Introducing This Year’s Pint-Sized Producer!

The Pint Sized Plays are coming up and will be here before we know it!

This year, the festival is being helmed by Neil Higgins, who is a frequent collaborator at Theater Pub, though this marks his first time stepping in as a producer. Perhaps more daunting than wearing a new hat, however, is that he’s taken up the reins from Julia Heitner, who is often credited with having truly innovated and refined Pint Sized in years past. We can’t imagine all this pressure makes for a good night’s sleep, but we also think if ever there was somebody who could do it- it’s Neil.

This is Neil's "I will not accept defeat!" look.

This is Neil’s “I will not accept defeat!” look.

So you’ve taken over Pint-Sized from Julia… how does it feel to fill those shoes?

It’s a lot of fun and very very daunting.  Julia was an absolute superstar when it came to producing Pint-Sized (among many other things), so I feel that I have some high expectations to meet.  But Julia has been so helpful by sending me all kinds of material to help me plan everything and by providing me with lots of encouragement.

What’s turned out to be the most challenging thing about putting this giant show together?

Between selecting scripts, picking directors and getting cast, it seems that getting all the pieces together seems to be the most challenging part.  Having participated last year, I know that once the ball gets rolling it’s a fun and relatively easy process.  It’s just a matter of finding the ball.

Was anything easier than you thought it would be?

So far it’s been a pretty smooth process.  My directors have been very timely and responsive, which has certainly helped out a lot.

What’s got you excited for the show this year? Any elements of the production or particular pieces you can’t wait to share with the audience?

I’m working with directors I’ve never worked with before (or met until very recently) and I’m really excited about that.  We also have writers that are first-timers for the festival and first-time writers, which is always exciting to see.

It’s becoming common knowledge that Theater Pub is leaving the Cafe Royale after the last night of Pint-Sized. Do you feel that will lend a special air to the festival this year?

It has definitely been on my mind.  The thought of producing a staple of the Theater Pub season, following in Julia’s footsteps and being responsible for the last show at Cafe Royale have all affected the conversations I’ve had with myself about the night (mostly in the vein of “This is so much pressure!  I want people to like it!”  “Get it together, girl!”).  People generally like to avoid negative feelings, but I hope that Pint-Sized is a little bitter-sweet for Theater Pub regulars because it’s such a beautiful, confusing emotion.

Will there be “last show surprises”?

I can neither confirm nor deny that accusation.

What do you hope will be the future of Pint Sized?

I hope Pint-Sized can find a home for next year.  Whether I produce it or not, I want this festival to keep going.  It’s much too fun and too wonderful a way to build and strengthen the theatre community for it to disappear.

Would you ever take this on again?

Most definitely.

If you could have one thing, above all else, happen at this year’s festival, what would it be?

I’d love for someone to get engaged or give birth.  That would be marvelous.  I also (yes, I know, you said “one” thing) want everyone to have a before-undreamed-of amount of fun.

Don’t miss Pint Sized Plays IV, playing five nights this July 15, 16, 22, 29 and 30, always at 8 and always at the Cafe Royale. Admission is free, but get there early- we will be packed every night!

“Directing” Chrysalis

Julia Heitner shares her experience as one of three directors for Chrysalis, A Solo Tragicomedy.

I arrived in New York this week after a very sad farewell to San Francisco and Theater Pub in October. Theater Pub has become like a second home to me and I am very much going to miss the friendships and fantastic artistic colleagues I have gained through my last three years with the company.

In my stead, I am so pleased to introduce the San Francisco Theater Pub community to Evangeline Crittenden. Evangeline and I met will studying Theater Arts at UC Santa Cruz and coincidentally are also both Marin-Country raised gals. During college Evangeline directed me in an original musical that she adapted from Ace of Base songs, The Sign: The Ace of Base Lip-Synclical (in which I played the male lead…but that is a whole other story!) The show played a few nights at the Barn Theatre on campus and was a huge success; sold out houses and got the whole audience singing along. I would have to say it was one of my most treasured theatre experiences.

Evangeline moved back to the Bay Area from Brooklyn in 2011 and left me a message sometime in the fall that said, “Hey, do you want to help direct my show?” I returned the call, said, “Yes!” and she came by a few minutes later to drive me out to Marin for our first rehearsal together.

Evangeline Crittenden and The Grief Monster. Photo by Jonathan Talaveras.

