The Balcony at the Old Mint

the balcony The Balcony at the Old Mint

I worried that I’d be too tired to go see the play I’d committed to seeing last weekend. It was a school weekend for me, which meant that I’d be in classes for almost eleven hours, classes that are intense and emotional and engaging. And yet, I felt so drawn to the play that I decided to push past the wall of tiredness and see it anyway. I walked the short distance to see The Balcony at The Old Mint in a windstorm, which seemed to appropriately set the stage for the ominous, slightly surreal play.

I’d been to The Old Mint once before, to see a lecture with my sister on sustainable gardening when the building had first reopened to the public. I was mesmerized then by the unique architecture of this historic space, with its cavernous rooms and dungeon-like vaults and labyrinth of doors opening one space onto another onto another into a courtyard. There couldn’t have been a better space picked for this play that is immersive without being interactive (a key point, because I love to be right-up-in-the-thick-of-it but definitely wasn’t in the mood to interact as a part of the theater).

balcony The Balcony at the Old Mint

The play begins in the rooms in the basement where gold used to be stored in the days when this was a money vault. Four different scenes happen simultaneously and the viewers get to wander from room to room at their own whim. I was a little worried about this part because I had mixed reactions to a similar set-up at a Speakeasy-themed play last year. I loved that one in the end but it took awhile to adjust to moving about without direction. In this case, the vignettes stood on their own and I didn’t feel pressure to catch every scene of The Balcony’s four starting scenes. Additionally, the cast of characters that weren’t in the scenes were available in the hallway to quickly direct viewers to the spots they might want to check out next. The thirty minutes went quickly and I enjoyed stepping in and out of various scenes.

Truth be told, I might not have known exactly what those scenes were about if it weren’t for the handy program that provided me with that information. The combination of walking in and out of scenes with the old-fashioned language made catching the nuances of the plot difficult. But I think that would have been the case had the play taken place in a more linear fashion on a traditional stage as well and this setting worked better because it offered a close-up, intriguing look at the set and costumes and characters. It was a good experience.

the balcony 2 The Balcony at the Old Mint

The group was then ushered upstairs and the following five longer scenes took place one after the other, allowing the story to unfold and become clearer as the time went on. Mind you, it’s a French play written more than 100 years ago, so it’s not clear in the way that a contemporary play is clear, but the story of a revolution, the play-within-a-play, the specific characters’ stories all do become clear. Each scene takes place in a different room so the whole group of viewers comes into the room, led by costumed ushers who generally fit well into the scene.

balcony4 The Balcony at the Old Mint

I have to say that I loved the costumes of this play. Some of them (the dress of the Queen, for example) reminded me of couture wearable art that you might see at a DeYoung fabric / fashion exhibit. Others were more handcrafted and cheesy but in a way that worked. Streetwear was combined with unique artistic elements that were eye-catching and interesting.

The caliber of the actors is also notable. Not that I’ve ever questioned that here in San Francisco where we have amazing small theatre groups. Still, there were several characters in this play that really stood out as amazing actors. Irma, the Queen, was seductive and powerful. Carmen was glorious in tall heels and extravagant facial expressions. Sometimes the actors cast into specific roles were unpredictable, seeming to reflect the make-up of San Francisco’s diversity in a way that worked for this play. See the full cast here.

balcony 3 The Balcony at the Old Mint

The final scene plays out in a large room that looks out onto a courtyard and a portion of the scene is actually watched through the windows. It’s a unique experience. If you want to see a unique historic play in a unique historic building (a building that you really should visit even if for some reason you don’t make it to the play), The Balcony runs Th-Sat this weekend and next weekend. Tickets here.

share save 171 16 The Balcony at the Old Mint

This Lingering Life Nominated for 8 Theatre Awards

show 119 top This Lingering Life Nominated for 8 Theatre Awards

This Lingering Life by Theatre of Yugen, a play I reviewed herehas been nominated in eight categories in the inaugural year of the Theatre Bay Area (TBA) Awards, which are to be held Monday, November 10th here in San Francisco.

