The Five: At the Intersection of Art and Politics

Anthony R. Miller checks in to see if he can just turn off his brain and like the dang show.

Hey you guys, so we all know SF is a liberal place, we just had an election where the Democratic mayor did not have a conservative opponent, just more liberal ones. We have naked parades and theatre companies whose ideals and personal politics play a big role in programming. Now, I consider myself a pretty progressive fella, but still a beneficiary of white male privilege. And lately there were some moment where I found myself almost in conflict with my personal politics and my ability to just enjoy the show I was watching. Naturally, I have some thoughts on it, and wouldn’t you know it, there are five.

Dare to Be Traditional

Last Friday, I attended the opening night for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It was the inaugural production of SF’s newest company, Bay Area Musicals. Without doing anything resembling a review, what really stuck with me was how daring it all felt. I don’t mean it was daring because it applied some greater concept and turned the show on its head to make a stunning new interpretation, I mean the exact opposite. Here we are in SF, a city at war with itself and the looming shadow of large tech companies and corporate culture, and they put on a show about a guy who basically schemes his way to the top and relies on the privilege granted by the corporate patriarchy to get away with all of it. Let’s get something straight, I’m a fan of the show. It’s funny, the music is great, and it’s entertaining and nothing but. But man, is it dated. The female lead aspires to marry up, the boss is cheating on his wife and it’s basically fine, everybody hits on their secretary, and in the end when our hero is seemingly doomed, he simply relies on the notion of “Hey, c’mon, we’re all bros here.” So to put this show on in SF in 2015 felt daring. Because while the play is a fun satire of corporate culture in the early ’60s, it’s a fairly forgiving one. So in light of that, you would think in SF the play would be given some kind of political facelift, some kind of new angle that shows us why the play is still relevant. Nope, they just did the show exactly how it’s always been done; it was big, fun and unapologetic. It had a punk-rock-like defiance. In the cradle of liberalism and progressive politics and artists who strive to make theatre that has its own identity and relevance, they said “fuck it.” Here I was watching a traditional musical comedy performed as it was traditionally intended and apologized for none of it, and that felt non-traditional. To not re-invent the show, felt inventive. Now to be fair, BAM’s season also includes Hair and La Cage Aux Folles which are liberal as fuck, so it all balances out. Where the culture of SF did really sink in, was the exciting diversity of the casting, actors of all sizes and color were used in a show that traditionally would have white people with perfect bodies. Oh, and I really enjoyed it.

Art vs. the Artist

This one is a cheat, but go with me. I’ve been a longtime fan of the band Eagles of Death Metal, the band that was playing in Paris the night of the horrific attacks. With all the newfound attention on them, a dirty little secret (unless you’re an obsessed fan like me who reads everything about them) is that the lead singer is super conservative, like Trump-supporting. Here’s the problem, the band kicks ass, they’re fun, riffy, boogie-down rock and roll. There is no agenda in the music, just a rockin’ beat. So I ask myself, “Can I still like this band when the lead singer holds views I find abhorrent?” It is the notion of choosing the Art over the Artist, does the artist need to be a good person who is in compliance with my politics to create art I can enjoy? If the art has nothing to do with the artist’s political views, am I still allowed to like it? Does the artist need to comply with my personal politics in order for me to like their art?

Giving Tuesday

Ok, this one is a non-sequitur, but hey it’s for a good cause. Apparently we have a name for the 5 days after Thanksgiving, so after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, today is Giving Tuesday. Today we can put aside our frothy-mouthed consumerism and give our money to some great causes, and Bay Area Theatre has lots of them. Here’s a few suggestions, SF Sketch Troupe Killing My Lobster, who had an amazing 2015 and are doing some great educational partnerships. SF’s Ray of Light Theatre has begun its Illumination Campaign (speaking of musicals in SF) and the Diablo Regional Art Association, who are giving free theatre tickets to kids. Custom Made Theatre Company, who just moved to a much larger space, is recovering from a robbery, and is one of the Bay Area’s fastest growing companies, is also doing a drive, and will be launching a New Works Development program next year, amongst other exciting changes.

Feeling Bad for Laughing

I’ve been lucky enough to attend several productions that are part of the Curran: Under Construction series at the under-renovation Curran Theatre. It’s pretty awesome; the shows are performed with the audience onstage to create exciting, intimate and interesting new shows. I recently saw Steve Cuiffo is Lenny Bruce, a one-man note-for-note reenactment of the work of Lenny Bruce. And while the guy was incredible and I laughed a great deal, there were uncomfortable moments. There is a whole bit laden with racial epithets, a bit that uses lots of colorful language for homosexuals, and while Bruce’s work was daring, controversial and a brilliant examination of what we find offensive and why, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable at times. And I’m not here to say whether or not it’s OK to reenact this material, personally I enjoyed it for what it was, but MAN I couldn’t help but think that Lenny Bruce would be savaged for his work these days.

The Whyness of it All

A big question we like to ask ourselves in seeing theatre is “Why this show?” Why does it exist? Why is it being performed? Why am I watching it? When I think about all these things, I wonder about the conflict of theatre that exists just to entertain and theatre that is trying to say something. Is one more valid than the other? Is being entertaining enough? I would say yes, escapism is just as important as work that is critical of the world around us. Is it OK to like work that hasn’t kept up with our own progressive attitudes? Am I a bad liberal for appreciating Lenny Bruce or philandering bosses or music written by people I probably would dislike in person? Is it OK to not worry sometimes and just enjoy myself? That’s a lot of questions, and I don’t really have the answers, but if there is one thing that makes me think these plays are still important is that even though I enjoyed myself, I’m also asking myself all these questions. Which may be exactly why they’re important.

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer, and enjoys laughing as much as he enjoys thinking. Keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org

Everything Is Already Something: Writing the TBA Awards or How the Sausage Gets Made

Allison Page, bringing you the sausage.

If you’re a theater person in the Bay Area, you probably know the Theatre Bay Area Awards show was this past Monday. You may or may not know that I wrote the script. As in, the script for the 2+ hours that is the TBA Awards Show. Last year I wrote a recap of the awards show for the TPub blog, and this year, since I’m looking at it from an entirely different angle, I’ll give you some idea of what is was like putting things together.

STEP 1: OH THIS WILL BE FUN
When I was approached to write the script, I accepted because it seemed like such a strange experience. How could I say no to that? What other chance will I have to write the script for an awards show, until Neil Patrick Harris uproots me from my tenderloin apartment and takes me away from all this, of course.

STEP 2: THERE’S A LOT OF THIS, ISN’T THERE?
Just setting up the structure of the script (which I wrote in Final Draft) took many hours.

