…but we’re members of the ACLU in spirit!
Official confirmation of our donation of $650. Thanks again to everyone who came out and contributed, and to our matching donor whose separate donation of $350 brought us to $1000 from that event!
…but we’re members of the ACLU in spirit!
Official confirmation of our donation of $650. Thanks again to everyone who came out and contributed, and to our matching donor whose separate donation of $350 brought us to $1000 from that event!
Theater Pub’s November show is another classic from the Bard’s folio. We’ve done comedies, we’ve done histories, we’ve done problem plays- and now, with the same love, speed, and healthy irreverence that’s made these productions instant classics in the past, we present William Shakespeare’s LEAR.
Adapted and directed by Sam Bertken and featuring Valerie Fachman, Carl Lucania, Marlene Yarosh, Genevieve Perdue, Megan Briggs, Matt Weimer, Charlie D. Gray, Sam Heft-Luthy, Vince Faso, Karl Schackne and Kevin Glass, LEAR is the fitting swan song of sadness and silliness that will close the book on Theater Pub.
Catch “LEAR” only at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street):
Monday, November 21 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, November 22 @ 8:00pm
Monday, November 28 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, November 29 @ 8:00pm
As always, admission is FREE, with a $10 donation suggested at the door. No reservations required, but we get there early to get a good seat and enjoy PianoFight’s full bar and delicious dinner menu. Remember to show your appreciation to our hosts
See you at the Pub!
Calling all musicians and performers for San Francisco Theater Pub’s December show, THE PEOPLE SING, performing December 19th at PianoFight (144 Taylor St) at 8:00 PM.
THE PEOPLE SING will be a curated evening of sing-along musical theater pieces. Admission is free with a suggested donation and all money raised will go to supporting the ACLU.
In the past for our December show we’ve traditionally picked a famous standard and done a rock concert version of it, but this year we’d rather give as many people as we can a chance to participate. Since we’re not going to continue performances next year, we’d like to use this opportunity to raise money for an organization we believe will be exceedingly important in the next few years.
Performers should expect to arrive at the venue ready to perform as we will not organize rehearsals.
We will have some musical accompaniment available, so if you are a singer/s with no musician, please indicate this in your submission.
All performers and musicians, please submit the following to email@example.com by 11/29:
– Names and contact information of all performers and musicians involved
– A maximum of three musical theater songs you’d like to perform in order of preference – we will select one from the list. You may submit original musical theater material as well as well-known.
– Any tech requirements (amp, microphone, accompaniment, etc)
We will contact you by 12/5!
Charles Lewis III, waiting to be picked.
“The problem is that those of us who are lucky enough to do work that we love are sometimes cursed with too damn much of it.”
― Terry Gross, All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists
You ever get the feeling that you’re the one kid on the playground not picked to play kickball? Never mind the fact that they actually need you in order to have an even number of players on both teams; or that you’ve been practicing by kicking pinecones and have gotten pretty good at it; or that you’ve run around the yard just to prove you can run bases. No, all that matters is that the self-appointed captains have filled each of their teams with all of their friends. They don’t even pick you last, they just don’t pick you at all.
That’s what it feels like trying to find a good job these days. My skills are honed and demonstrable, colleagues (to my knowledge) all vouch for me, and I have at least twice as much experience as most of the folks who already work at the companies for which I apply. But clearly I’m not kissin’ the right asses because there’s no reason for me to have been without a full-time job for this long. The only thing more frustrating than not getting a response to my application is to get so far along in the interview process that they’re practically dangling the job in front of me, only for them to suddenly send an automated rejection letter. (I know they’re automated because every company sends the same damn one, word for word.)
I got several such letters this week. I know they shouldn’t get me down, but in addition to having been at this for quite a few years, they were altogether a helluva buzzkill for what was otherwise a week of good news. I stared at my laptop wondering if perhaps I were victim of a previous employer badmouthing me to other companies, maybe my lack of college degree being an immediate turn-off, or if maybe the fact that I have been out of work so many years (minus some part-time copywriting) means I’m somehow unworthy to work for this or that company. Whatever the answer is, I’m no closer to being hired than I was before applying.
“But, Charles,” you ask, “what has any of this to do with theatre, as suggested by this website being named ‘SF Theater Pub’?”
