Shauna Keddy

Politics, love, and photography: ‘Time Stands Still’ in Mountain View

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Some people need to take photos to snap their chaotic perspective into focus. This is the theme of the 2009 Tony-nominated play Time Stands Still, which just enjoyed a successful run (ending Sept. 16) at TheaterWorks in Mountain View. I saw both the TheatreWorks version and the play on Broadway, and as a comparison, I found that this production kept the set and acting to high standards.

Two journalists, a couple, return from Iraq after documenting the affects of the American occupation. The woman photojournalist, Sarah Goodwin, was badly injured from a roadside bomb while on the job. This occurred when her partner, James Dodd, had already returned to New York City after witnessing an incident of especially traumatizing civilian deaths.

Although the play shows us the aftermath of their time documenting civilian casualties, their trauma is tangible. The play sparks many philosophical debates as you watch the couples personal lives, as they struggle to regain steadier footing back on home soil.

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Avant-garde chaos to deep musical connections

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“How the hell did this happen?” asks Anthony (Ant) Anderson, sitting in Willard Park, Berkeley, on a sunny afternoon. Ant lives in a house not far from here known as Church, which is where his story – and his weekly jam sessions – began. The “this” in question is his role in both the evolution of Church, and the weekly People's Jam night, which pal Dustin Smurthwaite created at a club in Oakland.

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Sweet: Berkeley Playhouse's 'Wonka'

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Sometimes when the going gets rough, it's time for a pinch of sweet nostalgia. Or, in this case, a metric ton of sweet nostalgia: through Aug. 19, the Berkeley Playhouse presents Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a hilarious, heartwarming, and lively take on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

As the title suggests, Willy Wonka (music and lyrics by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse; adapted for stage by Leslie Bricusse and Tim McDonald) stays true to the 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder (begone, Burton), with its familiar warnings about spoiled children and themes emphasizing the importance of family over materialistic obsessions. Plus, plenty of dark humor — some of which may go above younger viewers' heads, but is not wasted on older fans of this twisted tale. Read more »

Unhinged eccentricity: Outside Lands night shows

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Last week saw two alternative rock favorites headlining local venues thanks to Outside Lands night shows: San Francisco punk-Americana duo Two Gallants, and master whistler-violinist Andrew Bird. Two Gallants rocked hard as hard as always, while Bird spun fantastical sounds and tales. Read more »

Instrumental duo Silian Rail includes 'every/one'

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Do artists need vocals and lyrics to demand audience attention in a place like the Bay Area, where there are new musicians popping up left and right? Eric Kuhn and Robin Landy, better known as instrumental duo Silian Rail, have found the answer to that question to be a resounding “no.” Read more »

A surprisingly sentimental evening with Chuck Palahniuk

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"I write so that I don't forget the fascinating and heartwarming things people tell me," explained Chuck Palahniuk. He was at the Castro Theatre Mon/16 to chat about his newest book, Invisible Monsters Remix. Some audience members were disappointed that the event didn't include a book signing — but no one could deny Palahniuk's earnest nature and his deep connection to his fans.

To those who only know Palahniuk as the author of the cult hit Fight Club, one might think the man behind this contemporary classic of anarchy and disgust at our capitalist society could be a shady character. But the mind that concocted that (and other) twisted fables anchors his outlandish tales with an incredibly human element to his characters. If you look beyond Fight Club's bloody mayhem (vividly depicted in its popular film version), you'll find a story of how a white-collar businessman combats loneliness and isolation, and finds fulfillment in embracing chaos. Palahniuk is certainly not afraid of being politically incorrect in his books, but he is a much more relatable guy than you might think.

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Art breakthroughs and country music with Sonny Smith

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Sonny Smith’s dedicated yet freewhelin’ attitude towards life and art have brought him to his ninth record release this week, Longtime Companion (Polyvinyl Records), with his band the Sonny & the Sunsets. Yes, amid traveling to Central America, undertaking the sprawling “100 Records” art project, writing and performing monologues, and providing scripts for theater and film, Smith found the time to record yet another album. Read more »

The Grannies flaunt their finest digs for a good cause

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The Grannies know how to have fun. After over a decade of raucous good times, including two European tours and years of stage antics, the six remaining members of the local punk band are back, playing in Oakland Fri/22 with Midnight Bombers and the Ardent Sons.

Yet this show extends past the chaotic atmospheres of a typical Grannies show. This show is a benefit for the son of founder and lead guitarist Sluggo Cawley. Read more »

Compassion and fervor in Berkeley Rep’s 'Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men'

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"I want them to look at me, to look me in the eyes," states Dael Orlandersmith, using a British accent to portray one of at least ten different characters she plays in her tour de force solo show Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men, at Berkeley Rep through June 23.
 
After 90 minutes, the audience was definitely squirming in its seats. Orlandersmith tackles a barrage of characters, each of whom related in some degree to the subjects of mental, physical, and sexual abuse of boys and men. But despite the challenging material, I do not think many viewers would have wanted the play to be any shorter. ("There was hope in it," I heard an audience member say as we walked out of the theater.)

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Beach daze with buzzing brother act Wildlife Control

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What would it be like if a day of your life was filmed then released into the wilds of the web? Better yet, what if you and your brother were musicians, and you produced, directed, and released your first big, innovative music video – shot over a full day at Ocean Beach in San Francisco – and it ended up going viral on Youtube, before the release of a full-length album? Read more »