There are 27 categories, most of them with three tiers of recipients. There are 4 unique awards — three Legacy Awards and one Charles Dean Award. The regular awards do not receive acceptance speeches, but the Legacy and Charles Dean Awards do, so they look a bit different in the script. There were also 4 musical acts and two host monologues. The script skeleton, without ANY dialogue or lyrics, was 38 pages long. All said and done, it was 116 pages. YEAH. Each segment needed stage directions. Where are people entering? Do they cross to the podium? Do they have a body mic or a handheld? Which handheld? What are the finalists doing? Where do the recipients enter? Where do they exit once they’ve received the award? Where is the band? Does the screen come in? Does the screen go out? Is the iris open? Are there sound cues? Light cues? Curtain cues? Chairs? Tableaus? Does the host introduce the presenters? Or does the announcer do it? Because those are two different people. Where does the musical act come in? That was an exhausting list, right? It’s not even everything that needs to be considered.

Allison backstage with Rob Ready, who was recording his theater podcast Born Ready in the green room all night.

Allison backstage with Rob Ready, who was recording his theater podcast Born Ready in the green room all night.

STEP 3: NOBODY’S A WINNER
Terminology. Everybody loves to specify their terminology. In particular, they customize it to make people feel cozy. In this case, you’re not a “nominee,” you’re a “finalist” and you’re not a “winner,” you’re a “recipient”. I get it. I definitely get it. But also, the collective brains of most people would never go to those words first, so you’ve got to correct people over and over when they say, “winner” because they’ll get it stuck in their heads and then everyone’s saying the wrong thing — or worse if you’re a writer who is easily bothered by things, which is to say if you’re a writer — inconsistently referring to people as more than one thing. If someone uses all of these words: winner, recipient, nominee, and finalist, now everyone’s wondering if there are different kinds of awards and if only they’d been nominated in that category, they could actually be a real winner.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 10.21.46 AM

STEP 4: WHAT WILL THEY SAY?
A cool thing about the TBA Awards is that they remind you just how large the Bay Area theater community actually is. Of the 20+ people I had to write things for, I knew…3 of them. And those three I didn’t even know very well. I will say I learned a fair amount about various theater companies and people because of all the necessary Googling and Facebook stalking I had to do. The whole thing made me paranoid to put words in anyone’s mouth that they wouldn’t say. For instance, I had some remark about “Oh I’m going to go home and drink some wine,” or some tame thing like that, and then searched through that person’s Facebook photos to see if I could find photos of them drinking a glass of wine, not to make sure they liked wine, but to make sure they weren’t sober after years of dealing with alcoholism and attending AA meetings because WOULDN’T THAT BE SO TERRIBLE?!? It would. It would be terrible. I did find photos of that person with wine and the horror of making a magnificent faux pas began to fade. Fade, not go away entirely. Strangely, it was stuff I would never have thought anyone could take issue with, that people would want to change. Humans love to tinker. That’s fine. If you’re going to take on a project like this, it’s best to be flexible because otherwise your head’s going to pop. That being said…

STEP 5: JUST SKIMMING IT
Oh boy. The most delightful surprise of this process was that people just do not read very carefully. I GET IT. We all have a lot of stuff to do. Shows to direct, sets to build, lines to memorize, all kinds of stuff. But the majority of things I had to take a second look at because someone had a question or request or complaint, weren’t even valid. It was just that they hadn’t read it properly. So I’m going back over the script with a fine, fine sifter looking for what they’re talking about, over and over again, and then ending up with “It’s already right.” Now 20 minutes of my life have died because they’ve been glancing more than reading. Like I said, I get that. Maybe I would do the same thing. After all, I’m the writer, so it’s my job to look at this damn thing over and over again anyway. They’re just presenting and there’s no reason they should be laboring over the thing like it’s grandma’s antique fine china.

STEP 6: SPEECHES THAT I CAN’T CONTROL
When Legacy and Charles Dean Awards are given out, there are two speeches: a speech by the person giving the award, and a speech by the person or representative of the person receiving the award. Clearly I don’t write those, because that wouldn’t make any sense, but it also means nobody knows how long they’re going to be. I freely admit to being obsessed with timing and shortness (despite the length of this blog). I’m the creative director of a sketch comedy company. I like 20 second sketches. 4 specialty awards were given out. That means 8 speeches. 4 to give them out, 4 to accept them. Let’s say each speech is 3 minutes, that would mean 24 additional minutes are added to the evenings events. And though I was wandering around drinking cocktails during most of the show, I can tell you I saw some longer than that. There was at least one acceptance speech that was very short because the recipient (RECIPIENT, SEE, IT’S IN MY BRAIN NOW) didn’t know she was receiving an award. So it was one of those great, sincere surprise moments of “Oh my gosh, thank you!” that tends to inspire brevity. Naturally, I loved that. It’s also just nice to see someone so thankful and surprised in real time. Then there’s the host monologues. The host flew in the afternoon of the show, so all of his stuff had to come together really quickly. He worked out all his own material for the opening monologue and mid-show monologue. It made the most sense to do that for several reasons. We didn’t know each other, he was flying in day-of, and we have completely different styles of humor. I’m more of a satire guy, and he’s more of a wordplay/pun/clown guy. Both are fine, but imposing one on the other without having the time to work it out together would be foolhardy and would have given him an awful lot of alien material to memorize when he’s already got his own stuff in his brain and there’s just 4 hours from his entering the theater until the show starts.

STEP 7: THE OPENING MUSICAL NUMBER
So, because the entirety of the rest of the script was not enough work, I also wrote and directed the opening musical number, which was performed by Killing My Lobster, the company I’m co-creative director of. It was a parody of Willkommen from Cabaret, referencing various Bay Area theater stuff. It was really fun and complicated to put together. There were 12 performers, and only a few of them are singers and/or dancers. Mostly it was just funny people. Thank goodness the TBA Awards musical director came in to work with us on our vocals for an hour last week. But all said and done we got ONE rehearsal with the band, the afternoon of the show. The sort of psychological reaction of the performers when they walked out onto that big stage in that HUGE theater, was really interesting to me. It was a unique experience for them to be in a space that size. We’re used to performing in a house closer to 100 seats, and in that environment, we can totally dominate. But suddenly being in that grand theatrical arena really freaked them out for a minute. I had the sense that they hadn’t really given themselves permission to do it; that they felt they didn’t deserve it or something. After a rocky run with the band, there was a necessary pep talk in the dressing room, and once they took the stage for the actual performance, they killed. Or that’s how I feel anyway. Clearly I’m biased, but I thought it was awesome. The two most important jokes (to me) I wrote for that evening were in the opening number, and I was really proud that we got to do it.