Well, imaginary-reader-with-whom-I’m-apparently-on-a-first-name-basis, that’s the good news I mentioned above. I’ve suddenly found myself with an overabundance of theatre projects to serve as a distraction from my lack of gainful employment. As I was awaiting the reactions from all of the “real world” jobs to which I’d applied, I’d gone through two incredibly brisk rehearsals of my Olympians play; I’d spent several weeks rewriting it for fear that it was too long, only for my actors to read it well enough that it clocked in at 25 minutes. I did some rehearsing at the SF Opera and got swept away in one of Verdi’s loveliest arias. I submitted to audition for the generals of a major company only to be told it wasn’t necessary because they know what I can do – for once, I took that as a compliment. On Monday, I auditioned at another major company only to get an e-mail the next day saying they’d love to have me understudy in their new show (I said “yes”).
In addition to that, I caught up with several acquaintances, tried processing Stupid Ghost more than a week later, and began checking my calendar for when I could get away to see fellow ‘Pub writer Anthony Miller’s show Terror-Rama II (co-written and directed by ‘Pub all-stars Claire Rice and Colin Johnson, respectively).
All of this has proven to be wonderfully fulfilling artistically, but such fulfillment does little to keep one financially stable. Would that I were as able to find myself in a cubicle (offices still have cubicles, right?) as I often as I find myself on stage, I’d feel as if I were appropriately balancing the “adult” side of my life with the “childish” part. Instead, it feels like I’m letting the kid take over as the adult refuses to speak to me. An oversimplification, I know, but I need the fulfillment (as well as the security) of a job as much as that of an artistic venture.
And yes, I’ve often thought about a line of work that does both – especially since my new understudy role will be the second to give me a significant number of EMC points. Right now, just getting a regular job is my goal; making a living as an artist is my dream.
During a few hours of downtime this week, I sat down to rewatch the documentary Listen to Me, Marlon, using personal recordings and home films from Marlon Brando. At several points he waxes on about the “value” of an actor, both in terms of contracted salary as well as how they function in society. In regard to the latter, he says that an actor’s ability to become anything makes them invaluable to people who believe they are only one thing, namely their job. The audience can live vicariously through the actor or curse their actions to the high heavens, but the ability to take an audience member away from their life and stir up such emotions is a skill to be valued.
Sometimes when I wonder what good I’m doing for the world as a writer, actor, and director of theatre, I think back to my first major role: I played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Actors weren’t exactly the most valued of citizens in Shakespeare’s time and Bottom is part of a troupe of terrible actors who put on shitty shows. But he still finds himself part of a whimsical scheme involving supernatural beings and ends the play bringing joy to newly-married royals with he and his troupe’s terrible performance. Even pawns are valuable in a game of chess.
I look forward to the day when I can fully support my artistic endeavors with an appropriate level of income. Until then, I’ll have fun occasionally playing rich guys since I can’t be one myself.
From now through the end of August, we’ll be bringing you interviews with the writers and directors of the 2016 Pint-Sized Plays. First up: writer Shirley Issel and director Jamie Harkin of “Angel of Darkness”!
“Angel of Darkness” is a modern mystery play set in a contemporary bar. Death is the barman, and he informs Everyman that as soon as another patron, Fellowship, finishes his beer, Everyman will die…
Brett Mermer plays Death, James F. Ross plays Fellowship, and Jamie Harkin pulls double duty by playing Everyman as well as directing the show.
How did you get involved with Pint-Sized?
Shirley: I am part of a playwriting class at Stagebridge, taught by Anthony Clarvoe. Anthony gave us your Pint-Sized Play Festival call for submission and rules as a weekly assignment. The rules captured my imagination and I really liked the results, so I submitted.
Jamie: My dear friend Alejandro Torres, who is the deputy producer of Pint-Sized this year, knows me and recommended me.
What’s the hardest thing about writing a short play?
Shirley: Coming up with a good idea.
What’s the best thing about writing a short play?
Shirley: It is clear very quickly if you have something good.
What’s been the most exciting part of this process?
Jamie: The idea of performing in front of such a huge crowd.
What’s been most troublesome?
Jamie: Finding actors.
Who or what are your biggest artistic influences?
Shirley: I am in love with Shakespeare, especially the way one character in each play sets the ball rolling and in doing so calls in his own fate. “Angel of Darkness” takes place on Halloween. When the bartender/Death asks Everyman if he wants a “trick or treat,” Everyman asks for a trick, inviting Death to do his thing.
If you could cast a celebrity in your Pint-Sized Play, who would it be and why?
