30 July 2013

fun stuff I may or may not get to: August 2013

The usual performance season heats up in September of course, as does the Bay Area weather, but if you want to escape the melancholy of late summer (I don't mean the usual end-of-summer "as the sun set, a bit earlier than usual, I felt a sudden oncoming chill" sort of thing, but a listless, grinding sense to the days – am I the only one who always feels this?), you can't go wrong with these possibilities; though I also don't discount the appeal of just relaxing for a while. Every summer my concert calendar dwindles to what most people would consider normal (that is, almost nothing), and I always think I'm going to get caught up on all sorts of things, but I somehow don't. I've been staring out at my yard, and thinking of the beautiful lacy plants (officially "weeds") that suddenly appeared last spring, and how I decided they were so attractive I wouldn't pull them up; and now, in the dead of summer, their delicate white flowers have turned into horrible little beige burrs that stick remorselessly on anything that brushes them however lightly. I walk out to water my heirloom tomatoes and I return with my shoelaces, pants, shirt, and cap covered with these things; they even cling to my body hair, and brushing them off with a bare hand means tiny prickly stingers annoy your flesh the rest of the day (brushing them off also means you're spreading the seeds for a thicker onslaught next spring, so I can't fault the ingenious evolutionary adaptation there). They quite literally won't come out in the wash, either. It seems like some sort of allegory (as by some aesthete John Bunyan) for the punishments waiting those who heedlessly and whimsically surrender to fanciful beauty, careless of the painful consequences. Anyway, enjoy! Next spring those plants will be uprooted remorselessly. Who's laughing now, O Evolutionary forces?

Sarah Cahill plays music by Henry Cowell, Samuel Carl Adams, Ann Southam, John Kennedy, and Shinji Eshima (the premiere of Delta 88, with the composer in attendance) at Old First Concerts on 2 August.

The Merola Opera program presents its second opera this summer, Le Nozze di Figaro, at the Everett Middle School Auditorium, 1 and 3 August; their grand finale takes place at the Opera House, 17 August at 7:30, during which the Merolini will sing such a wide range of selections that the concert sounds as if it will be practically a history of opera in kaleidoscopic survey form.

At the Ashby Stage, the Shotgun Players have extended the run of Josh Kornbluth's Sea of Reeds until 18 August; I highly recommend it – just putting that out there in case I don't get a chance to write it up while it's still running. There's other stuff going on in that space as well: Shotgun Cabaret and First Person Singular present Love in the Dark: Pauline Kael at the Movies, adapted from Kael's work and directed by Joe Christiano, with Mary Baird as Kael, for two nights only: 5 August is sold out, but the added performance on 6 August still has seats available. And at the end of the month, Shotgun Players presents Bonnie and Clyde, written by Adam Peck and directed by Mark Jackson, 27 August to 29 September.

Also at the end of the month Aurora Theater kicks off its 22nd season with After the Revolution by Amy Herzog, directed by Joy Carlin; 30 August to 29 September.

Enjoy some diva glamness at the Symphony on 9 August as Jessye Norman sings "the American songbook" (you know – American lieder), accompanied by Mark Markham on piano. The Symphony has had some really interesting summer programs this year, which I usually found out about after they had happened, which is my fault for assuming their summer series would all be pops-type stuff that I wasn't much interested in – I particularly regret missing Cameron Carpenter on organ accompanying a showing of Battleship Potemkin. Damn!

The Lamplighters revive the delightful Iolanthe for most weekends in August, but in different locations; check here for details.

Cal Peformances kicks off early with the Goat Rodeo Sessions, featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and guest Aoife O'Donovan, up at the Greek Theater on 24 August.

TheatreFIRST in its new home at the Live Oak Theatre in Berkeley opens its season with Sarah Ruhl's adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, directed by Domenique Lozano, 15 August to 15 September. I re-read the novel in anticipation of probably going to see this, but . . . maybe that was a mistake, since it only reinforced my feeling that Orlando doesn't really lend itself to adaptation: you read the book for the richly beautiful prose, for the quicksilver wit and intelligence, the passing reflections on time and memory, and the clever capsule history of literature and the literary life in England from the Elizabethans up to 1928, when the novel was written (though, as is often the case with Woolf, you are also likely to wince several times at her casual racism and fatuous snobbery). Those are mostly things that come from the narrative voice, and will mostly be lost when you turn the story into live-action-with-dialogue. Several years ago I did see the movie version (Tilda Swinton was in it, and I think Billy Zane as well, though I can't remember what he played, and was Quentin Crisp Queen Elizabeth I? that at least was clever), and found it mildly amusing and mostly forgettable and not at all up to the novel. So on the one hand I'm curious to see what Ruhl has done with it; on the other, I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe she's concentrated on what you might call the gender stuff, which may well have been fresh and provocative in 1928 but which this time around struck me as the least interesting part of the book; I just feel those leftovers have been reheated and served forth way too many times already. Well, perhaps I shall take a chance; all theater is experimental, and you don't know unless you show up and pay attention.

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