May 23 2012 12:00 PM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

Scene from The Collector

1. A new world

Iain Gunn and Bridget Rountree have been doing experimental adult puppet theater in San Diego since 2005, and now they're wondering how far audiences here are willing to go. Their puppeteering fingers are crossed in hopes that folks will follow them into a dialog-free, soundscape- filled world of a debt collector—his true reality, his dream state and his subconscious.

The Collector is an hour-long multimedia performance created by Rountree and Gunn's Animal Cracker Conspiracy troupe in collaboration with sound artist Margaret Noble. It runs from Wednesday, June 6 through Sunday, June 16, at 3rd Space, an arts lab at 4610 Park Blvd. in University Heights (cost is $15), but there will be preview performances at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 30 and 31.

Three years in the making, The Collector was inspired by the scourge of rising debt in American society; it also includes elements of status and body image and people's relationships with material objects. The story's told through toy theater, American Bunraku puppetry, stop-motion animation projected on a large screen and Noble's recorded and live soundscapes, which Gunn and Rountree say drive the narrative forward. Without dialog, Noble "is the voice of the show," Gunn says. "She makes it more exciting and deeper and—." "Accessible," Rountree chimes in. "She really re- inforces what the story is trying to communicate."

"What we're trying to create is a satisfying and interesting and bizarre theatrical experience," Gunn says, describing it as "like a silent movie" with lots of references to high art of the past. "It's a psychological piece, too, and it's got some pretty fantastic characters."

In their travels, Gunn and Rountree have seen what puppet theaters have done in other cities; they say they've merely scratched the surface in San Diego. The Collector is a step forward. "We're really trying to bring something deeper, fresh and interest- ing, in hopes to inspire more of it happening," Gunn says, "but also just to share it with our community." 

2 Total poser 

In 1940, Los Angeles surgeon Clarence Moore went to Mexico City to pose for a commissioned portrait by famed painter Diego Rivera. But it wasn't a typical portrait; Rivera didn't paint Moore's face. Instead, he focused on his subject's hands, which are depicted trimming the Tree of Life. Mexican artist Roberto Cortázar is among those inspired by Rivera's nontraditional attention to symbolism, and he's used "The Hands of Dr. Moore" as a jumping-off point for 12 paintings of his own. Those pieces, as well as Rivera's original work, will be on view in Dynamic: Blue Note After Rivera, opening Saturday, May 26, at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. The exhibition will be on view through Sept. 30. 

3 Borderless dance 

Darcy Naganuma takes the break in "break-dancer" literally; the New York City "b-girl" stabs apples with her stilettos and cracks open ink-filled eggs on stage. Naganuma joins a group of choreographers and musicians for two nights of performances at the Blurred Borders Dance Festival. The festival, now in its 14th year, is produced by Patricia Rincon Dance Studio, and this year, Rincon celebrates her 30 years of adventurous programming with this experimental installation that blurs more than cultural borders. The lineup of international, national and local dancers—performing to live music—will challenge audiences' notions of movement with "political theater dance" and multimedia performances. The shows start at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and 26, at Saville Theater at San Diego City College. Tickets are $10 to $22.

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email our events editor, Alex Zaragoza. You can also bug her on Twitter.


See all events on Tuesday, Oct 25