Friday, July 21, 2006
ZEN at the Magic
Below the bluffs of a decomissioned U.S. military base...
...on a set of piers in the Marina fronting San Francisco Bay...
...the Fort Mason Center has been a bustling arts center since the 1970s.
There are museums, an expensive vegetarian restaurant, large pavilions for exhibitions, and a number of small theaters, including the Magic Theatre, a starry 40-year-old institution that has included world premieres by Sam Shepard among many others.
This weekend there are three more performances of "ZEN" by the Boxcar Theatre troupe, which I highly recommend.
Best of all, the performances are free to the public, and at the door you receive a rock with ZEN inscribed on it in lieu of a ticket.
The Boxcar Theatre (click here for their website) is a new company headed by a young, burly Chicago guy, Nick A. Olivero, and its first show last year at the Fringe Festival, "21/One," managed to win "Best of the Fest" awards and generally blow everyone away.
They are reprising a completely new version of the piece this September at the Fringe Festival, except instead of being trapped in a black box theater in the Tenderloin, the audience will be trapped in a Mexican bus with a "bachelorette party from hell."
Personally, I can't wait.
Though "ZEN" wasn't really my cup of dramaturgical tea, the production itself is extraordinarily simple and beautiful...
...with uniformly good acting, imaginative lighting, and lovely costumes by Lisa Lutkenhouse.
The piece starts with a startling use of the theatre, with the back door looking out onto the bay swung wide open, as "The Old Man" starts the dialogue, telling us what he knows and doesn't know.
There is plenty of whimsy, but it never gets cute, precious, or self-referential, which is quite an achievement.
Check it out if you can (Friday or Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 2PM). This is a very interesting troupe.