. So it was both a performance of the play and something else at the same time. There was a great mix of movement with sound and/or music. It all worked really well.

I have featured two school performances in this blog. I don’t really make a distinction between professional, school and other types of productions – all that matters to me is if I enjoyed the show. Both ACT Conservatory and SF State School of Creative Arts have staged many excellent productions in the years that I have been an active Bay Area Theatre-goer. I would have written about State’s recent, and awesome, “Twelfth Night” if my blog hadn’t been in the Underworld with Persephone. But now it’s Spring; my blog has returned, and I am once again writing about the pleasures of theatre. Excelsior!

Pax,

Vox

“The Monk,” No Nude Men Productions

November 8, 2008

Wow, this was insane. But really good! For the duration of the play I was inside the minds of people who were experiencing insanity, or something like it. Or at least that’s what it felt like. The play was constantly shifting points of view, and realities, and what was going on wasn’t always clear. But that was part of the pleasure of being in the audience. “The Monk” was full of surprises, right up until the very end. So I can’t really say what the story was, not right now, right after I’ve left the theater and haven’t had time to really unravel it and read the program notes and the souvenir comic book I bought afterwards. The thing that is most in my mind right now is that this was a tale about telling tales – and it was very well told.

The cast was really talented, and well directed. They were able to weave in and out of all these complicated things that were going on, but at no point did I lose interest. Quite the opposite – I was fascinated by it. This is the third production I’ve seen from “No Nude Men,” and I’m really impressed with how they put on a show. I loved their updated versions of “Love’s Labors Lost” and “Hamlet.” “The Monk” was, at times, spooky, mysterious and funny, which makes it a perfect play to see around this time of year. Halloween is over, but it gets dark earlier and the nights are longer, and it’s the season for ghosts, murder and magic. It was also a good neighborhood to see it in: the second act of the story takes place in catacombs and tombs and underworld labyrinths, and when I walked outside afterwards I felt like that’s where I was.

Whew. I’ve only been doing this blog for a couple of months, and I usually wait a few days to write and post my comments after I see a new play. But it seems like a gut reaction is appropriate for “The Monk,” so I’m going to go ahead and put this online less than an hour after seeing it. The play was an intense, visceral experience, and this is my reaction. But I don’t want it to sound too creepy – it was fun! Go see it!

Pax, Vox

http://www.theexit.org/now.html

http://www.myspace.com/ambrosioandmatilda

“MACHINAL”, “GOOD BREEDING”

October 28, 2008

I recently saw two excellent college productions of plays. The first one was “Machinal,” by Sophie Treadwell, at San Francisco State University. They have a really good theater department – I’ve seen several Shakespeare plays there, and I usually try and catch their spring musical. But I knew nothing about this play before I went there. It was written in 1928, so it was like a history lesson to me. The only thing I had to compare it to was some movies and art that were made around that time. When it was first performed it must have been considered quite radical and shocking. Even today it seems bold – I guess that says something about some things that haven’t changed much in the decades since then. The play dealt with murder, politics, feminist issues, and more, but not in a melodramatic or sensational way. I liked the way it was written. I was quite moved by the whole thing.  It seems like schools are one of the few places to see great neglected plays like this one, and I am glad that I got the opportunity. In December SF State is doing Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia.” I’ve only seen that once, and that was in the 90s at ACT, when their original theater was still closed from earthquake damage. I’m looking forward to seeing it again. I hope that it has some of the same cast that was in “Machinal.”

The next week I saw “Good Breeding,” by Robert O’Hara, performed by American Conservatory Theater’s third year graduate students at the Zeum Theater. I go to see just about everything ACT does, and their student shows are almost always as good, if not better, than the ones at the big theater. They have talented people acting in them, and professional production values. For this one they remodeled the interior of the Zeum Theater, including carpeting the entire floor right up to the front row. When I went inside after giving my ticket to the usher I had to walk on it to get to my seat. The affect they were trying to create, and that they succeeded in doing most spectacularly, was to turn the Zeum into a l970s New York City disco. There were also elements of seedy 42nd Street movie theaters and Times Square arcades thrown in.

