All posts tagged: theater

Three Decades of Dance in the Mission

In 1980, Sears moved out of its building on Army street (renamed Cesar Chavez in 1995) and the building became legally zoned as ‘live/work’ – a major coup for artists at that time.  Deborah Slater’s friend, Judith Lit, heard the news by chance, and the two were able to visit the building and pick their studio. Founded by Jenny Debouzek, Deborah Slater, Judith Lit, Michelle Larsson and soon joined by Helen Dannenberg, the space was named Studio 210 and very quickly became a favorite rehearsal location for San Francisco-based dancers, theater troupes, musicians, and other performing artists.  Since then, more than two hundred artists have used the space for various purposes. Currently, the studio has a few main functions: It houses Studio 210 Summer Artist Residency Program, established in 2012. They offer space, mentorship, and performance opportunities to emerging and established artistic talent in the Bay Area.  It is also home to Deborah Slater Dance Theater, founded in 1989 and offers space for classes in improvisation, rehearsals of all stripes, and the Bare Bones Butoh Festival. Deborah Slater Dance …

fairytale players golden thread productions middle east youth

Escape with the Zany Fairytale Players

This past weekend, the Bay Area was bursting with events that snarled roads and packed public transit. It happens this time of year. I found myself at an all-day theater forum, motivated, honestly, by the kids’ show.  The Golden Thread Fairytale Players enthralled.  As very grown up as I am, I’m still under the spell of children’s theater. It started when I was seven and saw a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in a garden (ok, not exactly a kids’ show). When the winged fairies burst into the crowd and pulled us kids onto the stage, I was terrified and thrilled. I’d been drawn into wonderland.  It happened again on Sunday. Here’s a taste. Golden Thread’s Fairytale Players creates and performs a repertoire of educational theater performances based on stories and traditions from the Middle East. The Players employ epic story-telling, physical theatre and circus arts techniques and are trained in various theatre disciplines including traditional Middle Eastern performance styles and folk dance. Performances are designed to travel and are booked at schools, libraries, …

theater Bay Area Middle East Syria

ReOrient: Middle East on the Bay

Our last post, a chat with journalist Jamal Dajani, questioned the line between news and entertainment when it comes to reporting on the Middle East. This week we offer an alternative to news and fully embrace entertainment, namely theater, as a means to see the region beyond the headlines. ReOrient 2015, a festival of plays and a discussion forum, comes our way every two years. It opens September 10, bringing two slates of plays to San Francisco.  Golden Thread Productions will stage eight short plays, plays written and performed by artists from Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the U.S. Filming the designers, actors and directors during their first reading brought the scope of ReOrient home for me.  Participants came with a range of prior knowledge about the Middle East and a unified enthusiasm for learning and creating art. Between September 10 and October 4, ReOrient rolls out plays, talkbacks, panels, roundtable conversations, a family show, and an Arabic folk music recital.  Chosen from submissions from across the globe, …

Motti Lerner: I am trying to deal with fear

Motti Lerner is an Israeli playwright whose more recent plays have been rejected in Israel, and staged only in Europe and US for dealing with controversial political issues (including Coming Home, Pangs of the Messiah, The Murder of Isaac, and Benedictus). In SF Motti Lerner’s works have been produced by Golden Thread Productions and I had the honor of taking production photographs and observing the playwright at work. A couple of months ago, Motti held a three-day writer’s workshop at the Playwrights Foundation. I had the pleasure of meeting him again and chatting about literature, his plays, Chekhov’s influence on his work, love and life in general. G.B.  How would you describe the creative process? M.L. I never use the word creative process for it, but rather, hard work. Not because there’s no creativity but because it’s mostly hard work. In writing there’s a lot of research and learning involved. Of course there’s a moment when you start creating the characters and the creative ideas come from associations, but the hard work is to choose among all …

Interconnections that spark art & audience

Last year, London native Michael French launched Aluminous, a resident theater company at The Flight Deck in Oakland. He moved to the Bay Area after 12 years in New York and in Colorado. What brought you to the Bay Area? I’ve been here five years. I came here to start a theater company and to meet like-minded people, which I’d been struggling to do in Colorado.  I said to myself, I have to do this in San Francisco, it couldn’t be Oakland. So, I got here and I refused to look at Oakland. I just had blinkers on. I’d travel into SF (from where he lived Oakland), rent these spaces, and put on theater projects. Then, one day I remember I was standing by the MacArthur BART station and I was watching all the people go in, and I saw more people of color, more diversity in the 10-15 minutes that I was standing there than I did in the audience I was attracting in San Francisco. And, finally, I thought, what am I doing? …

Outsiders Find Home

Where is home for the outsider?  What would have happened if Duke Ellington’s right-hand man, the composer and lyricist Billy Strayhorn, went on a road trip to Isfahan with a popular Iranian actress? Golden Thread Productions joins forces with the African-American Shakespeare Company (AASC) to present the world premiere of Isfahan Blues, a new memory play from TorangeYeghiazarian inspired by Duke Ellington’s 1963 tour of Iran. With an original score from Marcus Shelby, Isfahan Blues is what might be called—to use a musical term often employed by Ellington —a “fantasia.” It aims to shed light on a little-known historical moment when a uniquely American art form inspired generations of young Iranian musicians. What would it be like for a black musician and lyricist, inspired by the life and character of Billy Strayhorn, to leave the tour and strike out on a road trip to the legendary city of Isfahan with Bella? And what was it like for an Iranian woman in the early sixties to touch a third rail in her own culture, by insisting …

Home on the Stage

When I was doing theater photography for Golden Thread Productions in San Francisco, I had the good fortune to work with director Evren Odcikin and to study his rehearsing technique and style. Over the years I grew very fond of his work, so a few months ago I invited him out for a casual conversation. We met in San Francisco’s Dolores Park one sunny afternoon and covered much ground, including theater and the meaning of home. Gohar Barseghyan: What is creativity and what’s at the center of it? Evren Odcikin: Certain people have an urge to create. You see the world, and you want to look at it a different way, you want to make it better, you want to explore what it might all mean. When I look at something I’d like to know what it is and its potential. What it could be. At the center of my creativity is the fact that I am very curious about things’ potential. GB: Where do you get your inspiration from? EO: I don’t know how …