Don’t Miss The Dead! One Night Only!

Every year on June 16th, fans of James Joyce celebrate “Bloomsday” – the day upon which the novel Ulysses takes place. But what is to be done on the day after?

Join us today, June 17th, for San Francisco Theater Pub’s staged reading of Joyce’s famous short story, “The Dead!”

Performed Reader’s Theater style, this adaptation of The Dead, by our very own Jeremy Cole, ran for six seasons at Hunger Artists Ensemble Theater in Denver, CO!

The year is 1904. It is a snowy winter’s night in the city of Dublin. Gretta and Gabriel Conroy are among the guests at the Morkan Sisters’ annual dinner on the Feast of the Epiphany and the last day of Christmas. An evening of laughter, music and dance ends in introspection and Gabriel has an epiphany of his own.

The Theater Pub cast features: Melissa Clason, Siobhan Doherty, Jean Forsman, Cameron Galloway, Heather Kellogg, William Leschber, Theresa Miller, Rhio Ossola, Vince Faso, and Sara Breindel on the harp.

Admission is, as always, FREE with a suggested donation, and of course, we’ll have Hide Away Blues BBQ there so arrive hungry and get there early to ensure a seat!

See you tonight!

Cowan Palace: James Joyce, A Man For The Living And The Dead

Ashley Cowan preps you for next week’s dramatic reading of “The Dead.”

As we move closer to the summer equinox, it seems like the perfect season to soak in some Theater Pub. Well, you’re in luck, friends, because on June 17, “The Dead” is taking over Cafe Royale. Before you get too excited about another zombie tale, you should know that “The Dead” is actually a short story included in James Joyce’s Dubliners, a collection of tales from 1914. Though the word “short” may not quite do it justice, “The Dead” in its entirety is 15,672 words and may be better classified as a novella.

The plot surrounds Gabriel Conroy on a January evening in 1904. More specifically, it’s the annual dance and dinner hosted by the Morkan sisters. But without giving too much away, as the story will reveal itself under the direction of Jeremy Cole, here are a few fun facts about James Joyce, the holiday known as Bloomsday, and how it can help you survive “The Dead”.

So first, who is this James Joyce guy?

Well, his full name is James Augustine Aloysius Joyce and he was born in Dublin, Ireland as the eldest of 10 children. He was probably best known as a poet and novelist but spent a lot of his life struggling to earn a living for his family and often took whatever clerical or teaching work he encountered.

But then he had it easy once he became better known for his writing, right?

Not exactly. Among many life challenges, the poor guy also didn’t have the best eyesight. In fact he underwent over 25 eye surgeries in his lifetime and when he finally began to make a living from writing, his eyesight had deteriorated considerably. He was then forced to rely on others to help him complete his works.

Yikes. Do you think this impacted “The Dead?”

Well, the story seems to be leading to a moment of clarity and ultimately with that, the painful cost that comes with self-awareness. Gabriel battles social awkwardness and crippling insecurities that on some level most of us could understand. It’s likely that Joyce grappled with aspects of these things as well.

But wait, what’s this Bloomsday thing I always here about? Was Joyce a party animal?

Bloomsday, June 16, encompasses an annual celebration for Joyce fans worldwide. It’s honored in at least 60 countries but, of course, it’s probably nowhere near the revelry in Dublin.

Why is that?

As Dublin is the setting for the book Ulysses, Joyce fans have made a tradition of reenacting the story as the central character, Leopold Bloom. His entire itinerary is carried out across the city in new and creative ways each year. But honestly, who needs an excuse to drink a Guinness and party?

When did Bloomsday start?

It actually wasn’t Joyce’s idea. Bloomsday was created in 1954, the 50th anniversary of the events in the book. Two men named John Ryan and Flann O’Brien decided to organize a daylong adventure following the route set about in Ulysses. Included in the friends who joined them was Joyce’s cousin, Tom Joyce.

It seems like Bloomsday has impacted a lot of people.

I’d say so. In fact, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath were married on June 16, 1956 in honor of Bloomsday.

Bloomsday also continues to make its mark in popular culture as well. A couple references you may remember include: In Mel Brooks’ classic 1968 film, The Producers, Gene Wilder plays a character named Leo Bloom, who as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, is in honor to the fella from Ulysses. Furthering the homage, in the musical adaptation from 2005, the office calendar reads “June 16”.

Richard Linklater was also clearly a Joyce junkie and included Ulysses in his 1991 film, Slacker, by having a character read a passage from the book. He also sets his 1995 Before Sunrise (one of Ashley Cowan’s favorites!) all on June 16.

Okay, I get that June 16 is the day Ulysses was set on and that the name comes from Leopold Bloom. But what’s so important about June 16? Why did Joyce pick that day?

This one may impress all you romantics out there. On June 16, 1904, Joyce took Nora Barnacle on their first date.

And did their first date lead to a second?

Oh, it did! They had quite the love affair. Aside from creating two children, they were also known for some rather erotic letters they would write to each other. In fact, for one lucky fan, a letter sold for almost half a million dollars at Sotheby’s back in 2004.

