There must be a better way to sum up 2018 Bay Area Theater than flying away from the scene of the crime, but since I’m actually on a shaky Jet Blue flight on the eve of the New Year I’ll have to accept the situation. And accepting the situation is what this list is about: the situation of the country, the situation of a theater and performance culture that is too often automated and soulless, and, most depressingly, the situation of a great art form that still manages to gather sizable audiences, but to rather aesthetically and politically questionable ends.
There were moments of fire and passion and real insight in 2018, but over and over again they felt like dying stars in distant galaxies. These five stars burned the brightest and in many ways all of them were Black Swans, miracles of happenstance, the outliers of an increasingly dark age of false outrage, preening conformity, and aesthetic timidity. Yet, if you pay attention, there was always an individual—the playwright, the director, the choreographer, an actor, and in the case of our best production of the year, a company (albeit German but brought to us by the engaged presenters at Cal Performances) that just refused to accept the world in its present state.Read More