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A Dimension Torn Free of the Future: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots at the La Jolla Playhouse

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots at the La Jolla Playhouse

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots at the La Jolla Playhouse

The La Jolla Playhouse‘s Des McAnuff is no stranger to producing big, blockbuster theater. During his previous tenure as the Artistic Director for the Playhouse, he masterminded shows including The Who’s Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Jersey Boys. Under his leadership, the Playhouse received more than 200 awards.

It’s no surprise then that, after departing in 2007, McAnuff would return to the Playhouse to take on a challenging production: adapting an iconic rock album into a musical stage production. Released in 2002, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed albums by delightfully weird indie rockers The Flaming Lips.

Given the beloved state of the album, not to mention its complex themes of technology and humanity, adapting the album for the stage would seem to be no easy feat, even without having to create the mythical pink robots referenced in the album’s title and songs.  Proving himself up to the challenge, MacAnuff creates an enthralling production that will leave you captivated, awed and perhaps even a little weepy.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots at the La Jolla Playhouse

Glowing pink robots, both life-sized and larger than life, glide through otherwise stark sets. With the entire stage framed in a luminous white border that mimics a computer screen and impressive tech elements (like projected touch screens and text message-style displays) floating in and out of scenes, viewers find themselves lost somewhere between the present and an imaginary future. Yet the technology and staging are just big enough, never overpowering the underlying humanity of the story, as the actors delicately unfold a tale both tragic and life affirming.

As the writers of the source material, the Flaming Lips should be proud to see what their album has inspired, as what shines through most in Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is the power of song. Using both tracks from the Yoshimi album and other hits from the Flaming Lips’ repertoire, like the “Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” and “Waitin’ for a Superman,” MacAnuff has seamlessly crafted a storyline through song, so much so that there is very little dialogue throughout the show. On stage, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots has done precisely what the best adaptations should do, simultaneously capturing the power of the source material while transforming it into something new, something equally magical in its own way.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is on stage at the La Jolla Playhouse through Dec. 16, 2012. Don’t miss your chance to see this powerful show!

Brent Bernasconi

Theatre Thursday: Live and Upcoming in San Diego

West Coast Premiere of Moby Dick

You can always count on San Diego for good weather and spectacular beaches. But if you’re looking for something a little different, the San Diego theatre scene does not disappoint. With blockbuster Broadway shows, Operas, and award-winning performance incubators, theaters from downtown San Diego to La Jolla are pushing the boundaries of live and interactive productions.

Below are a highlights of new theater performances coming to San Diego in the next few months. You can find even more live theater and performing arts in the Arts section of SanDiego.org.

West Coast Premiere of Moby Dick

West Coast Premiere of Moby Dick. Photos Courtesy of Karen Almond/The Dallas Opera.

Moby Dick

2/18-2/26
San Diego’s rich maritime history makes it the perfect place for the west coast premiere of Moby Dick by Jake Heggie at the San Diego Opera. The actions of this large and emotionally irresistible work are played out against a multimedia-enriched staging that ranges from striking to near miraculous. This is one opera you don’t want to miss.

Guys and Dolls at the Lamb's Player Theatre

Guys and Dolls at the Lamb's Player Theatre. Photos courtesy of J.T. MacMillan.

Guys & Dolls

2/10-3/25
Walking through downtown Coronado is like going back to a simpler time. Coronado’s Lamb’s Player Theatre presentation of the American classic, Guys & Dolls, will transport you back to the glory days of New York in the 1950s, when fedoras were a must and traveling to Havana was a possibility.

Next Falls at Diversionary Theatre

Next Falls at Diversionary Theatre

Next Fall

2/16-3/25
Diversionary Theatre’s Next Fall, is a gripping tale told of two men and the complex issues of faith, sexuality and family. In 2010, Next Fall received Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Director and won the Outer Critics Circle’s John Gassner Award for “Best New American Play.”

The Car Plays: San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse

The Car Plays: San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse. Photos Courtesy of JayPG Photography

The Car Plays: San Diego

2/23-3/4
La Jolla Playhouse is known for their bold and progressive performances. In The Car Plays: San Diego the audience explores five different stories, revealed in a one hour production. Once seated, the car door is closed and the first story begins, unveiling a drama or comedy. Ten minutes later, audiences move on to a next car for a whole new story. This is a great way to experience live theater in a whole new way.

A Room with a View

3/2-4/8
Join the Old Globe Theatre and Lucy Honeychurch in the violet-covered hills of Tuscany as she battles with the decision between two men. Will she yield to Edwardian conventions? Or will she give up everything she knows to be with the free-thinking George Emerson. A Room with a View is a timeless story presented in the perfect setting of historic Balboa Park.

Disney’s Peter Pan

4/27-5/13
Another premiere in San Diego! San Diego Junior Theater’s young actors will bring the epic battle between the evil Captain Hook and the forever youthful Peter Pan and his Lost Boys to life in this pilot of Disney’s newest production, Peter Pan.

Brent Bernasconi

Art & Culture Throughout San Diego this September

ArtWalk on the Bay

During the whole month of September, visitors and locals alike can enjoy the vibrant local arts communities and help celebrate “Arts Month San Diego” with a variety of exhibitions and events taking place across the county.

You can find out everything you wanted to know about Arts Month San Diego here. Below are few highlights:

  • ART SAN DIEGO Contemporary Art Fair, Sept. 1 – 4
    Held at new the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in downtown San Diego, the event showcases works by more 500 artists and 60 local and international galleries. In addition to the gallery booths, special features include curated exhibitions, contemporary furniture design displays, solo-artist exhibits, video-based works, live performance art, art in public spaces and a lounge designed by noted architect Jennifer Luce.
  • Kettner Nights, Sept. 9
    An evening of art, design and shopping, this progressive exhibition is free and open to the public and offers the opportunity to stroll through all of the Kettner Art & Design District’s innovative galleries and cutting edge home design shops located in downtown San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. Complimentary beverages and hors d’oeuvres are served.
  • ArtWalk on the Bay, Sept. 10 – 11
    Held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront park, ArtWalk on the Bay pairs extraordinary art with an extraordinary setting. Visitors can meet and purchase art directly from the artists on display; the festival also includes live music and hands-on activities at a special “KidsWalk” area. Continue reading