Blackbird: Honoring a Century of Pansy Divas
The SF Bay Guardian calls solo performer Seth Eisen "a sly, vigorous, soulful performer," and Blackbird, "a completely unexpected journey through some vibrant underground queer history." Brian Freeman (Pomo Afro Homos) directs this musical evening of mimicry, bigotry, puppetry, and faggotry. The Pansy Craze sensation of the 1930's swept the nation delivering queer cabaret in all its splendor. Led by Jean Malin, the creator of the movement, you're serenaded into a falsetto spell and taken on an illicit journey that stitches together songs and stories about the struggles and triumphs of seven Queer artists who found radical ways to counter the severe repression of their eras. Join the questionably gay Danny Kaye; Tommy Dee of Polk street sleaze who becomes a Zen Monk; Sylvester, San Francisco's own international disco diva; Klaus Nomi, the German operatic new wave siren; Brazil's magically fey, Ney Matogroso and Azis, the uproarious Bulgarian gender-bending singer, as they share their own extraordinary stories.
Blackbird is a full-length, musical pastiche of queer music, written and dynamically performed by solo artist Seth Eisen (from Keith Hennessy's Circo Zero) depicting seven eccentric and inimitable gay performers from the 1930s to the present who, despite living outside the cultural norms of their times and cultures, found innovative ways to be out, queer and vocal. The themes in Blackbird unfold through Eisen's nimble use of puppetry and a hybrid of live performance: dance, live music, video and storytelling. The show spans media lineage from radio and black & white cinema to the current internet/YouTube enthusiasm. From a prohibition speakeasy to the Borscht-Belt, from a Zen priest to a contemporary Bulgarian pop singer, Blackbird, is a distinctive civil rights story revealing maverick performers who gave their new and idiosyncratic voice to the queer underground. Although their stories, cultures and eras differ widely, the characters share a common resilience and a determination to pursue their art in spite of the discrimination they faced on account of their differences being gay, bi, trans, gypsy, Jewish or black.
Presented as a workshop production in Nov. 2008, Blackbird returns to Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, newly revised and now directed by Bay Area's Brian Freeman. The musical director/accompanist is Sean Feit who also starred in and wrote the score for Circo Zero's 2007 award-winning show, Sol niger. Video designed by Alanna Simone, lighting design by Max (Circo Zero), production design by Josh Mc Dermott and costumes by Jack Davis.
"A Sparkling show that will get you talking. This is a history lesson that is riveting.Eisen gives a brutally honest performance...it's a freewheeling romp."
Lee Hartgrave, Beyond Chron
Mama Calizo's Voice Factory
1519 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|