Working Title: Unlikely Pairings

This week Will Leschber gets unlikely…

As you know dear audience, I’m always looking for the perfect intersection between theater and film, and often the most interesting answers come from unlikely pairings. I’m not talking about something that’s merely unexpected, like an unlikely animal friendships that melts your heart and all corners of the internet at the same time!

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I’m talking about shows or projects that just don’t work in other mediums. Or shouldn’t work. My brain immediately goes to spectacle projects that appear made for the screen or the confines of a good book where budget and realities of physics or physical limitation shouldn’t wouldn’t work on stage. Blockbusters, Epics! Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Spider-Man, Lion King! These kinds of stories would never work on stage; they are too big, too grand, too large for live theater! …Oh wait, these all have successful, spectacle theatrical runs. Who knew it was possible?

Creating stunning photography for stage, studio and on location.

Creating stunning photography for stage, studio and on location.

On the flip side of that coin, the unlikely film success that forsake the inherent advantages of cinematic scope, can be equally riveting. I’m thinking of a film like 2010’s Buried which takes place entirely in a buried coffin as a man (Ryan Reynolds) attempts to escape from his impending seeming death sentence. A movie…set in a coffin…that’s it?! WHAT! It’s excellent.

Buried

Or small casts in limited spaces that seem made for the stage yet rivet on film. David Mamet’s 1992 film version of Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s just stellar. Or how about 1981’s My Dinner With Andre. It’s two guys sitting around a table having a conversation for 110 minutes. Sounds like a stage play not something I wanna go see on a huge CinemaScope screen! The film remains a primary example of how small scale when executed to perfection can work on any scale.

Recently, I was speaking to friend and local Bay Area actor, and all around awesome guy, Dan Kurtz about unlikely pairings in regards to his new play. Dan had this to say about his new show Eat the Runt at Altarena Playhouse.

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I asked him about an ideal pairing of his show and a film offering, of course. Since there are no easy answers in this post, his response is properly multi-faceted. His response was longer than my normal offerings, and since it was so good, I had to include it all. Here’s what he had to say:

The most talked-about aspect of Eat The Runt is the bit where the audience casts the show at the start of each performance. That’s a device you won’t see in movies at all until technology gets really weird. Like maybe when I see the 12th Ghostbusters reboot in a theater, it’ll let me cast Gregory Hines, Madeline Kahn, Rowan Atkinson, and Will Leschber as the ‘Busters. Until then, the best analog is probably the Rocky Horror Picture Show — same movie, different casts. Some Rocky casts diverge wildly from the genders, races and body types of the movie actors, which gets them even closer to the Eat The Runt experience.

The script itself is about fluid identity, and the relationship between the stories we tell about ourselves and the other stories in our culture. It makes me think of Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, which contains so much interplay between our reality, the movie’s reality, and the movie-within-the-movie that I’m still not sure I’ve got it all sorted out.

Finally, the action of the play takes place during a job interview at an art museum, and includes lots of jargon from the world of non-profits, grant writing and modern art. I’ve never seen a movie that captures that culture, actually. If the play took place in a giant corporation, Office Space would be the best way to get a feel for its inner workings, but non-profit life has a very different feel to it. I don’t actually know if there’s a movie that’s iconic for non-profits the same way that Office Space resonates with office drones, but I’d love to hear suggestions.”

I love great suggestions for unlikely pairings: food, animal friendship, theater or film or otherwise. Jam it together! Make it juxtapose! Idea smash! It’s more fun than a banana, peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise sandwich. Try it! (idea smashing…not the mayo jelly…bleck)

If you are looking for an unlikely theater event check out Eat the Runt at Altarena Playhouse. It opens August 14th and runs until September 13th.

Theater Around The Bay: So Much Going On At Theater Pub!

TONIGHT!

Final performance of H/D: A Symphonic Romance In Space!

Tonight, Theater Pub invites you to emerge from stasis to travel through the vast expanse, seeking music, violence, and romance in the outer limits of the cosmos! This Theater Pub transmission explores instinct, evolution, and technology through a reading of original monologues and adapted text from 2001: A Space Odyssey, set to a live soundtrack.

This transmission brought to you through the mind of Tonya Narvaez and cinematic musical stylings of Storm Door. Featuring Stuart Bousel, Xanadu Bruggers, Andrew Chung, Neil Higgings, Dan Kurtz, and Meg Trowbridge.

