Congratulations To Saturday Write Fever!

Our ongoing theater/improv event that brings writers and actors together to create original monologues and performance pieces, just got a lovely nod in San Francisco Magazine, which named us the Best of The Bay in Theatre Humor/Improv!

http://www.modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/best-of-the-bay-2014-arts

We’re delighted, of course, and deeply complimented. Thanks, SF Magazine! We think you’re swell too, and are humbled and thrilled by the support!

Haven’t been to a Saturday Write Fever yet- or wondering when the next one is? Look no further! Here’s everything you need to know about our next SWF! 

See you there! 

San Francisco Theater Pub and the EXIT Theatre are proud to present a fifteenth round of Saturday Write Fever, this time on Saturday, July 12, 2014, with Saturday Write Fever: GO BOOM!

Every second Saturday of the month, we invite writers, actors, directors, theater creators, and theater audiences alike to a free evening of quick script-making and flash-fried performance! This month Stuart Bousel will be crafting prompts from stuff overheard during various July 4th events he’ll have attended the previous weekend (“Dude, I’m so wasted right now!”), further unified by the common theme of having to take place right before, right after, or during an explosion of some kind. Close proximity to Bastille Day (July 14th) may mean some French stuff will be thrown in there too. Or pieces may just have to be written in French. Show up to find out!

Join us in the EXIT Cafe (156 Eddy Street) from 8:30-8:50 pm for registration followed by a 9:00 pm writing sprint where writers have 30 minutes (more or less) to generate original monologues based around that night’s pre-generated prompts. We cast actors from the crowd (no experience necessary), then at 9:30 pm, they perform the work on stage in the café for an on-the-spot, one-night-only, instant festival! Come join in the communal creativity, either as writer, performer, or audience!

Usually hosted by local writers Stuart Bousel and/or Megan Cohen, occasionally hosted by local actor/writer/mangenue Sam Bertken, admission to this event is free, with the Café staying open and staffed so you can purchase drinks and snacks all night long! No need for reservations, though be there from 8:30-8:50 to get your name on the writer list as we will cap it at 20. Of course, if we get 20 writers, that means we’ll also need 20 actors, so be sure to come early and let us know you want to play!

Hi-Ho, the Glamorous Life: Intersection at a Crossroads

Marissa Skudlarek voices what many of us are thinking.

The news about the massive cut-backs at Intersection for the Arts came out last Thursday. I had tickets to see the latest show at their resident theater company Campo Santo, Chasing Mehserle by Chinaka Hodge, for Friday night.

Before the news came out, I had been looking forward to the show with uncomplicated enthusiasm — I loved Hodge’s Mirrors in Every Corner, which Intersection produced four years ago, and Chasing Mehserle revisits the characters of Mirrors. After the news came out, my emotions became more tangled. Gratitude that I’d get to see one more show at Intersection before the organization changed forever. (Per press reports, Campo Santo will continue to exist, but will become an independent nonprofit organization.) Guilt that I hadn’t taken more advantage of Intersection’s programming — I hadn’t seen a play there since Halloween 2010, hadn’t visited their space since they moved from the Mission District to the Chronicle building downtown. The recognition that my feelings of guilt were slightly overblown — even if I’d patronized Intersection more, that wouldn’t have saved it.

There were sellout crowds on Friday night for Chasing Mehserle, and the audience was one of the youngest and most diverse I’ve ever seen in the Bay Area. It was all I could do not to buttonhole each one of these people and shout “How did you hear about this show? What brought you to the theater tonight? How could I get you to come see the theater that I make?”

After all, sometimes I can become cynical, and believe the doomsayers who tell you that young people don’t go to the theater anymore, it’s hopeless, we should just give up, we should become more like opera, we should realize that our core audience is old white rich folks. The audience that night proved me wrong — and proved right the counter-narrative that young people will go to the theater if it reflects their lives and their communities, presenting compelling stories that mainstream film and television don’t provide. (Chasing Mehserle is an artistic response to Johannes Mehserle’s shooting of Oscar Grant in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2009. It’s deeply grounded in the Bay Area, and deeply aware that it’s a piece of theater rather than a movie or TV show.)

The diverse audience I saw at Chasing Mehserle should therefore have given me hope for the future of the theater — except that, having read the news the day before, I was left with a feeling of increased hopelessness. This enthusiasm, this diversity, these people who want to see stories that reflect them, this community interested in Chinaka Hodge’s growth and development as a playwright… it wasn’t enough to make a difference. It wasn’t enough to create a viable, fiscally healthy organization. So what will ever be enough?

The full story of how Intersection got into such dire financial straits has not yet been revealed, but it looks like it might fit in with the “tech money is ruining everything” narrative that’s becoming prominent in this city. It would be oddly fitting, too: a major theme of Chasing Mehserle is the gentrification of Oakland, and Chinaka Hodge just published an essay about gentrification in San Francisco magazine (a magazine whose web address is ModernLuxury.com. The ironies, they pile up).

At the end of Chasing Mehserle, the actors come forward and declare their real-life identities: “My name is… I was born on… And I’m still here.” Hodge is well aware of the difficulties faced by African-Americans in our society, and the cast members saying “I’m still here” is a powerful statement of survival in the face of forces like gentrification and racism. Survival itself is a form of heroism, Hodge seems to imply. Perhaps we should celebrate the fact that an arts organization like Intersection survived for nearly 50 years (an amazing record for any institution) rather than mourning its passing. But it’s hard not to be sad about its loss, and feel guilty that we have not done more to create the kind of culture we want. It’s hard not to wonder “How much longer will I still be here?”

Marissa Skudlarek is a San Francisco-based playwright and arts writer who plans to live in this city for as long as it’s physically possible. Find her online at marissabidilla.blogspot.com or on Twitter @MarissaSkud.