Jamie: Anthony Hopkins, Derek Jacobi, Benedict Cumberbatch or Alan Rickman (if I could bring him back I totally would). Cause, you know, I love me some Brits.
Shirley: I would cast Matthew McConaughey as the bartender. He’s naughty, playful and smart with a killer smile. I can just hear him with his Southern accent asking his customers, “Alright, Alright, Alright! What’ll you have, trick or treat?”
Who’s your secret Bay Area actor crush? That is… what actor would you love a chance to work with?
Jamie: Hmm… I’d have to say James Carpenter. I’ve met him a couple times. He’s really really nice.
What other projects are you working on and/or what’s next for you?
Jamie: I’m in the SF Fringe Festival this year as part of Alejandro’s show Projected Voyages, which is being remounted. I was an original cast member back in 2013.
Shirley: I’m sticking with my playwriting class at Stagebridge and I’m curious myself about what will happen next. One thing new I’m eager to pursue is a class on directing.
What upcoming shows or events in the Bay Area theater scene are you most excited about?
Shirley: I’m looking forward to seeing Dear Master come back to the Aurora in September. Joy Carlin is directing and she makes sure good material gets a good production.
Jamie: I really wanna see John Leguizamo’s show at Berkeley Rep.
What’s your favorite beer?
Shirley: Right now, I like Death and Taxes.
See “Angel of Darkness” and the other Pint-Sized Plays at PianoFight on August 15, 16, 22, 23, and 29!
Marissa Skudlarek speaks with one of the Bay Area’s most exciting multi-hyphenate performers!
I don’t think I’d ever seen the actor-singer-musician-clown-fashionista Danielle Gray at this time last year, and then all of a sudden they burst upon the indie-theater scene. And, while I spend my days in a cubicle at a day job, Danielle always seems to be learning new circus skills, or singing torch songs in secret cabarets, and looking fabulous doing it. Currently, Danielle is acting in the new play Hunting Love in Oakland, which seemed as good an excuse as any to chat with them about their art and aesthetics.
Marissa: Tell me a little bit about Hunting Love and the character you play in it.
Danielle: Hunting Love is a new play by Susan-Jane Harrison. It’s kind of a reunion collaboration between Susan-Jane and director Erin Merritt, who used to work together at all-female Shakespeare company Woman’s Will. Hunting Love is being produced by a new company called Local Dystopia, which has produced shows here and in London, and is going up at the Flight Deck in downtown Oakland. The piece is fairly ambitious in its incorporation of dance/movement and sound/music. We have this amazingly talented three-person Greek chorus/band (Jed Parsario, Mia Pixley, Bruce Bennett) who play original music, provide atmospheric Foley sounds with their instruments, and act as minor characters. I am so impressed by them all the time.
Hunting Love is a new story, loosely using characters from Greek mythology. I play two characters who are inextricably connected in the story – Echo, a lovesick dryad who has willingly been turned into air so that she may follow Narciso (played by Nican Robinson) forever, and I also play Histrionia, daughter of Love (played by Susan-Jane Harrison). Character inspirations for my Echo include ballerinas, kittens who scratch you even when they’re trying to be affectionate, and baby velociraptors. She’s a bit feral, but in a lovable way. Histrionia is in her early twenties, but has had some emotional development setbacks… so she is a fully-grown woman with the emotional capacity and understanding of intimacy of a teenager. The play is about learning what intimacy and love even are — how do we go about this confusing business of loving one another?
Marissa: You’ve said that your audition for the 2015 San Francisco Olympians Festival (after which you were cast in a major role in the staged reading of Allison Page’s Jasons) is the reason you’ve been so busy with work over the last year.
Danielle: This is true! I auditioned on the advice of a friend who did it several years ago, and quickly found myself surrounded by excellent new friends and collaborators.
Marissa: What were some of the artistic highlights of the last year for you?
Danielle: It sounds like I’m pandering, but sincerely, working with Theater Pub has been a major highlight of 2016. [Danielle played the Duke in Theater Pub’s February show Over the Rainbow, had roles in two short plays in our March show On the Spot, and also appeared in our June show Better Than Television –ed.] Theater Pub is the opposite of elitist, and everyone involved is engaged fully in the process of trying new things, both with existing texts and new work. It’s been really refreshing. However, my favorite show I only got because the director and writer saw me at Olympians was The Horse’s Ass & Friends, Megan Cohen’s delicious vaudevillian showcase of short works that played last December. It was a dream cast and crew and experience — everyone involved was a super talented pro and a lovely person, and I still count them all as friends I would recommend to anyone, or work with again in a second.
