Follow the Vodka: My Left Shoulder

Our favorite tippler Robert Estes, shouldering his load.

So, gentle reader of the chronicles of Follow the Vodka, I will digress before I begin the piece properly. As your intrepid night columnist, I had planned on writing about the piano bar The Alley on Grand Avenue in Oakland and the octogenarian pianist Rod Dibble, who has been playing there before recorded history. In my many nights reading there at the one table that has a light, I found that words of Samuel Beckett made a great accompanist to hearing the grateful regulars take their turns, well, not quite belting out tunes, but quite joyfully singing the sentimental romantic American Songbook tunes of their youth. At the center of those songs, there is often loneliness, or depression even, with an obsessive or timeless desire, “you’re gonna love me, like nobody’s loved, come rain or come shine…” that fits in with Beckett’s often uncompromised, oddly static characters, who seemingly will be what they are forever, come rain or come shine.

Again, I had planned (god laughed), to spend this past weekend’s midnight hours at The Alley writing my column for your reading pleasure. Then, on Friday, about noon, I began feeling a pain in my left shoulder. By the time of the opening that night of the show I had directed, What Rhymes with America, I had to be careful how I walked, to avoid feeling as if I were self-electrocuting my left arm with pain.

So, my grand plan of the Alley just couldn’t happen with the pain. Still, clichéd as it may be, when you have lemons, make lemonade! The pain in my body kind of gave me access to the pain of producing theater. I really couldn’t fall asleep Friday night and I couldn’t help but let the body pain travel into a little bit of psychic pain.

Just a little background on me: Before I got into theater, I was a devoted audience member. I would guess that I saw easily 50 shows a year, but probably a higher number. I would often go with my good friend Carol and sometimes we would talk to theater people after the show or in some other occasion. We were often taken aback by how angry they could be about the work of others. Carol and I couldn’t help but make inside jokes about the Bitter Theater People.

I got into theater when I was 43 years old by volunteering at the California Shakespeare Theater. I was more than happy at the thought of just running off script copies (my day job was as a paralegal, so I was used to “organizing and preparing documents” as my billing entries to the clients often read), doing historical research for classical scripts or comparing versions of scripts now out of copyright (it was much more fun to collate versions of Arms and the Man than the closing documents for the latest massive, half-scammy business transaction at the firm).

I was very lucky at Cal Shakes because the first director that I worked for was Lillian Groag and she loved historical research when directing her plays. So I went wild on every aspect of Arms and the Man. I was double lucky that Bronwyn Eisenberg was the Resident Dramaturg as she nurtured me by giving me further research projects and opportunities to write for the program.

So, from the one small choice to volunteer at Cal Shakes at 43, my life for the past 13 years has been spent on all kinds of theater projects, now leading to my founding Anton’s Well Theater Company in the East Bay.

Yet now, I have to admit, I might be becoming the Bitter Theater Person. Or maybe just Crotchety Old Bitter Theater Guy.

Let me start with the thing that has an easy solution: paying for tickets. I totally understand if a theater person (or anyone in fact) is scraping by. I’m very happy to offer comps or pay what you can to get in someone who loves theater and wants to see, say, the Bay Area premiere of the work of an upcoming writer like Melissa James Gibson.

But so often, I feel as a theater ticket seller, it’s almost like I’m Exxon Mobil in the mind of the buyer. It almost seems like a moral sin to pay for a full-price ticket. Why? In my case, with $20 General/$17 Student/Seniors, if you buy through Goldstar, you would pay $14, of which only $10 goes to the theater. You’re giving Goldstar $4 to save yourself $6 from the $20 full price. I mean, $6 is a cup and half of coffee, or even less.

And, in the past, it’s been very frustrating to give someone a comp or $5 ticket, and then see on Facebook a week later that they’re having Duck a la Orange at Trendy Dandy Don’s foodie flash restaurant of the week. So, there’s my crotchety old bitter theater guy. I guess I just would hope that we in the small (or indie or however you want to define it) theater scene would value each other’s work by paying full price as often as we can.

