Our Pint-Sized play festival starts tonight, but we wanted to take a moment to get to know all the directors working to make this year’s festival even bigger than last year. Enjoy! And don’t forget to come see Pint-Sized Plays II, playing August 15, 16, 22, 29 and 30 at the Cafe Royale in San Francisco. The show starts at 8 PM but get there early because we tend to fill up quickly!
How did you get involved with Theater Pub?
Julia Heitner: I met the artistic directors (Stuart Bousel, Victor Carrion, Bennett Fisher, Brian Markley) while performing in a redwood forest.
Meg O’Connor: Ben (Bennett Fisher) and I had worked together with a few different companies, and he invited me on as a producer for his adaptation of Vaclav Havel’s Audience. I also directed for the Theban Chronicles, and produced Pint Sized last year. I followed that with a mini-quarter life break down, and now I’m back!
Rik Lopes: Stuart Bousel.
Megan Briggs: My introduction to Theater Pub was last year when I was cast as Ismene in the Theban Chronicles. It was a lot of fun to portray the same character in four plays and see how she developed.
B. Warden Lawlor: I originally thought I was going to an Intervention. Turns out it was a rehearsal for the Valentines Day show in 2010. I have been fortunate enough to perform in other pieces since then.
Jessica Holt: Through Ben and Stuart and the BOA Festival, which I am the Artistic Director of. I actually think I may have been at one of the very first creative planning conversations Ben and Stuart and Brian ever had about Theater Pub. We were reading an adaptation of Vaclav Havel’s play Audience that Ben had done. We were sitting around Ben’s living room and after we read it, they started brainstorming this crazy idea of presenting the play in a bar. And..within six months Theatre Pub was a total reality and Audience… and so many other amazing plays have been performed.
Sara Staley: Being a big fan of both theater and bars, when I first heard about SF Theater Pub last season, I knew I had to be involved. I came to a couple of shows and chatted with Ben Fisher, and he hooked me up to direct Marissa Skudlarek?s Drinking for Two for the Pint Sized Plays Festival last season. I had a great time. I was stoked on the quality of plays, actors and directors, the full houses we had, and the community building experience of being involved in a festival like this.
What do you like best about the show you’re directing?
Meg O’Connor: I recognize with the lady in my piece (like…I think I am her…)
Jessica Holt: Drinking Alone by Megan Cohen may possibly be the best and truest expression of why we drink and what it means to be muddling our way through this crazy life. She gets at the ridiculous and the sad and the hilarious and the beautiful and the messed up parts of what it means to human in 27 moments and in the time it takes to drink one beer. Megan’s writing is just brilliant.
Megan Briggs: I love the script I’m working on and I love working with my cast. I have some truly talented actors and we have discovered so many wonderfully fun moments in our piece. Plus we’ve had rehearsals in some fun places (like on a carousel for instance).
B. Warden Lawlor: Great writing and great acting. I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to direct “God/ Satan/ Beer.” by Nick and Lisa Gentile, and to have secured Ashely Cowen and Dan Kurtz as my actors. They have all made my job easier with their talent.
Rik Lopes: Three words: Karen (Offereins), Nathan (Tucker), Molly (Benson). (The Cast)
Sara Staley: As a director you are always trying to help actors find their subtext, and Jeremy Cole?s English for the Romantically Challenged actually provides us with the subtext of a guy hitting on a girl in a bar scenario in a very clever, comedic way.
What, in general, attracts you to something as a director?
Jessica Holt: Gorgeous, bold, adventurous wild language. Characters living in the extremes of the present with a deep need to reach each other and us. Plays grappling with big, beautiful questions of what it means to be human, what it means to live and die and everything in between.
Meg O’Connor: Wit and imagination. And nudity.
Rik Lopes: Pathos. It has to hit me in the gut as well as resonate in my brain. It has to matter on some level, leaving the actor and the audience better for having experienced it. Otherwise, who cares?
B. Warden Lawlor: Good comedic timing. Many people don’t realize just how difficult comedy is. It takes a lot of work to make people laugh, and even more so to make it look “natural”. As a director I’m always thinking of how I can get the most out of what I’m presented with. I feel fortunate to have such talented people working with me on this.