Final Show TONIGHT, Monday, February 23, at 8 PM at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street)

February Theater Pub

As always, admission is FREE, with a $5 donation suggested at the door. No reservations required, but we suggest getting there early to get a good seat and remember to show your appreciation to our hosts at the bar!

And don’t forget- you can even get dinner at PIANOFIGHT!

AND SPEAKING OF PIANOFIGHT…

Theater Pub Returns To Duke It Out In PianoFight’s ShortLived Competition!

Big news! PianoFight’s audience-judged short play competition, ShortLived, returns to San Francisco next month and Theater Pub will fighting for the chance at the glory!

Featuring five season rounds, Theater Pub will be competing in round two with Ashley Cowan‘s play “This Is Why We Broke Up”, which will be directed by Charles Lewis III and performed by Andrew Chung, Caitlin Evenson, Dylan Pembleton, and Kitty Torres. The romcom explores one couple’s rocky relationship in the present and past through their drunk decisions on a quest for love. It will be performed Thursday, March 12th at 8pm, Friday, March 13th at 8pm, and Saturday, March 14th at 5pm and 8pm against five other short plays.

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The winner will move on to the Championship Round and the second place finisher will return to compete in the Wild Card Round (for a second chance at a place in the final round). And the stakes are high! Not only are we fighting for bragging rights but the winning play receives $5,000! That could buy a ton of booze.

So we need you! Yes, you. If you love Theater Pub as much as we love you, you’ll come support this awesome and fun competition and vote our play forward! The power’s in your hands.

AND DON’T FORGET…

We’re still looking for folks to join us for…

ON THE SPOT
A Night of Brand New Works by Emerging Playwrights!

Seven playwrights are put “on the spot” and given 24 hours to write a new ten minute play. They are assigned two-four actors, a director, and given a line of dialogue, a prop, and one set piece they must incorporate into their script. TheaterPub will produce these plays at PianoFight’s incredible new venue on March 23, 24, 30 & 31.

Are you a playwright looking to challenge yourself? Are you a director who is quick on your feet and full of ideas? Are you an actor who likes performing in bars? Then this show was MADE for you!

If you’re interested, please email Artistic Director Meg Trowbridge (thesingingwriter@gmail.com) with the following information by March 1st:

Name
Contact info
Resume/Headshot
Desired roles (playwriting, directing, or acting- or combination)

Confirmation you are available on the following days:
Rehearsals: March 14, 15, 21, 22 (12pm-6pm),
Performances: March 23, 24, 30 & 31 (6:30pm-10:00pm)

We’d love to see some new faces on stage or on the page, so if you have a friend you know who is looking to get involved with us, please forward them this post!

See you at the Pub!

Announcing: H/D: A Symphonic Romance In Space!

February Theater Pub This February, Theater Pub invites you to emerge from stasis to travel through the vast expanse, seeking music, violence, and romance in the outer limits of the cosmos in H/D: A Symphonic Romance in Space. This Theater Pub transmission explores instinct, evolution, and technology through a reading of original monologues and adapted text from 2001: A Space Odyssey, set to a live soundtrack. Actors will trade roles throughout the night and audience members can throw their name in a space helmet from which we’ll draw a limited number of names to fill out the cast, making every performance unique.

This transmission brought to you by San Francisco Theater Pub, through the mind of Tonya Narvaez and cinematic musical stylings of Storm Door. Storm Door is, at its core, a band formed out of the mutual fandom between Matt Herman and May Oskan. They describe their music as “Cinematic soundscapes at the altar of analog toneworship. Melodic songspells whose ethereal execution recount the vivid textures of your dearest spacedreams. The optimist’s soundtrack to a dystopian future.” Featuring Meg Trowbridge, Xanadu Bruggers, Andrew Chung, Neil Higgins, Stuart Bousel, and Dan Kurtz.

The show plays three performances:

Monday, February 16, at 8 PM at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street)
Saturday, February 21, at 2 PM at THE HALL (1028 Market Street)
Monday, February 23, at 8 PM at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street)

As always, admission is FREE, with a $5 donation suggested at the door. No reservations required, but we suggest getting there early to get a good seat and remember to show your appreciation to our hosts at the bar!

Don’t forget – you can get brunch at THE HALL (including bottomless mimosas) and dinner at PIANOFIGHT!

See you at the Pub!