Killing My Lobster performing the opening musical number...in their underwear.

Killing My Lobster performing the opening musical number…in their underwear.

CLOSING THOUGHTS
My goals taking on the writing of the script were thus: have a unique experience, work really hard at something no one I’ve ever known has done before, do the world’s fastest rewrites, be funny when I can, be real about certain issues within the theater community (again, when I can get away with it), make the show more entertaining and hopefully shorter than the previous year, have a good time, get a lot of drinks, wander around The Geary like I owned the place, recognize more companies/groups/people in writing and in person, and wear a cute dress. I accomplished a lot of those things. I didn’t write every single word that was said, it’s a big show and there are so many perspectives and ideas coming from everywhere that there’s no way anyone could put it together without input/ideas/edits/on stage improvising from other people. The amount of time and effort I put into this project was truly staggering. Day and night, piles of stuff building up in my apartment as I type for so long that my legs hurt from sitting. Not going places, or doing things because I have to write constantly to get it done. I couldn’t even tell you how many hours it took. A LOT. The show itself was still too long. It’s very hard to speed these things up because there are so many moving parts, but I think there are some things that can be done to make it faster the next time around. But, this is only the second annual TBA Awards ceremony and it can certainly continue to get better and smarter over time, like all things should. Like the theater community should. I’m always bored to tears when people want to talk about why they don’t believe in awards shows, or whatever their particular issue is with it. The funny thing about that is those people often have a lot to say about theater, and if they went to the awards, they’d probably notice there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of theater people all in one place on one night, and there is no better way to connect with those people and talk about what it is that we’re all doing, what we love about it, what we hate about it, what we can DO about it, how it can be better, what the future holds, and why we don’t see each other more often when we are, collectively, the present and future of the art form we care about. So, sure, you can sit at home and write an email about it or whatever ya like doing, but it’s got nothing on looking people in the face and connecting with them over your shared loving and loathing of art. Maybe you’ll even work together someday. Or at the very least, have a feeling that maybe some production choice that they made was inspired by something they really felt passionate about, and not something they were doing specifically to piss you off. Wild, I know. Listen, after all is said and done, I will have been a part of nearly 19 productions in 2015, 3 of which are even eligible for these awards, and none of which got any nominations. So that is certainly not why I go. Though someday maybe the stuff I do will count for that. We’ll see. But I go because I’m part of this whole big monster that is theater.

I have to say, the feeling of watching someone whose work you believe in take the stage, and getting to scream and shout “WOOOOOOOOO!” for them, is pretty amazing. Because you’re not saying, “WOOOOOOOOO!” you’re saying “YA’LL SEE THAT PERSON? YOU MAY NOT KNOW IT, BUT THAT RIGHT THERE IS SOMEONE YOU SHOULD BE WATCHING. WE LOVE THEM AND YOU SHOULD LOVE THEM TOO. CHECK US OUT. WE’RE OUT HERE WORKING OUR TAILS OFF JUST LIKE YOU ARE.” And that has nothing to do with winning or losing…sorry, receiving or not receiving.

Also someone held up a Black Lives Matter banner on stage and it was pretty great.

As a fun bonus, here is the entirety of the Willkommen TBA Awards opening number. (As performed by Jan Gilbert, Kyna Wise, Elaine Gavin, Ron Chapman, Sam Bertken, Justin Lucas, Griffin Taylor, Katharine Chin, Jeunee Simon, Melanie Marshall, Carlye Pollack, and Shaun Plander, with host Ron Campbell entering at the end. Two Rons, I know, you’ll figure it out.)

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
Breadbox, Lamplighters, Mime Troupe
San Jose Stage, It’s all of the rage
Custom Made Theatre
Can you see the stage?

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
To TBA
At ACT
To TBA

JUSTIN. (spoken)
Oh it is so nice to see you! Good evening! Is Broadway By The Bay in the house? Oh good. Sorry about our singing. Except mine!

RON.
We Players is probably doing Hamlet at the Jack in the Box across the street. They’ll be back, they’ll be back!

ELAINE.
It’s okay it’s just a joke.

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
To TBA
At ACT
To TBA

RON.
Leave your Bay Area Theatre Critic’s Circle awards outside!

KYNA. So you didn’t get as many nominations as you did last year City Lights? Hm? Forget it!

JAN. We have no troubles here. Here, life is beautiful! The Geary Theater is beautiful! Even Sean Kana’s band is beautiful!

Band is revealed.

Faultline, you’re brand new, welcome
There’s Old Hats like ACT and Magic
Cal Shakes AKA Hypothermia
Hillbarn did Funny Girl,
(spoken) Everyone did Glengarry Glenn Ross

Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome
There’s OMG
NCTC
and BRT

RON. So many acronyms!

JUSTIN.
And now presenting some of the nominees.

ELAINE. You mean finalists!

JAN. There are East Bay theaters and South Bay Theaters, or is it South Bay theaters and East Bay theaters? You know there’s only one way to tell the difference. Someone not from San Francisco will show you later.

KYNA. Get it, because we never leave the city!

ELAINE. You know one of my favorite things about seeing a show at Impact?

ALL. Pizza!

KYNA. Betcha they didn’t have that at the Globe.

JUSTIN. Suck it Shakespeare!

RON. And, of course, Just Theater’s amazing production of We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915.

RON passes out on stage. JUSTIN fans him, shakes him, and does various other business to get him up and moving again.

JUSTIN. He’s okay! Just keep going!

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
To TBA
At ACT
(whispered)
Buy a drink, fluff your hair, smile
No win? it’s okay, screw it

ELAINE. Hello, Spreckles!

ALL. (still whispering)
Taste is subjective, we don’t even sing

JUSTIN. Enchante, Central Works!

ALL.
Here for the party
At PianoFight
(We’re cheap!)

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!
One Man, Two Guvnors,
Pussy

We’re not just vulgar, that title is real
Happy to see you,
Please applaud with zeal

JAN. One more time!

Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome
To TBA
We’re KML
To T…B…

They are interrupted by Ron Campbell’s entrance.

RON CAMPBELL. KML? You’re Killing My Lobster?

ELAINE. Yeah!

RON CAMPBELL. You’re not even eligible for these awards, are you?

ALL. No/well not exactly/maybe someday/a technicality, etc.

RON CAMPBELL. How did you guys even get in here?

RON. Rob Ready left the door open.

RON CAMPBELL. Go back to BATS or Big City Lights or wherever it is you guys hang out. The Sketch Comedy Festival. I’ll take it from here. Come back when you do legitimate theater.

KML winces at the word legitimate.

JAN. Hey, we premiered Hunter Gatherers! We launched Peter Sinn Nachtrieb.

