A man and a woman, identically clad in pink hair, black skirts, and wide visible expanses of skin, vocalize to the strains of clarinet and electronic music. This isn't comedy-club improv or "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" -- it's voice, music, and physicality fusing with improvisation to create Noh Body, a new two-act "neo-dada (impr)opera" from Bob Marsh's Opera Viva at 21 Grand. Hallucinating its way through "existence, anger, and despair," Noh Body continues 21 Grand's mind-expanding series of different kinds of improvisational performance, and brings together four daring and talented musicians.
Marsh has an impressive and varied professional pedigree. In one busy decade, he managed to earn degrees in both sculpture and clinical psychology while also finding time to master vibraphone, piano, and classical guitar. Twenty years later he's as likely to pick up a violin, cello, or flute as he is to use extended vocal techniques, and he leads the Emergency String Quartet, the Robot Martians, the Illuminated Orchestra, and Opera Viva. If that weren't enough, he co-leads Lucha de Leche and plays with Aaron Bennett's Nonet and Jim Ryan's Left Coast Improv Group. Marsh says of Noh Body that "Proto-cryptic messages determine directions to be avoided while affirming that the opposite is not valid." Whatever that means.
In this current outing, Marsh teams with vocalist Aurora Josephson, clarinetist Jacob Lindsay, and electronic musician Scott R. Looney to create an experiment in "voiced physical theater" that began in Chicago and evokes "ghosts, angels, stones, and cell phones." Josephson, also known as Aurora Rising, has studied voice, composition, and piano at Mills and performed with the Contemporary Performance Ensemble, George Lewis' Ensemble, and several other area vocalists and musicians. She and clarinetist Lindsay have worked together previously; they'll be familiar to audiences as two-thirds of the experimental improv group 'triple d' which has played at 21 Grand and the Oakland Box. Looney, who has been referred to by critics as a "superb keyboardist" with a "prodigious awareness of history," rounds out the sound with his interactive electronics. Wednesday, November 26, 8 p.m., 21 Grand, 449-B 23rd St., Oakland. Tickets are $6-$10, sliding scale. For more information, visit 21Grand.org -- Lisa Drostova
Old-school Bible tales
It's believed that The Play of Daniel was performed every year between 1150 and 1250, to celebrate the holiday season. Aurora Theatre and the Pacific Mozart Ensemble team up to present the tale of the pious Daniel and his night among the beasts, old-school-style -- a cappella, with minimal costuming -- this week at St. Mark's Episcopal Church (2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley). And dust off your classical linguistic skills, or your reading glasses -- the play will be performed in Latin, with English supertitles. Info: 510-843-4822 and AuroraTheatre.org -- Stefanie Kalem
TV audiences will recognize Katt Williams as "Freddy" from The Tracy Morgan Show, or maybe from his guest star bit as "Martel Cates" on NYPD Blue in 2002. But those are just two of the standup comic's many personas -- he began his comedy career by impersonating "the whole black neighborhood" all by himself. The Cincinnati-born son of an ex-Black Panther (felines obviously run in the family) pads into Tommy T's Comedy House in Concord this weekend in the guise of "Money Mike," the character he played in Friday After Next. Four shows: 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 1655 Willow Pass Rd., Concord. Info: TommyTs.com -- Kelly Vance
They Got Game
"Nothing is funnier than unhappiness," Samuel Beckett said. Discover other absurdist pearls of wisdom when Wilde Irish Productions presents his play Endgame, directed by Gemma Whalen, opening Friday night (8 p.m.) at the Berkeley City Club (2315 Durant Ave.), continuing through December 21. Along with Godot, Endgame is a play that most literate people know by reputation, but have seldom seen. Only you can remedy that. Tickets: $10-$20, at 510-644-9940. Info: WildeIrish.org -- Kelly Vance
Culture Spy - February 23, 2:42 PM
What the Fork - February 23, 2:12 PM
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What the Fork - February 15, 2:00 PM
Culture Spy - February 15, 10:30 AM