Top 10 Creative Things I Lucked Into in 2014

In 2014, reality and fantasy battled it out in theatre and art that was equally exquisite and unnerving

<i>DENISE PRINCE: TRACTATUS 7</i>
"DENISE PRINCE: TRACTATUS 7" (Photo courtesy of Denise Prince)

Top 10 creative things I lucked into in 2014

1) "DENISE PRINCE: TRACTATUS 7" The nonpareil photographer and investigator of all things vital and human shook the foundations of identity with huge, unforgettable portraits of physical-trauma survivors decked out in the style of a high-fashion Missoni catalog.

2) TWO PLAYS WRITTEN BY SAMUEL D. HUNTER Two local companies took on the intense, provocative works of MacArthur-winning Idaho playwright – A Chick & a Dude with The Whale and Hyde Park Theatre with A Bright New Boise – and did beautiful, harrowing justice to them both, with Shanon Weaver especially impressive (and unnerving) in a fat suit as The Whale's 600-pound Charlie.

3) "SHANE AND SARA SCRIBNER: A PLACE BEYOND" (Wally Workman Gallery) We're still coveting everything the married duo of portrait painters displayed on the Workman walls, because the shadowy interzone of reality and fantasy has rarely been captured this exquisitely.

4) THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (Paladin Theatre Company) Charlie Stites adapted H.G. Wells' classic and performed the entire thing on a bare stage by himself – and curdled much FronteraFest audience blood with his superlative presentation.

5) BRIGHT NOW BEYOND (Salvage Vanguard Theater) SVT reclaimed all its primal glory with Daniel Alexander Jones and Bobby Halvorson's new musical adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz directed by Will Davis.

6) "JAMES DRAKE: ANATOMY OF DRAWING AND SPACE (BRAIN TRASH)" (Blanton Museum of Art) Two years' worth of daily drawing by a master draftsman and inquisitive thinker, flooding the Blanton's immense lower gallery with floor-to-ceiling images from his mind's eclectic warehouse in shades of black, gray, white, and red.

7) THE METHOD GUN (Rude Mechs) The Rudes reprised their – well, you can't call it their greatest hit, they have such a variety of the things, don't they? – their brilliant, hilarious, vigorous deconstruction of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.

8) HENRY V (Austin Shakespeare/Red Then Productions) Another remounting, this time the Chronicle's own Robert Faires bringing to the Long Center his stripped-down, singularly powerful solo version of Shakespeare's most valiant king.

9) THE STRANGE CASE OF EDWARD HYDE & DR. JEKYLL (Trouble Puppet Theatre) The story is well known, the Trouble Puppet adaptation and staging worthy of its source material, but the puppeteers' skills, already prodigious, had never before been so sublime and evocative of that uncanny valley.

10) COMPUTER SIMULATION OF THE OCEAN (Physical Plant Theater) We've never been so enraptured with cell-phone texts as we were during this real-time sci-fi thriller created by Steve Moore for 2014's Fusebox Festival.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Wayne Alan Brenner, Top 10s, Denise Prince, Tractatus 7, A Chick & a Dude Productions, Shanon Weaver, Hyde Park Theatre, Shane and Sara Scribner, Wally Workman Gallery, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Charles Stites, Bright Now Beyond, Salvage Vanguard Theater, Daniel Alexander Jones, Bobby Halvorson, James Drake, Blanton Museum of Art, The Method Gun, Rude Mechs, Henry V

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