ART is a Tony Award winning play (1998 Best Play) now showing at City Lights Theater Company in San Jose. Directed by Veronica Drake and starring Kit Wilder, Jeffrey Bracco and (always my favorite) Max Tachis, it is both a very humorous and very French show. Playwright Yasmina Reza is also known for the plays Conversations After a Burial, Winter Crossing, and God of Carnage, and to be honest, she is not my favorite playwright. City Lights however has gathered a very talented cast and manages to pull off a show that had the entire audience laughing throughout.
Serge, Marc and Yvan have all been friends for many years until one day Serge buys a very expensive piece of art. He is delighted with his purchase, and shows it proudly to Marc, who promptly calls it “Sh!t” and then loses his mind when he finds out that Serge has paid 200,000 francs. Why is Marc so upset? Because the painting is a 5′ x 4′ canvas that has been painted white. All white. And while you can see three very very light diagonal white lines and one white horizontal line on the white background, the painting is indeed, entirely white.
What follows is 90 minutes of Marc belittling and berating Serge, Serge feeling very hurt and offended by Marc’s opinions, and both of them having little patience for young Yvan who appears to take whichever side is easiest at the moment. They angrily debate whether the painting is actually entirely white, or whether there are shades of grey, yellow, or even red in it. The arguments get more and more vehement, hurt and broken feelings rise to the surface, relationships within and without are questioned, and three friendships are soon on the rocks.
I have been awed by Max Tachis’ talent since I saw him starring in Renegade Theatre‘s 9 Circles; he also voiced a character in The Smell of The Kill, and wrote the play Perishable, Keep Refrigerated which is still playing at Renegade Theatre Experiment (Hoover Theater) through September 27. Nine Circles was a traumatic, cathartic performance, but here Tachis plays a more humorous role, and does it splendidly, with the most hilarious expressions and body language. He is an amazing local talent we are all very lucky to have. Kit Wilder and Jeffrey Bracco inhabit their more serious roles very well also, playing well with the three very different character personalities.
This play is for anyone interested in how relationships form and unravel or how the ties that bind in friendships can also lead to great pain. If you enjoy God of Carnage you will likely also love Art as they are very similar in tone, experience, and some themes. It is a quick, fast paced show with no intermission, and the audience on opening night had an excellent time!
Serge (Jeffrey Bracco), Marc (Kit Wilder), and Yvan (Max Tachis); photos by Mike Ko/siliconvalleydesigns.com.
There are some places you visit and you just know it’s going to be good! From the exterior Voyageur du Temps is unassuming, but once you step in the door you’re greeted with sleek cases full of jewel like pastries, classic tartines and a floor to ceiling window looking into the immaculate pastry kitchen.
All of the baked goods, from baguettes and croissants to tarts and pastries are made behind that glass wall, and it’s fun to sit and watch the chefs practicing their craft.
Voyageur du Temps is built in what was once a train station, the exterior is a long horizontal craftsman style. Inside however it has a sleek modern feel that feels very Japanese in style. That figures as the owner, Rie Rubin is originally from Japan and brought two French-trained chefs over from Tokyo to open the restaurant.
The cafe serves breakfast until 11 AM. Look for the french toast, eggs and the “Bacon Epi” a baguette with the bacon baked in, or opt for the “Tokyo Breakfast” Thick toasted bread served with butter and jam and a cup of rich drip coffee from Seattle’s Cafee Vita.
The croissants are the best I’ve had outside of San Francisco’s Tartine, who–for me at least– set the bar on French pastry in the bay area. Look for their signature “V” cubes. I got mine filled with dark chocolate and cherries. Delicious and unique.
The Tartines and salads are served all day. Some complain they are expensive and the portions small, but you have to remember that in Japan and France they aren’t gluttons like we are here in the US. Portions are exactly right and each tartine is prepared fresh and individually, not laying around in a cooler somewhere waiting to be served. The attention to quality and detail shows everywhere here.
The patio has seating nestled in the trees and I can imagine myself spending quite some time there over a cup of café aulait and a croissant.
Visit Voyageur du Temps–288 1ST St., Los Altos; 650-383-5800 open Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Mondays.
