‘Wilde Card’ Deals an Ace. Lovecraft Looms for October

Wilde Card stormed by on September 20 with clashing swords and clinking glasses, and Theater Pub’s got something even more sinister in mind for Halloween – three adaptations of stories from the master of horror, H.P. Lovecraft.

The H. P. Lovecraft Festival begins October 18 with The Shunned House. Join us again on October 19 for three Lovecraft shorts and finally on October 25 for The Dunwich Horror. All plays are presented radio play style, adapted and directed by local writers.

All shows are performed in the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post St, San Francisco, at Leavenworth), 8pm curtain. Admission, as always, is free.

Sara Judge on Music for Wilde Card

In preparation for Monday’s WILDE CARD, singer-songwriter Sara Judge shared some thoughts about her work and composing music for the event.

Like many other people in this world I am a songwriter. I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember. What makes songs different from poems is, not much, you sing them. When I was in second grade I carried around a composition book and wrote songs down as they came to me and I sang them into the air. I numbered each one and I remember the day I reached 16. It seemed like such a high number—the kids at school were impressed. Some early titles include Paradise (“a place where you want to be”), and Witchy Wind (“leave me alone witchy wind”). In the fourth grade I’d apparently found most of these early songs to have been so juvenile and embarrassing that I ripped the pages out of my book and threw them away, leaving only songs 1, 4 and 7. If only I still had those cruelly discarded songs. What does a second grader, a third grader write about?

Of course today, so many years later, I really actually make songs with guitar and perform them. The process is much the same. The wind or the sun or a thought demands attention—“grab a pen,” or “record this!” and I write or sing whatever comes out, usually simultaneously on guitar and vocals. From there, I look at the words, I listen to the recordings of the melodies and I massage and rewrite and contemplate so that something true is expressed. My songs always come from me, through me.

This was the first time I’ve attempted to turn words that have come through someone else into music and melody. It felt clunky and almost as if I was cheating on someone. I looked through Wilde’s poems trying to find the ones that resonated with me. I’d never read any of Wilde’s poems before, although I knew him as a playwright—most famously The Importance of Being Earnest.

So I chose the poems. They seemed so structured, so formal and kind of antiquated (not in a good way).  I forced myself to start working on the guitar part for “By the Arno.” Something clicked and this little classical-like arpeggio piece started rolling out. Next, add “lyrics.” Once I lifted the words from the page and began singing them, I felt as though I was meeting Oscar Wilde, the man, for the first time. These words were so true, so deeply conscious and sensitive, emotional. These words, like my own, came from his heart. And suddenly, becoming so intimate with them, made them even more beautiful to me. I could see source, the heart, and I could feel the motivation, the subtleties of emotion, as if I’d written it myself. In the process, I gained a deeper understanding of my own compositions, my own poetry and my own lyrics. (And if it’s not taking too much away from Mr. Wilde, you can listen to some of them at www.sarajudge.com.) I hope you enjoy the performances. Above all, I wanted to keep it simple and let the words be clear, so that you could feel as though you were reading these exquisite poems to yourself.

-Sara Judge

WILDE CARD, which features performances of Oscar Wilde’s The Florentine TragedyLa Saint Courtesan, and original music by Sara Judge inspired by the writer performs once and only once on Monday, September 20 at the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post, at Leavenworth). Admission is free, with a suggested donation. Performance begins at 8pm.

Wilde Card One Night Only, Monday

San Francisco Theater Pub is back with a witty vengance this Monday with WILD CARD. Two amazing, rarely performed short plays by Oscar Wilde, original music inspired by his writing, a sword fight in a bar, a beer on tap – what more can one ask for? Be there to watch Theater Pub deal another ace.

WILDE CARD, which features performances of Oscar Wilde’s The Florentine TragedyLa Saint Courtesan, and original music inspired by the writer performs once and only once on Monday, September 20 at the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post, at Leavenworth). Admission is free, with a suggested donation. Performance begins at 8pm.

Stuart Bousel on Oscar Wilde

In preparation for our September WILDE CARD event, director and producer Stuart Bousel had this to say about the man, the work, and working with the man’s work.

