Installation at Yerba Buena Center Examines Mourning in a Time of Isolation

An installation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts called “Mourning is an Act of Love” uses non-traditional forms of documentary film as well as poetry and photography, which visitors can view from the outside of the building, to explore concepts like memorials, grief and public space. Documentary filmmaker Susannah Smith, who curated the exhibit, and filmmaker and cinematographer Melinda James talked with “Civic” about mourning and connecting at a time when people are isolated by pandemic restrictions. Smith said there have been several deaths among her family and friends in recent years. “The main way that I dealt with it, that felt constructive, was really sharing stories and being with people and that kind of collective process,” she said. 

But the pandemic hindered mourners’ ability to gather. “The pandemic has shifted the ways that we are able to mourn the ways that we come together, collectively and as a community,” James said.

The First Draft of 50 Years of LGBTQ History

The Bay Area Reporter distributed its first edition on April 1, 1971. While publisher Bob Aaron Ross may have chosen April Fool’s Day as a light-hearted start for the gay community’s latest bar “rag,” the newspaper would go on to do serious journalism, covering the major events of the post-Stonewall era.

Love Notes, Care Packages as Film Fest Reflects on Homelessness

At this year’s SF Urban Film Fest, several programs examining homelessness include activities in which participants will be asked to connect with perfect strangers. In one case, they’ll be prompted to write love notes or put together care packages. Multimedia journalist Yesica Prado and Fay Darmawi, the film festival’s founder and executive director, curated the events and discussed on “Civic” how participants might gain new perspectives on homelessness.

Photo courtesy of Tongo Eisen-Martin

SF Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin on Poetry as Revolution

San Francisco’s new poet laureate, Tongo Eisen-Martin, is a city native raised by local organizers, and his work is deeply political. On “Civic,” Eisen-Martin reflected on national politics in the wake of the summer uprisings against police brutality and racism, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the presidential inauguration.

Still image from “Playing for Keeps.”

Documentary on Importance of Play Features SF Skater, Dancer

A new documentary, “Playing for Keeps,” posits that humans benefit greatly from playing and suffer when we are deprived of play. Isabella Miller, who prior to the coronavirus pandemic would regularly go swing dancing, and David Miles Jr., the proprietor of San Francisco’s Church of 8 Wheels, are featured in the film and joined “Civic” to reflect on how they play and how that has shaped their lives.

The San Francisco Ballet, pictured here performing "The Nutcracker" in 2008, is one of many Bay Area arts organizations shifting to online performances this year.

S.F. Arts Go Virtual for the Holidays

Seventy-six years ago, the San Francisco Ballet introduced “The Nutcracker” to America. This year, the company will introduce the “Nutcracker Online” — a virtual holiday experience for the era of COVID-19.

S.F. Ballet is just one of many local arts organizations that have adapted their holiday offerings for a socially distanced season. It’s not easy to capture the spirit of live performance without an audience, but constraints have bred creativity and opened new channels of artistic expression.

Graphic courtesy of the San Francisco Mime Troupe

Lessons From S.F. Mime Troupe’s Move From Live Events to Radio Plays

The San Francisco Mime Troupe has been performing socially conscious and often very funny productions in Bay Area parks since 1959 and was preparing for its summer series of live shows when the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible.

The Troupe has been releasing half-hour radio plays for the last 10 weeks and now, with the first series, “Tales of the Resistance,” coming to an end, we wanted to find out how the move from live to radio play has worked out.