RON CAMPBELL. Yeah, 10 years ago. Go on now, scoot!

KML starts to exit, sadly.

RON CAMPBELL. Where did they leave off? Sean, play me my note.

Band plays very end of song.

RON CAMPBELL. To T…B…

KML turns around, runs/slides toward RON, and they all finish the last note together.

RON & KML. Aaaaaaaa!

Some of KML basking in the afterglow.

Some of KML basking in the afterglow.

Allison Page is a writer/actor/person who is slowly recovering from the insanity of the last week, with snacks and cleaning her apartment while watching Bob’s Burgers.

Theater Around The Bay: PINT SIZED V IS HERE! (Part 2)

We’re back tonight with more PINT SIZED! Today we introduce you to this year’s directing team, Stuart Bousel, Neil Higgins, Colin Johnson, Claire Rice, Gabe Ross, Sara Staley, Sam Tillis, Alejandro Torres, and Meghan Trowbridge, here to tell you all about the perils and pitfalls of creating some of the best bar theater around.

pintsized-01-4 copy

How did you get involved with Pint-Sized, or if you’re a returning director, why did you come back?

Sara Staley: I really enjoy site specific theater and shows that play with the audience’s focus. . I directed a couple of pieces for Pint Sized back in 2010-11, and I think the “finish a beer during the play” parameters given to playwrights who submit are great. It’s really fun watching this festival come together and to see how audiences respond to the work. Fits right in with Theater Pub’s good, casual, beer, and theater thing. I’m also a fan of short plays and festivals that showcase new, local work, or bring together the Bay Area theater community in different ways. And I’m a company member at PianoFight, so it’s great to get the opportunity to stage something in our fabulous new bar/cabaret space for the first time.

Alejandro Torres: I recently worked on a production with several folks involved in Pint Sized and the SF Theatre Pub. They needed an additional director last minute and approached me, I was thoroughly honored and the rest is history.

Stuart Bousel: I run Theater Pub, so I volunteered to direct if Marissa needed me to. She did.

Gabe Ross: I asked Stuart about it. He told me to ask Marissa.

Neil Higgins: I’ve directed for Pint-Sized a couple years now and it’s always a fun summer project.

Sam Tillis: First time at Pint-Sized! Marissa sent me an email saying, “We got this Star Wars play, and I hear you’re a total nerd, so…?” And I was like “Hell yes!”

Colin Johnson: I came back because I think Theatre Pub is doing some of the most interesting performances in SF. The layout of the bar and the interactive nature of the shows create a very fun, collaborative atmosphere. I’ve done several projects with TP in the past and will always look for an excuse to come back.

Claire Rice: I love Pint-Sized. I’ve directed in previous Theater Pub and Pint-Sized shows and there is so much energy and enthusiasm. The audiences are boisterous and the productions are fun. And there’s a little thrill I get every time the audience cheers when an actor chugs their whole pint. It just feels freeing to be among people who are happy to be exactly where they are.

Meg Trowbridge: I don’t know how to quit you, Pint Sized! I’ve directed a piece in every Pint Sized production, and when the Beer Bear and Llama returned this year, I leapt at the opportunity.

Meghan Trowbridge

Meghan Trowbridge

What’s been the most exciting part of this process?

Sam Tillis: As with a lot of directing, reading the play for the first time and thinking This is awesome, I could totally direct this is a special treat. And, of course, assembling a cast. And rehearsal, naturally. Alright. I give up. Every part is the most exciting part.

Neil Higgins: The script I’m directing is centered around a song I haven’t thought about in 15 years, so that’s been a fun walk down memory lane.

Meg Trowbridge: Reading the new scripts for the Beer Bear and Llama, and watching Allison and Rob slide back into those roles.

Alejandro Torres: The rehearsals (or the laboratory) and staging theatre in a bar for the first time.

Colin Johnson: Finding naturalism and nuance in a show which requires drinking and screaming over people.

Stuart Bousel: I have a piece that is very much a moment- just a moment in the bar- and so it’s all about subtlety. Which doesn’t always translate well in Theater Pub. The audience has to really listen to get what is going on. Luckily the piece is very short, so it doesn’t test patience and what patience it does require is quickly rewarded. I think it’s a very clever piece, and very real, and I’ve cast three actors who are all “coming back” to theater after a long time away, and there is a realness about them which I love and think lends itself well to the piece. Also, it’s always great when Theater Pub gets to be a place where people return to this art form.

Claire Rice: Opening night. Wondering if it’s going to work. If the audience will like the show. If we’ll have thought out all the variables. Shows like this have so many moving parts and waiting for all the magic to click into place is exciting.

Gabe Ross: So far; answering this questionnaire. But hopefully staging it will be good too.

Gabe Ross. Twice the Fun.

Gabe Ross. Twice the Fun.

What’s been the most troublesome?

Neil Higgins: Scheduling! It’s always scheduling.

Gabe Ross: Having to replace an actor who dropped out.

Stuart Bousel: I also had to replace actors. But I like the ones I found!

Sara Staley: Casting! I got the short recurring vignettes type piece in the festival this time, which I enjoy for the immediacy and challenge of directing five super, short pieces in a truthful way. But it’s been more difficult to cast and rehearse using actors already cast in other pieces in the festival.

Sam Tillis: Scheduling rehearsals is a bitch.

Meg Trowbridge: The knock-out, drag-out fights between Rob and Allison. Such divas…

Claire Rice: There isn’t anything more troublesome about Pint-Sized than any other ten minute festival. It comes back to the moving parts issue. Where it gets tricky is the audience. All that alcohol, all those glass containers, all the excitement…let me just say I’m glad that we don’t have a balcony any more.

Colin Johnson: Finding naturalism and nuance in a show that requires drinking and screaming over people.

Alejandro Torres: I’ll keep you posted, so far smooth sailing. 🙂

Alejandro Torres

Alejandro Torres

Would you say putting together a show for Pint-Sized is more skin-of-your-teeth or seat-of-your-pants and why?

Sam Tillis: Skin-of-my-pants. I’ve lost so much pant-skin in the last couple weeks…

Colin Johnson: More seat of the pants, because you need to be able to roll with punches, bob and sway with circumstance. It’s not an act of desperation, which what I think of when i hear the phrase “skin of the teeth”. It may be a totally wrong interpretation of the term, but I see Theatre Pub as an act of ever-changing theatrical endurance.

Alejandro Torres: Seat of your pants, because I’m so excited!

Gabe Ross: Seat-of-your-pants. “Skin-of-your-teeth” sounds a little more painful. “Seat-of-your-pants” sounds a little more wild and crazy. Pants is a funny word.