The play itself was an updating of Greek mythology, and was staged with the Gods, Goddesses, heroes and heroines portrayed as characters from 1970s exploitation movies (including the kung-fu, blaxploitation, low-budget horror, and soft-core porn genres.) That doesn’t even begin to describe what this play was like, and what it was like to watch it. It sounds stupid, right? In fact, based on the description I read of it beforehand I almost didn’t go. But when I finally went I liked it so much I went back again the next night. A production like this has to be experienced live to be fully appreciated. I can say this much: The ancient legends were brought back to life! They were right there, in the flesh (so to speak.) All the weird and different elements that went into putting this on came together. Wow!

A few words about the play itself: “Good Breeding” was based on an ancient Greek trilogy of plays, but it wasn’t just a clever modern retelling – well, it was that, but it was more. It was a look into what mythology is, who the Gods and Goddesses are, and what our relationships, as humans, are to them. It was about what it is to be a God, to be a human, and what freedom anyone, mortal or immortal, has in controlling their own life. This play has only been staged twice, both times at schools. I hope it gets produced again. Like the gods themselves, “Good Breeding” deserves to live on.

And a few words about the ACT graduate students: when they finish this school year they go off to New York to audition and begin their professional careers. It’s too bad the casting people they’ll be performing for couldn’t have seen “Good Breeding.” It was quite a showcase.

Oh, and I have to mention one really cool thing that was going on in “Good Breeding:” There was a photo-booth that was part of the set. You know, the old kind with a curtain across the door, where you go inside and sit down for quick black and white photo strips. Well, the booth was used as the entrance to the underworld realm of Hades. And it made complete sense, and  explained so much to me…

Pax,

Vox

http://www.creativearts.sfsu.edu/

http://www.act-sf.org/

“Spring Awakening,” “David Byrne”

October 24, 2008

At the Curran Theater the musical “Spring Awakening” was in its last week. I bought a rush ticket on Wednesday, Oct. 8, and I was giddy with delight from the opening number. I was immediately pulled into what was happening on stage. It was an intimate experience, even up in the balcony where I was. Part of this was because of the story and the songs, which were very intense and emotional. But it was also the way it was staged; the cast, the band, and members of the audience (sitting on bleachers) were all together up on the stage. The set was minimal. When a character was singing or acting the other cast members who weren’t in that scene would remain on stage and watch, sometimes just sitting on the floor, sometimes moving to various places and then jumping in to sing the chorus. Throughout the entire performance the actors were all simultaneously telling the story, in the story, and watching the story. The fourth wall was not even an option, so there was a feeling that we were all in on what was going on.

The music in “Spring Awakening” is awesome, especially when performed by such a talented bunch of singers (backed up by a great rock band.) Something else that made the whole show so special was the choreography. I didn’t really notice it while I was watching the show – probably because it was so well done and such an organic part of what was going on. It didn’t even feel like the cast was “dancing” – they were just being the characters, and moving the way the characters would move. But I thought about it afterwards – this was a production that left me thinking about a lot of things – and I realized that what I had experienced was a result of the brilliant choreography of Bill T. Jones. Bill T. Jones! I saw him and Arnie Zane performing together in a loft space 25 years ago. And here he is now, putting the magical touch on a Broadway show, making it an ecstatic experience.

The night before “Spring Awakening” I saw David Byrne at Davies Symphony Hall. He had a hot world-music band that was also able to rock out on old Talking Heads songs, and he had three interpretive dancers. I mention this because the style of dancing they were doing was, though not similar to the choreography of “Spring Awakening,” from the same alternative reality: a place that once was in a bunch of old buildings below 14th Street in New York City, and that now is in a neighborhood that is accessible to more people. I’m talking about “downtown.”   I don’t know who told Byrne’s dancers what to do, but their movements were the visual equivalent of his eccentric lyrics and music. They were so far downtown they were like a Jules Feiffer “Village Voice” cartoon come to life. What was really amazing about all this was that it was happening in the same space where Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony. And the place was packed, and the audience was going nuts. There was David Byrne, this geeky, neurotic guy, and they loved him and everyone, onstage and off, including me, was having a great time. Downtown, wherever it is these days, is a fun place to be.