Marissa: Since so many good things came out of the Olympians Festival for you, it’s appropriate that you’re now acting in another play that is inspired by Greek mythology. What’s your favorite Greek myth or mythological figure?
Danielle: Oh, it is hard to pick. I like Medusa quite a bit, because she’s such an interesting, nuanced character who is often unfairly reduced to a Halloween monster. Her situation is fully unfair and she’s just trying to make the best of things by living up to her bad bitch reputation with no apologies, amirite? I’ve also always been fascinated by Hera, who is clearly the one keeping Mount Olympus running behind the scenes while Zeus is being a swan unconcerned with consent or whatever. I like complicated, imperfect female or non-binary characters in basically any mythology.
Marissa: You are making it as a working artist (sans day job) in the Bay Area, at a time when many people say that that’s no longer possible. What are your tips on how to make this work?
Danielle: So this is a popular rumor, and it’s only sometimes true, but I have been known to pull it off for months at a time. My situation changes frequently. I have anywhere from two to four part-time day jobs going at any given time. Nearly all are at least a little art-related, a rule I made for myself this year. Right now I am teaching at an outdoor preschool for the summer, and I work at the front desk of a dance studio so I can get class credit, which is like… medium artistic, more about supplementing process expenses and doing research. Other arts work is contract-based and somewhat unpredictable, like cabaret or walk-around character acting for parties.
Tip #1: FOUR JOBS IS TOO MANY, don’t do this, I do this so you can see how crazy it can make a person.
Tip #2: Most artists I know have at least two things they love. My advice, for people who are willing to hustle like they will die tomorrow, is to do both of them. Don’t buy the advice that you have to pick. I love working with kids, so I keep my side job options open in five-and-under education, and luckily I live in the Bay Area, where when parents find out I also do cabaret they just think I am cool. They recognize that adults contain multitudes and are capable of being responsible, caring human beings AND doing weird circus sideshows for cash.
Tip #3: Accept help from trusted sources. It would be disingenuous for me to pretend that as an artist in a city with skyrocketing prices, I never hit a surprise financial wall and let my mom (a former costumer and lifelong artist/arts supporter herself) boost me with grocery money. I figure I’ll pay her back when she’s old and I’m successful by being Dorothy to her Sophia and making sure she gets to go on a vacation whenever she effing wants, just like she does for her mother.
Tip #4: This one is honestly the most important. Don’t work jobs that make you miserable. Don’t do it, it’s not worth it. Hold out if you can for a day job that has a team you love, or perks that are actually worth it (like training you in skills that will benefit your arts career), or a job that just makes you happy. Do not languish in industries you hate because you are afraid you won’t find something better in time to rescue yourself from late rent. You will manage. Believe in your own resourcefulness. Ask your network for help.
Marissa: You’ve also been getting into the cabaret scene as a singer, ukulele player, and clown. I am an amateur ukulele player myself so I have to ask: what are your favorite songs to play on the uke?
Danielle: I have been clowning and doing circus sideshow for a couple of years now, started teaching myself ukulele about four years ago but only started playing publicly last year, and I’ve been singing since I could open my mouth. But now I get paid to do it all in dark cabarets and variety shows, fulfilling my destiny of being Sally Bowles with (slightly) more sense in my head, and hopefully fewer Nazis. Lately I’ve been playing the following to relax: “I Wish I Was the Moon,” by Neko Case, “The Chain,” by Ingrid Michaelson, and “That Was Us,” by Julia Nunes. And I’m learning a duet with my dear friend Adam Magill which we will finish eventually: “To Die For Your Ideas,” Pierre de Gaillande’s English translation of a Georges Brassens song. I play so many broody songs on the ukulele I created a clown character centered around it just to lighten the mood. Triste is a sad, pretty clown, who sings pretty, sad songs.
Marissa: What are your biggest influences or contributors to your aesthetic sensibility?