Stuart Bousel: I have this weird fear/obsession with teeth, so I’ll go with “seat of your pants” because I want to associate Pint Sized with fun, uncomplicated things.

Claire Rice: Seat-of-your-pants. I think it’s the nature of the beast. High energy, high adrenaline , but also there’s a lot of last minute thinking that goes into directing a piece in a working bar. A lot of working with the environment that you have.

Neil Higgins: Seat-of-your-pants. I have nice teeth and I want to keep them nice.

Meg Trowbridge: Seat-of-your-pants, IMHO. You make decisions as you go along, and change it up regularly, based on how your piece fits with the other pieces of the night. You have to be flexible. Seat-of-your-pants is the name of the game.

Sara Staley: There’s definitely gonna be some skin and teeth involved in pulling it off, but a sharp cast ready to learn roles quickly, and a cracker jack Pint Sized producer this year has really helped.

Sara Staley.

Sara Staley.

Fuck, Marry, Kill, Bay Area actors, go!

Sam Tillis: Nopenopenopenope. Nope.

Sara Staley: The Llama and the Bear.

Alejandro Torres: In keeping with my hedonistic ways… Fuck.

Gabe Ross: All of them, none of them, just the tall and good looking ones.

Claire Rice: Tonight? Well, if you say so. (Sound of a zipper going down.)

Stuart Bousel: Fuck: Oh that list is so long. Marry: Megan Briggs. As far as I’m concerned we’re pretty much already married. Someone should let her know, though, maybe? Kill: Oh that list is so long.

Meg Trowbridge: Ummm – to keep it simple, I’ll go with historic Pint Sized producers because they are actors, too! Fuck: Julia Heitner (because obvi). Marry: Marissa Skudlarek because our home library would be top-notch. Kill: Neil Higgins BECAUSE IF I CAN’T HAVE HIM NO ONE CAN! (Editor’s Note: Marissa Skudlarek accepts your marriage proposal, Meg)

Neil Higgins: You mean in that order? Well, one of my life goals IS to be a black widow.

Neil Higgins.

Neil Higgins

No, but seriously, who out there would you love to work with?

Neil Higgins: Oooooh! No one. Black widows work alone.

Claire Rice: ( Sound of zipper going up.) Oh. Uhm…Well this is awkward. But seriously I just finished working with Marie O’Donnell and Indiia Wilmott for Loud and Unladylike and they were amazing actresses. I’d love to be able to work with them again soon. I don’t know if Elaine Gavin is looking to act, but she’s wonderful. Melissa Keith is also super talented. I feel like I should name some dudes too. Dudes like Jason Pencowski, Neil Higgins, and Nikolas Strubbe are all actors I completely enjoy watching.

Meg Trowbridge: I can’t wait to work with Ellery Schaar, who is directing my Olympians play this year!

Stuart Bousel: I’m actually in the middle of casting Six Degrees of Separation over at Custom Made and as usual I’m excited by all the great actors I get to choose from. I’m always trying to find a way to keep building relationships with actors I know and work well with, and also to keep new blood flowing in. The beauty of a large cast show like Six Degrees is that it can allow for both quite easily.

Alejandro Torres: Anyone creating intriguing stuff with a gregarious attitude.

Sam Tillis: You. That’s right. I would like to work with you, humble reader. Let’s do lunch.

Gabe Ross: Maybe you?

Colin Johnson: The list grows the more people I meet. I want Stuart, I want Allison Page, I’m very excited to be working with Claire Rice on Terror-Rama 2, I constantly develop awesome collaborations with the good people of Shotz. I would like to collaborate with some of the amazing performers up at the Circus Center. And I hope beyond hope that Breadbox will let me play with them at some point.

Colin Johnson

Colin Johnson

What’s next for you?

Sara Staley: Directing a reading of Oceanus by Daniel Hirsch and Siyu Song for the SF Olympians Festival this fall.

Neil Higgins: Olympians! Woot!

Stuart Bousel: Running Olympians. DICK 3 here at Theater Pub. Other stuff I feel like I’m not supposed to talk about.

Alejandro Torres: Saving up money to produce some fun theatre in 2016.

Gabe Ross: ATLAS Directing program. Performing in John Fisher’s next opus at Theatre Rhino in November which has yet to have an official title.

Colin Johnson: I’m writing a full length play for this years SF Olympians, I work on the monthly Shotz shows (second Wednesdays at Pianofight). Also in the early stages of directing TERROR RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT, along other upcoming projects through Thunderbird and Playground.

Sam Tillis: I’ve got a theatre company! We do science-fiction/fantasy plays, like the one I’m directing for Pint-Sized but full length! Check out our website at quantumdragon.org.

Sam Tillis

Sam Tillis

Meg Trowbridge: For Killing My Lobster I am writing for the August show, and directing the September show, and head-writing the November show. My still-untitled-play inspired by the ancient god Pontos will premiere at the Olympians Festival on Nov. 21.

Claire Rice: (Sound of a zipper going down.) No but seriously, I’m planning next year’s Loud and Unladylike Festival, which will again be produced by DIVAfest, and I’m writing for Terror-rama along with Anthony Miller which will have a reading October 12 at Piano Fight.

Claire Rice

Claire Rice

Last but not least, what’s your favorite beer?

Alejandro Torres: Racer 5, pairs well with whisky.

Sara Staley: Just went to Portland and drank a lot of beer last month, and so my new summer favorite is Deschutes Brewery’s Fresh Squeezed IPA, which you can also find in SF, yum.

Sam Tillis: Root beer.

Gabe Ross: Any amber ale. I like Gordon Biersch Marzen, and Fat Tire, and Red Seal. I also like Shock Top which is more of a Belgian Style white ale I think? I like beer, but I’m not a beer afficionado.

Claire Rice: I’m digging Bison beers right now. Chocolate Stout and the Honey Basil.

Neil Higgins: I’m more of a cider guy. But I do enjoy a nice, cold Singha.

Meg Trowbridge: I don’t really have a “favorite” as I’ll drink them all, but I do always scan a bar to see if they have Alaska Amber Ale… something about it has got me hooked.

Colin Johnson: SPEAKEASY.

Stuart Bousel: I need to get more serious about giving up gluten so… sauvignon blanc.

The Pint-Sized Plays will perform two more times: August 24 and 25 at 8 PM at PianoFight, 144 Taylor St, San Francisco. Admission is FREE, but if you like what you see, throw $5 in when we pass the hat. For more information, click HERE!

Everything Is Already Something Week 49: When Women Aren’t Even Writing For Women

This morning I went through the numbers at the company for which I am one of two Creative Directors. Not finances – it’s a major LOL if you think I have anything to do with that. But the breakdown of who we work with. (We’ll come back around to why I was looking at this in a minute.)

