SANF April 2016 : Page 48

CULTURE DASH H IG H T IM E S IN OAK L AN D The conversation around marijuana legalization is staler than a three-week-old bud, but the Oakland Museum of California has plans to give it a refresh: Its upcoming exhibit, Altered State , looks at past and present weed usage in Califor-nia. How does a museum handle such a sticky topic? Curator Sarah Seiter gives some pointers. APR. 16– SEPT. 25, MUSEUMCA.ORG A.T. Emotional Endurance Theater Before even turning 30, songwriter Benjamin Scheuer had endured more heartache than some people do in their lifetime: He lost his father at 13, his long-term girlfriend essentially abandoned him in his late-twenties, and shortly after the breakup he was diagnosed with cancer. How did he cope? By writing songs, which have since morphed into the Drama Desk Award–winning one-man musical The Lion , coming to the Strand Theater this month. The show details the most painful moments of Scheuer’s life, and he’s performed it over 250 times in the past two years. Here, he explains how he remains an emo-tional stalwart. APR. 19–MAY 1, ACT-SF.ORG A.T. ONE QUES TION Q& A Put visitors in a receptive state of mind. In the “Creative Grass” section—one of 10 in the exhibit—California landscapes are projected at an angle in a room “so as to create a tilt shift,” says Seiter. “It’s very reflective and meditative, literally an altered space for people to reflect.” Have people ‘fess up. In the “Recreational Reefer” section is the Cannabis Confessional, where museumgoers will write down how they feel about the dub. “I thought we’d just get ‘Smoke weed every day,’” says Seiter of the trial run responses. “But it was a lot about relationships. Some people said that they couldn’t have a romantic relationship without weed, and others said that stoners are the worst lovers.” You’ve performed The Lion hundreds of times. Isn’t it hard to not let your emotions over-whelm you while you’re performing? “As a writer, it was incredibly chal-lenging to recall in unadorned detail what it was like to watch my father die—to take those memories and write them down in an objective way. But as a performer, I don’t need to relive it. I don’t feel sad to convey the sadness, because the writing does it for me. I let the emotion come out in the audience’s reactions. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t catch me sometimes.” Dancing Through the Baby Steps Don’t be fooled by the costumes: These dancers aren’t about to explore the depths of a BDSM dungeon—they’re playing in a mud puddle. Let us explain. When We Were Small , by experimen-tal dance company Capacitor , was born when the company’s artistic director, Jodi Lomask—a new parent as of a year and a half ago—was inspired to explore the “joy, presence, and delight of the world in miniature.” Hence a scene in the hour-long show that’s dedicated to one of the greatest of childhood joys: puddle jumping. The outfits, made out of recycled bicycle tires, make the sound of splashing and falling rain when they hit the floor. There will also be a tea party that explores the oddities of learning social rules; 16-foot-tall “dairy queens” to reflect the utter ecstasy of discovering something for the first time (“Right now my kid’s all about butter,” Lomask says); and a 10-year-old contortionist performing on the laps of parent figures seated on seemingly unstable thrones (one for the parents in the room). “My kid is a miniature human,“ says Lomask, “and that’s something universal. We all started that way, no matter whom we turn into.” MAR. 31–APR. 10, CAPACITOR.ORG A.T. When in doubt, ask for selfies. To prepare for the “Profitable Pot” sec-tion, the museum put out an open call for selfies from marijuana-industry professionals across the state. “The range of people involved in the industry surprised me,” says Seiter. “You’ve got chemists starting testing labs, women who do a podcast about how to get stoned during the holidays with your parents, and even a marijuana yoga instructor.” FROM LEFT: MATTHEW MURPHY, COURTESY OF A.C.T.; COURTESY OF CAPACITOR; COURTESY OF OMCA 48 San Francisco | April 2016

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