 Individual Artist Award Category

 This Lingering Life Nominated for 8 Theatre Awards

  • Chiori Miyagawa* for Outstanding World Premiere Play
  • Michael Gardiner for Outstanding Original Underscore
  • Hideta Kitazawa for Outstanding Creative Specialty

Tier III Production Category

JubilthMoore ThisLingeringLife This Lingering Life Nominated for 8 Theatre Awards

  • Jubilith Moore for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor
  • Lluis Valls for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor
  • Callie Floor for Outstanding Costume Design
  • Mikiko Uesugi for Outstanding Scenic Design
  • Allen Willner for Outstanding Lighting Design

Good luck wishes to everyone for their amazing creative efforts in putting together this piece.

share save 171 16 This Lingering Life Nominated for 8 Theatre Awards

Describe San Francisco in One Word

How might a person describe this city of mine in one word. I was intrigued to see the responses in this video (via The Bold Italic):

I think if I were going to pick just one word to describe this city, it would be playful. There are so many opportunities to play here … to play with your own identity, to play with others in activities. More than anywhere else I’ve ever been, adults embrace the joy of play.

share save 171 16 Describe San Francisco in One Word

Color Me Badd at Monarch

IMG 7555 650x871 Color Me Badd at Monarch

My beaux and I originally met on the How About We dating site. A few months ago, we joined their relatively new site for couples where you pay a monthly fee and get a monthly date for free along with discounts on various dates. We’ve done some fun things through them although I’m not sure it’s worth the $18 monthly fee. A recent example of that was our date at Monarch, which was a fun date but not worth the $18 we paid just to get a free date for the month.

Color Me Badd

random coloring art Color Me Badd at Monarch

The date was called Color Me Badd and was supposed to be a date for two at happy hour at Monarch. It was advertised as having 90’s slow jams and risque coloring plus two free vodka drinks. I assumed that there would be dancing since I’ve been to the two-level bar before but the bottom level with the dance floor was actually closed so it was just lounging. The music wasn’t danceable anyway; there were no slow jams and whatever was playing was more in the family of heavy metal than anything nostalgic.

Continue reading

share save 171 16 Color Me Badd at Monarch

More from the Cartoon Art Museum

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I’d been to the Cartoon Art Museum recently to see a women’s comic artist exhibit and a Ninja Turtles art exhibit. Here are a few more things I saw during that visit.

Animation Camera

img 7026 More from the Cartoon Art Museum img 7027 More from the Cartoon Art Museum img 7028 More from the Cartoon Art Museum More Comic Artimg 6988 More from the Cartoon Art Museum img 7008 More from the Cartoon Art Museum img 7010 More from the Cartoon Art Museum img 7012 More from the Cartoon Art MuseumThis one amused me because it’s about the tragedy of gas prices rising … and it was done in 1920. Some things never change!
img 7031 More from the Cartoon Art Museum

share save 171 16 More from the Cartoon Art Museum

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles … 30 Years?!

Yesterday I mentioned that I’d been to the Cartoon Art Museum recently. I went to go see a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles art exhibit. It’s there because it’s the 30th anniversary of the Ninja Turtles. It was so weird to see childhood toys and drawings that were in my home now placed in a museum as vintage ephemera! I wasn’t interested in TNMT myself but my little brother and sister loved the movies (VHS tapes at the time) and had all of the action figures. To think that those are now museum-worthy is just so weird!

img 7014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ... 30 Years?! img 7015 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ... 30 Years?! img 7016 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ... 30 Years?!

Continue reading

share save 171 16 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ... 30 Years?!

Pretty in Ink: Female Comic Writer Art Exhibit

I’ve had it on my radar to go to the Cartoon Art Museum for awhile but I hadn’t actually been motivated to go until recently. It was actually the Ninja Turtles exhibit I went to go see (more on that here on the blog tomorrow) but I fell in love with another exhibit there called Pretty in Ink. It highlights the work of female comic writers/ artists, which I thought was really interesting to explore.

img 6989 Pretty in Ink: Female Comic Writer Art Exhibit It was interesting to learn about how women cartoonists had work during WWII and then the work kind of dried up after the men returned home but a few persistent women continued with their art. It was also interesting to see the different type of humor, the unique content and the fashion illustration inspiration in the women’s comic art. And it was fun to see the different styles of women’s comics over different eras.img 6990 Pretty in Ink: Female Comic Writer Art Exhibit img 6991 Pretty in Ink: Female Comic Writer Art Exhibit Continue reading

share save 171 16 Pretty in Ink: Female Comic Writer Art Exhibit