Don’t Miss a Last Chance to See Thrillpeddlers at The Hypnodrome

Thrillpeddlers - Pearls Over Shanghai - 2009 - photo by Daniel Nicoletta web res
Thrillpeddlers in Pearls Over Shanghai – 2009 Orig cast. / photo by Daniel Nicoletta

 

I remember when I first went to see Thrillpeddlers at The Hypnodrome, I had a tough time deciding between the Shock Box seats and the Turkish Lounge. Did I want the romance of being in our own little two-person cubby with extra effects or the comfort of lounging on carpets to watch the show? I went with the Shock Box, laughing when suddenly air squirted on to me, tempted to close the curtain and contain my date and I. I had only been living in the city a little while at this time and I fell in love daily with all of the quirks of San Francisco; this theater was one of those falling-in-love things.

But alas, San Francisco is a city of transience, and we are in a time of flux. Thrillpeddlers just announced that they’re losing their home at The Hypnodrome. Their future is unclear at this time. And folks who want the chance to have that unique quintessential San Francisco experience with them there, or who have been to the theater in the past and want one last blast for nostalgia, only have a few more opportunities to see shows there before the end-of-February closing.

First up: Naked Dudes Reading Lovecraft

“Marvel at some of San Francisco’s finest avant-garde actors and actresses, reading excerpts from H.P. Lovecraft’s finest works while displaying 100% visible sexy bits!”

Sat., Jan. 28, 2017 – 8:00 pm Sun., Jan. 29, 2017 – 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm

And Then: Amazon Apocalypse

Amazon Apocalypse, “Scrumbly Koldewyn’s new musical tour of Brazil and all things Samba! It’s part Fellini, part Antonio Carlos Jobim and always part Thrillpeddlers realness” was slated to run Feb. 23 – April 15, 2017. With the sudden news of the theatre’s closure, Amazon Apocalypse will be presented as a semi-staged concert for 3 nights.

Feb 9-11, 8 pm.

And Finally: Farewell to the Hypnodrome

“Bid adieu to our beloved theatre with custom made variety acts and song in this Valentine’s Day benefit final performance.”

Valentine’s Day, 7 and 9 pm

Get Your Souvenirs

There will also be a rummage sale on The Hypnodrome on 2/25-25 from 12-5 each day, where you can get good prices on set pieces, costumes, props, books, odds and ends.

What Next?

It’s hard to say what’s next for Thrillpeddlers at this juncture. In addition to Amazon Apocalypse, they had already scheduled a revival of rock musical Cybererotica for a late spring run so they have projects, just no space. The sales from these last shows and the rummage sale will assist them in relocating. In this time of difficult rental space, who knows where they will go.

But the Thrillpeddlers have moved before. They launched in 1991 and didn’t move into The Hypnodrome until 2004. At that time, they only expected to be able to stay two years, so it was completely unexpected that the move didn’t happen until now. Artistic director Russell Blackwood shared in a statement,

“In October 2016 I celebrated the 25th anniversary of directing my first Grand Guignol horror one-act play, The Laboratory of Hallucinations upstairs at 30 Rose St. across from Zuni Café. Right off the bat I knew that San Francisco would provide a singularly ideal home for this theatrical genre.

After several years of sporadic producing, including the American Premiere of Clive Barker’s Frankenstein in Love at the Bindlestiff on Howard St. in SF, Thrillpeddlers co-founder Daniel Zilber and I produced the first of 17 Shocktoberfests, a full-length bill of one-act Grand Guignol plays, sex farces and fetish variety acts. After those first three annual Shocktoberfest!!productions at The EXIT Theatre and one at The Odeon Bar, the future of our cash-strapped itinerant company was unclear.”

And of course, as Peter Lawrence Kane wrote over at SF Weekly, “have been a spiritual successor to the famed Cockettes” who first performed in North Beach and at one time took their act all the way to New York City. So it is likely that in some form the show will go on … we will just have to wait and see how that turns out. That said, it’ll never be quite the same as seeing Thrillpeddlers at Hyponodrome so take the last opportunity if you can!

Share

WhimSea! And Kat Robichaud’s Misfit Cabaret Album on Kickstarter

kat

Last week I went to a beautiful performance at The Great Star Theater, my favorite theater, to see Kat Robichaud and the Misfit Cabaret. I loved every moment of the Thursday night Whim-Sea show, and it was my intention to do a post at the time to let more people to know that they must go see it that weekend before it closed. Good intentions, and all that … all I managed to do was get a few social media posts up hoping to send people to check it out, and to share the photos that I took with a reviewer from SFist. But it’s not too late to share, because the two original songs that Kat performed were my two favorites of the night and they are going to be available on her next album, which is in Kickstarter funding right now. So, let me tell you a little about the show and then some more about the Kickstarter.