Off-Kilter And Off-Key: An Interview With Lisa and Nick Gentile

In anticipation of “Crappy Holidays”, our anti-celebration of the holiday season coming at you this Saturday, November 16 at 8:30 at the Exit Cafe, we took a moment to chat up Lisa and Nick Gentile, the creators behind the show and a unique husband and wife team in the San Francisco playwrighting scene.

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So, level with us: what have you got against the holidays?

Nick: I always enjoyed the holidays because we got time off from school, so I appreciate the original purpose of the holidays – permission to behave irresponsibly. It’s all the dreary repetitive ritual stuff that got grafted onto the holidays that bothers me.

Lisa: Holidays are Petri dishes of angst, resentment, fear, expectation, hope, and love. It’s rich material for human drama. Some people take holidays so seriously, they need to be soothed when we handle an occasion with anything less than absolute reverence. Everything is fair game for us. I think that’s all there is to it.

Where did these plays come from? Real life experience? Horror stories of others? Your own twisted minds?

Nick: “Death Is My Bitch” came from real life. Lisa was driving on Highway 17 in the rain, and I started talking about how dangerous the road is, and she told me to shut up. We made up the part about dying, though.

Lisa: That’s not all that we made up.

Nick: “Ma’s Thanksgiving Pie” grew as we work-shopped it at Play Café. Doing readings at workshops helps a lot. When you hear it read, you realize what parts are thin. We realized that the first version of the play had only one plot twist, and that we needed to add a few more to make it worth the audience’s while.

Lisa: The empathy that helps us define a character’s wants and pains comes from real life. We like to riff on real world events and archetypes. Maybe we live closer to our shadow selves than some. It’s always high noon!

Nick: Neither of us can remember where “Bobby’s Letter to Santa” came from.

Lisa: Someone asked whether “Bobby” is autobiographical. I didn’t know how to respond.

Your work in general tends to have a bit of an off-kilter quality to it. What do you credit as the source for that?

Lisa: Real life is off-kilter.

Nick: Tell them about your background in psychology.

Lisa: At an early age, long before my formal education, I wanted to see what people would do in various situations. And what moves me more than anything else is the expression of human potential. In our writing I enjoy looking at creativity free of right or wrong. I like to explore how characters see and reach for what they want. I like that we don’t burden them with any codes of conduct other than what makes sense for the story. We get to cut loose, too.

Nick: My Pookie is like the Nietzschean Ubermehsch, beyond good and evil! As for me, I just listen to the voices in my head…the screaming ones…

What’s the best thing about writing as a team? What’s the worst?

Nick: The best part is that, when you run out of ideas, you can get help.

Lisa: The worst part is debating whose take is better for a given scene. We exhaust each other.

Many of the actors are ones you have worked with before. Do you generally write for certain actors?

Nick: We don’t write for specific actors. It’s only afterwards that we realize that this person would be perfect for that role, etc. But perhaps these actors have subconsciously educated us to write for them.

Lisa: We were lucky to meet most of this cast through Theater Pub. We know as a fact that Warden Lawlor, Ashley Cowan, Will Leschber, Dan Kurtz, and Tavis Kammet will totally commit to these characters no questions asked.

Nick: At least one of them has actually said, “I’m your bitch. Anything you want.” It’s too much fun to give up.

Editor’s note: we’re fairly certain the actor in question is Warden.

Lisa: We’re excited to add Stefanie Geerlings, Eden Davis, and Doug Miller to the mix for this show.

You’ve formed your own production company recently- tell us more about that.

Lisa: When we started writing and submitting plays together it was easy to just be two authors. Someone else produced them. But then we started writing and producing short films with other collaborators and a loosely structured network of mix-and-match teams developed. Then we went on to produce films for our niece and nephews. We didn’t want our names to interfere with their credit. Now we also produce stage works. We needed a way to package our various contributions so we picked a name. Our mission is to generate smartly twisted comedy. Studio Banal+ is about to celebrate 10 years of letting the shadow shine.

What’s on the horizon for you after this show?

Nick: We’ve been trying to do a longer work for a while. It involves a producer, a director, and a screenwriter discussing a bad science fiction movie that they are trying to make, with nuns taken over by alien brains and pregnant androids. The three are arguing about changes they want to amok, and whether these are driven by artistic merit or hidden ulterior motives.

Lisa: Someday I want to set one at sea so that we can have those fake waves moving back and forth on stage. But I what I know about being at sea I can’t yet put to paper.

