Drama Talk & Drinks: Party People – “I certainly couldn’t dance like that”

Fortunately for all of us, theater is alive and well in the Bay Area. Between some great shows and inspiring conversations, Drama Talk & Drinks is seeming more and more hopeful for lively, challenging and engaging performance around here. I dunno about you, but I am feeling jazzed to get out and see some theater. More on that soon. In the meantime, Brittany and her boyfriend took his mom to Berkeley Rep to see their new show, Party People. Here’s their report:

[(l to r) Christopher Livingston (Malik), Steven Sapp (Omar), and Reggie D. White (Solias) perform in UNIVERSES’ Party People, a high-wattage fusion of story and song that unlocks the legacy of the Black Panthers and Young Lords at Berkeley Rep. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com]

When parents visit, finding events with reasonable decibel levels can sometimes be a challenge. So when Brittany’s SO’s Mom was in town, they decided to treat her to a night at one of the best theaters in the Bay Area, Berkeley Rep, to see their current show Party People. Since the play is partially about fostering intergenerational dialogue, we figured why not do a Drama Talk & Drinks Parent-Visit edition!

Brittany: One of the biggest problems with the current theatre scene, at least in my opinion, is it tends to play it too safe and fall back on what’s already been done. We see so many revivals and classics being remounted, and even with new plays lots of topics have been revisited ad nauseum. There’s definitely something to be said for timeless theater, but it’s hard to stay relevant without taking some risks. This play takes risks.

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Drama Talk & Drinks: “There aren’t a lot of black people left in San Francisco”

Katie & Brittany sat down with Eric Reid, who is starting a new theater company aimed at providing meaningful roles for people of color. Which is awesome. SF has a real diversity problem. Specifically, the African American population is disappearing. And there is far too little effort being made to address this. Eric missed a World Series game to talk with them, so the least you could do is look at his flyer (below), which is also awesome. Here’s their report:

A press release came across our inbox about a new-to-us theater company called Theatre Madcap that was doing a “deliberately diverse” production of True West. Even though we knew we couldn’t make the show to review it, we were intrigued. So we asked the Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Eric Reid, to coffee to tell us about his company and his show.

Katie: Tell us about Theatre Madcap.

Eric: We started it, my wife and I that is, about 2 and a half years ago. We started it really because as a black actor I’m frustrated that I can’t find a lot of roles for myself, or If I’m auditioning for something it’s always “ethnicity ambiguous” roles, nothing really for black folks or persons of color at all. So I thought if it’s going to be hard to be in theater, I might as well do it myself and struggle for moi.

Brittany: What have you been working on so far?

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The faux Elbo

As conversation continues about the future of The Elbo Room, NBC built a fake version for their family drama, Parenthood, which takes place in Berkeley. Emily Savage spotted the exterior, which utilizes the font, but not the layout.

Guys, they made a fake Elbo Room in LA for the Parenthood set.

A photo posted by @tofuandwhiskey on

Back in reality, Matt Shapiro, co-owner of the club, explains their current situation on their Facebook page:

OK…the blogs are about to roll out the latest “news”…some with more hyperbole than others…
Here is what is really happening:
We are aware of the building owners plans to build condos on this property…Whether they get approval from the city and how long it will take is really anyone’s guess. The one thing that is definite is our lease goes for another year – Matt Shapiro, Elbo Room co-owner.

The brunch unicorn

[via hello, cheetle.]

Check out our previous unicorn coverage below.

A Drama Talk & Drinks special: The future of SF nightlife

Ignoring The Space Between Windows
[file photo by Ariel]

As a passionate theater and event-goer, Brittany went to a forum on the future of SF’s nightlife amid recent closings due to economic and cultural shifts in the city, as well as neighbor complaints. Here’s her report:

Empty Sign
[file photo by Ariel]

People are moving into cities for a reason. We endure small apartments, high prices and the discomfort of living on top of each other to gain access to the inspiration and entertainment that comes with being surrounded by crazy creative people. Arts and culture are the lifeblood of what makes any city unique, particularly San Francisco.

I review theater here because I want to shine a light on one element of what makes our city so great (even if I don’t always love what I see). So when I heard CMAC (California Music and Culture Association) was hosting a “Supervisor Nightlife and Entertainment Forum” allowing Supervisor candidates to “discuss their visions for the future of nightlife and culture in San Francisco.” I wanted to hear what they had to say.

Something About The Elbo Room
[file photo by Ariel]

With the SF Bay Guardian closing announcement happening earlier in the day, the conversation about what will happen to SF if our arts and culture can’t make the rent seemed more urgent than ever. Which is why it was disconcerting that only three candidates — Supervisor Scott Weiner, Supervisor Jane Kim, and Juan-Antonio Carballo — out of six who were invited to participate even made it to the event.

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Drama Talk & Drinks: SO MUCH BLOOD!

Katie was busy, so Brittany brought a friend from the theatre world to a crazy, bloody, sexy, puppety show that sounds like a lot of fun. Here’s their report:

Katie is a bit of a buzz-kill when it comes to Halloween (sorry Katie). She hates dressing up, doesn’t like scary movies and gore makes her queasy. Brittany, on the other hand, has her requisite costume box in the closet and grew up on Tales From The Crypt. So when we got the press release about Thrillpeddlers Shocktoberfest 15: The Bloody Debutant and Katie was busy, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to call in our friend Michael St. Clair, a lecturer in the Theater and Performance Studies department at Stanford who’s been known to wear a costume even outside of Halloween reverie, to come along and review the show.