Actors:
17 Women, 9 Men

Writers:
19 Women, 11 Men

Some of these people do double duty, so figuring that in we have:
31 Women, 18 Men

We have one director who isn’t from either of those groups:
1 Man

And two stage managers:
1 Man, 1 Woman

For an actual total of:
32 Women, 20 Men

That’s pretty great, if you’re looking at it from a “BUT ARE THERE AS MANY WOMEN AS MEN?!” perspective. Though we weren’t out in search of having a female dominated sketch comedy company. That’s just what happened. Those are just the people who passed through our doors, whom we liked a lot and thought were funny and fun to work with and displayed the varied set of skills which make someone good at this crap. In the five years I’ve been with this crazy group of humans, there have always been really amazingly talented women – both performers and writers. But sadly, that doesn’t always equal the varied types of roles for women that you might think it would. It does SOMETIMES. We’re not that shitty. But it seems as though it gets away from us. I say us because I am just as guilty of immediately writing a role for a man as my cohorts (regardless of their gender).

Be the Lisa Loopner you wish to see in the world.

Be the Lisa Loopner you wish to see in the world.

Right now, I’m directing our set for SF Sketchfest – admittedly one of my favorite shows of the year, every year. And as I was putting together the sketches to use for that show, a sad-pants theme started to arise: almost all of the crazy, kooky, wacky character parts were for men. I’ve been doing some cross gender casting out of necessity, which is fine. I’m happy to do that. But my real wish is that we would write more over the top characters who are PURPOSELY women – as opposed to having a woman play a part written for a man (regardless of whether they choose to play the part as a woman or as a man). We tend to have six person casts – three men and three women, but sometimes having enough juicy stuff for the women to dig into without cross gender casting can be next to impossible.

Yes, women can be Vice Presidents too.

Yes, women can be Vice Presidents too.

In some sort of strategy to combat something or other – I started writing some characters with no gender at all. Actually, I wrote a whole sketch with only non-gendered characters in it, and it’s one of the best I’ve ever written. I doubt that means anything, but it is interesting. (They ended up being played by 3 men and 3 women, I think.) And the idea of casting someone purely out of their fit for the role, and not due to their male or female identity is a good one, to me. It leaves a bunch of things open for interpretation, and I like that.

Our company is about to have possibly the craziest year we’ve ever had, with a brand new production happening every month. And, as my preamble for the kickoff meeting for our inaugural show in that schedule (actually called SEX BATTLE…so that’s pretty funny) states: This is a year of risk-taking for us. For all of us. Not just in the quantity of our content, but in the quality, style, and variety of our content. I’m challenging myself to be better at these things this year, and I’m going to pose that challenge to the rest of my cohorts as well.

Cookie Fleck knows what's up.

Cookie Fleck knows what’s up.

We have all these magnificently talented, energetic, creative women going to bat for us, and if we don’t give them the material they deserve, it’s no one’s fault but our own. We haven’t been total failures at it, but we’re not where we should be. And thankfully, with all these shows happening, we have 12 chances to try to get it right.

SEX BATTLE actually cannot have this problem – we’re dividing up writers and actors into two teams (chicks and dudes) and each team will create the same amount of sketches on the same topics (Politics, Love, an Impressions Speed Round and many others) so the only way they can fail at parity in my eyes is if somehow the ladies only write sketches where the other ladies have to play men. But I don’t think that’ll happen.

I anticipate at least one Hillary Clinton impression.

Allison Page is an actor/writer/creative director at Killing My Lobster. You can catch the Sketchfest show she’s directing January 27th at the Eureka Theater.

Everything Is Already Something Week 47: Method To The Madness, Putting Together A Holiday Sketch Show

Allison Page gets into the Christmas spirit.

“We have too much Santa!”

“There isn’t enough Hanukkah!”

“Nothing about Boxing Day? Where’s all the love for Boxing Day?”

In the middle of writers meetings for a holiday themed sketch comedy show, lots of stuff is shouted out, lots of things are written, and a whole big gaggle of factors come into play before the final lineup is chosen. Last night, Killing My Lobster had its final writers meeting for KMLZ Holidaze, a gigantic variety show we do as a collaboration with Z Space. There’s music, burlesque, drag, Santas whose laps you can sit on if you dare – and about 50 minutes worth of sketch comedy. It’s a condensed process that goes very quickly. All the writing is done in two weeks, and anyone in the show can submit anything, it’s not just limited to the writers. It can get crazy. But it’s always a hell of a great time.

We’ve done this before, and some patterns have definitely emerged. Here are some things you can count on:

First Meeting: All The Santa
Oh my god, so much Santa. The end of the first writers meeting always concludes with “Okay, guys, we’re done with Santa. We don’t need any more. THE POSITION HAS BEEN FILLED. MOVE ALONG. NOTHIN’ TO SEE HERE.” Which is partially because everyone KNOWS that they can’t get them in after the first meeting, so if they have a Santa idea, it better come runnin’ in at that first meeting. And eventually decisions have to be made about which Santa sketches can live, and which must die. No matter how good they are, there can only be a couple of them before the audience is like “Soooo, this is just a Santa thing now, errrr?” It’s like a Christmas Thunderdome…sorta.

The Deep Dark Abyss
Man, we are some dark minded humans. The doom and the gloom came out the first night, as well as the Santa stuff – sometimes in the same sketch. It’s easy, with comedy, to go for the negative. Often that’s an okay path. But with sketch, if you do that the entire time, it’ll be the darkest, most upsetting evening of entertainment you can have. Maybe that impulse is aided by the fact that the holidays often bring out the worst in us, even if just for a moment. You’re surrounded by your family. They’re asking you questions about your job (or lack of job), your personal life (WHEN ARE YOU GONNA HAVE KIDS, PATTY?!?!), your fashion choices, your dietary choices – just about everything. My grandpa used to make fun of me for wearing red nail polish. Like…what? That’s not even interesting. Then there’s the hypocrisy of the meaning people may or may not assign to the holidays, combined with the commercialism that tends to overpower that stuff. There’s a lot to be Scrooged about. That stuff needs to be tempered with some positivity so the audience doesn’t run out into traffic and throw themselves into the street. Last year I submitted a sketch I wrote about a boy who meets two snowflakes who proceed to tell him that they’re not special, neither is he, he’ll probably just be a barista until he dies, and he might as well start taking anti-depressants now. When the boy says “But I’m not depressed!” the snowflakes respond with “Don’t worry – you will be!” Uh, it didn’t get in.

