Sunday, June 2, 2019

A New Venue for Performance “amongst the books”

Poster design for the event being discussed

At the end of last July, I visited the Russian Hill Bookstore to see Action in the Stacks, which had been described as “a three-part meta-composition of collaborative invocations, sonic illustrations, and curious collisions of sound, action art, spoken word, and space…amongst the books.” Russian Hill Bookstore is one of the few places left in San Francisco that reminds me of how much time I spent in bookstores when I was much young. It is a place that encourages browsing and does not seem to mind when browsing leads to more attentive reading. There are even places to sit when such reading becomes part of the experience. Action in the Stacks established an ambience that was comfortably consistent with that experience.

That ambience was established by the partnership of the Klooj duo of Thom Blum and Charles Kremenak with Janet Silk, founder, Artistic Director, and Choreographer of the Si-si Dance & Performance Art Project (Si-si D). At Russian Hill she delivered a monologue wearing a costume, presumably of her own design. Her voice was amplified by a headset, and she discarded illustrated sheets of paper while moving through the bookstore space. In terms of that overall objective of ambience, she was definitely more intrusive than the subtle electronic sounds synthesized by Klooj; but her appearance was a brief one that did not detract from the overall “bookstore experience.”

In about two weeks time, Klooj and Si-si D will once again give a performance “amongst the books.” The title of their new episode of Action in the Stacks will be “Drawing Out the Muse: Cecilia is Wondering” This time the venue will be a library, rather than a bookstore, meaning that the location is visited for different reasons. Libraries are more conducive to reading than bookstores are. (New York and Houston stand out in my memory as two cities with libraries very close to major performance venues. I always prefer having a comfortable place to read over browsing in a gift shop!) To the extent that the performance will explore tensions between storytelling and improvisation, it may be said to complement the acts of searching and reading in a library with a parallel experience.

The venue will be the Prelinger Library, which is located in Room 215 at 301 8th Street. Unfortunately, the library is not visible from the street. Those wishing to enter can dial 016 on the intercom by the door. (Instructions for access are also on the intercom itself.) Those with cell phones can call 415-252-8166. The library is wheelchair accessible, but space is limited. The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 15; and it will be absolutely free.

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