And, moving on, I would hope that we could somehow (I admit, I have no solution for this other than to make an observation) value each other’s work other than on the basis of an inflation of praise. It’s not enough nowadays (man, that word makes me sound oooold!) that a show is said to be “amazing,” it has to be “truly amazing.” The phrase “truly amazing” seems to me like the passive aggressive (or maybe just aggressive) way of saying that this show actually is good and the other “amazing” shows are poseurs and are actually bad.

I have no solution to hype inflation. I suppose in the era of competing with on-demand binge watching at home, it could be argued that a show has to be amazing or why go out to see it? Well, because, there’s a lot to be gained from shows that are not even amazing. The might be compelling. They might be intriguing. They might be gloriously flawed.

I’m almost always happy that I made the effort to see a show. Maybe once a year, I think that it would have been better just to stay home. So I guess that’s just subjective me, and I could understand if others have seen so much theater that a show really does have to be amazing, but then I think they’re going to be disappointed because so many shows that are said to be “amazing” really are not. But they’re still worth seeing!

I believe that we have a good show in What Rhymes with America. I think the $20 ticket price is fair based on theater rental, cost of the rights, and giving the actors and crew a decent stipend (they shouldn’t lose money on the deal). I understand that there are other, shall I say, highly regarded shows out there like I Call My Brothers, Colossal, Deal with the Dragon, and there are event theater things like ShortLived, so in the pecking order of theater attendance, we might be a junior partner.

Still, despite any reservations, it’s amazing (oops, I mean great) to be part of the whole enterprise of putting on theater. I guess that is what I’d really like to say: what we do is vital. Sometimes when I’m with groups of theater people, the discussion will go to extended, enthusiastic discussions of the latest cable series rather than theater. Maybe this is puritanical of me, but it kind of hurts. Let’s talk about our local shows! “I found this part extraordinary…I didn’t quite see what was going on here…I would love to see more of…”

Now that I’ve gotten this off my shoulder (I mean my chest), my psychic pain is lessened. I think it’s time for the best painkiller for my shoulder…which just happens to be my favorite cocktail, the Jim’s Manhattan at Wood Tavern! (See, theater pub blog editors, I got in my favorite cocktail in the column, just like I’m supposed to!).

Jims Manhattan copy

Hi-Ho, the Glamorous Life: Emotional Karaoke

Marissa Skudlarek, putting her heart into it.

Two schools of thought as to why people do karaoke even if they have mediocre singing ability. The first is that Americans are obsessed with fame and the idea of becoming a “singing sensation”; mediocre people think they have more talent than they actually do (the Dunning-Kruger effect); they crave attention and glory out of a narcissistic need. This theory is rather cynical for my tastes, though, and doesn’t seem to account for many of the types of people you’ll see at karaoke. I prefer the alternative explanation: as a society, we have only a few acceptable places in which to enact big, possibly overwhelming emotions in public, and one of them is singing karaoke. For hundreds of years, church served as the outlet for most Americans’ singing-in-public needs, but as fewer and fewer of us are religious regulars, we need somewhere else to go.

This theory explains why many people at karaoke sing songs that aren’t particularly famous or even particularly catchy, but obviously have great personal meaning for the singer. (If people were just trying to get applause and attention from doing karaoke, you’d think they’d stick to singing fun ‘greatest hits’ material.) It explains why, especially when you go to karaoke in the off-hours (when the Mint opens at four in the afternoon, say), you can get the feeling of being among people whose emotions run a little closer to the surface of the skin than most people’s do. There can be a desperation to these singers, but it doesn’t seem like a desperate yearning after fame and fortune; more the desperation of heartbreak or disappointment. And, while I’m by no means a karaoke regular, I’ve been known to use it in this fashion, as an emotional outlet; there was a period of time when, as soon as I had an exciting new romantic prospect in my life, I absolutely had to go to karaoke and belt out “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret.