Oscar Wilde- brilliant, egotistical, tragic- is one of those historical/literary figures whose interest and appeal never seems to fade- something Wilde himself would have been happy to know, considering his penchant for extravagant parties, flashy clothes and double-edged wit. The man aspired to not just create art, but also to live art, creating a very dramatic- and very public- persona that made him the toast of the London social circuit before becoming one of the Victorian Age’s blackest of black sheep. He believed deeply in art for art’s sake, beauty as an end unto itself, and never doing anything in bad taste or cheaply if one could help it. Though before the press and audiences he espoused scandalous philosophies such as atheism, homosexuality and amoralism, he was also a surprisingly humane and compassionate man who believed one could appreciate ideas one didn’t believe in, extoll the lifestyle of the rich without turning one’s back on the poor, and love deeply and truly to the point of sacrificing one’s self entirely to sustain the joy of another person’s existence. He was a romantic at heart, even as he helped bring about the end of romanticism. He saw the value in almost anything, so long as it was done in a way that enriched the tapestry of the larger world.

Wilde’s early work is marked by soaring, florid language and an almost comical melodramatic flair to the personalities he explores: women who love to the point of murder, men who are devoured by their own emotional hysteria, scathing wits and ascetic intellectuals, deeply superstitious and plebeian commoners, terrifyingly holy and untouchable religious icons. He was particularly fascinated by the conjunction of the beautiful and the cruel- whether that cruelty was found in the blind vanity of an adulterous set of lovers, like in The Florentine Tragedy, or in the exacting nature of divine perspective the requires one to abdicate all earthly pleasure to achieve sublime grace, as in La Saint Courtesan. His works are simultaneously over the top in their twisting verbal acrobatics of descriptions and details, and simple in their presentment of human emotions as essentially uncomplicated but often too powerful to be controlled. His characters often do and say outrageous things and yet somehow also come off as helpless and vulnerable, his point being that even the wisest and strongest of us are often reduced (or elevated, depending on your view) to vitriolic children when gripped in the strong claws of passion, desire, despair and wonder.

The two pieces we have chosen for theater pub are ones that are rarely performed. Though The Florentine Tragedy- which according to legend Wilde never completed because he lost the original draft in a taxi coach- has in the last fifty years become a staple of one-act collections, La Saint Courtesan is only finally achieving the recognition it deserves as a thematic and stylistic pre-curser to Salome. Both pieces make for excellent introductions to the world and style of Wilde- a genius whose output was tragically cut short in part by the prejudices of the time, but also by his own hubris and failure to control his own passionate nature. Becoming the very type of person he so frequently chose to write about, Wilde was ultimately able to achieve his goal of living life as boldly as a work of art. Unfortunately, the story of his life became more tragic than romantic.

WILDE CARD, which features performances of Oscar Wilde’s The Florentine Tragedy, La Saint Courtesan, and original music inspired by the writer performs once and only once on Monday, September 20 at the Cafe Royale Bar (800 Post, at Leavenworth). Admission is free, with a suggested donation. Performance begins at 8pm.

Pint Sized Are Downed. Now It’s Time To Get Wilde.

After three sold out performances, THE PINT SIZED PLAYS have come to a end. This was a big one for the San Francisco Theater Pub – the biggest houses, the largest number of collaborators, and, far in a way, the most beer consumed. All in all, a resounding success for a theater operating out of a bar.

But next month we’ve got our eyes set on something Wilder, in a manner of speaking. In WILDE CARD, Theater Pub C0-Founder Stuart Bousel will direct two rarely produced shorts by Oscar Wilde – La Saint Courtesan and The Florentine Tragedy – accompanied by original music from Sara Judge inspired by Wilde’s writing. Internationally celebrated as a paradigm of wit and wisdom, Theater Pub is excited to share an often overlooked side of Wilde’s genius in a cordial bar atmosphere. There will also be, for the first time in Theater Pub history, a sword fight in the bar! Huzzah!

The performance is one night only Monday September 20, 8pm at the Cafe Royale. It would be a tragedy to miss it. Drink is the curse of the working class. Wilde is the gift of the Theater Pub.