- The world premiere of Oney Anwar: Chasing the Dream, the story of an aspiring pro surfer from a remote Indonesian village, with the film producer in attendance at the screening for Q&A;
- OUT in the Line-up, a documentary that follows the founder of gaysurfers.net as he travels around the world surfing and exploring the covering up of homosexuality in surf culture, and includes interviews with well-known pro surfers who have come out of the closet. This film sold out at the San Francisco International LGBT Frameline Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival, and the San Diego Surf Film Festival;
- Tierra de Patagones, a picaresque tale of two Argentinian brothers who drive and camp their way through Patagonia to experience the wild culture and find waves;
- Beyond the Surface, a tale of a group of professional women longboarders who visit India and meet the first female Indian surfer. Director and professional surfer Crystal Thornburg-Homcy will be in attendance for a Q&A.
Remember, I am the Opera Novice, and even after several years of attending Opera SJ I still have no technical knowledge, but guess what? I still enjoy the heck out of the shows. And that is because you don’t have to be an opera aficionado to love the experience. My opera reviews are for the general public, with the hope that you will all give it a try one day and discover a new love as I have.
Since this is the beginning of the season, let’s get back to the basics. The first thing you have to do is get out your fancypants clothes and jewelry, because this is your excuse to pretend to be royalty. Then you make reservations at your favorite downtown restaurant. If you are going on Opening Night, reservations are very important, as everything is booked solid anywhere near the California Theatre. Then you just relax, have a great time, and look forward to buying a freshly baked cookie during intermission.
Rigoletto is a great show for a beginner, with over the top tragedy, a tortured clown, vengeance upon vengeance and, of course, a deflowered virgin. There is also at least one very familiar song. It is great to have familiar music when you’re a beginner; it makes you feel more comfortable, and it’s always funny to realize a tune you know from childhood is actually from a famous opera. As my guest said, “I had no idea those were the words to that tune!!” And then we sang it all the way back to the parking garage.
Rigoletto is sung in Italian, but there is a screen above the stage that shows the words in English, so you do not miss a thing. The set design for the show was not as grand as I’ve seen, but worked well in taking the audience from Rigoletto’s residence, to the outside streets, to a home in the slums where a bit of coin can buy you any favor you wish.
The orchestra was perfection as always; I really feel I do them a disservice by not having grander words for their hard work, but they are amazing. The performers were also astounding as usual, with special mention for all the hard work of Matthew Hanscom who plays Rigoletto and must sing almost constantly through all three acts. But very special mention goes to a new resident: Isabella Ivy makes her company debut as Gilda and we have a winner here. When Isabella is on stage, all eyes are on her, and though there are several songs where many people are singing different parts, you will still watch and listen only to Isabella. She has the voice, she has the power, and she has the talent. She also sings while lying down at one point, something that even an opera novice can see must be an incredible feat. I am absolutely delighted to see that Opera SJ has found such great new talent and look forward to her performances the rest of the season.
When looking to buy tickets for a show, remember that the California Theatre is very well designed, and there is no need to pay a lot of money for a front row seat. Seats in the balcony are fantastic with a great view of the stage. Attending Opera SJ gives you the opportunity to pretend to be super fancypants, but you can still do so on a budget.
Last, but never least, remember that opera is not a stuffy or boring torture to endure. At its best there is a really entertaining story, over the top is even better, and Rigoletto fits the bill for a beginner. Never be afraid to hate all the men, if all the men are playing villains (they often are). Never be afraid to laugh quietly if the dying heroine is taking a few minutes too long to die – or even shed a tear if it’s a truly tragic show. Never believe that you aren’t meant to think and feel all these things. What you are meant to do is enjoy yourself.
I have seen theater shows where the last line of the play absolutely destroys the entire experience for me. For Rigoletto, as the clown wails one final lament I thought “Oh please oh please let this be the last line of the show!!!” and the curtain went down and I clapped my hands and cackled with joy as the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation. I absolutely loved this show. Can you tell?
On Saturday, September 20 Backesto Park comes alive with the 7th annual Luna Park Chalk Art Festival. The festival is an all-volunteer run event created to provide a family-friendly, accessible venue to showcase the talents of local artists and students, foster awareness of the critical need for arts in schools and organizations serving youth, and to raise funds for providing grants and scholarships to meet that need.
No longer a tiny neighborhood event, the festival has grown, bringing in talented performers and musicians, vendors and food trucks, including some of my favorites, Hill Country BBQ and Waffle Amore! The dancers from Movimiento Cosmico Indigenous Dance will be there too with their stunning ceremonial dances.
If you’d like to participate as an artist or support the festival as a volunteer or sponsor , registration for all artists, artist/vendors, schools, and nonprofits is located here.