WhimSea

whimsea

Whimsea was a cabaret performance inspired by the sea so it was filled with mermaids, modern sea shanties and references to underwater-related things from olden times to pop culture. The whole thing was hosted by Kat who was the undeniable star of the show but gave great stage space to a variety of other performers.

(If you’re asking yourself is it that Kat Robichaud, yes, of course it is her because there could be no other. She did perform on The Voice where she did a great job but it’s really much, much more of a joy to see her up close and personal where she’s doing creative stage work in a way that seems so much more authentic to who she is. Not that I know her, but that’s the sense I get from watching her perform.)

waltz

From Kat’s Instagram

In any case, I absolutely agree with Joe over at SFist when he writes,  “Her act seamlessly fuses the jazz chanteuse and screwball comedy genres that have no business working so well together.” And I agree with the two star acts he named – Carnie Asada is endlessly hilarious and Frankie Fictitious is stunningly beautiful – but I disagree with his assessment that the other variety acts were somehow not up to par. The music from Rabbit Quinn and Justin Seagrave couldn’t be more different from each other and yet somehow they worked in the same performance, separated by various acts, loosely hanging together with a theme of the sea, each lending their individual musicianship to the overall perfect ebb and flow of the night.

carnie asada

But, as I said before, Kat is really the star of the show. Her voice is amazing, and it’s not just that, it’s that she is a true performance artist. She’s funny and charming and sassy and her costume changes are fabulous (plus she supports local artists and costume designers with them). She created two new original songs for the show, both of which I fell in love with. One is in honor of David Bowie, and it has the perfect tune and lyrics to exactly express why he should be honored. The other is The Last Waltz of The Wrights, which was amazing not just for the song but for the Whimsea stage performance in which two dancers dramatically perform a rock waltz about a romantic murder-suicide. It gave me chills.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 7.42.31 PM

From Kickstarter

I loved it. I love everything about Kat and her Misfits and I love everything about Great Star Theater, where they will be performing again in October for a two night show called A Very Bloody Misfit Cabaret.

Kickstart the Album

And as I mentioned, the two original Whimsea songs that I loved are going to be on an upcoming album currently on Kickstarter. It includes eight other songs from different performances. I was only able to pledge a small amount to get the music and some small bonuses but there are some awesome artistic and performance prizes at the higher donation levels … and I happen to know firsthand from my own crowdsourced funding, first through Indiegogo for Hook to Heal and now through Patreon for ongoing work, that even the smallest amount you are able to donate is truly helpful to individual artists in getting their work out there. Support amazing creative work!

Share

Low Hanging Fruit … A Play by Robin Bradford

JulianGreen_JessicaWaldman-Photo_by_MarioParnellPhotography

I’m excited to have the opportunity to see and review a play next month, and I thought I’d share a preview with you here from the press release for the event.

Low Hanging Fruit

3Girls Theatre Company (3GT) presents the San Francisco premiere of Bay Area-based playwright, Robin Bradford’s Low Hanging Fruit, which tells the compelling story of four homeless women struggling to survive on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. All military veterans, the women face nightmares brought on by their combat experiences and cluster together for quasi-safety in a small tent encampment they’ve nicknamed “The Taj Mahal.”

Low Hanging Fruit is a response to the dramatic rise in homelessness among women who have served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan. The play focuses on the aftermath of war as seen through the lives of four homeless women veterans struggling to survive on the streets of LA. The term “Low Hanging Fruit” refers to a person that can be persuaded or manipulated with little effort, suggesting that the individual is on the bottom, the easiest to reach.

Interspersing traditional dialogue with slam poetry and music, Bradford’s play catapults the audience from the present lives of the homeless characters into the devastating memories of their lives as soldiers. The play draws our attention to the shameful treatment of our returning vets and more specifically to the returning women, who are not often the subject of post war dramas. Living in a tent encampment under a freeway in LA are: Cory (Heather Gordon), a lesbian with physical as well as emotional battle scars; Maya (Livia DiMarchi), a Latina poet who dreams of a better life; Yolanda (Cat Brooks), an African American prostitute, drug addict, always looking for her next “hit’;” and Alice (Cheri Lynne VandenHeuvel, reprising her role from the LA production), an African American mother hen who watches carefully over her brood.