The best part about “directing” Evangeline is that she is a true writer/performer, a skilled actor, comedienne, improviser and very open to feedback. In rehearsing the show, Evangeline and I would sit and talk about what she wanted the show to be, what characters she wanted to add, then she would go off to write a section, and then perform it fully-realized at the next rehearsal. This allowed me to act more as a mirror to the performance and feedback on the content and context. Although there are three directors listed for this production, this is still Evangeline’s show, it is her story and it is what she wants to showcase to her audience.

We had a bi-coastal phone meeting on Sunday night to talk about Tuesday’s performance and how to translate the show into the Cafe Royale space. We bounced around some ideas about where different elements should be staged,  playing with the unique environment and making dynamic choices that will include the audience as much as possible.

I have been honored to work on this very personal, hilarious and emotional play and I truly hope you enjoy the performance!

Chrysalis, A Solo Tragicomedy performs this Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at Cafe Royale, 8 PM, Free! Seating is first come, first served so get there early to ensure a seat.

What’s Inside The Chrysalis: An Interview With Evangeline Reilly

Evangeline Reilly, the creator of this month’s Theater Pub show, tells us all about who she is, what she’s doing and why you can’t miss the show!

Okay, who are you?

No one is ever surprised to discover I am a performer. I use my whole face when I talk. But I value other voices too; listening is just as important as speaking. I have been a barista, camp counselor, artist’s model and, now, I am a professional fairy.

So, what’s this show you’re bringing to theater pub and how did you get hooked up with our November slot?

Chrysalis is a solo tragicomedy at the crossroads of grief and growing up. It’s essentially a one-person variety show that uses puppetry, music, and some other fun performance bits to talk about loss. Julia Heitner, who has been working with Theater Pub for awhile now, helped to develop and direct the show. We know each other from UC Santa Cruz. (Banana slugs haaaaay!)

Tell us more about the show- how did you first come up with it and where has it been before coming to us?

The show is based on my experience of losing my brother when I was a freshman in college. I wanted to explore the complexities of losing someone at that age; college is such an expansive time and grieving is not an expansive experience. It’s just the opposite, in fact. It curls you inward. I wanted to offer my audience the opportunity to experience their own grief from a different perspective, to hold it in a new way.

How has it evolved as you’ve taken it around the country?

When I first performed the show a year ago, it was very sad. I have since realized that the element of sadness is already so intrinsic in the idea of loss that I don’t need to push that angle, and that humor is actually a much more effective way to explore pain. I’ve performed the show in big and small venues, and I’ve even performed excerpts of it on the street. Every time I perform it, I learn something new and refine it just a little bit. Also, the puppet (his official title is The Grief Monster) was such a hit after his first appearance that he is now a very central part of the show.

What do you see as the challenge of bringing it to Theater Pub?

Ooh. Good question. Well, I designed the show to be extremely portable, so every prop I use (aside from the guitar and the chocolate cake) fits in this dainty periwinkle suitcase I found on a sidewalk in Berkeley. So, technically, I’m not too worried. The show definitely has a raucous quality at times, which is no problem in a pub, but there are a few sacred and delicate moments that I hope will carry over to this setting.

What do you see as the potential awesomeness of performing at Theater Pub?

I wanna create a whole world that surprises people. I think the benefit of a venue like Theater Pub is that people don’t expect to be totally transported, they don’t expect to necessarily go on an emotional journey. But if you can do that, it’s even more magical than when that happens in a formal theater setting, because in that case, they’re expecting it. Also, he show begins with a party scene that involves the audience, which will be really fun at Theater Pub.

What’s next for you and Chrysallis?

What’s next for you and Chrysallis? You tell me! After the new York Fringe Festival this summer, I was kind of ready to give it a break for awhile. I may have an opportunity to perform it for some grief counseling professionals in Philadelphia (one of my tour stops this year) and it may travel to some other festivals…we shall see!

What’s got you excited that’s coming up in the San Francisco theater scene?

What’s got you excited that’s coming up in the San Francisco theater scene? Does dance count? My boyfriend is performing in the Jewish Nutcracker at ODC this holiday season and he’s going to be the lead! I have no idea what the Jewish Nutcracker even means, but I love the music from the Nutcracker and it promises to be pretty entertaining.

What’s your favorite beer?

What’s your favorite beer? When I lived in Ireland, I became a fan of the Shandy, which is a mixed drink that’s half beer, half lemonade. Irish people consider it an old people drink, and no bartender I’ve met here has heard of it. But it’s fuggin’ delicious. Don’t judge.