Danielle: I read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe as a kid, starting just about as soon as I could read a novel. That probably had a lot to do with what is happening here. I read Grimm’s fairy tales and the Anne of Green Gables series like a hundred times. My favorite book in high school was Lolita, because I am obsessed with Nabokov’s love letters to the English language, and the concept of playing with and manipulating audience sympathies. Lydia from Beetlejuice was a strong influence, though I only started wearing black in my late twenties: I didn’t have a “goth phase,” at least not where wardrobe is concerned, because I grew up in the desert. I also grew up in a very theatrical and musical household, so we watched a lot of TCM as a family and on our own. Old Hollywood films, musicals in particular, have had a huge impact on my aesthetic: Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Carol Burnett, Buster Keaton. Also the fashion of forgotten gems of 1990s cinema. Not the enduringly popular films, but the weird ones like With Honors, or Michael, or Truly, Madly, Deeply. Dad-jeans time capsules. I am enduringly obsessed with vaudeville aesthetics, magic, etc.
Marissa: What’s coming up next for you, and what shows are you most excited to see this summer/fall?
Danielle: So we just opened Hunting Love this past weekend, and it will run through August 21. Click here for tickets. We’ve also begun rehearsals for KML: The Musical, opening in September, which is SO EXCITING because it’s not just my first time working with Killing My Lobster, it’s my first foray into any sketch comedy since my high school cohort’s tragic but heartfelt attempt to form a troupe. I’m thrilled about the team for this show.
I haven’t booked anything at Panic & Give Up (a secret speakeasy cabaret I love) in the near future, but I am always haunting that joint and I’m sure I will turn up on their stage again eventually. It’s a good place to look for me. You can keep in the loop by using the form at www.daniellegray.com/booking, and requesting to be added to my email list. Or follow me on Facebook — I always do a public post when I have a show coming up.
The next show I’m going to see is The Thrush and the Woodpecker at Custom Made, and I’m pretty stoked about the space station they’re building over at PianoFight for Faultline Theater’s The Ice Cream Sandwich Incident.
Marissa: My column is called “Hi-Ho, the Glamorous Life” and you are a notably glamorous person, so I also have to ask: do you have any pointers (either practical or philosophical) for achieving glamor?
Danielle: Oh goodness, Marissa. Blush. I get asked about fashion advice a lot because I am not subtle about my evolving love affair with my wardrobe, and the best advice I have for anybody is to wear what you actually like. It is that simple. Honestly. If you want to wear a ball gown every day, just do it. I’m not at all exaggerating. If you like to wear yoga clothes, buy the ones you really like and rock them. The only thing stopping you from looking exactly the way you want is your hesitation – find photos that inspire you and replicate the items, scour thrift stores and department stores alike, be real about the colors you enjoy, don’t be snobby about brands (high end or low end). I think of every outfit as a costume, with a particular inspiration. Once a friend told me my outfit was “a pair of fishnets away from Bob Fosse Captain Hook,” which remains one of my most treasured compliments. Some days I’m “Andro Duckie.” Often, I get “80s New Wave/Boy George.” You know what makes you feel good, you know whose style you admire. There’s no reason you can’t do what they do. People like to see other people being unabashedly themselves.
Keep up with Danielle’s adventures at www.daniellegray.com.
Theater Pub is thrilled to announce that our Pint-Sized Play Festival returns this August for FIVE performances at PianoFight — August 15, 16, 22, 23, and 29. That’s right, we’ve added a fifth performance by popular demand!
The Pint-Sized Plays – short plays by Bay Area playwrights that take place in a bar and involve characters drinking beer – have been Theater Pub’s flagship event since 2010. This year, producer Marissa Skudlarek and deputy producer Alejandro Emmanuel Torres are pleased to present 11 new plays by a mix of Theater Pub veterans and new faces.
Many of the 2016 Pint-Sized Plays deal with endings and beginnings. A man and woman meet to sign their divorce papers in “No Fault,” by Christian Simonsen. In Marissa Skudlarek’s “Cemetery Gates,” two moody and self-dramatizing teenagers sneak into the bar, while in Shirley Issel’s “Angel of Darkness,” Death himself comes to the bar and targets an unsuspecting patron.
Two one-woman shows depict women on the brink of major life changes: “Julie Kopitsky’s Bat Mitzvah” by Jake Arky features a 36-year-old woman who has finally become an adult according to Judaism, while Caitlin Kenney’s “Why Go With Olivia” is about a woman who’s ready to put her old life behind her and start anew.
National and world politics are on everyone’s mind this summer, so some of this year’s Pint-Sized Plays have a political bent. “Polling Place,” by Gabriel Bellman, satirizes the anxieties and rhetoric of the 2016 election, while in “Don’t I Know You,” by Elizabeth Gjelten, a woman confronts the trauma of her past in a war-torn country.