Any examples from their passionate letters?

Well, pervert, many of Joyce’s books were censored and banned, some even pirated, so we know he was full of potential! But I’ll give you one example with this sexy sentence meant for Nora, “The two parts of your body which do dirty things are the loveliest to me.” Try that one on your honey in honor of Bloomsday!

I can see why Theater Pub wanted to take this project on…

Originally, Joyce had earlier considered titling Dubliners (the book where “The Dead” can be found) Ulysses in Dublin. However, Dubliners made the final cut. The characters Gabriel Conroy, Gretta Conroy, Kate and Julia Morkan, and Bartell d’Arcy, from “The Dead”, are suggested but none of they actually make an appearance in Ulysses. In any case, as Bloomsday also celebrates Joyce in the whole, it seems like a perfect choice for the June 17 Theater Pub.

So tell me more about Joyce’s kids.

Sure. They were named Giorgio and Lucia Joyce. Lucia led an interesting life; at one point she actually dated Samuel Beckett! Later though she was declared a schizophrenic and had to be confined in a mental asylum.

Way to be a downer.

Yeah, well, that’s life. Writers often experience a lot of pain but their work is enriched and praised because of it. Joyce was a complicated guy. It’s also said that he suffered some strong fears. His phobias included: cynophobia (fear of dogs) and keraunophobia (fear of lightning and thunder). It’s believed his final words were, “Does nobody understand?” before he died on January 10, 1941 and I hope for him, heaven is a place without dogs or storms.

Joyce once said, ”mistakes are the portals of discovery”. But don’t make the mistake of missing this Theater Pub or you’ll discover you’ve missed quite the event! So this June 17th, join us at the Cafe Royale at 8 PM, order up your favorite Irish inspired beverage, sit back, and allow the cast of “The Dead” to transport you to Dublin where you’re welcome to take home an Irish accent and a piece of the Bloomsday spirit.

The Dead Will Rise One Week From Tonight!

Every year on June 16th, fans of James Joyce celebrate “Bloomsday” – the day upon which the novel Ulysses takes place. But what is to be done on the day after?

Join us on Monday, June 17th, at 8 PM for San Francisco Theater Pub’s staged reading of Joyce’s famous short story, “The Dead.”

Performed Reader’s Theater style, this adaptation of The Dead, by our very own Jeremy Cole, ran for six seasons at Hunger Artists Ensemble Theater in Denver, CO.

The year is 1904. It is a snowy winter’s night in the city of Dublin. Gretta and Gabriel Conroy are among the guests at the Morkan Sisters’ annual dinner on the Feast of the Epiphany and the last day of Christmas. An evening of laughter, music and dance ends in introspection and Gabriel has an epiphany of his own.

The Theater Pub cast features: Melissa Clason, Siobhan Doherty, Jean Forsman, Cameron Galloway, Heather Kellogg, William Leschber, Theresa Miller, Rhio Ossola, Vince Faso, and Sara Breindel on the harp.

Admission is, as always, FREE with a suggested donation, and of course, we’ll have Hide Away Blues BBQ there so arrive hungry and get there early to ensure a seat!

Jeremy On Joyce

We’re starting June off with an interview with Jeremy Cole, the adaptor/director behind this month’s Theater Pub, a dramatic reading of James Joyce’s The Dead. It happens for one night only on June 17th, only at the Cafe Royale, so don’t miss it! Meanwhile, in Jeremy-land…

Jeremy Cole, waiting for us to get to the important part.

Jeremy Cole, waiting for us to get to the important part.

Who are you, in a hundred words or less?

I was christened Lance Smith – but changed my name in 1986. After all, Smith is so generic and Lance is what you do to a boil. Born in San Diego, raised in the Ozarks, recovering Catholic, honorary Jew, total Atheist, trend-setter (I came out in 1976), and sarcastic Oscar Wilde wannabe. I’ve been acting since forever (though I’m a LOUSY liar – so I tell the truth instead, and let me tell you: honesty is so NOT the best policy…but whatcha gonna do?), mostly a director and a designer, now a playwright on occasion. Your basic all-around good-time guy.

What’s your past with Theater Pub, and how did you get involved with us?

Mostly I attend Theater Pub shows. I especially like the program illustrations. But I got directly involved when I wrote a script for the first Pint Sized Plays called “Hot? Or Not…” – followed by two other shorts – for Pint Sized II, and Occupy Theater Pub.

You’ve got a past with this play, too. Tell us more about that.

I originally directed this piece for the late, lamented Hunger Artists Ensemble – a group I worked with a lot in Denver, Colorado. We had no idea if a reader’s theater piece would fly – especially since we were doing it right around the holidays, and it’s not exactly a thigh-slapping comedy. It not only flew – it soared – they continued to bring it back as their holiday show for the next five seasons, as well.

What made you want to bring it to Theater Pub?