Sara Staley: I am definitively attracted to new works as a director, and SF Theater Pub is a great venue for showcasing new plays by local playwrights. I also enjoy working on comedies, especially if they are unique, quirky, dark or all of the above. Hopefully the play also gives audiences a little insight into ourselves and/or society to ponder as a bonus.
What unique problems/opportunities does working in a bar present?
B. Warden Lawlor: Making room for both audience and cast members. On the one hand the performers need to be in place to do their thing and on the other I don’t want to limit or deny an audience member their right to sit down and enjoy the show. That said, I believe this is what makes Theater Pub an exciting and unique experience for all involved.
Julia Heitner: Giant pillars, drunk audience members, blocked entrances and disgruntled bar patrons who did not know there was going to be a performance and are only at the bar to work on their laptop. Not really problems! Although sometimes I do want to hack down those pillars. But I would rather the bar remain standing.
Jessica Holt: All rehearsals take place in a venue where alcohol is free and flowing and this is simultaneously a problem and a glorious opportunity, especially with the incredible cast of Sarah Moser, Nick Dickson, Rob Ready, Kirsten Broadbear and Ray Hobbs. It’s amazing we got anything done.
Sara Staley: Site-specific theater interests me as well, and the Pint Sized Plays Festival gives us the opportunity to present plays about beer in a bar? Yay! I found last year that the audience really becomes immersed in the world of the plays since they take place all over the bar, and you never know if the person sitting next to you nursing their beer is going to start reciting lines, or if they are just there to get drunk. Of course since the action shifts throughout the bar, you have to let audiences fend for themselves in terms of being able to see. They might be front and center for one play and have to move to be able see the next one, but I think the shifting audience dynamic is also part of the fun. Plus they get to order drinks during the show.
Megan Briggs: Having theater in a bar makes it accessible to everyone. I know people who don’t necessarily enjoy coming to see live theater, but when you tell them it’s in a bar, they immediately feel more comfortable and are more likely to come check it out. Of course, the prospect of enjoying a drink and a show all at the same time is also pretty appealing.
Rik Lopes: Immersive theatre is what I do. I love to blur the line between actor and observer. That said, sightlines are a total bitch.
What’s on your bucket list of plays to direct?
Jessica Holt: Oh so many! Three Sisters. Medea. King Lear. The Children’s Hour. The entire canon of Megan Cohen.
Sara Staley: Anything by Megan Cohen.
B. Warden Lawlor: A Christmas Carol. That show was my first exposure to professional theater and what inspired me to get involve in the first place.
Meg O’Connor: Mourning Becomes Electra and Suessical the Musical.
Megan Briggs: I absolutely love Shakespeare, and I would love to get the chance to direct one of his plays.
Rik Lopes: Amadeus. Restoration. An Inspector Calls.
Julia Heitner: The Seagull. Not sure why.
Fuck. Marry. Kill. Any three actors. Go.
Megan Briggs: I’ll never tell…
Jessica Holt: Someday the answer to this question will come back and haunt me so I will just say that I love all of my actors to pieces and would marry each and every one of them tomorrow if they asked.
Julia Heitner: Ewan McGregor. Tina Fey. I don’t want anyone to have any evidence against me…
B. Warden Lawlor: Marylin Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Ben Affleck (I’m still really pissed off about Dare Devil)
Meg O’Connor: F: Kirsten Broadbear M: Cary Grant K: The Baldwin Brothers (minus Alec). Those guys have to go.
Rik Lopes: Ryan Reynolds. Zachary Quinto. Tom Cruise.
Sara Staley: Is it weird that James Franco is my answer for all three?
Beer, wine or cocktails?
Jessica Holt: Who wants some shots!
Rik Lopes: I don’t discriminate.
B. Warden Lawlor: Depends on my mood. But I have been guilty of having all three in the coarse of an evening.
Meg O’Connor: Wine…what can I say? I’m a classy broad.
Julia Heitner: D. All of the Above.