Songs, Songs, Lots Of Songs
Anybody can rewrite a Christmas carol to make it about global warming, three-ways, snack foods, or your spouse cheating on you. I’m saying anybody, because a ton of people do that. (Me included…today I mourn the rejection of “The Office Non-Denominational Holiday Party” which was set to the tune of White Christmas”, but seriously it was pretty stupid.) Original songs tend to go over better, but that takes a lot more work, obviously. This year there’s a great rap song that’s a play on The Night Before Christmas, which I think is a total show-stopper (written by Ken Grobe, who has a history of writing awesome songs like “Acid-Face Hanley’s Christmas” and “Luwanda Buckley and The Sex Robot”…or something like that. It was definitely about a sex robot and a country singer.)

Acid-Face Hanley sings to the kids, KMLZ 2011

Acid-Face Hanley sings to the kids, KMLZ 2011

We can’t fill a whole show with covers of carols. I mean, we could, but I feel like a few audience members would start to lose their minds and develop a serious bloodlust, causing mass chaos and zombification.

Feedback and Rewrites
The cool thing about KMLZ is that there are tons of people involved. Which also means that when a sketch is read out loud around the table, everyone has an opinion. Sometimes the opinions are all “THAT WAS HILARIOUS!”. Sometimes it’s clear there’s a problem with the sketch and 12 different opinions about what the problem might be, or how you could fix it if you rewrote it this way or that way. Everybody says their piece, and then the writer is left to decide what to do. They edit it in whatever way, and bring it back after the rewrite to see if it’s better. Sometimes it’s fixed and awesome. Sometimes it’s on the right track but not totally there. And sometimes it’s worse because possibly the premise wasn’t strong enough or clear enough from the beginning. It happens to everybody. (I’ll miss you, “Infinity Scarves For Infinity”, I just couldn’t make you happen.)

The Resubmission Shuffle
Sometimes a sketch doesn’t get into a show, and the writer loves it, and brings it back. Sometimes multiple times because it just keeps not being chosen. Sometimes that means shoehorning it into a new category. In the instance of this year, there’s a sketch that doesn’t really have anything to do with the holidays, but the opening line was changed to include “…at tonight’s Hanukkah party I am going to tell Morgan I’m divorcing her!” The rest of the sketch could not have less to do with the holidays, but is super funny, and has now finally made it into rehearsal. (I want to say this sketch is maybe two years old and that this is the first time it’s made it into rehearsal. It’s called “Slapping And Drinking” and was written by The Bardi Twins.)

It's hard to answer the phone in a snowsuit when you have weird low tables.

It’s hard to answer the phone in a snowsuit when you have weird low tables.

It’s in! Oh…It’s Out.
So your sketch made it into rehearsal! Congratulations! Wow, you really beat the odds! 13 writers and your sketch survived, that’s a hell of a thing! But that doesn’t mean it’s going to actually be onstage. About 40 sketches were submitted in two weeks. We’re going into rehearsal with about 18 of them, knowing we can’t fit them all in. In the end, I suspect it’ll be 13-15ish. It’s even possible that something will get all the way to tech and be cut. That always burns a little. So close, and yet so far. Ya can’t win ‘em all. But fear not, friend. If your dog is worth a damn, it’ll have its day…um, maybe. Hopefully. Them’s the breaks. But that’s also the exciting thing about doing this – stuff changes really quickly and you’re flying by the seat of your pants with a bunch of other people who are doing the same. There are a lot of flying pants going on.

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You can see KMLZ: Holidaze at Z Space December 12th at 8pm, and December 13th at 7pm and 10pm.

Everything Is Already Something Week 41: Things And People That Are Funny

Allison Page knows what funny is.

September is comedy month over here at Theater Pub. Or it’s supposed to be. We do what we want. Anyway, I’m getting you back on the comedy course riiiiight now! And as the resident comedy obsessed eat-sleep-breathe-it blogger I deem myself worthy of this endeavor. (And comedy doesn’t just mean stand up, by the way.)

MARIA BAMFORD

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I have to mention her, and I have to mention her FIRST. It’s really hard for me to believe there’s anyone funnier than Maria on planet earth. I laugh harder and more consistently at everything she says and does than I ever have at anything. I know, that sounds like an exaggeration, but it really isn’t. She’s incredibly unique and wonderful. Watching her is like watching a majestic unicorn morph into 26 other animals right in front of you. I have listened to her albums over and over again and I never stop laughing (Check her out on iTunes. Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome is brilliant.) You can catch her stand up at Cobb’s Comedy Club October 28th and 29th. If you haven’t seen her before, I really cannot recommend it enough. She’s also a sweet and delightful person, so that’s a perk.

SHIPWRECK

“Good theatre for bad literature? Marital aid for book nerds? A literary erotic fanfiction competition for the ages?” Shipwreck is a monthly event at The Booksmith in the Haight involving 6 writers who are assigned one character each from a classic/great book, and are tasked with writing erotic fan fiction putting that character into places and situations they were never, ever, EVER meant to experience. Full disclosure: I have participated in Shipwreck once so far, for Catcher In The Rye. I got second place, just behind Maggie Tokuda-Hall who is now the FOUR TIME CHAMPION. She’s like a magician of hilarious filth, and you can see her and a bunch of other writers at Booksmith on October 2nd, destroying characters from Stephen King’s Christine. The best parts are the dramatic reading of each piece by Steven Westdahl, and the fact that the audience votes on their favorite nasty masterpiece.

MISSION CTRL

Mission Control is a sketch comedy group spawned from Piano Fight’s loins. They are consistently funny and completely insane. They’ve done at least one sketch that made me feel like I was on acid and I’ve never actually been on acid. People who think sketch comedy is just shitty theater are stupid assholes who don’t know what they’re talking about and should see Mission Control.

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When PF opens their fancy new space in the heart of the Tenderloin, I imagine the guys at Mission CTRL will be making a whole lot of smart nonsense. Whenever that happens, you’re sure to see news about it on pianofight.com or on Mission Control’s Facebook page which you can find for yourself. You know how to internet, I’m not going to teach you.

