We at Arts & Life are thrilled to be in the Bay Area, where there is no shortage of theater, from student shows to community productions to large professional theaters. Here are some of our favorite theaters and their wonderful student discounts.
“Daring to be authentic.” That’s the way Amy Freed approaches the theater she creates, both as a playwright and as a director. Next quarter, she’ll be tackling Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” in conjunction with Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” for the Department of Theater and Performance Studies’s (TAPS) annual Undergraduate Acting Project.
We talked with three second-year graduate students, Jessi Piggott, Audrey Moyce, and Vivek Narayan, about their upcoming projects and their experiences in Stanford’s Ph.D Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) program.
It’s only fall quarter but the student theater groups on campus are already working on the many exciting shows they’ll be producing this quarter. Below are five of the shows that we at Arts & Life are looking forward to seeing between now and Thanksgiving break.
Chances are, you’ll leave “Sleep No More” at least a little dissatisfied and frustrated — it’s designed that way, to get you to come back — but it would be hard to deny that it’s anything but intoxicating. Part immersive theater, part installation art, this Off-Broadway production produced by the British company, Punchdrunk, began its run in New York in 2011, and it’s still running, often to sold-out shows. Spanning six stories of the complex called the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea, you spend about three hours — or less, if you’re as unlucky as I was to be pulled out of it too soon — exploring an extremely elaborate set and following actors, racing from one room to the next, as they act out a story very loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
Upon arriving at the McKittrick, and after checking all coats and bags, you’re sent down a twisting, barely lit hallway, until you reach the lounge where drinks are served and several bands will eventually play. From there, you’re handed a white mask and ushered into an elevator to be taken up to the top floor of the complex — that is, of course, assuming you aren’t the last one into the elevator, for that person is first deposited, alone, on a lower floor. The rules are laid out by a flirtatious guide: you’re free to explore, but you are not to utter a sound while you do it. Then, it begins.
Even geniuses write dud plays — “The Comedy of Errors” is Shakespeare’s — but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better production of it than the current one at the California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda. As the flimsy but funny story of mistaken identities, thanks to two sets of identical twins, “Errors” is a precursor to Shakespeare’s later — and better — play, “Twelfth Night,” which CalShakes staged wonderfully in the winter. Starting with last year’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” probably Wilde’s weakest play, CalShakes has been making it a habit to stage early, lesser works by otherwise excellent playwrights. Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of clever couplets and great, extended jokes in “Errors” — including a long-form one about a rather massive and spherical love interest for Dromio — but the characters are largely sketches, forgotten as quickly as the laughter they brought on stage.
While the Flying TreeHouse may have grown out of a simple desire to educate and entertain, members of Stanford’s combo teaching/theater/comedy club have sought to do something more in their shows—to promote creativity and imagination in an age of standardized tests and common curriculums.
How do we reconcile our sexuality with our faith? That is the question at the heart of “Next Fall,” a play by Geoffrey Nauffts that opened its Bay Area premiere run Wednesday at San Jose Repertory Theatre.