(I’ve also often thought that, if I were a Stephen Sondheim-level songwriting genius, I would write a musical about the regulars at a karaoke bar, with all the songs being pastiches of music from the ’70s through today. Just as Follies tells a story of heartbreak and disappointment through a series of brilliant pastiches of Tin Pan Alley songs, this would do the same for the music of the Top 40 radio era.)

Karaoke lets you take another performer’s words and music and use it to process your own emotions, in a more powerful way than just listening to the song would allow. In the same way, reading a play aloud in a group setting can allow you to have a more powerful emotional reaction to it than you would if you read the script silently, or even attended a performance of it. Taking a playwright’s words into your own mouth — even if you are not a professional actor — can sometimes be more moving than watching even the most talented actor perform them.

On this blog, we’ve probably written some pieces praising the value of holding a living-room reading of a play if you’re a playwright who’s seeking to revise a script (hearing the current draft version of your script read aloud is a great way to discern what works and what doesn’t). But today I also want to emphasize the value of a less frequently mentioned kind of living-room reading: the kind where you gather people together to read a polished, published script, a classic of world literature or an overlooked gem.

Like our new columnist, Robert Estes, I find great comfort in the writings of Anton Chekhov, whose empathy for our funny little human lives is still bracing over one hundred years later. Several years ago, I got together with some friends in a living room to read Chekhov’s Three Sisters. As the youngest woman there, I was asked to play the youngest sister, Irina. Things were going along well — we were sitting on comfortable sofas and drinking wine — until I got to Irina’s Act Three monologue of despair. This is what I read aloud (from the Paul Schmidt translation):

Where is it? Where did it all go? Oh my God, my God! I’ve forgotten everything; my head is all mixed up… I can’t remember the Italian word for window, or ceiling… I keep forgetting things; every day I forget more and more, and life goes by and it won’t ever come back and we’re never going to Moscow, never, never. I can see it all now–we’re never going to get there… Oh, I’m so unhappy… I can’t work anymore, I won’t work anymore, I’m sick of it, I’ve had enough! I worked at the telegraph office, and now I work at the municipal building, and I despise it, I hate everything I have to do there… I’m almost twenty-four, I’ve been working all this time, and my brain has shriveled up; I’ve lost my looks, I’ve gotten old, and nothing, nothing! There’s no satisfaction in any of it, and the time passes and you realize you’ll never have the beautiful life you dreamed of; you just keep digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole… I’m in despair, I am really in despair! And I don’t understand why I am still alive. I should have killed myself long ago.

At the time, I myself was about to turn twenty-four, I too was feeling bored and burnt-out at work, I too was learning to deal with the disappointment that comes from being a few years out of college and having to lower your expectations as you make your way as an adult in the real world. Reading Irina’s monologue aloud cracked something in me open; I felt an obscure comfort in knowing that a fictional character written over 100 years ago felt the same way that I did. The powerful emotions that I felt when speaking Irina’s words gave me permission to acknowledge that yes, I was unhappy, and I shouldn’t try to just smother or forget my unhappiness.

I therefore highly recommend the practice of getting together with friends to read plays aloud. In a culture that often frowns on the overt expression of negative emotions, the chance to explore different facets of the human condition, through the words of great playwrights and in the supportive company of friends, is a much-needed way to release emotional tension. (This could also work with appropriately dramatic works of fiction; think of the satisfaction that people in the Victorian era used to get by reading Dickens’ serialized novels aloud around the fire with friends and family.) Plays were meant to be spoken and heard. You were meant to feel and process and play out your emotions.

Marissa Skudlarek is a San Francisco-based playwright and arts writer. For more: marissabidilla.blogspot.com or Twitter @MarissaSkud.