Brittany: So Michael, for your introductory Drama Talk & Drinks review, what did you think about the show?

Michael: It was brilliant. It was at least 50% more fun than I expected it to be.

B: That was, in my opinion, absolutely delightful.

M: If you don’t like comedy/sex/violence, or lots of gore, of fake blood, or demon summoning, or things flying in your face, it’s not the show for you. But if you like those things . . .

B: And like kinky fetish stuff . . .

M: Spiced up with a bucket of blood and terrible things . . .

B: SO MUCH BLOOD!

M: . . . Then you’ll love it.

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Drama Talk & Drinks: Are you okay with tangents?

Last month I saw Old Hats at ACT. Bill Irwin is amazing. It was a really fun show, but I think that title would keep younger audiences away. If the theatre wants to get a new generation coming out, and they need to, they should really adopt a more modern naming convention, as this does this column. Katie & Brittany recently saw The Late Wedding, and while the title may not get you out of your chair, they say the play is worth it. Here’s their report:

[photo by Pak Han]

About a year ago Katie read a play called The Hundred Flowers Project by Christopher Chen in Theatre Bay Area magazine. She liked it so much she told Brittany “Whenever another Christopher Chen play is produced, we need to go”. That time arrived. Crowded Fire Theater Company commissioned the world premiere of Chen’s new work, The Late Wedding, and it’s now playing at The Thick House.

Katie: I really enjoyed the freshness of the format and devices Chen used. It really brought the audience into the story, and I liked that. I thought the staging was really neat, and the set was awesome. It was so inventive and the use of the space was creative, just that alone is worth seeing.

Brittany: I was continuously interested. At times I felt like the play was throwing me around, but it was fun how the playwright acknowledged it. I loved the asides to the audience, where they said, “That was weird huh, this is why” or “Relax and just go with it”. In the opening monologue we’re told to “trust the play and let it take you somewhere”, so after that I was open to it taking me anywhere, even though I didn’t always know where it was going.

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Gearing up for Halloween?

Hoping for some sweet haunted houses in the neighborhood this year. I know Adobe Books is building one as we speak.

Christopher F. Smith spotted the above evidence on Mission Street last night. Hopefully it was purchased for a joyful reason.

Drama Talk & Drinks: “I’m all about the orgy”

Katie & Brittany saw Pippin, yes Pippin, and really liked it! It sounds pretty sweet. And while we’re (they’re) speaking (writing) of Bob Fosse and Ben Vereen, check out The Jazz Singer, the final scene is one of my favorite in all of cinema. Here’s their report:

An over-educated privileged youth graduates college and desperately searches for something meaningful to do with his life. He tries war, drugs, casual sex, Burning Man-esque orgies, social revolution, religion, and even farming, but still feels unfulfilled. This may sound like every millennial we love to hate, but this time the youth is a prince, the son of Charles the Great, the Ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, and his ennui is the driving coming-of-age story behind the 1972 hit musical Pippin, which won the Tony for best revival in 2013. This lesser known Broadway classic has oddly been Brittany’s favorite musical since she was a little kid (maybe she identified with the privileged angst), so when we found out the tour was coming through SF, Drama Talk & Drinks had to go.

Katie: Wow, so I had no expectations walking in. It’s a musical I’ve heard nothing about, aside from what you’ve told me. So the whole time I was like WHAT! There was a lot going on, and I was a bit overstimulated, but not in a bad way. It was a lot of fun. A real spectacle. It was spectacle spectacle spectacle until the end, and even that was spectacle. I kept trying to guess what the original was like.

Brittany: AWESOME! Yay, I’m glad you liked it. I come into this show with the craziest bias, because I’m pretty sure I’m one of the only people under the age of 30 for whom this is a favorite musical. I watched the movie of the original with Ben Vereen in it at least 100 times. So whereas you were trying to figure out what was revival what wasn’t, I was thinking, “Okay, that dance is the same”, “WHOA, that’s different”, throughout the whole show. It was great seeing what a fresh take on this show can be, and I liked it!

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What would you do with Fleet Week’s million?

On last week’s Roll Over Easy my fellow Mission Mission contributors Luke and Chris talked about the joys of watching the Blue Angels buzz the city during Fleet Week. They pointed out that there are always complaints about the noise and rattling windows. But there have also been complaints about the cost. Last year KQED suggested that it costs about $1 million to fly the planes over SF. Luke and Chris thought they brought a lot of joy to people, with no specific cost to anyone who wanted to watch (excepting residents’ tax money). Beyond that, I would assume that they’re meant to sustain excitement and support for our military might and justify its spending.

[photo by John 'K']

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the Angels. Their skill is impressive, but it’s not my thing, and I agree that the noise is annoying in that it’s not opt-in. So, I invite you here to speculate with me about what we could do with one million dollars that would still not really accomplish anything, but would bring joy to all kinds of people around the Bay Area, with no added cost to them.

What would you do? What would you like to see?

Here’s my stab at it: a life sized At-At standing with the Oakland cranes shooting It’s Its all over the Bay Area. Now, I know there are people out there who aren’t Star Wars fans (I’m not), and people who can’t tolerate ice cream (I can’t), but even so, how cool would this be??

 

Ariel Dovas

Posts: 718

Email: ariel (at) missionmission.org

Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eviloars/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/eviloars

Biographical Info:

This guy moved to the neighborhood from his hometown of Santa Cruz in '93. Now he makes movies and does a bunch of other weird stuff.