On the lighter side of things, “Beer Culture” by James Nelson satirizes just how snobby San Francisco millennials can be about microbrews, and “Where There’s a Will” by Tanya Grove pays tribute to Shakespeare in this #Shakespeare400 year by imagining his visit to a modern-day bar. Alan Coyne’s “Bar Spies” presents a dizzying array of false identities and double-crossings in a spy-fiction pastiche
As always, Pint-Sized Plays’ mascot, the drunken llama played by PianoFight’s Rob Ready, will return with a new “Llamalogue,” written by Stuart Bousel.
Full lineup of plays, with a quote from each, is as follows:
“Julie Kopitsky’s Bat Mitzvah,” written and directed by Jake Arky—“After the bar mitzvah…it’s just the bar. Okay, so technically this is a bat mitzvah, but let’s not split hairs, yeah?”
“Polling Place” by Gabriel Bellman, directed by Megan Briggs—“What if I did choose a candidate based solely on whether they share certain characteristics with me or not, does that mean I’m voting for myself? Because I’m terrified of narcissists.”
“Llama VI” by Stuart Bousel, directed by Emma Rose Shelton—“Look, I hate tradition as much as the next person, okay? But one day, probably, I won’t be here—and you’re gonna miss that.”
“Bar Spies” by Alan Coyne, directed by Juliana Lustenader—“You asked for this meeting. I have what you want. Tell me what I need to know, or there’s no deal.”
“Don’t I Know You?” by Elizabeth Gjelten, directed by Jimmy Moore—“Here I am, a long way from home, and I see this one here, and I swear, we shared a beer. Back home. Maybe at Salim’s?”
“Where There’s a Will” by Tanya Grove, directed by Vince Faso—“Thou thinkest thy sisters arranged a meeting but never had intention of coming hither? Forsooth, wherefore this deception?”
“Angel of Darkness” by Shirley Issel, directed by Jamie Harkin—“He’s probably going to finish that beer; and when he does… Are you listening? You’re gonna die. So, what are you drinking?”
“Why Go With Olivia?” by Caitlin Kenney, directed by Vince Faso—“I have accepted a new job and would like to pursue this without you beginning September 1st. This does not mean I want a long-distance relationship. Or much continued contact at all.”
“Beer Culture” by James Nelson, directed by Neil Higgins—“I’m really not cool about what just happened. He was going to drink a Stella! At my table! What would people say?”
“No Fault” by Christian Simonsen, directed by Alejandro Emmanuel Torres—“Look, if you haven’t read it, you shouldn’t sign yet. Nothing’s changed regarding Wendy. Still joint custody.”
“Cemetery Gates” by Marissa Skudlarek, directed by Adam Odsess-Rubin—“Every time you look at someone you love, you know they will never be more beautiful than they are at that moment, because they will never again be so young.”
The Pint-Sized Plays acting company will feature the talents of Layne Austin, Andrew Chung, Lisa Darter, Nick Dickson, Daphne Dorman, Caitlin Evenson, Sailor Galaviz, Jamie Harkin, Colin Hussey, Sarah Leight, Alexander Marr, Kyle McReddie, Brett Mermer, Courtney Merrell, Rob Ready, Paul Rodrigues, James F. Ross, Amitis Rossoukh, Jessica Rudholm, Ron Talbot, and Noemi Zeigler Sanchez. (Additional casting TBA.) Logo designed by Cody Rishell.
The Pint-Sized Plays will perform five times: August 15, 16, 22, 23, and 29 at 8 PM at PianoFight, 144 Taylor St, San Francisco. Admission is FREE to all performances. For more information, please visit www.sftheaterpub.com.
Charles Lewis contemplates the Great Beyond.
“I’ve got my own life to live
I’m the one that’s going to have to die
When it’s time for me to die
So let me live my life the way I want to”
– Jimi Hendrix, “If 6 was 9”, Axis: Bold as Love
Funny thing about writing a play about death: it makes you think a lot about dying. Who knew? And if you want to get technical, the play in question isn’t actually about death, but the lack thereof. Let me explain…
I’m writing the Opening Night Party play for this year’s SF Olympians Festival. You may or may not recall that last year I occasionally dedicated this column to exploring the development process of said festival. If so, you may also recall that my final entry, “A Pre-Post-Mortem”, attempted to take an optimistic look at death, a frequent topic in a festival revolving around Greek mythology. Many Greek myths look at death not as the end of the journey, but rather the beginning of the next journey. For them, death wasn’t something to be dwelt upon – for lack of a better term – as it is today. Still, they acknowledged it as an inevitability and possibly one step closer to achieving greatness.