TheatreWorks, one of my very favorite theater companies, has an amazing show now playing through September 14. Water By the Spoonful is a Pulitzer Prize winning drama by the Tony Award winning playwright of In the Heights, Quiara Alegría Hudes. It combines drama and comedy as it works through the never ending trials of being an addict, specifically a crack addict. In one of the two main storylines, we follow a calm, reasonable woman known as “Haikumom” as she runs an internet support group for a group of addicts. Among the other members of the chatroom are “Orangutan”, a brash and caustic young woman who is lonely for human contact, and “Chutes&Ladders”, a man who has lost everything but is struggling to regain some sort of meaningful life and manage to stay sober with the help of his chatroom friends.
In the other main story apart from the chatroom we have Eliot, a troubled Iraq war veteran who now works at Subway, and his cousin. A woman in their family has passed away, and they are at the foreground of the stage as they work out the logistics of the funeral.
But what do these stories have in common? Quite a lot, it is eventually revealed, and every character in the story has their own back story and a future to live as well. There are many things happening in this play, and the great stage design really helps clarify where each character is at any time without confusing the audience. The lighting and projections make it clear whether we are in an online or offline world, and we also get to see the hidden situations of each character. It is an amazing, complicated work, and everyone involved in this show has done an incredible job creating a very touching and thoughtful production.
I found it interesting to discover later that Water By the Spoonful is part of a series called the “Elliot Trilogy”, portraying the coming of age of the young Elliot Ortiz. This explains a lot, as Elliot appeared to be such an important part of this show, yet his story was the least clear of any of the characters. It is not that his story was incomplete, just that the others were mostly wrapped up (as tidily as a crack addict’s story can be wrapped), but Elliot’s background and future were not as clear to me. This not only makes me want to see more of Elliot’s story, but necessitated some discussion with my guest after this show as we pondered Elliot. There were several questions I had about Spoonful after, but in a good way; instead of a review, I wanted to write a literary essay about all the different layers at play here. I wasn’t satisfied with the end result of every character, and that caused me to think about them after the show. Any time I am left pondering and wanting to have conversations after a show, that is when you know theater has been done well. This show captures such a range of emotions, and really enforces the value of family and community. It also shows how, even if those can’t be had, just a bit of kindness and human contact can save a life.
San Jose businesses, looking for a way to save energy and money? Want some free advice for managing your business? PG&E is hosting Time for Business Power Hour at The San Jose Woman’s Club, Thursday August 28, 2014 from 7:30 AM to 4 PM.
You’ll have an opportunity to:
- Create a free energy plan, with a energy assessment and a customized action plan for how to save both money and energy
- Talk one-on-one with your PG&E representative about customized ways to help you save
- Learn key business strategies from local experts on digital marketing, personal branding and small business financing.
- Enjoy snacks and refreshments from popular local businesses
- Get connected with other professionals, networking with business leaders
When: Thursday, August 28, 2014 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Open House)
Speaker sessions will repeat and start at: 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Location: San Jose Women’s Club
75 South 11th Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Are you as excited as I am for the 2014/2015 theater season openers? There are so many amazing shows coming up, there is no excuse to not see at least one. These are the shows we have our eyes on and will be reviewing most of them:
Water By the Spoonful
August 20 – September 14
In this healing, Pulitzer-winning drama, strangers share secrets in a chat room for troubled souls, a safe haven for lives in recovery. A sensitive webmaster moderates this community, but in real life her relationships crumble. As living and virtual worlds weave together, the true meaning of family becomes apparent, proving that no one is above reproach—or beyond redemption. From the Tony Award-winning playwright of In the Heights.
Opera San Jose
September 6 – 21
A tale of innocence lost. A vengeance gone tragically awry. A deformed court jester wants nothing more than to protect his virtuous daughter from a licentious duke who seduces and then abandons her. Giuseppe Verdi’s famous masterwork, Rigoletto, leads us on a chilling whirlwind of revenge that has entranced audiences since its first performance.
Perishable, Keep Refrigerated
Renegade Theatre Experiment
September 6 – 27
What would you do if a time portal opened up inside your refrigerator? Would you be excited or scared? Would you tell anyone? Would you go through it? What if people from the late 1800’s came into your kitchen through the portal? What would you do? Find out with the WORLD PREMIERE of PERISHABLE, KEEP REFRIGERATED by Max Tachis and directed by Kathleen Normington.
