Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Things You Should Do in SF This April, Because I Can't

Here's a first-world problem for you: living in a vibrant city and being reluctant to take a vacation to visit other vibrant cities, because there are so many fun artsy events in your home city that you'll miss out on when you go away.

I'm going to be on vacation the last 2 weeks of April (3 days in NYC, 7 days in Paris, 3 days in Oxford), and I'm really excited about it, but that doesn't prevent me from wishing that I could somehow also experience all of these other things that are happening in San Francisco while I'm gone.

1. Independent Bookstore Day -- This started in California two years ago and has expanded nationwide: 400+ indie bookstores host special community events and sell exclusive merchandise. Last year, I went to my local indie bookstore, Green Apple Books on the Park, and bought some tea towels with a quote from San Francisco's own Lemony Snicket: "It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read." (Truth.) A hopeful, optimistic, literary-themed event, Independent Bookstore Day makes me feel a little better about my community and about the world. Happening this year on Saturday, April 30.

2. 826 + KML = BFFs -- This is another thing I did last year and would repeat if I were in town. Sketch-comedy troupe Killing My Lobster (KML) teams up with the kids'-literacy organization 826 Valencia, teaches some adorable children how to write sketches, and then stages their work. The kids' sketches are absurd, hilarious, bizarre, and proof that comedy doesn't require sex, cursing, or antisocial behavior to be funny. I saw this show last year with my friend Sam Bertken, who loved it so much that he's acting in it this year, and I wish I could see that, because it promises to be delightful. Happening at Pianofight, April 28, 29, and 30.

3. Love & Friendship -- Whit Stillman's new film, a Jane Austen adaptation, is the opening-night attraction at the SF International Film Festival on April 21. I'll be seeing it when it's released in mid-May, of course, but how cool would it be to see it at the Castro Theater with an audience of film buffs, in the presence of Stillman and his leading lady Kate Beckinsale? If you go and mingle with the stars, be sure to tell me so that I can be jealous.

4. t. gondii presents the lovesickness circus -- For the first time in 5+ years, I have to miss a Theater Pub show! This is a world premiere by Katharine Sherman, starring Soren Shane Santos as a rat who takes a cat (Marlene Yarosh) to a circus hosted by a parasite (Jeunee Simon). It sounds like one of the more off-kilter things Theater Pub has ever done and I wish I could spend a night at the Lovesickness Circus for myself! Happening at PianoFight, April 18, 19, 25, and 26. $10 suggested donation.

5. Colossal -- I have heard nothing but good things about San Francisco Playhouse's latest show, a 60-minute, hybrid dance/theater piece about football, fathers and sons, and toxic masculinity. Yeah, there's a part of me that thinks "This is so short, I could still find time to see it in the next few days," but I'm so busy running around town preparing for my trip that I don't think I can make that happen. But it runs through April 30, so you still have time to get tickets and see it!

6. The bunnies at Civic Center -- This is another thing that's already around, but I probably will not have time to experience before I leave. A new public art installation, at Civic Center Plaza through April 25, consists of giant inflatable white rabbits. Pagan symbols of springtime fertility? Postmodern kitsch geared toward Instagram selfies? An allusion to the song "White Rabbit" by classic S.F. band Jefferson Airplane? I wish I could see and decide for myself.

7. ShortLived Championship Round -- A play of mine competed in Round 3 of ShortLived but narrowly lost to "Goodsell, Good Life" by Tommy Lazer and Suzil Von -- now the 6 winning plays of the last 6 weeks will compete against one another for the $5000 grand prize. I'm kind of rooting for Tommy and Suzil, because there is more dignity and prestige in losing to a play that goes on to win the grand prize, right? Another event that I probably won't be able to squeeze in before I go, this is happening at PianoFight on April 14, 15, and 16, and I hear tickets are going fast.

8. What Rhymes With America -- The Bay Area premiere of this Melissa James Gibson play, directed by my friend and fellow Theater Pub writer Robert Estes, is playing in Berkeley through April 24. I am way overdue to see Robert's work as a director and feel bad that, once more, I must decline his invitation! As a "painfully funny portrayal of everyday people working through what it means to be human in America today," it sounds like it might make a good companion piece for Will Eno's Middletown, which I DID manage to catch last week, and is at the Custom Made Theatre through April 30.

9. The Lion -- Why you gotta play me like this, ACT? You open a new theater in 2015, you emphasize that all the shows there will have longer runs (2-3 months) than the typical ACT show, and just when we all get used to that idea, you book a show there for only two weeks? I want to see The Lion as part of my burgeoning fascination with the genre that my friend Stuart has dubbed "the hipster musical," and also because the pull-quote they're using, "Only the hardest-hearted could resist!" makes me feel like I must go if I don't want to be considered an unfeeling Scrooge. Unfortunately, it closes May 1.

10. Home Invasion -- The first production by 6NewPlays, a collective of playwright-producers, is by the prolific local writer Christopher Chen, and it sounds very cool: a Hitchcock-inspired surreal murder mystery play that is being staged in living rooms around the Bay Area. Check out the interview my friend Barbara did with Chris Chen for the Theater Pub blog. Most of the performances are sold out, so I really hope they might choose to revive it at a later date! For more:

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