FOLLOW THE VODKA: Introductions

Today we’re excited to premier a new regular columnist: writer/producer/director Robert Estes!

Photo for Theater Pub

A few weeks ago, I was asked by SF Theater Pub if I would like to write an occasional, recurring entry for their blog wherein I would discuss a play while having one of my favorite drinks in one of my regular bar redoubts. Hey, I’m not an actor, I’m the booze relief.

Seriously, though, I’d feel remiss in writing about theater and drinking without acknowledging that there’s often a very troubled relationship between theater people and booze. I only got into theater in my 43rd year on the planet, and, then, shortly afterwards, for some reason, I began really looking forward to an artfully made drink. Often, when I mentioned grabbing a drink after rehearsal or performance, I was surprised how quickly and strongly that the theater person would say that they don’t touch a drop. The sharpness of the words instantly conveyed their painful journey to abstinence. In a future post, I’m sure that I’ll take up the tense relationship between the bipolar world of theatrical enterprise and problem drinking.

For now though, I’ll just say that I tend to follow my mother’s rule, “I like to drink, but I don’t like to be drunk,” which is sort of the perfect excuse for anything, “I like to drive 140 miles an hour, but I don’t like to crash.” Still, I find so far for me that drinking is often a necessary complement to the inherent anxiety of the theatrical endeavor as well as just being my way of following Montaigne’s warm advice that we should allow ourselves to cultivate one vice.

Although it is great fun to enjoy the drinking vice with other theater people, I also love going to places where not only it is unlikely that I’ll know anyone, it is unlikely that anyone from the bay area will be there. Such a place is The Buena Vista near Fisherman’s Wharf, where they serve, as many of you already know, rows and rows of Irish Coffees to throngs and throngs of tourists, so that I’m sure the place is often on the unwritten but ever-present avoid list of many native San Franciscans–although “native” in this use probably just means anyone that has lived here longer than someone newly arrived and much less cool than them.

Since I have pretensions of coolness, I rarely order the Buena Vista’s Irish Coffee; rather, I quite knowingly order one of their martinis, which, like milkshakes come not only with a glass but also with the accompanying tin, a very nice bargain. Tonight, in honor (or more accurately, in lack of honor) of reading Anton Chekhov, I’m having a Vodka Martini; yet, if I were being annoyingly true in spirit to Uncle Vanya, I would just be pounding vodka shots. I’m also reading what I consider to be the best Chekhov biography (although it is not a proper biography), which is a book of his letters entitled Anton Chekhov’s Life and Thought: Selected Letters and Commentary, edited & annotated by Simon Karlinsky, translated by Michael Henry Heim. Interspersed among the many letters are sparkling essays on thematic and social concerns, and voluminous, yet concisely written footnotes—all of which are first rate and engaging and help greatly in gaining a deeper understanding of his works.

But nowhere in the whole book do they discuss the key character trait of Uncle Vanya’s Astrov–which leads directly to an understanding of his descent in the play–his vodka drinking! In the very first scene, when asked if he’d like a shot, he says no. Soon enough, he relents and has a shot, but with bread, so that the effect of alcohol will be lessened. By the end of the play, he’ll have the shot of vodka and specifically decline the bread —he most assuredly finishes the play as a confirmed alcoholic.

Naturally, Astrov’s alcoholic trajectory is not a happy thought or a thought that brings much comfort when sitting in a bar alone on a Monday night at midnight having a double vodka martini (oh yeah, that tin I mentioned before is definitely an entire second drink), but the beautiful part of the Buena Vista is that you can always talk to the people next to you because they’re not from here, they want to know where you’re from and they want to tell you where they’re from, it’s great. They’re tourists! Ugh!
But I love “tourists!” I love any group that gets some kind of derogatory name attached to it. In the 1980s, everyone would put down “yuppies,” even people who looked and acted completely like yuppies. I thought I was a yuppie. I was young, urban and sort of professional. Would you rather be an YSUPIE? Young, suburban, professional—and with a horrible acronym? Nowadays, everyone puts down “hipsters.” I wish I could be a hipster! But I’m not cool enough. As I thought a few months ago, my only true goal in life is to be the first yupster, so that I can be the most put-down person ever!