Palo Alto Players
September 12 – 28
In this whimsical fantasy set in the heart of Dixie, the charismatic Edward Bloom tells his son, Will, stories about his life – but these aren’t just any old stories, they’re mythic tales of impossible magic, complete with witches and giants. As Will prepares to become a father, Edward faces the final chapter in his life’s story. Will sets off on an epic journey of his own to uncover the truth about his father, and generations collide as the lines blur between fact and fiction. A feast for the eyes, as well as the heart, BIG FISH is a tender tribute to family and the magic of storytelling.
September 18 – October 19
What would you pay for a white painting? An all-white painting? With gut-busting hilarity and biting poignancy, ART tells the story of three men whose years-long friendship is put to the test when one buys an all-white painting by a trendy artist at an exorbitant price. As Serge, Marc, and Ivan square off over the canvas, lines are drawn, sides are taken, and the bonds that tie each man to the others are stretched to the breaking point. Only a pointed act of self-sacrifice can save a friendship from destruction — proving that there is, indeed, a limit to what one might pay for “art.”
October 9 – 19
Often compared to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the parable-like story features three spirits who attempt to persuade a poor working man (Macario) to reflect on his choices when he comes into the fortune of having a full turkey to eat. It is a work steeped in magic and history that has become part of the fabric of Mexican culture. The play is set in old Mexico, but its themes are universal and just as relevant in the United States today — especially in these tough economic times. MACARIO incorporates culturally vibrant music and dance to create a visually exciting spectacle and celebration of the Day of the Dead.
If you love food photography and the science of cooking, you’re going to love this event on Friday 8/22 from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at The Tech. You’ll be able to explore the Photography of Modernist Cuisine exhibit and:
- Get a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibition from Scott Heimendinger from the Modernist Cuisine team.
- Learn modernist techniques from experts with hands-on components throughout the night inspired by Modernist Cuisine
- Have some of Nathan Myhrvold’s favorite local food. (The former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer is also the tech leader and visionary behind the wildly successful Modernist Cuisine company).
- Have a cocktail or head to the rooftop terrace of the museum for wine tasting with a spectacular view of the downtown San Jose skyline.
Here’s a quick tour of the exhibit. See you there!
August 22, 2014 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. $25 non-members/$20 members in advance $30 non-members/$25 members at the door $10 for wine tasting on the roof Get your tickets here.
A five weekend month includes five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays.
Any 31-day month that starts on Friday will have 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays.
August 2014 is a five weekend month.
Upcoming five weekend months:
City Lights Theater Company has gone ambitious this summer as it presents the comedy extravaganza Monty Python’s Spamalot! This is one of my favorite shows because it’s just so irreverent and complete fun. There is nothing serious in this show, there are no deep hidden meanings, and there is so much going on at any and all times that glitches are guaranteed to happen every single night… and it is always fun and hilarious to see how these professional performers manage to overcome the unexpected. When you are in need of a show that is strictly fun entertainment in its purest form, Spamalot is the one to see.
The show recreates many scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with a lot of Broadway mixed in. You will see killer rabbits, and cows tossed from the ramparts, the Black Knight receives a flesh wound or four, and included in the show is the one thing the film is missing: a plethora of dancing girls. The story is of King Arthur’s search for a team of worthy knights who will help him on his quest to find the Holy Grail. On the way they must all avoid the plague, find a nice shrubbery for the Knights Who Say Ni, and rescue
a Damsel in Distress Prince Herbert. Watching the film first is not necessary, so if you have been deprived of the Monty Python movie experience, rest assured you will still have a rollicking great time (and then go rent the film for gosh sakes, why haven’t you seen it yet??).
Almost all the actors play multiple parts, requiring many costume changes, and there is constant choreography and singing. There is a lot of acting and singing talent required to put this show on, and stage and set work behind the scenes that is unimaginably difficult. City Lights does a tremendous job with their smaller theater and budget, so that you don’t miss a thing and an amazing time is had by all. Kudos to director Jeffrey Bracco for pulling off this amazing feat so well, and to Jennifer Gorgulho for managing to choreograph an incredible number of constantly moving people.
Spamalot is running through August 31, but shows have already started to sell out, so get your tickets now before you miss it. And before you get to the theater, stop off at Psycho Donuts for their special Spam Wellington Donut, a savory creation filled with layers of Spam and mushroom duxelle. This surprisingly delicious treat was served at the Opening Night Gala along with mead from Alderin’s Meadery and catered food from Cafe Stritch. A big thanks to all these companies for supporting City Lights Theater Company and local theater!
