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Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco

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San Francisco's history of risk-taking exploration and the Bay Area's diverse local cultures and climate of social activism have long provided artists with a perfect storm of inspiration. It's no surprise that amidst this collision the definition of experimental theatrical form has taken center stage in San Francisco. Their interest in redefining performance -- where it takes place, how it is staged, and what it encompasses -- has influenced theater in the United States and around the world.

On any given day in the last 50 years, someone in the Bay Area might attend a performance for a theatrical political protest, a bacchanalian festival, a humorous satire, a surrealist manifesto, a gay fantasia, or perhaps all of the above. Stage Left traces the evolution of this rich culture, including the San Francisco Actor's Workshop, which premiered and staged works by the most avant-garde playwrights of its day; the San Francisco Mime Troupe with its long history of political engagement; the Magic Theatre's fruitful relationship with playwright Sam Shepard; El Teatro Campesino, the world's first Chicano theater; the Cockettes and Theater Rhinoceros, who reveled in alternative and gay culture; the groundbreaking experimentation in the 70s and 80s of George Coates, Soon 3, Snake Theater, The Blake Street Hawkeyes, and Antenna Theater; and the world premiere of Angels in America at the Eureka Theater in 1991.


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