HAPPENINGText: Kanya Niijima

“Popcorn is not for everyone. If you relish perfectly choreographed productions, you will not understand the cauldron of chaos that is Popcorn Anti-Theater,” the organizer cautions the audience in advance.

It is by no means difficult to appreciate the show of the Popcorn Anti-Theater; all you need is to gather at 8 P.M. at the appointed street of Potrero Hill. Be sure to bring a flashlight, and take your jacket with you for the chilly foggy night of San Francisco. Soon the theater’s 49 seat bus arrives. Jump in. The oversized tour bus, however, will not disclose the destination. In fact, this performing group has no specific theater located in the city. The bus trip itself, four hours of Bay Area outdoor touring, is the center stage of their performance. The curtain rises as the mobile tour starts the engine.

Driving outbound from Downtown San Francisco, the tour bus transports the audience to secluded, hidden spots in the Bay Area. “We visit unique sites you may never have seen before, and may never see again.” As the organizer states, the bus frequently stops at locations that are off the beaten path. Sometimes it’s a misty cliff at the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes, a pitch black mountain trail. Unusual locales to be in the middle of night? Sure they are, but in fact, these secret sites are where the Popcorn’s shows are held.

Their low tech performance begins outside in the dark without theatrical equipment. No lighting nor sound devices. The flashlights brought by the audience become handy spotlights for the touring stage. At every destination there are performance artists who are rushed to the spot just 5 minutes ahead of the audience arrival. The artists, with only a few minutes to prepare the show, are forced to exhibit their stage under these imperfect conditions.

The results are spontaneous, unpretentious entertainment. Randomness and improvisation are a part of their directing techniques. Popcorn Anti-Theater evokes an unpredictable theatrical experience, with close interaction between the performers and the audience.

Popcorn Anti-Theater
Date: Every last Sunday and Monday, 20:00 – 24:00
Meeting point: The corner of 16th Street and Bryant Street
Ticket: $20 (Advance $16)
Tel: +1 415 695 9100

Text: Kanya Niijima

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