Thinking outside the box has become a concept, a metaphor, and now a physical reality at the Curran Theatre. The second production in the "Curran: Under Construction" series places the audience on the stage amid towers of boxes that hold everything from old report cards to "Star Wars" action figures. And you are welcome to explore those boxes, with what you pull out perhaps even finding its way into writer-performer Geoff Sobelle's reflections on the "stuff" that helps define our lives. Running through Oct. 18, "The Object Lesson" is described as "a tactile performance-installation for a mobile audience."
You can hear Sobelle himself reflect on his work in a post-performance talkback on Oct. 15, conducted by Curran's newly appointed Editor-in-Chief Kevin Sessums. Editor-in-Chief is not a traditional job title for what has long been a Broadway-style venue, and the person chosen to occupy the position has blown up a few boxes in a career of both celebrity and notoriety.
Sessums' personal and professional lives have followed the rocky roads of many of the luminaries he once regularly interviewed for "Vanity Fair," "Interview," "Out," "Playboy," and many other publications. But changes on mastheads and in media tastes, and his own interest in crystal meth and casual sex, brought unemployment, couch-surfing, and food stamps before efforts to get sober finally stuck three years ago, a journey he chronicled in his memoir "I Left It on the Mountain." By then the longtime New Yorker had moved to San Francisco to become editor-in-chief of the glossy LGBT magazine FourTwoNine, and his departure from that enterprise this summer provided Curran owner Carole Shorenstein Hays with the opportunity to create an editor-in-chiefdom around him.
In addition to overseeing the Curran's publications and curating the Under Construction productions, Sessums will also host the Groundbreakers series of onstage conversations with what the theater calls "today's most compelling thought leaders and artists." For the inaugural installment, Sessums will sit down with controversial theater columnist and author Michael Reidel on Oct. 19. Reidel is the must-read, much-feared, and often-loathed theater columnist for the New York Post, and his new book Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway will conveniently be available for signing following the discussion. Admission to the Reidel event is free.
For years, the Curran was one of the theaters that housed the SHN series of productions bound for or coming from Broadway. But when Shorenstein-Hays parted ways with SHN, she announced plans to extensively renovate the theater for reopening in 2017 while keeping the theater active with the Under Construction series that has audiences entering through the stage door and sharing the stage with the short-run offbeat productions. Tickets and more info are available at sfcurran.com.
In her latest solo show, Marga Gomez combines a fascination with screen lesbians, the mostly miserable, mostly doomed movie characters she saw growing up, with her own sexual experiences and a recent diagnosis of unplanned celibacy. "Pound" is Gomez's 10th solo show, now at Brava Theatre Center, and it's a follow-up run to its widely praised summer debut in New York. "A hilariously skewed queer-film studies course crossed with a standup act," said Ben Brantley in The New York Times.
Gomez starts the show by jabbing at various stereotypes used to portray lesbians over the years, before a fisting accident during a bid to reignite her sex life brings about a visit to the ER, and entry into an ethereal portal where she is able to mix it up with characters from such movies as "The Children's Hour," "The Killing of Sister George," "Basic Instinct," and her own favorite, Bound, a 1996 film starring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon as lovers who rob millions in mob money. She emerges from the portal as a wiser but still celibate "celesbian."
Pound is running in Brava's 60-seat studio theater through Nov. 15. Tickets at brava.org.
Sweet 16 for 'Shocktoberfest'
Thrillpeddlers hasn't missed a Halloween season since launching its "Shocktoberfest" program in 1999. The 16th edition, subtitled "Curse of the Cobra," contains an assortment of short plays and musical segments that combine fantasy, horror, dark comedy, and avowedly bad taste.
"Cracking the Vein" and "The Model House" are two world-premiere plays created for the 2015 "Shocktoberfest." The former, by Andy Wenger and Damien Chacona, is set in San Francisco during the Gold Rush as prospectors, prostitutes, and murderers vie for a share of the riches. The latter, by Rob Keefe, is set in a suburban dream home of the 1950s where the bomb shelter serves as a locale for gay trysts while incest is on the upstairs agenda - with all at risk due to a teenager's chemistry kit.
Scrumbly Koldewyn is the man behind the musical parts of the program. "The Revenge of the Son of the Cobra Woman" is a fantasy about a man's search for his purloined boy-puppy that takes him on a South Seas adventure. Down at the Donner Party Diner is a musical interlude that imagines a greasy spoon that honors the ill-fated trekkers with an appropriate menu.
A lights-out spook show provides the traditional finale for the production, running through Nov. 21 at the Hypnodrome. Tickets at (415) 377- 4202 or hypnodrome.org.