I’ve wanted to re-mount it out here for some time. Since it struck such a chord with the community in Denver, which is #20 on the list of most college degrees per capita, I felt that it would certainly go over well out here, in the city that holds First Place on that same chart. And Theater Pub already has a history of doing script-in-hand shows, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Plus there’s alcohol. It’s a trifecta!

What’s exciting and challenging about dusting it off and working with it again for this reading?

No matter how many times I read/hear this story, I notice things that I hadn’t before, or which I hadn’t noticed in the same way before… Every new actor that works on the show brings different colors to their characters – it’s as if James Joyce wrote a Lanford Wilson script – one where the basics are sketched in, but a great deal of room is left for the actor to fill in the blanks.

Is there anything you’re inclined to change or fix?

Absolutely. The prior script had seven readers. This one has nine. Previously, Mary Jane and Gretta were read by the same actress. It made for some fun acting challenges – particularly in a scene where the two were talking one right after the other, but while that got laughs, it was the conceit that elicited the laughter – the actress’s quick shift of voice and physicality – not the scene that was being played. This version takes away those laughs, but helps Gretta retain the gravitas that she needs to have during the second act.

Lots of people are intimidated by Joyce- what do you think is intimidating about this piece?

I would be horribly intimidated by Ulysses or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but this story is much less dense and much more naturalistic than those more dense and abstract works. The big intimidation with this piece is that it is so well-known and well-loved. Like the current film version of “Gatsby” – everyone is going in with their own idea of what the story should be. I respect that and don’t try to lay something on top of the script that doesn’t belong there. Nothing comes from left field. There may be purists who nit-pick at my cuts, but it wasn’t written as a play, so some cuts were necessary. On opening night in Denver, a woman called me on the carpet for cutting “blancmange” out of the list of condiments served at the dinner. She’d really be upset with this current version, because I cut even more. Lists – even of delicious food items – don’t play very well in performance – they bring the show to a halt.

What about this piece appealed to you and made you want to adapt it?

There’s a funny story there. I love “The Dead”, and admired John Huston’s film version of it, but I never had any desire to adapt it. Hunger Artists had commissioned a local playwright/director to adapt it into a play. They even got a grant for it. About seven weeks before the auditions, he told them he had pneumonia and wouldn’t be up to directing the show, so they asked me if I’d be interested. I said, “Sure!” – assuming that he had already written the script and that I was just stepping in to direct it. They handed me a copy of The Dubliners. Gulp. Panic set in, but I don’t back away from commitments, so I took the plunge and decided quickly that we needed to keep the narration (the final paragraph is so famous/loved, I’d be hung from a tree if I didn’t keep it exactly as is), and once I had made the decision to do it reader’s theater style, the piece began to find its shape pretty quickly.

What else is in the future for you?

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the San Francisco Olympians Festival…? Well, they’re doing this Trojan War shindig in November. I’m writing a piece for it called On the Plains of Ilium in which the plains themselves are recalling lesser known stories from the Trojan War – the tales of Cycnus, Memnon, Protesilaus, Aethra, Palamedes… You know, the usual: murder, rape, betrayal…it’s a hoot. Plus, I’m planning to do/take the 31 Plays in 31 Days challenge again. It’s a program where you commit to writing and submitting a short play every day for the month of August. I did it last year, and though it kicked my ass to Pacifica and back, it was a terrific experience.

Joyce liked to drink- what do you think he’d order from our bar? What do you like to order?

Joyce himself wrote: “What is better than to sit at the end of the day and drink wine with friends, or substitutes for friends?” I’m all about that – especially the substitute friends part. I usually order the Malbec when I’m at Cafe Royale, so I flatter myself that Joyce would join me. But he’d drink more. A lot more. He’d be an expensive date.

Don’t miss The Dead, for one night only, June 17th, at the Cafe Royale in San Francisco. The event is free, begins at 8 PM, and reservations aren’t necessary, but get there early and enjoy some Hyde Away Blues BBQ!

Bring Out The Dead!

Every year on June 16th, fans of James Joyce celebrate “Bloomsday” – the day upon which the novel Ulysses takes place. But what is to be done on the day after?

Join us on Monday, June 17th, for San Francisco Theater Pub’s staged reading of Joyce’s famous short story, “The Dead.”

Performed Reader’s Theater style, this adaptation of The Dead, by our very own Jeremy Cole, ran for six seasons at Hunger Artists Ensemble Theater in Denver, CO.

The year is 1904. It is a snowy winter’s night in the city of Dublin. Gretta and Gabriel Conroy are among the guests at the Morkan Sisters’ annual dinner on the Feast of the Epiphany and the last day of Christmas. An evening of laughter, music and dance ends in introspection and Gabriel has an epiphany of his own.

The Theater Pub cast features: Melissa Clason, Siobhan Doherty, Jean Forsman, Cameron Galloway, Heather Kellogg, William Leschber, Theresa Miller, Rhio Ossola, Vince Faso, and Sara Breindel on the harp.

Admission is, as always, FREE with a suggested donation, and of course, we’ll have Hide Away Blues BBQ there so arrive hungry and get there early to ensure a seat!

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!