Originally published at www.theatrius.com
Club Fugazi houses a majestic theater designed in 1913 by Italian architect Italo Zanolini as a community center for Italians living in North Beach. Art has breathed life into this charming old theater for generations.
Most recently “Beach Blanket Babylon” played here for 45 years, until 2019. Now, an amazing array of acrobats from many countries perform breath-taking leaps in this lovely hall—telling a new S.F. story. Club Fugazi has been resurrected—paying homage to San Francisco, our life and our arts.
“Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story” is designed and directed by Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider of The 7 Fingers artist collective from Montreal. This unique, creative group unites acrobatics and stories on stage—forming a new type of circus.
We can feel their fortitude. We feel the sensual, simpatico connections between the young and talented gymnasts, as they perform breathtaking acrobatics. They hang on the high trapeze, they hand-balance, and they slide dangerously down the Chinese ground-to-ceiling poles. They hurl themselves through moving hoops with incredible speed and precision. Each act is hypnotic.
I personally loved watching Maya Kesselman on top of the human totem pole as she plays the accordion for her balancing friends below.
Enmeng Song spins the Chinese yo-yo on a rope, flinging the whirling cylinder across the audience to his partner Shengnan Pam. It’s a breath-holder.
The performers show respect and love for each other. Their careful comradery permeates the show—even the audience opens up to each other.
This intimate team draws us to them, immersing us in each impressive scene. The group supervises the offering of wrapped hard candy to each audience member. We open with them all at the same time, as The 7 Fingers revitalizes our interest and we feel a oneness with the performers.
In one scene, performers call home from an old phone booth onstage, talking about their new lives and self-discovery in San Francisco. I, too, relive the wonders of my first weeks in The City.
The history of San Francisco is the golden thread that runs through all their performances. Alexander V. Nichols’ video displays cover the walls with nostalgia. He takes us from the Gold Rush, then to the ‘06 Earthquake, to Chinatown, and the 60s Beat Generation.
Sound designer Jake Rodriquez intensifies the power of Beat poetry by Alan Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as enhancing the tension of each spell-bound moment of impossible acrobatics.
If you’re lucky, your personal hand-written postcards to San Francisco will be read aloud.
Three dimensional “Dear San Francisco” enthralls with daredevil stunts. This unique gymnastic show invites us into the multi-diversity of a unique city and engages us in emotional interaction with others—a special kind of theater.
Bring all your friends. “Dear San Francisco” is for everyone.
“Dear San Francisco: A High-Flying Love Story” – created & directed by Shana Carroll & Gypsy Snider, by The 7 Fingers, at Club Fugazi, San Francisco. Info: ClubFugaziSF.com
Cast: Dominic Cruz, Devin Henderson, Maya Kesselman, Oliver Layher, Shengnan Pam, Chloe Somers Walier, Enmeng Song, and Kyran Walton.
Photo: David Allen