Slap Happy

I don't often devote blog posts to highlighting upcoming events. But the other day my eyes alighted upon a flyer in a cafe promoting an intriguing Festival that's happening next week in the Bay Area. So I went online to find out more about it and decided I had to spread the word.The non-profit arts organization Crosspulse is hosting what may be the world's first Body Music Festival. Here's the scoop from the event's media release. (Again, I don't normally regurgitate press releases in blog posts. But this one is very well-written and provides a … [Read more...]

The Existential Housewife

I saw Dawn Upshaw perform on stage a few nights ago in Berkeley. Now household chores will never be the same again. The mezzo-soprano performed Gyorgy Kurtag's Kafka Fragments at Zellerbach Hall under the auspices of Cal Performances, a series of 40 short, atonal vignettes for solo voice and violin based on snippets from Franz Kafka's diaries. As Upshaw sang against a back drop of moody, black and white video projections, she washed dishes, scrubbed the floor and did the ironing among other thing. I don't think I have ever seen such intensity … [Read more...]

Can Too Much Local Knowledge Be Counter-Productive?

Productions that are specifically geared towards a local audience can swing two ways. Because such shows tap into the regional knowledge, culture and concerns of a particular locale, the relationship between what's going on on stage and what's going on in the stalls can be very powerful. Stand-up comedians often emphasize regionalism to great effect as it builds warmth and a common basis for comedy. On the other hand, audiences can also get a bit bored with work that reflects themselves and their direct environment too closely, especially if … [Read more...]

The Art Of Experiencing Art When Jet-Lagged

I got back from Europe last Wednesday night. Normally after I travel long distances, I try to give myself a few days to catch up on sleep before hitting the theatres, cinemas and concert halls. Turning up to see a show jet-lagged doesn't do me much good, and it hardly helps the artists or fellow audience members if someone's slouched in their seat and possibly snoring.But owing to an unfortunate confluence of deadlines and truncated production runs, I've found myself in performance venues every single evening since I returned from my trip, bar … [Read more...]

Biding My Time At Fondation Beyeler

I never understood the fascination that special/traveling exhibitions exert upon museum goers. What's the fun of lining up with hundreds of people (and, in the case of many art institutions, paying a premium) to spend a few hours in a packed, overheated gallery straining to see a bunch of paintings over people's heads when you can enjoy the museum's permanent collection in relative quiet and spacious ease?The pleasure I get from permanent collections isn't just to do with the fact that I don't like crowds. A traveling exhibition might be full … [Read more...]

Theatre Rhino Secedes From California

It's not unusual to come across people in California think that the state should secede from the rest of the country. Until yesterday evening, however, I'd never heard of a group of Californians who want to secede from the state.But in light of the recent madness surrounding Proposition 8, namely the state's decision following the November 4 election to overturn a previous verdict to recognize same-sex marriages, America's longest-running queer theatre company, Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco, has decided to secede its main stage from the … [Read more...]

Wayfaring Stranger

I've just been on a business trip to Basel, Switzerland. I didn't think I'd have the time to take in any of this lovely, small city's culture during my workaholic week-long stay, much less catch a recital by Andreas Scholl, one of my favorite vocalists in the entire world.Turns out the German countertenor spends quite a bit of time in Basel: he teaches at the Schola Cantorum in the city.If I had realized this beforehand I would no doubt have tried to wangle an interview with the great man, no matter the craziness of my work schedule. As it was, … [Read more...]