These women have created their own encampment under the freeway with a handmade cardboard sign that reads “Taj Mahal.” Shared military experiences equals trust in their world, and they respect one another enough to exist semi-peacefully. That is, until Cory befriends a 14 year old runaway named Canyon (Jessica Waldman) and invites the girl to stay with them at the Taj Mahal. This immediately tests relationships, pushes boundaries, and raises painful memories. Cory, in particular, who is desperate to make a lasting connection with Canyon, relates a story of war that is truly horrifying, involving not only foreign enemies, but also a commanding officer, thus shedding a light on the vile treatment that some women have faced in the military.

The play doesn’t try to explain why these veterans are homeless: it’s simply a fact given our society’s acceptance of homelessness in America. There isn’t outrage, no character rallies against the poor treatment of the returning women soldiers, but rather they accept it. It is this acceptance that makes the biggest statement. Watching these women struggle, fight, and cling to some kind of hope for themselves, we are watching the reality that perhaps no one cares, or cares enough. In the absence of societal action, these women draw strength, love, and empathy from each other.

As the play moves forward, and each character is faced with possible life changes, whether it’s Cory’s budding relationship with Canyon or Maya’s hope for getting off the streets and taking her friends with her, “Low Hanging Fruit” never relents from its central message: there is always hope, even when it seems the world doesn’t care. After serving in combat, too many of our veterans return home with varying degrees of trauma and literally fall through society’s cracks. This play seeks to open up conversations about what happens after we say “thank you for your service.”

The play premiered in LA in 2014 and went on to present month-long runs in North Carolina in 2015 and Michigan in 2016. It plays at Z Below in San Francisco from 7/6/16 – 7/30/16.

Community Nights

I am thrilled to see that there are community nights associated with this event. Four different organizations will be featured, so people attending the play on those nights (each Thursday, at 6:45 pm) can learn more about our important local San Francisco organization. There will be donations accepted for these organizations throughout the run of the play; they aren’t asking for money but instead for the things they really need to support the community.

Thursday, July 7                   North Beach Citizens, requesting new socks / underwear and other gently used clothing

Thursday, July 14                 Compass Family Services, requesting hygiene products

Thursday, July 21                San Francisco Suicide Prevention, requesting tea

Thursday, July 28                 Coalition on Homelessness, requesting blankets, socks and diapers

Play Schedule

July 6 – July 30, 2016

Previews: Wednesday, July 6 and Thursday, July 7 @ 8pm

Opening Night: Friday, July 8 @ 8pm

Thursdays and Fridays @ 8pm

Saturdays @ 2pm and 8pm

Saturday July 30 ONLY @ 2pm

Sundays @ 2pm

TICKETS

Share

Sha Sha Higby in A Paper Wing

sha sha higby

When my mom was here we went to go see a performance at Theatre Yugen. It was a solo performance by Sha Sha Higby called A Paper Wing.

theatre yugen

I was mistakenly expecting a spoken theater performance. It turned out to be more of a dance performance that emphasized the use of tons of creative costuming to tell the story. I have to be honest in saying that it was difficult for me to sit for the full hour for a performance without words. What can I say, I’m a word nerd. But all in all I found a lot to be inspired by.

sha sha higby paper wing

I didn’t know anything about Sha Sha Higby before the performance. After the performance, I was inspired to learn more about her. She says in her artist statement, “I approach dance through the medium of sculpture. I interweave painterly manipulation of physical materials and textures I make one by one from wood, paper, silk, ceramic and gold leaf with a labyrinth of delicate props. My work strives to create a path where movement and stillness meet.” I can definitely see the intersection of sculpture, costume art and dance in the work that we saw. There were several cool effects with the lighting on the props as well as with the mingling of many different masks that were visually intriguing.sha sha higby paper wingI definitely have an appreciation for her creativity and artistry!

Share

Local Theater: Stagewerx

stagewerx

I just thought I’d do a shoutout post today for a local live theater that I like: Stage Werx. I went here fairly recently to see their monthly show called Solo Sundays in which our different people perform short solo acts that they are working on.

stage werx 3

I really enjoyed the series. I think solo acts are always interesting since you’ve just got one person on the stage remembering all of their lines and they either make it or break it. (As a total aside one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen was a solo monologue over half an hour long in which the actor had taken lines from Walt Whitman and rearranged them to make a new piece.) I also always enjoy seeing works-in-progress in theater and will hopefully get a chance to eventually see how some of them turn out as finished products.

stage werx 2

I’d be interested in checking out Stage Werk’s other ongoing monthly shows, which include a storytelling series, a clown series and some other types of comedy. The theater is a small theater in The Mission. There’s nothing particularly standout about the space but it’s comfy, local and cute and the performances seem really fun.

Share