So really, come on… what is your favorite holiday?

Lisa: The ones where the whole family gets together are good fun. It’s nonstop storytelling, playing music, and laughing. But we can’t always make it happen around a holiday. Sometimes it’s a summer weekend at the beach or in the woods. Last year we scheduled our Christmas gift exchange for 30 minutes in the café at Bass Outdoor World in Manteca, even though none of us lives there.

Nick: The ancient roman holiday of Saturnalia. This occurred in December, and involved banquets, gift-giving, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned social norms. I think the Christians stole it and turned it into Christmas, and got rid of that carnival part, which was the best part. That Council of Nicea – they were jerks!

Don’t miss Crappy Holidays, this Saturday at 8:30 PM at the Exit Cafe (156 Eddy Street, San Francisco). Admission is free, with a five dollar suggested donation!

Only Two Weeks Till Our Next Show!

And now we have this killer image…

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Deck the halls with irreverence!

San Francisco Theatre Pub is proud to present Crappy Holidays, three short plays about the holidays and their discontents, for one night only on November 16, 2013 at the EXIT Theatre Café at 8:30 PM!

Crappy Holidays, written by Nick Gentile and Lisa Gentile, includes Death is My Bitch, Ma’s Thanksgiving Pie, and Bobby’s Letter to Santa. The trio of dark comedies offers a grim reaper making friends in the wrong places, a quasi-sane mother outwitting her offspring, and a disgruntled holiday icon facing a career change. The cast includes Ashley Cowan, Eden Davis, Stephanie Geerlings, Dan Kurtz, B. Warden Lawlor, William Leschber, and Tavis Kammet.

Says director Nick Gentile: “If you don’t need to see another production of A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker, this show is for you! Oh, and the cast rocks!”

Admission will be free, with a suggested donation, at the door!

The EXIT Theatre Café is located at 156 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA.

The Pub From Another World Arrives Tonight!

Tonight, for one night only, Cafe Royale transforms into THE PUB FROM ANOTHER WORLD, an inter-dimensional crossroads where theater is not bound by the constraints of reality! It’s a world where time travel is possible, where unicorns exist! From the minds of eight Bay Area playwrights—including a four-year-old girl featured on Boing Boing (http://boingboing.net/2013/03/02/horrorsf-play-by-a-four-year.html)—come imaginative tales of everything from superheroes to surrogates, monsters to mad scientists, and other flights of fancy. This night of staged readings will be talked about for all eternity by those afflicted with immortality, so don’t miss it!

This strange brew of stories was concocted by Timothy Kay, Audrey Kessinger, Sang Kim, Allison Page, Sunil Patel, Bridgette Dutta Portman, Kirk Shimano, and Marissa Skudlarek. The intrepid troupe of actors includes Giovanna Arietta, Sam Bertken, Andrew Chung, AJ Davenport, Colleen Egan, Caitlin Evenson, Paul Jennings, Timothy Kay, Dan Kurtz, Meg O’Connor, Sunil Patel, Peter Townley, and Olivia Youngers.

The wormhole will be open for one night only: Monday, May 20, at 8 PM at the Cafe Royale. Admission is free and no reservations are required for this journey, but we recommend you come early for the best seats. Hyde Away Blues BBQ will provide food for all human guests.

Announcing Our January Theater Pub!

Pa-January! – A Night of Bedtime Stories

The holidays are over but 2013 is now here with a New Year of Theater Pub!

With winter still ahead of us, we’re inviting everyone to cozy up in Café Royale for a Pajama Party and a night of Bedtime Stories.  We’re talking grade-A comfort theater, with stories old and new, a lullaby or two, crayons and coloring and of course booze – just like elementary school!

This Theater Pub will be brought to you by the Letter T for Talent, including Stuart Bousel , Megan Cohen, Jeremy Cole, Ashley Cowan, Jaime Lee Currier, Sang S. Kim, Dan Kurtz, William Leschber, Carl Luciana, Brian Markley, Jan Marsh, Karen Offereins, Sunil Patel and Marissa Skudlarek,

Pajamas are optional but whimsy is not. That said, if you come in your pajamas, we’ll totally enter you in a raffle to win a prize!

It all happens on January 21st, 2013 at the Cafe Royale in San Francisco! The show starts at 8, but get there early to support our friends the Hide-Away BBQ, who will be bringing pop-up deliciousness! Admission is, as always, free, with a suggested donation at the door!