So I think these thoughts which seem to come from some unknown yet central part of myself as I sit in the bar and re-read the letters of Chekhov, particularly this one from March 4, 1888:

“The people I’m afraid of are the one who look for tendentiousness between the lines and are determined to see me as either liberal or conservative. I am neither liberal, nor conservative, nor gradualist, nor monk, non indifferentist. I would like to be a free artist and nothing else, and I regret God has not given me the strength to be one. I hate lies and violence in all their forms…Pharisaism, dullwittedness and tyranny reign not only in merchants’ homes and police stations. I see them in science, in literature, among the younger generation. I look upon tags and labels as prejudices. My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love and the most absolute freedom imaginable, freedom from violence and lies, no matter what form the latter two take. Such is the program I would adhere to if I were a major artist.”

Wow, I suppose each person reading so much clarity would find their own sentence of bliss, but for me sitting in the bar, I now instantly recall when reading that letter for the first time decades ago how strongly the simple sentence “I look upon tags and labels as prejudices” pierced my own thoughts. And I hope and I think that reading that letter is why I’ve often felt like I was a “yuppie” or a “hipster” or a “tourist.” I would rather join with the labeled than be one of the labelers.

As Bill English of SF Playhouse says, theater is an empathy gym. And I do feel that the great reason to read Chekhov’s letters or attend one of his depressing plays—well, let’s face it, depressing is the typical can-do American’s putdown of the apparently terminally stalled nature of his plays—is that ultimately pained empathy is more beautiful than glossy positivity.

Lately, though, I’ve been wondering if I’m not really falling into the vice of labeling—a vice that I do not want to cultivate. It’s just damn hard for me not to label people that I disagree with politically. Of course, it’s easy to label the red state politicians, but I even caught myself labeling the other side in the current blue debate. The labels seem to be getting more extreme: “corrupt” for “hypocritical,” “deranged” for “misinformed,” “treasonous” for “just plain wrong.” But the thing is, some of the politicians that I don’t agree with are deranged, or close to it. Eek, well, Theater Pub Blog, an extended political handwringing is not on offer here, but I just want to note the obvious tension between trying not to label and seeing that right now in politics it is almost impossible not to do so.

Just for instance, I come back to an example of labeling that Chekhov once described that I wonder if many in San Francisco would not find perfectly valid: he said that in a dispute between a landlord and a tenant, so many people would automatically know who was in the right simply by the labels “landlord” and “tenant.” Some would instantly know the greedy landlord was to blame, others would say the scoundrel tenant. It almost seems that not using labels in this instance is a denial of the current reality in San Francisco.

So with my frustration about keeping a basic equilibrium about humanity as I try to figure out what is labeling and what is not and my simple desire to retain my usual enjoyment of human personality in all its contradictions, I find sitting in the Buena Vista, talking to people from all over the place is actually kind of soul-inspiring. Yes, you jaded San Franciscans, if you’re tired of all the hipster irony and yuppie, I mean techie, consumerist overreach, come on over and talk to Clare and Bill (from Ohio!), who are apparently completely irony-free and don’t know tech from teach. But they’re extremely nice, and gracious enough to treat yours truly to an Irish Coffee. Now I’m definitely not cool enough to pass up that action.

Cheers until next month and another adventure in pairing the perfect cocktail with a play!

Higher Education: Kicking Self-Doubt’s… Booty

Barbara Jwanouskos is here to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And she’s all out of bubble gum.

Summer’s winding down for me. I head back to Pittsburgh in just under two weeks and classes start just five days after that. I’ve been concentrating on finishing the projects that I’ve committed to finishing and starting to cultivate the former good habits that used to be a part of my every day.