I’m not sure what all this means, but it was pretty cool. The downtown aesthetic has moved uptown, to Broadway and the symphony concert hall. And I was there to enjoy it. 

Pax, Vox

http://www.springawakening.com/

http://www.billtjones.org/

http://www.davidbyrne.com/

“Pericles” – San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

September 18, 2008

Last weekend I went to the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival production of “Pericles.” They have been performing it all summer in various locations, but there is only one more weekend of it left. I saw it in the Presidio, which is where they have been in San Francisco for the last few years. (Before that they had been in Golden Gate Park.) Just getting there was an adventure. Before SF Shakes started to use the Presidio I hadn’t visited there much – I had to learn to the bus routes to where they were doing the play. This year I was experienced enough to actually hike part of the way into the Presidio. I ended up on what turned out to be one of the oldest foot-paths in the City. According to a plaque I read it has been in use for hundreds of years, and it was really fun to think about how many generations of hikers had walked on it before me. It was called “Lovers Lane,” which seemed like the perfect path to take to go see the love story of “Pericles.” I arrived safely at the Parade Grounds, where SF Shakes set up their portable stage, sound system, lights, generator, etc. It’s quite a lot of equipment to haul around from city to city to put on a show, and they’ve been doing it for 26 years now. I think of SF Shakes as a real local treasure – I look forward to seeing them every year. When I talk to tourists who are visiting San Francisco, and they ask me what to do here, I tell them to go to the park and see a play! It’s a chance to see some of our local talent at their best, visit an historic site, and, on a night like I saw them, see a full moon rising up above in the fog. What could be better than that?

They do a Saturday evening performance, and then another on Sunday afternoon, and the contrast in the weather between them can be quite extreme. This year I caught an evening show and, as in years past, it was very cold and foggy – but I dressed appropriately. “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s (or anyone else’s) classic plays. But the cast and crew of SF Shakes did a fine job of making it a fun evening of theatre. I’ve only seen it a few times prior to this (including once in June at CalShakes) and I was impressed with how they were able to make sense of the long, twisted plot. This is a story of a man on a journey. It’s a weird, improbable journey, but then so are most journeys – and in fact most lives. So I walked away from “Pericles” with something of a better understanding of what it means to be alive. This production was set somewhere in the American frontier in the 1800s. I can’t explain why or how, but it worked. Live music was a big part of the show. I don’t know much about the musical genres that were used – I guess you would call it “old timey” or maybe old gospel or folk. But the musicians were talented, and it was quite a change from last years SF Shakes show, when all the music was pre-recorded pop songs and classical music. The live sound mix, as well as the actor’s voices, came through clear and clean over the SF Shakes p.a. system (which they haven’t always done in years past.) The dancing and costumes were colorful. It was a pleasure watching the cast move around. The accents that most of them had were at first a bit strange, and maybe even annoying and confusing. But after a while I got used to it as I settled into the world that they were creating on stage.

I was happy to see some people from last years SF Shakes production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” returning. I loved that show, and went to see it every weekend it was in the Presidio. Emily Jordan and Michael C. Storm, who last year played Oberon and Titania, were back again in the lead roles. Wow! They are both so talented that it was worth seeing the play just to experience their acting. I barely recognized either of them when the play began – their characters are so different from “Midsummer.” I took the bus home and slept well after an evening in the park. When I woke up the next morning I continued to think about the play I had seen. It was one of those kind of performances that stayed with me, and left me feeling good in the days that followed. Go see it this weekend if you have the chance, and it might do the same for you.

Pax, Vox

http://www.sfshakes.org