IVAN HERNANDEZ

Ivan is really funny. He runs a show called Give Me Fiction populated with comics, writers, and generally wonderful degenerates who read stuff they wrote and that’s it. There’s no winner, no loser, no end goal apart from just listening to some cool/funny/great new prose that someone wrote based on a particular theme. It’s a thoroughly good time in the Cynic Cave at Lost Weekend Video (Or is it Cinecave? I see both. Whatever, just go.) It’s also been turned into a podcast, which you can listen to here: http://boingboing.net/2014/09/09/give-me-fiction-the-podcast.html Ivan’s also a great comic and his Twitter is a solid place to spend your time. You can follow him @ivan_hernandez

SAN FRANCISCO IMPROV FESTIVAL

If you’re one of those “Uhhh…improv can be reeaaally bad” people, I hear you. Believe me, I hear you. But if you want to find some good ones, this is a great place to do that. Groups locally and from other reaches of the planet come crawling out of the woodwork to perform starting TODAY and lasting until September 20th. I’d go for Boom Chicago, Jet Eveleth and Scott Adsit, Speechless, Huge and The Vendetta just to start – though I’m sure there are lots of great offerings to get educated about at http://sfimprovfestival.com

Scott Adsit looking serene

Scott Adsit looking serene

JANINE BRITO

Janine is a former bay area comic who’ll be coming through again September 25th and 26th with Guy Branum and Kevin Shea. She’s most well-known now for being a part of the Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell team, but she’s very much funny in her own right and totally worth hobbling over to Cobb’s to see. W. Kamau Bell calls her “a sarcastic, snarky smart bomb of comedy funk straight from the 80′s,” and he’s not wrong.

Or you can say “Fuck it, what’s Allison doing?” and see Killing My Lobster at Cal Shakes’ Grove September 26th at 6:45pm before ambling over to see their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is really just the tip of the iceberg as far as bay area comedy goes, but I don’t have all day, Reader. I just don’t have all day.

Allison Page is an actor/writer/comedy maker in San Francisco, you can find her on Twitter @allisonlynnpage.

The Five: 2014/15 Preview Pt. 2: Independent/Standalone/Special Events I’m Excited About

Anthony R Miller returns with part 2 of his 2014/15 preview. This week we look at shows that aren’t part of a formal subscription season.

Last time, we looked at 5 shows coming up I was really excited to see that were part of a company’s formal season. This week we’re looking at events in the next 15 months that could be considered an independent or standalone show or a special event.

EVERYTHING ALLISON PAGE IS DOING

Fellow Theatre Pub writer, Allison Page is primed to have a huge year. Her new one-act play; Hellhound (her take on the Cerberus myth) will be at the 2014 San Francisco Olympians Festival, and that’s just the beginning. So I figured why not just dedicate a whole slot to her. Here’s what her 2015 is looking like:

HILARITY

Allison writes and stars in this new play directed by Claire Rice, about a woman named Cyd, a comedian on the edge of destruction. Don’t be fooled by the title, this show not only promises laughs, but promises to show the dark side of funny people. It asks the question “What does it matter how good you are at something, if you don’t know how to be a person?” This filthy, drunk, smoking, sexing, throwing-things bonanza is a co-production of DIVAfest and The San Francisco Theater Pub and opens March 5th, 2015 at The Exit.

DESK SET

This William Marchant play from 1955 about 4 women working for a television studio has long been a dream project for Allison. And in this time of industriousness, Ms. Page, Megan Briggs and No Nude Men are teaming up to make it happen. The Desk Set is funny, surprisingly timely, and features a huge cast. (Including Allison as Bunny, the role made famous by Katherine Hepburn.) Stuart Bousel is at the helm as director and the play opens at the EXIT in July 2015.

KILLING MY LOBSTER

Earlier this year, Allison became Co-Creative director of SF’s sketch comedy troupe; Killing my Lobster. Since arriving, she and Millie DeBenedet have combined an ambitious agenda with a back to basics approach. For the first time, they are producing a new show every month, and soon premiering a sketch comedy podcast.

WRESTLEMANIA 31

Let’s argue semantics and what constitutes a “Theatrical Event” on another day, because C’MON IT’S WRESTLEMANIA! Professional Wrestling’s Super Bowl is coming to the brand new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara this March. There gonna be pyrotechnics, dudes rolling around in man-panties and easy to understand story lines that always end with punching. In addition to this gigantic show, the WWE will host its annual Hall Of Fame Ceremony in San Jose 2 days prior. Does this all sound ridiculous? It sure does, and I can’t wait.

PIANO FIGHT’S NEW VENUE

Artistic Director Rob Ready and the folks at Pianofight are about to potentially change the landscape of Bay Area theatre. Following an incredibly successful Kickstarter Campaign and months of anticipation Pianofight is getting ready to open a brand spanking new venue. This place sounds insane, 3 theatres, office space, a studio and a restaurant. This means more venues to rent, more rehearsal space and a home for everything Pianofight does. As if this wasn’t enough, their new show; Roughin’ It is running right now in an outdoor venue in Lagunitas, and Rob Ready has his All-Things-Theatre podcast; Born Ready. The new venue is slated to open in late 2014, so get ready for a lot of big things coming from that building in 2015..

THE 2014 SAN FRANCISCO OLYMPIANS FESTIVAL: THE MONSTER BALL

If you’re not excited about this event, you’re a jerk, because you probably have a friend working on it. Celebrating its fifth year, the festival features 28 new plays by 30 writers, 17 directors, 80+ actors, and 13 artists. Every year the festival focuses on a different aspect of Greek Mythology (Last year was the Trojan War), this year focuses on The Monsters. Get ready for tales of Three-Headed Dogs, Lion-Goat-Snake beasts and the correct pronunciation of Chimera. There is nothing like the Olympians Festival, it’s a 3 week celebration of Independent Art and Theatre in the San Francisco Bay Area. With so many stories, writers, actors and artists, there’s gonna be something you like.

TERROR-RAMA

Is promoting my own show tacky? You Bet. But if I can’t abuse my journalistic might, then what’s the point? And hey, the title is “Shows I’m Excited About” and I’m friggin excited. TR (Which is also short for Trespassers William.) has had two developmental readings, a successful Kickstarter campaign and we go into rehearsal in just under two weeks. TERROR-RAMA features two brand new one-act horror-plays. (Insert your “A Play in Two Axe” jokes here) The first is Creep, written by my dear friend and fellow SFSU alum Nick Pappas. It’s dark, disturbing and actually kind of funny when no-one is being murdered. The second is Camp Evil, written by me. It’s a very silly, very bloody tribute to summer camp slasher flicks. Think, “Sleepaway Camp meets That 70’s Show”. The whole shebang is hosted by Sindie Chopper, our very own late night Horror-Host in the tradition of Vampira, but dorkier. Director Colin Johnson has assembled a great cast of 8 actors and an amazing group of designers. As a Co-Writer and Co-Producer, I can’t wait to put this out there. Also, go to the website and check out THE TERROR-RAMA DIARIES, our very own production diary with tons of insight from members of the artistic staff. This show will be funny, scary, weird and entertaining as fuck. It opens October 17 at the EXIT Theatre.

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Director, Producer and that guy that won’t stop calling you about your theatre subscription. He already plugged his show.