Don Giovanni Up Close

The last time I caught a screening of a San Francisco Opera production, I wasn't very impressed. I was present at the company's inaugural simulcast screening of Madama Butterfly a couple of years ago. It was a festive, atmospheric affair to be sure: While audiences watched the show from inside the War Memorial Opera House, 8,000 others gathered on a big, grassy plaza across the street to watch a live broadcast of the opera for free. Pretty red lanterns and a festival spirit complete with wine and picnics made for an enjoyable evening.But the … [Read more...]

Of Trader Joe’s And Hip-Hop

It was a cashier at Trader Joe's by the name of Cuba who introduced me to the MTV series America's Next Best Dance Crew while ringing up my groceries. We'd somehow gotten into a conversation about baseball and then sports in general during which I admitted that I didn't really watch many games. When Cuba asked me what sports I followed, I sheepishly responded that I loved dance, even though many people don't consider it a sport. Cuba said: "Sure dance is a sport." "It's very athletic at any rate," I shrugged, ready to leave.But Cuba wasn't … [Read more...]

On Trying to Buy Radiohead Tickets: The Sequel

As predicted, I had no luck trying to buy Radiohead tickets via Ticketmaster at 10am this morning. The site had nothing available at all even right at 10am on the nose. I'm not normally given to venting conspiracy theories, but I can't help thinking that there's some kind of underhand business at work in the box office world for these kind of events. I mean, people were auctioning tickets on eBay for the concert at 9.45am and a few other ticket sites were hawking seats right in the back for $500 apiece.I'm beginning to doubt whether it's … [Read more...]

On Trying to Buy Radiohead Tickets

We thought we were being clever, opting to see the band in concert in the aging, conservative town of Santa Barbara rather than trying to catch them in San Francisco. We believed we would be at an advantage, living in California, in terms of getting our hands on tickets through a British website, given the time difference. Little did we know.Radiohead's website announced that tickets for the rock band's appearance in Santa Barbara on August 28 would be going on sale through the British website waste on April 9. With the U.K. being eight hours … [Read more...]

Mrs. Sarkozy’s A Mean Songstress

I didn't pay much attention to the broohaha surrounding the climaxing relationship between French president Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-supermodel / singer-songwriter Carla Bruni even though I was in the UK when France's first couple swung by for an official visit in March. The controversy on the eve of the visit concerning the publication by Christies auction house of a nude photograph of Bruni taken during her career as a supermodel and the media's special interest in Bruni's wardrobe (Christian Dior -- a diplomatic choice, being a French design … [Read more...]

Meet The Play Group

Being a passionate devotee of Slings & Arrows, the brilliantly written and incandescently acted Canadian TV series about the inner workings of a big regional theatre company, I was excited to stumble across an article in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle about a new video podcast series. The series concerns a group of young theatremakers as they journey towards putting on a black-box stage adaptation of Dostoyevsky's The Double in San Francisco.A collaboration between podcaster Bill Bowles, playwright Eric Henry Sanders, and a coterie of … [Read more...]

Critics Don’t Like Giving Speeches

On Sunday, I attended an awards ceremony and party in honor of Dan Hoyle. A team of five local theatre critics (Rob Hurwitt of The San Francisco Chronicle, Karen D'Souza of The San Jose Mercury News, Chad Jones formerly of the Oakland Tribune, Rob Avila of The San Francisco Bay Guardian and yours truly) selected Hoyle as this year's recipient of The Glickman Award for Best New Play. Every year, The Glickman Award (named in memory of play- and screenwriter Will Glickman) honors any new play to have received its world premiere in the Bay Area. … [Read more...]

Pizza, Cupcakes & A Discussion About Theatre and Politics

Whenever the topic of theatre and politics comes up in conversation, people tend to shuffle uncomfortably, snort disdainfully or cross their eyes. Mentioning the the two subjects in one sentence tends to illicit negative or nervous responses, even though many people working in the performing arts -- and outside of them -- believe that all art is political and that theatre, because of its reliance on metaphor and allegory and ability to fly under the radar, is the most political of all art forms. You only have to read Charles Isherwood's recent … [Read more...]

Theatre for the YouTube Generation

The Theatre Communications Group (the body that oversees non-profit theatre in the U.S.) has launched a three-minute theatre video competition as part of the run-up to its 2008 National Conference to be held in Denver in June.Contestants were asked to make a three-minute video about their theatre companies, including some thoughts about "their vision for theatre in the future."Browsers to the TCG website can view all eight submissions and then vote for their favorite. The winner(s) will receive the equivalent of two complimentary registrations … [Read more...]

Even Superheroes Darn Their Socks

The brilliant San Francisco-baed comic book creator, Jon Adams, has been publishing tales about the quotidian lives of superheroes since 2000. Having garnered two Eisner nominations for his books (the comic book industry equivalent of the Oscars), a rocketing fan-base and appearances in publications like McSweeneys, Adams has now launched his Truth Serum comic strip as a weekly series online.Adams' superheroes aren't like regular defenders of the universe. They may wear capes and masks, but you're more likely to find them hanging about on … [Read more...]

How We Listen to Music

A couple of years ago, while attending the NEA/Columbia Arts Journalism and Opera Institute in New York, a professor from NYU gave a lecture about how we listen to music. The lecture was mind-expanding though infuriating. The session basically consisted of the guy asking the same question -- "how do you listen to music?" -- over and over again. No one, including him, was able to answer the  question in a satisfactory way. "With our ears?" was about as close as anyone got, to which the professor replied, "yes, but how?"My own pretentious attempt … [Read more...]