We won’t judge and you shouldn’t miss Chrysallis, a one night only event playing Tuesday, November 13 at the San Francisco Theater Pub, at Cafe Royale! The show starts at 8 PM, and is free with a five dollar suggested donation!

Just In Case You’ve Ever Wondered What We Look Like…

The nicest kids in town?

Dan Cowan, who is one of the owners of the Cafe Royale where Theater Pub does most of its shows, recently got married and threw a lovely party to which we were all fortunate enough to be invited. This photo was shot and is, as far as we know, rare proof we were actually all there (the photo was even taken by former Theater Pub Artistic Director, Victor Carrion). It also beautifully sums up everything about Theater Pub’s core crew: Stuart Bousel looks smug but restrained, Julia Heitner looks thoughtful and worried, Brian Markley is excited and all smiles, and Cody Rishell just wants a drink. Vive Theater Pub!

Day of Play!

Actress and Theater Pub Artistic Director, Julia Heitner, talks about what it’s been like to bring Measure For Measure from the page, to the stage.

After 3 ½ weeks with just a few rehearsals per week, we’ll be performing an 80-min version of Measure for Measure starting tonight!

Will Hand rehearses like a champ.

I am playing Isabella, a novice about to enter a nunnery, who gets pulled into the plot when her brother Claudio (played by Vince Rodriguez) is condemned to die for knocking up her homegirl, Julietta, and so she has to go save his ass. I love Isabella’s fierceness, eloquence, and that her particular character flaw is never being able to hold her tongue. I also relate to her being a sort of outsider in the play, left to fight her own battles, always speaking her mind (no matter what the consequences, and oh- the consequences!), and clinging to an outdated moral code in a modern world. Plus, I get to say things like,

Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd:
‘Tis best thou diest quickly.

I am excited and extremely nervous to be performing in this role and intimidated to be in the company of such talented and hilarious actors.

Linda Ruth Cardozo, Tony Cirimele and Neil Higgins intimidate Julia, just for fun.

We’ve been working hard, stress is high and after our tech/dress at Cafe Royale on Saturday, Sunday was our day of play.

Kirsten Broadbear and Tony Cirimele sure do love to play!

It was an unexpectedly sunny and beautiful day in downtown San Francisco, so we took over a space near the Children’s Creativity Carousel in Yerba Buena and started a line through, which quickly turned into an innovative outdoor run-through, turning the area into our stage/playground. Most everyone wore sunglasses, which enhanced the severity of our Provost (Tony Cirimele) and Aeschylus (Carl Lucania) and added to the devilishness of Lucio (Neil Higgins) and Angelo (Nick Dickson). I tossed a shawl over my head to serve as a makeshift nun’s habit and we were off!

As usual, Carl Lucania is asking God why he continues to put up with our nonsense.

A few passersby gathered to watch us circle around a metal globe structure, scurry up and down stairways to the raised walkway above, and, of course, spout the beautiful and hilarious words of Shakespeare. In the final scene, as I let rip at Angelo and called him names, I felt a pang of shame when I screamed out that he was a “virgin violator” while groups of parents and their children wandered past.

Passersby were even more baffled by Will Hand and Tony Cirimele talking about beheading people.

Favorite moments of the run-through include, the moment when Mistress Overdone (Linda Ruth Cardozo), no longer restrained by a tiny rehearsal venue, made a run for it when she was about to be arrested, forcing Escalus and the Provost to chase her down. Marianna (Kirsten Broadbear) put on some extra fabulous attitude as she revealed herself to Angelo during the play’s climactic face-off, and The Duke and Lucio engaged in an imaginary sunglasses-nose-pushing-clown-off.

I turned to Stuart in the middle of the final scene and said, “It’s a comedy!” and he sardonically replied, “FINALLY!”

Linda-Ruth waves while Stuart Bousel passes judgement.

We can now take this show anywhere. All our costumes fit into one trunk. All the actors could squeeze into two cars.  We’ll need this flexibility when we hit up The Plough and Stars on August 22nd, when we have to dive into a space entirely different from Cafe Royale with no rehearsal time.

The Duke Vincentio Curse: when comforting someone just makes them cry harder.

Want to book us for your birthday party? We’re also available for Bachelorette parties! Your BART ride home? You’ll love it, I promise.

