By Laura Brueckner
Jan. 29–Feb. 23
Those who caught The Lily's Revenge at the Magic in 2011 will be either delighted or dismayed at the return of Taylor Mac, whose glittery, five-hour-long fantasia (engaging the directorial talents of Meredith McDonough, Marissa Wolf, Erika Chong Shuch, Erin Gilley and the Jessicas Heidt and Holt) left many wondering what the eff they'd just experienced—an exciting or annoying situation, depending on who you are. Hir—a world premiere—walks a different line; it's a tragedy, first off. It's also part of the recent wave of plays placing openly trans characters and their stories on stage ("hir" is a non-gender-specific pronoun used as a linguistic workaround). With issues of transphobia and who gets to represent whom on stage being such galvanizing topics in the field (see MJ Kaufman's splendid essay, "Don’t Call me Ma'am: On the Politics of Trans Casting" on HowlRound), I'll be interested to see what Hir contributes to the conversation. Visit magictheatre.org.
Taylor Mac as The Lily in The Lily's Revenge (Magic Theatre, 2011). Photo: Jose Colon
Laura's Other Picks
Bread and Circuses
Feb. 27–Apr. 6
This evening of shorts (curated by Steve Yockey and directed by Desdemona Chiang, with contributions by Yockey, Lauren Yee, Lauren Gunderson, Prince Gomolvilas, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and JC Lee) takes the old Latin homily at its word: panem et circenses, meaning not so much "circuses" as "games"—that is, gladiatorial games, the kind where people die horribly while thousands of spectators watch. This "cavalcade of brutal and bloody new short plays" explores violence as entertainment—an interesting conceit, and one with lots of potential for getting meta about what impulses we are actually gratifying when we go to the theatre. Visit impacttheatre.com.
Feb. 13–Mar. 15 (New dates!)
Speaking of meta, there's The Speakeasy. Standing on the shoulders of the Bay Area's venerable neo-cabaret scene (and likely employing some of its artistes), Nick Olivero and company are launching an immersive theatre project based on a 1920s boozer/casino during Prohibition. There is, I've been assured, a story, though audiences will be free to either follow it or pursue other activities, including drinking, gambling, drinking, watching the "dancing and singing chorus girls" and drinking. As with all interactive theatre, there's great potential for fail as well as for interesting explorations of the boundaries between performance and reality—as long as the Sazeracs are good, I'm willing to roll the dice and see what happens. Visit boxcartheatre.org.
The House That Will Not Stand
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Jan. 31–Mar. 16
I haven't yet seen a single production of Marcus Gardley's plays, so pretty much no force on earth could keep me away from this one. An Oakland native with a Yale playwriting MFA and heaps of awards for his work, often poetic and rich with mythology (such as ...and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi and the road weeps, the well runs dry), Gardley has been produced everywhere from Cutting Ball to Lincoln Center. House, a world premiere commissioned by Berkeley Rep, unfolds in a steamy 1836 New Orleans where, although white men and Creole women can live together openly as lovers, secrets can still disrupt and destroy. Visit berkeleyrep.org.
Laura Brueckner is Digital Content Manager for Theatre Bay Area. She is also director of new works at Crowded Fire Theater and a residency producer for HowlRound.