The Egyptians are a different story all together: everything was about death. EVERYTHING. Perhaps that’s not fair – it may be more accurate to say that they were about life, which they felt continued after death. But that doesn’t change the fact that quite a lot of those lives were spent in preparation for their inevitable deaths. And when they did die, everyone took notice.
So when writing for a Greek mythos fest that’s now added Egyptian gods for good measure, it’s no surprise to find death at every turn.
Except, of course, in my play. The script (working title: It’s a Fucking Dylan Thomas Poem!) is about characters for whom, shall we say, death is not a problem. No matter how much harm they inflict on themselves or each other, they never need to worry about shuffling off this mortal coil. It’s not quite a Tuck Everlasting situation, but they live lives (that they believe are) without consequence. Well, when you live your life knowing you can get away with anything, you’ll eventually ask yourself what the point of living is. And what’s the point of asking that question if you’re never going to die?
Naturally I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about dying. Not taking my own life – when you’ve known as many people as I have who attempted suicide right in front of you, it kinda puts you off the idea – but just what will or won’t be said when I’m gone. It’ll be completely out of my control, but that doesn’t stop me from contemplating what would be said, if anything at all. As I’ve been tinkering with this script over the past few months, I began to notice that whenever I’d seriously start to write notes or dialogue, a celebrity would die. (Not my fault, I swear!)
Such high-profile deaths inevitably lead to a lot of fawning eulogies, as well as some scathing posthumous criticisms. For me, the most interesting comment came after Prince’s death. With no legal will specifying the division of his $300m estate, Time asked Snoop Dogg if he’d made preparations for his family. He doesn’t. “I don’t give a fuck when I’m dead.”
As much as I disagree with the callous way a multi-millionaire refuses to make sure his family is protected once he’s gone, I have to say that I admire his response. He seems to understand the way the futility of worrying about something that will be completely out of his control. Though I don’t agree with how he does it, I like how he accepts the fact that he only has control for a finite amount of time, then everyone will be on their own.
Of course, it’s still Snoop Dogg, so he was probably high off his ass when he said it.
The problem with never wanting to talk about death is that it makes you unprepared for it. What both confounds and fascinates me about the characters I’m writing is that they’re unprepared for what life has in store when death never comes. They have to find reasons to keep living because it’s the one thing they’ll always do. What does that do to a person’s sense of health, spirituality, or ability to form lasting relationships?
I’m not quite sure, but as I keep writing, they’ll find out or attempt to die trying.
Charles Lewis III want you to celebrate life and art by contributing to this year’s Olympians Festival Indiegogo campaign. His script will be read during the Opening Night party on Sunday, October 2nd.
More posters from Meg Trowbridge, enticing you to tonight’s continuing of Better Than Television!
Return to PianoFight tonight and tomorrow night to see the thrilling Season Finales of your new favorite shows!
Watch the thrilling conclusion of the emotional juggernaut:
Shed a tear with…
And, of course, you’ll want to know what happens to…
You’ve got two more nights of entertainment that’s way better than the NBC Thursday night line-up. Tonight and tomorrow night, 8:00pm, only at PianoFight!
We are proud to announce the lineup for the 2016 edition of Pint-Sized Plays, our annual bar-specific short plays festival!
From over 45 submissions from Bay Area playwrights, we’ve chosen the following scripts:
Julie Kopitsky’s Bat Mitzvah by Jake Arky
Polling Place by Gabriel Bellman
Bar Spies by Alan Coyne
Don’t I Know You by Elizabeth Gjelten
Where There’s a Will by Tanya Grove
Angel of Darkness by Shirley Issel
Why Go With Olivia by Caitlin Kenney
Beer Culture by James Nelson
No Fault by Christian Simonsen
Cemetery Gates by Marissa Skudlarek
In addition, we are pleased to say that Pint-Sized 2016 will see the return of Rob Ready as the Llama (in a new “Llamalogue” by Stuart Bousel), and that due to popular demand, we have added a fifth performance!
See the Pint-Sized Plays on August 15, 16, 22, 23, and 29 in the PianoFight bar space!