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TBA Online: News & Features: September 2013

Lily’s Editors’ Picks: September/October 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013  
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By Lily Janiak

The King of Hearts Is Off Again
San Francisco International Arts Festival
Oct. 2–4

During the Holocaust, Poland was the country in which both the most Jews were killed and the most Jews were rescued. That contradiction is explored in depth in Hannah Krall’s 2007 novel Chasing the King of Hearts, which is about a real-life Jewish woman, Izolda Regenberg, who sets out to save her husband from the Warsaw Ghetto by disguising herself and living as an Aryan. Poland’s Studium Teatralne, a 17-year-old avant-garde company now making its Bay Area debut, has adapted the novel for the stage, recreating its literary jumps in time by casting many different performers as Izolda at different stages in her life. Director Piotr Borowski was a student of Jerzy Grotowski’s, and Borowski has modeled his company off that famed artist’s teachings, using dance-like movement that’s sometimes furious, sometimes ritualistic, and so expressive that you often won’t have to read the English supertitles. Visit

Martina Rampulla and Gianna Benvenuto in “The King of Hearts Is Off Again.” Photo: Kazik Rolbiecki

Lily’s Other Picks

Other Desert Cities
Thru Sep. 15

Jon Robin Baitz’s Pulitzer Prize finalist, here in its regional debut in a coproduction with San Diego’s Old Globe, resembles Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance in uncanny ways: an affluent older couple—she controlling, he appeasing—who have lost a son, host a boozy sister and a troubled, recently divorced daughter. It also, like that play, is steeped in fear and polarized politics—it’s 2004, and 9/11 wounds are still raw—forming a volatile brew for an already explosive solute: daughter Brooke (Kate Turnbull) is about to publish a memoir about her Hollywood family’s tabloid-ready past. Visit

Buried Child
Magic Theatre
Sep. 11-Oct. 6

As Sam Shepard, one of America’s greatest living playwrights, turns 70 this year, many theatres around the country are celebrating by producing his plays. Few are better positioned to kick off the festivities than Magic Theatre, which premiered much of the playwright’s most influential work in the ’70s and ’80s. In the Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child, a rural Illinois clan buckling under the pressure of a horrible secret stands for a broader disintegration of traditional family norms; the play’s structure, which has elements of both Greek tragedy and surrealism, charted a new kind of drama. Visit

The Golden Dragon
Do It Live!
Sep. 12–28

This two-year-old company founded by recent SF State graduates is notable for its range, from Shepard and Churchill to Bay Area premieres, such as this kaleidoscopic play by German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig. Characters all work for or live near a “Thai/Chinese/Vietnamese fast food restaurant,” but language and style practically span the history of theatre. From the kitchen sink naturalism of barked menu orders to Brechtian narration of stage directions to the rhythmic repetition of words and phrases to the fable of the grasshopper and the ant, this work offers a dish for every linguistic taste. Visit

Lily Janiak is the listings editor for Theatre Bay Area. E-mail her at