Have You Been Attending the San Francisco International Arts Festival?

by Charles Kruger

The writer of this article is a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

Do you know about the San Francisco International Arts Festival that is taking place RIGHT NOW? (May 25th through June 4th). It is not too late to take in the last weekend.

The Festival was founded in 2003, so this is their fourteenth year, under the direction of organizer Andrew Wood. Over the years, the Festival has presented hundreds of theatre, dance, and music performances from all over the world.

The Festival is a fantastic opportunity not only to see work from around the world, but also to learn about local artists who might not have been on your radar.

Mythili Kumar, Founder and Artistic Director of Ahbinaya Dance Company.

Some of the local work that has been seen and heard this year includes a classical Indian dance troupe that makes its home in San Jose, (Abhinaya Dance Company),  a remarkable staged reading of Oedipus Rex from The Museum of Performance and Design (MP+D), and San Francisco Japanese American story teller Brenda Wong Aoiki presenting Aunt Lily’s Flower Book: One Hundred Years of Legalized Racism. All of these artists truly deserve the appellation “World Class.”

Aleksandra Kuzenkina and Anastasia Pronina play in “One Day We Will All Be Happy,” presented by the Meyerhold Theatre Center of Moscow. Photo Credit: SFIAF.

If you act quickly, it is still possible to see some extraordinary work in the next two days. You could see a very fine performance from the Meyerhold Theatre Center in Moscow, who present the American premiere (performed in English translation) of a celebrated play, One Day We Will All Be Happy. This short play is a character monologue of a teenage girl trying to fit in at her high school where her mother is a janitor and the other girls are more fashionable and upper class than she. The monologue is performed by not one, but two actresses (the impressive duo of Aleksandra Kuzenkina and Anastasia Pronina) whose voices intertwine, repeat, compliment, and challenge each other. They stand and pose in close proximity, delivering their story with an astonishing directness, full of emotional life, and displaying a virtuosic physical and vocal technique. The play is aptly described by the Festival as both comic and tragic, and one that reveals “a dark vein of slavic humor.” The performers and the director are products of the Moscow Art Theatre School and they do their alma mater proud, demonstrating the excellence of the tradition represented by that justly famous institution. The performance achieves a balance of stylized and naturalistic acting that is astonishingly effective.

Ronnie Wong and Kenny Leung perform Victor Fung’s witty choreography in “From The Top.” Photo Credit: Victor Fung Dance.

Both tonight and tomorrow night, you can see performances by several Asian dance companies in the program, A Pirouette With Asia.

Besides the performances mentioned above, there are OVER 30 PANELS, WORKSHOPS AND PERFORMANCES SCHEDULED OVER THIS WEEKEND, JULY 3RD AND 4TH, THAT YOU CAN STILL ATTEND. CHECK OUT THE SCHEDULE! Many of these events are presented without charge, and all of the ticket prices are very reasonable.

The San Francisco International Art Festival continues at Fort Mason, today and tomorrow, June 3rd and 4th. Don’t miss it!

 

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