Theatre Capsules: Immersive in the City, Circus in the Town, and a new company rises in the East

Three capsules to capture some new and exciting events in the Bay Area’s theatre scene…


Three arts organizations are ready to present “Death Become Life: Banish Darkness,” an immersive performance experience in San Francisco this weekend. (Ian Davis photo)

Multiple arts organizations are gathering together this weekend in order to present an immersive, multidisciplinary arts experience.

San Francisco’s Crowded Fire Theatre along with playwright Star Finch are joining forces with two other organizations for the special presentation. Included are Ensemble Mik Nawooj, a company that presents new concert music by sampling principles of hip-hop and classical sounds, and Axis Dance Company, who commissions and presents contemporary dance featuring performers with or without physical disabilities. Marc Brew serves as the choreographer.

The show, entitled, “Death Become Life: Banish Darkness,” goes beyond its Bay Area aspirations, with the goal of making each performance specific to the region where its housed.

“This is the first full iteration of our modular work, which uses region specific collaborations with dance, theatre and visual arts,” said Ensemble Mik Nawooj’s artistic director JooWan Kim. “After our San Francisco Beta Version, we’ll set up multiple variations in select cities within the United States and abroad. Each variation will uniquely express the culture of the region along with different storylines, sets, and formats of execution.”

Crowded Fire has made their bread and butter off of plays and performances that amplify the voices of the marginalized. For artistic director Mina Morita, this is a unique opportunity to expand the reach of all three companies in order to engage a more vast audience.

“We are at an intersection in terms of how we think about the world, and connection is the answer,” said Morita. “This immersive and truly collaborative vision offers the mutual breath we need to consider what the future holds.”

Shows take place at the Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre on Friday, Nov. 16th at 8 pm and Saturday, Nov. 17th at 3 pm and 8 pm. The theatre is located at 4705 3rd Street in San Francisco, and tickets are $25. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit


“The Soiled Dove” is an immersive theatre and dinner experience in Downtown Oakland through Nov. 17th. (Leori photo)

This is also the final weekend for another unique, immersive piece from the Vau de Vire Society, creators of some wild nightlife events. Downtown Oakland is the home for the massive 12,000 square foot Tortona big top tent, a home that has occupied the East Bay city since September.

“The Soiled Dove” is inspired by the Bay Area’s Gold Rush and Barbary Coast era, with the company building out a 19th century outpost of decadence and delights, a replica of a 19th century Oakland saloon and dancehall. The show features 40 performers, including acrobats, aerial artists, burlesque performers and live music provided by Jazz Mafia, a staple in Bay Area music since the late 1990s.

A four course dinner is also a part of the show.

As the show comes to a close, there’s still a chance to be a part of the Tortona big top. the constructed facility is staying around to provide a home for a plethora of community events through Dec. 15th.

Tickets range from $57 to $137, with two more performances this weekend, Nov. 16th and 17th. Saturday’s show is sold out, but standing room tickets are still available for the show only.

For more information, visit their website.


Danny (Vaho) and Roberta (Nathalie Tedrick) come together after many hardships in John Patrick Shanley’s “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,” the debut for Lose Face Productions in Berkeley. (Stu Philkill photo)

A new company is making their debut in Berkeley, a venture by a theatre maker named Vaho, whose first production, “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,” kicks off Thanksgiving weekend.

Lose Face productions presents the John Patrick Shanley play, which focuses on the damaged characters of Danny and Roberta, who come together after their respective struggles in a life that has not been kind to them. The production is directed by well-known American screenwriter Michael Grais.

The company is aiming to present plays that truthfully represent niches of society who are traditionally ignored or unsafe. Vaho is approaching the venture as an opportunity to bring a new voice to cutting edge works, a voice that is thought-provoking and raw.

“We just want to present the stories in their rawest form with no strict blocking restricting us,” said Vaho, 29. “We feel that when the audience knows where you’re going, they’ll anticipate their own reactions and become passive in the encounter. Our goal is to be unpredictable, keep (the audience) on their toes, and embrace the organized chaos that will leave them gripped until the lights go out.”

The company has plans of staying around for a while. Their inaugural season over the course of the next year will include Made in America” by Joseph Atash and Aria Emory, “The Vast Difference” by Jeff Daniels, “Lemon Sky” by Lanford Wilson and “True West” by Sam Shepard.

“Danny and the Deep Blue Sea,” will play at LaVal’s Underground Theatre, 1834 Euclid Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709. The show opens Nov. 23rd and runs through Dec. 14th

Tickets are $35. For tickets, visit Lose Face’s event page.


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