Monday, January 10, 2011

2011: A Belated Hello

(Rowena Richie, Peter Griggs, Natalie Greene, in A Hand in Desire. Photo by Jeff Crook.)

What are "picks" but reviews without hindsight or critical rigor? Clearly they allow critics an easy way to promote their friends (or, more pessimistically, their benefactors). Yet Theatre Bay Area and the Times both regularly practice the seedy art, so perhaps I should look on it more kindly. Writing about a production before it goes up is surely a useful exercise for critics, who elsewhere get to adopt such privileged, knowing tones. Maybe writing "picks" forces you to acknowledge your tastes and prejudices and share them with your readers. Most importantly: maybe it lets you take a risk. So here are mine, for the dawn of 2011:

  • A Hand In Desire, by Emspace - The company reinterprets Streetcar as a dance piece, the drawing of a card determining which of 52 scenes will be enacted each evening. I'm much less experienced as a critic of dance, but I feel that broader exposure to the form will help me better recognize and describe physical choices I appreciate in the theatre.
  • The Companion Piece, at ZSpace - A love letter to vaudevillian duos, starring Beth Wilmurt, whose artistic intelligence has consistently impressed me since I started seeing shows in the area.
  • The Seagull, at Marin Theatre Company - This production is one of two Chekhov "adaptations" to be mounted this season; I'm excited to read mere "translations" of the plays beforehand so as to figure out precisely what the more liberal term means.
  • What We're Up Against, at the Magic - The Magic's last production of Theresa Rebeck's work - Mauritius, in 2009 - remains my favorite Bay Area theatrical experience. I'll try not to have unreasonable expectations going into this next one.
  • The Dog and Pony Show, at the Marsh - Holly Hughes stars in this autobiographical solo show dubiously described as post-Lesbian. She featured prominently in a college course I took on early feminist theater, and I can't wait to see my old textbooks come to life.

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