Playwright Luis Alfaro returns to Magic Theatre with the start of an epic American trilogy.
Every insane family is insane in its own way in Shepard revival at the Magic.
Scottish playwright Linda McLean’s back with another disturbing play at the Magic, and it’s a weird one.
It’s interesting that this past week Facebook finally allowed users to choose a gender identity other than simply male or female, because there’s been a little mini-trend of new plays in the Bay Area that directly confront the binary conception of gender identity. In October the Cutting Ball Theater premiered Basil Kreimendahl’s Sidewinders, an absurdist Western homage to Waiting for Godot fixated on androgynous anatomy and identity. Now Magic Theatre has premiered Taylor Mac’s pitch-black comedy Hir, featuring a transsexual character who, though born physically female and taking testosterone, identifies as a third gender entirely, using the pronouns “ze” and “hir.” It’s an encouraging trend, even if I don’t think much of the plays themselves.
Magic Theatre doesn’t do musicals often, but by golly it’s doing one now. My review of Arlington is on KQED Arts.
Magic Theatre brings back one of its most famous premieres, 35 years later. My review of Buried Child is on KQED Arts.
Hey, who am I? Who are you? What are we doing here? Where is here, anyway? What’s this needle doing in my arm? And shouldn’t there be a baby in that crib, instead of just a chicken leg? Playwright Octavio Solis explores life’s eternal questions in the world premiere of Se Llama Cristina, and I give you the full report on the KQED Arts blog.
Boy, this was a hard year to reduce to a Top Ten. When I look over the list of the 117 shows I attended in 2012, eight strike me as shoo-ins for the list, and then there are fifteen other shows vying for the remaining two slots. Mind you, that’s a good problem to have; there really was a lot of good theater in the Bay Area this year—and, of course, some so-so and not very good theater as well. And of course there’s not any inherent virtue in the vast theaterscape of 2012 being reducible to a list in the first place, so maybe I should quit my kvetching, suck it up, and get to it. Although I’m restricting myself to ten, these shows aren’t ranked or numbered and are listed in chronological order.
There sure are a lot of plays about wealthy Manhattanites. I guess that makes sense, because New York is a large theater market, a lot of playwrights choose to live there, and wealthy Manhattanites are a significant target market. But a lot of these plays wind up playing, and even premiering, in San Francisco, to the point where it feels like there are more plays on our stages about the lives and concerns of the New York rich than anything that might speak to ordinary San Franciscans. It’s the cultural imperialism of the Empire State, and local theaters seem to be only too happy to bow down before it.
Playwright Luis Alfaro dazzled Magic Theatre audiences two years ago with Oedipus el Rey, his lyrical barrio gangster update of Sophocles’ ancient Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex. It was hardly his first go-round with the Greeks; his 2003 play Electricidad explored the Electra tale in the same modern setting. Everyone knows Greek tragedies come in threes, so now Alfaro completes his trilogy of sorts (drawing from three completely different story cycles in different eras of classical mythology) with Bruja, a new version of Euripides’ Medea set among recent Mexican immigrants in San Francisco’s Mission District. This world premiere reunites Alfaro with Magic producing artistic director Loretta Greco, who directed his Oedipus and now helms Bruja.