Don’t miss the show, August 14, 20, 21 and 27 at the Cafe Royale, and August 22 and Plough and Stars! Showtime is 8 PM, so get there early! Admission is Free!

Measure For Measure Next Up At Theater Pub!

Join the San Francisco Theater Pub for its 2012 Shakespeare production! This year, we’re doing Measure for Measure: A Problem Play Solved In Twelve Scenes.

Isabella is a nun, Lucio is a drunk, Marianna’s been traumatized and this sh*t just got real… photo by Claire Rice.

The story follows Duke Vincentio (William Hand), who appoints Angelo (Nick Dickson) and Escalus (Carl Lucania) to run Vienna while he goes on a spiritual retreat. What neither delegate realizes is that the good duke has remained behind in disguise to observe whether his subordinates embody the same compassion he possesses. Angelo revives long dead sodomy laws that result in the imprisonment of Claudio (Vince Rodriguez), a young man who has gotten his wife pregnant out of wedlock. Claudio’s drinking buddies Lucio (Neil Higgins) and Mistress Overdone (Linda Ruth Cardozo) enlist the aid of Isabella (Julia Heitner), Claudio’s sister who has recently entered a nunnery, to convince Angelo to dismiss the charge but things take a dire turn when Angelo tells Isabella she either needs to sleep with him or Claudio will be executed. Vincentio hatches a plan with the help of Marianna (Kirsten Broadbear), Angelo’s ex, and the Provost of the local prison (Tony Cirimele) to find a way to save Claudio’s life, Isabella’s honor, and his own reputation as a benevolent monarch.

Directed by Stuart Bousel, Measure for Measurepromises to be a fast-paced, thought-provoking, atmospheric romp around the Cafe Royale- the perfect way to end the summer theater season!

Admission is free, with the usual five dollar donation. There are four performances- August 14, 20, 21 and 27- and no reservations necessary, but be sure to get there early since we’re bound to fill up! The show starts at 8 PM at Cafe Royale in San Francisco!

Pint Sized, Props and Good Vibes

Theater Pub Artistic Director, Julia Heitner, talks about what it’s been like for her to put together this year’s Pint-Sized play festival. 

It’s not everyday that I get to carry around a large box of vibrators and a bag full of dildos on BART, but it’s all part of the fun of directing for San Francisco Theater Pub.

Last week I had the honor of picking up a package of toys from the Good Vibrations warehouse in San Francisco’s SoMA district. Good Vibes has graciously donated for a new play I’m directing for Pint Sized Plays III, Put it on Vibrate, by Tom Bruett, featuring the acting talents of Kirsten Broadbear and Maggie Ziomek.

After riding home to Oakland with my shopping bag of sex positive swag open for any passerby to see, including the group of BART police next to me (I wonder if they got a peek?), I unpacked everything and snapped some photos of each prop to send off to the playwright, concluding that this was “pretty much the weirdest email I have ever sent someone.”

These may be the first props for a show that have genuinely made me blush, but it is not unusual as an indie theatre director to be on the hunt for less-than-conventional stage props. For the first Pint Sized plays, in 2010, the play I directed, Queen Mab in Drag, by Stuart Bousel, called for a diamond snail ring, and a fairy princess costume for a man (worn very well by Rob Ready). After wondering what the heck a diamond snail ring was, I thought, “I’ll have to make one!” Out came the Sculpey clay and paint.

For Ashley Cowan’s play, Word War, part of PianoFight’s ShortLived, I created a giant iphone/ipad out of cardboard and tape for a dream/dance fight sequence. I also ended up making custom t-shirts for M.R. Fall’s play, Test Preparation, when it was included in BOA X. I’m proud to say the playwright and I designed these ourselves!

For me, part of the fun of putting on theatre with a small budget is finding a way to bring interesting props to life with a bit of glue and paint. Although homemade clay versions of sex toys would have provided a fun and interesting challenge, I am very grateful to Good Vibrations for donating props that we otherwise could not afford in order to bring Tom’s play to life.

I’d like to maintain some element of mystery, so I haven’t posted any pictures of the props. To see what Good Vibes has donated for Put it on Vibrate, plus nine other original short plays by some fantastic local playwrights, you’ll have to come see the show!

Pint Sized Plays III
July 16, 17, 23, 30 & 31, 8pm at Café Royale, 800 Post St. San Francisco, CA 94103
And July 18, 8pm @ The Plough and the Stars, 116 Clement St. San Francisco, CA 94118