Non-sequitur here! I’ve been thinking a lot about tai chi because once I go back, I will be directing my own practice again. I won’t have regular classes to attend. I won’t have guidance from senior students or my instructor anymore. It’s actually a lot like how I went into summer – only with the writing being the activity upon which I had to be more self-directed.

I’m not exactly nervous that I’ll fail to practice. Even though last year was difficult, tai chi was a great way for me to calm down, get centered and move around a little bit. I think the hang-up comes from some kind of thought that goes a little something like this, (HIT IT!) What if when I’m practicing on my own, I end up letting myself off the hook too much and my practice becomes lazy?

I worry about this with writing too. I worry that even my sometimes minimal attempts to work on my play or do free-writing are not enough. But then I read this blog article, “Yes, Virginia, You Can Totally Force Art” by Chuck Wendig and I had sort of a huh, how ‘bout that? moment because I totally agree with him about the idea that when you have a daily practice goal – length of time, words, pages, etc. – cranking out those last couple of words, minutes, fractions of pages do make a difference in the long run. Even if you do end up throwing out all of it. I feel like more often, I have the same experience that Wendig describes, where you read over the what you wrote, and realize, hey, this isn’t nearly as awful as I thought it was…

I had a thought while teaching tai chi to the cast of Nancy Frank’s Inexpressibly Blue directed by Robert Estes for the Bay Area One-Acts Festival. Robert asked me to go through some tai chi and qi gong postures with the cast since I practice and assistant teach tai chi at 108 Heroes Kung Fu and Tai Chi (over in Chinatown). I went through the beginning section of the Yang Family tai chi form up in a beautiful, sunny park yesterday. It was interesting for me to go through the postures and the philosophy behind tai chi with them because you can really go deep down the rabbit hole.

The cast was mostly fixated on the postures of the form because of the blocking they would need to figure out for the performance of the play. Beyond the choreography and memorization of movements, there’s a whole endless string of other considerations to put into the practice. I think writing has been the same way for me this summer. Whenever I get stuck or frustrated with one piece of the play, I just go to another section I think I know about. Sometimes I try to power through a section I’m working on, and just have faith that something might pop up or that I could throw it away if it really sucks.

Tai chi is the same way. I think any practice is. Ultimately, you do have to have faith in yourself that you can go further than you think you can. You have to have faith that you’ll come up with something if you don’t remember what to do next or if you can’t think of where the story goes to. And, you know, tomorrow is another day. Every sucky thing that happened yesterday when you were writing or tai chi-ing just is a total wash the next time you decide to give it time.

There’s this book I’m reading right now about tai chi energetics called Juice: Radical Taiji Energetics, which probably sounds like fake magic BS to a lot of people, but the thing is, even with a feat that seems impossible, the two things he says that you have to do in order to reach these advanced levels are practice every day and believe that it will happen. There’s something to that. I don’t care if it’s radical or if it’s common sense. They work together too. Maybe you don’t always believe in what you’re doing but, ef it! You’re gonna practice anyway. And maybe you don’t always feel like you have time to practice, but hey, if you don’t, then how will you ever develop?

One of the screenwriting books Save The Cat Strikes Back! says basically the same thing that in order for him to find success with his writing, he had to be disciplined, focused and positive with his work. Those are hard things to remember to do sometimes, but it sure beats kicking your own booty with self-doubt. I’m trying to remember these small ideas that count when I come back to my thesis play to write, as I prepare to teach a whole group of students creative writing for the first time, and as I try to keep my tai chi practice this year. I’m confident something will come out of it if I can just wade through the muck. Did anyone ever regret taking the time to put a few more crappy sentences upon the screen? Probably not… Who knows where they will lead!

Open Your Heart Tonight At The Heart Plays!