Main Stage Ticket Pricing:
TheatreWorks is presenting another amazing show as the opener of their 45th season. This is the world premiere of The Great Pretender, by David West Read, and I have no doubt this original show will be playing many theaters in the future.
Mr. Felt is the host of a televised puppet show for children. He works with a puppet child named Francis, a puppet pony named Carol and a couple other friends. In the opening we get to see them put on their puppet show of craft making, which goes on just long enough to make me wonder if the entire play was going to be a child’s puppet show… but soon enough the theme music fades out and we head a few months into the future. Mr. Felt’s wife, the puppeteer for Francis, has passed away, and someone new is needed to replace her. We soon meet Carol, the puppeteer for Carol the Pony (and the most terrible human on the planet), another puppeteer Tom, and newbie Jodi, who grew up with the show and wants more than anything to be a part of it.
My friend and I were excited to see this show because PUPPETS, and also the line “Contains Mature Language”, and how can you miss with that combo?? But PEOPLE. This show made me almost cry. Well, perhaps I did actually cry a little, or maybe there was just a lot of pollen in the theater. I certainly wasn’t the only one in the theater with sniffles. The Great Pretender isn’t just a puppet show, it is about Life, and Death, and Friendships, and realizing who your Family is when you have no one. It also made me laugh hysterically. It touched me on so many levels, in a way that many other shows have not. But what did I expect? This is TheatreWorks, and they have consistently presented the best of the best for the last year I have attended.
The production is not actually for children as there are mature language and situations, and also, the character of Carol should not be anywhere near children, haha. But teens would be fine, and other than that, everyone should go see this amazing show immediately. I don’t think we have seen the last of David West Read, and The Great Pretender is absolutely headed for the big time.
The 85th MLB All-Star Game from Target Field in Minneapolis is Tuesday, July 15 on FOX TV and ESPN Radio at 4:30 p.m.
- Josh Donaldson 3B
- Sean Doolittle LHP
- Scott Kazmir LHP
- Derek Norris C
- Brandon Moss 1B
- Yoenis Céspedes OF
San Francisco Giants:
- Madison Bumgarner LHP
- Hunter Pence OF
Céspedes is the 2013 Home Run Derby champion.
The 2014 Home Run Derby is Monday, July 14 on ESPN TV and ESPN Radio at 5:00 p.m.
Ohh, maker and startup fans and anyone with a great idea should show up this weekend at the Tech Museum of Innovation! On July 11-13 they’re hosting an awesome event called “Startup Weekend: Bay Area Makers at the Tech” This will be a creative event where individuals who want to get started founding and launching a successful venture will have an opportunity to make it a reality.
Friday evening participants will present their pitches for a hardware startup. On Saturday they’ll form teams and alliances to make their dream come true and the Tech and it’s partners will be providing equipment like 3-D printers and laser cutters to make it happen.
Silicon valley tech leaders will judge the entries and give the teams feedback and conclude with a grand showcase of the week’s work on Sunday evening.
Startup Weekend: Bay Area Makers, supported by Google for Entrepreneurs, is dedicated to helping individuals build their networks, learn new skills, and launch a startup while creating a product, prototype, and presentation. Startup Weekend has events in more than 100 countries and 580 cities worldwide.
WHAT: Startup Weekend: Bay Area Makers. An intense event where teams create an innovative product over the weekend and launch a real startup.
WHEN: Startup Showcase: Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 5 p.m.
Full event: July 11, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. to July 13, 2014 at 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Tech, 201 S. Market St. San Jose, CA
What’s not to love about a bacon festival with fireworks too? July 4th and 5th is the second annual Movable Feast Bacon Festival on the Plaza de Cesar Chavez. They’ve expanded to two full days of food, entertainment, music and SJStreet Mart vendors with everything from henna tattoos and organic indigo to jewelry, clothing and more.
Throughout the day there will be a load of food trucks including the famous Bacon Bacon and Baconbot trucks. Even if bacon isn’t your favorite thing there are plenty of other options from Grilled Cheese bandits, Madd Mex Cantina, Tastee Bytes, Chromatic Coffee, Treatbot and Fairycakes. Here’s the list of food vendors.
Kick up your heels to Yeshua and the Hi-Tones, Anya and the Getdown, The People and The Honey Wilders and watch the Pro Wrestling Revolution at several times both days. Silly Ricky the stilt juggler will be there as well as Brian the Bubble guy to entertain the kids. This is definitely a family friendly event.
Fireworks will start at 9:30 on July 4th courtesy of the San Jose Rotary Club