“Leaving the Blues”: Alberta Hunter Comes OUT, at NCTC, San Francisco

“Leaving the Blues”: Alberta Hunter Comes OUT, at NCTC, San Francisco

Jewelle Gomez Exposes Our Star-Spangled Bigotry  by Kim Waldron Playwright Jewelle Gomez and Director Arturo Catricala bring home a painful truth in the brand new play “Leaving the Blues.” We know bigotry hurts the victim and corrupts the oppressor. We prefer to forget that bigotry also compels the persecuted to betray one another to survive.   Internationally renowned 1920s Blues singer and song-writer Alberta Hunter had the backbone to face Jim Crow laws, homophobia, and misogyny over her long career. But…

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“Roe” Versus Women, Mothers, Others, at Berkeley Repertory Theatre

“Roe” Versus Women, Mothers, Others, at Berkeley Repertory Theatre

The play draws us in with the tension of competing narratives: the story as told by polished lawyer Sarah Weddington (Sarah Jane Agnew) who, along with Linda Coffee (a convincingly eccentric Susan Lynskey), argued the case; and the life and opinions of spunky Norma McCorvey (Sara Bruner), the pregnant and feisty “Roe,” who claims the lawyers deceived her into pressing the case.

“John” Summons the Uncanny, at A.C.T., San Francisco

“John” Summons the Uncanny, at A.C.T., San Francisco

Annie Baker’s People Are Haunted—Not the House by Kim Waldron A play that includes orgasm from congress with the universe, a shaky partition between the real and the otherworldly, looking for love in the wrong places, as well as deep philosophical matters, asks a great deal of attention from an audience. In the case of “John” by Annie Baker, we have to consider a “Larger Presence” and Neoplatonism, both tossed out for our contemplation. Baker makes us think, and I,…

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“Smokey Joe’s Café” Sizzles, at Town Hall Theatre, Lafayette

“Smokey Joe’s Café” Sizzles, at Town Hall Theatre, Lafayette

Lieber and Stoller’s Whirlwind Trip Down Memory Lane by Robert M. Gardner Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that two Jewish boys from New York wrote the musical timeline of my youth. Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller are responsible for writing more than 70 songs that made the music charts and defined the music of a generation.  When they were 19 years old, they penned “Hound Dog” for Big Mama Thornton.  Then, Elvis Presley made it into the…

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