For one night only, Eight creative teams of actors and directors interpret, re-interpret, and totally mis-interpret seminal postmodern playwright Heiner Müller’s 10-line play, HEART PLAY. There will be music, there will be dancing, there will be fake guts, and there will be many, many brick hearts. By the end of the night, you’ll know the text so well, you can perform it yourself! (Note: reenactments and dramatic recitations after the show — and after a few drinks — are encouraged.)

Producer Annie Paladino has assembled a kick-ass team of directors, including Maria Calderazzo, Robert Estes, Hannah Gaff, Amy Marie Haven, Kate Heller, Joan Howard, Rebecca Longworth, Carmen Melillo, Dan Mack, and Cecilia Palmtag. Plus our friends Hide Away Blues BBQ will be there serving up delicious, bourbon soaked treats!

It all happens tonight, February 18th, 2013 at Cafe Royale in San Francisco. Show is at 8:00pm, so come early for drinks, stay later for more drinks, and we look forward to seeing you at the Pub!

THE HEART PLAYS on FEBRUARY 18th- One Week From Today!

May we lay our hearts at your feet?

Maybe your Valentine’s Day was everything you hoped it could be. Maybe you watched “Shakespeare in Love” and fell asleep on the couch clutching a bar of Dove dark chocolate. (Maybe that was everything you hoped Valentine’s Day could be.) In any case, keep those good/bad feelings coming with SF Theater Pub’s February celebration of love, hearts, and non-anesthetized organ removal THE HEART PLAYS.

Eight creative teams of actors and directors interpret, re-interpret, and totally mis-interpret seminal postmodern playwright Heiner Müller’s 10-line play, HEART PLAY. There will be music, there will be dancing, there will be fake guts, and there will be many, many brick hearts. By the end of the night, you’ll know the text so well, you can perform it yourself! (Note: reenactments and dramatic recitations after the show — and after a few drinks — are encouraged.)

Producer Annie Paladino has assembled a kick-ass team of directors, including Maria Calderazzo, Robert Estes, Hannah Gaff, Amy Marie Haven, Kate Heller, Joan Howard, Rebecca Longworth, Carmen Melillo, Dan Mack, and Cecilia Palmtag. Plus, Hide Away Blues BBQ will be there with delicious food and bourbon soaked treats!

One night only, February 18th, 2013 at Cafe Royale in San Francisco. Show is at 8:00pm, so come early for drinks, stay later for more drinks, but be forewarned — our heart is a brick.

(But it only throbs for you.)

Up Next At Theater Pub: The Heart Plays!

May we lay our hearts at your feet?

Maybe your Valentine’s Day was everything you hoped it could be. Maybe you watched “Shakespeare in Love” and fell asleep on the couch clutching a bar of Dove dark chocolate. (Maybe that was everything you hoped Valentine’s Day could be.) In any case, keep those good/bad feelings coming with SF Theater Pub’s February celebration of love, hearts, and non-anesthetized organ removal THE HEART PLAYS.

Eight creative teams of actors and directors interpret, re-interpret, and totally mis-interpret seminal postmodern playwright Heiner Müller’s 10-line play, HEART PLAY. There will be music, there will be dancing, there will be fake guts, and there will be many, many brick hearts. By the end of the night, you’ll know the text so well, you can perform it yourself! (Note: reenactments and dramatic recitations after the show — and after a few drinks — are encouraged.)

Producer Annie Paladino has assembled a kick-ass team of directors, including Maria Calderazzo, Robert Estes, Hannah Gaff, Amy Marie Haven, Kate Heller, Joan Howard, Rebecca Longworth, Carmen Melillo, Dan Mack, and Cecilia Palmtag. As usual, our awesome pop-up restaurant partners, Hide Away Blues, will be there with tasty BBQ and bourbon soaked treats!

One night only, February 18th, 2013 at Cafe Royale in San Francisco (800 Post Street). Show is at 8:00pm, so come early for drinks, stay later for more drinks, but be forewarned — our heart is a brick.

(But it only throbs for you.)