Theater Around The Bay: An Interview With Rem Myers

Meghan Trowbridge interviews Rem Myers, director of t. gondii presents the lovesickness circus, currently playing at Theater Pub.

MT: Where do you hail from and what brought you to the Bay Area?

RM: I’m originally from the East Coast but I’ve been living in SF for almost four years now. My cousin used to act out here and she recommended I come check it out. I moved here site unseen and I’ve been here since!

MT: You obviously direct – any other sides of theater you dabble in?

RM: Not really? I’ll dramaturg and produce. I used to act in college, but I haven’t since then. Sometimes I miss performing, but I’m pretty content to work behind the scenes.

MT: Are there advantages or disadvantages to directing in a bar?

RM: I enjoy directing shows in non-traditional spaces. It’s fun to work in a bar and have the actors pop out of unexpected places. Of course, working in a bar also means difficultly in finding times to rehearse in the space!

MT: What attracted you to t. gondii presents the lovesickness circus?

RM: I’ve known Kat Sherman for a few years and love her plays. I was looking for a short play to direct for Theater Pub and she sent me lovesickness. I love Kat’s language and poetry and was psyched to do a 30 minute play of hers.

MT: What advice would you give to future directors of Theater Pub shows?

RM: Cast awesome actors like I did. A week is a short time to rehearse and Jeunee, Marlene, and Soren really stepped up their game to bring nuanced and clear performances in this short period of time. It’s really all on them.

MT: What’s the show you’re dying to direct?

RM: I have a few newer plays I’m interested in working on, but I won’t name the playwrights here 😉

MT: What’s next for you?

RM: A break!

MT: Any shout-outs to other Bay Area theater/performance stuff going on?

RM: Not yet!

t. gondii presents the lovesickness circus has two more shows, tonight and tomorrow. Don’t miss it!

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Theater Around The Bay: An Interview With Katharine Sherman

t. gondii presents the lovesickness circus opens tonight! If you’re not excited yet, we hope this interview with playwright Katharine Sherman does the trick!

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Who are you, in a 100 words or less?

KS: I am a writer dazzled by the musicality of language; I like my theater to make a mess. My work is blurry when it comes to genre, I write in verse but not one that makes sense, I’m interested in structure as story and art that calls into question the nature of reality. Right now I’m working on a first draft of a young adult novel and a play based on Ovid that may or may not have dancing. I’m part of a new company making multi-disciplinary performance work in the Twin Cities, check us out – http://www.collectiveunconsciousperformance.com.

Any influences or inspiration you find particularly impactful, in regards to your work as a whole and this piece specifically?

KS: I’m an avid reader of mythology, and I’m always interested in adaptation and reimagining – in new spins on old stories where the interpretation and the original are kind of sitting side by side at the same time – even though they’re not – as if, by adapting, you’re creating the tension between the adaptation and the original. This piece specifically was inspired by a natural phenomenon in the animal kingdom.

So… what is this play about? And what’s the meaning behind the intriguing title?

KS: The play is about a cat, a rat, and a parasite. But it’s also about connection and depression and drunkenness and despair. It’s tricky to describe! Go see it!

How did you and Rem Myers, the director, get connected, and how’d he convince you Theater Pub was a good place for this piece?

KS: I met Rem in 2014 at the Cutting Ball Theater! We’ve worked together on two readings for Risk is this…, a new play reading series at Cutting Ball, and one of those plays, ONDINE, was just there in January. We’ve got a good shorthand! And I thought Theater Pub sounded like a great venue! I feel like this play is actually perfect for a different kind of venue.

Is having a show done in a bar exciting for you? Terrifying? Mixed? Why?

KS: It’s exciting! I think being in a bar raises the stakes of the performance in a way but also gives it a sense of freedom, paradoxically? Honestly I have no idea! I’ve done shows in bars before though and it always seems like it’s a blast!

Did you have to do any revisions or retooling of the piece to fit these unusual circumstances?

KS: I didn’t, actually! But I feel like it can definitely work – it’s a casual, flippant weirdo of a show with a bunch of direct address and finger puppets.

How involved do you tend to be once a show goes into rehearsal? How involved do you plan to be in this process?

KS: I’m in Minneapolis, so my contributions so far have been changing a few words and getting texts of awesome actors in animal ears from Rem!

Any history around this play? Past productions or development?

KS: Nope, this is the first!

What are you top three pieces of advice to other playwrights looking to get work done in the Bay Area?

KS: Be nice, be yourself, have fun. Go see your friends’ shows. Be in awe of your collaborators and want to make your work better for them. Take walks.

Any shout-outs to other theater/performance stuff going on in the Bay Area?

KS: A Dreamplay opens at Cutting Ball on May 20th – directed by Rob Melrose, in a new translation by Paul Walsh. Don’t miss that one, it’s going to be amazing! Also, go see my friend Kenny in The Heir Apparent at the Aurora! And this is a posthumous plug but Rem and Andrew Saito just finished Stegosaurus (or) Three Cheers for Climate Change with the Faultline Theater, and I wanted to shout out that I love that show (so I hope you got to see it)!

Don’t miss Katharine Sherman’s t. gondii presents the lovesickness circus, opening tonight at Theater Pub!

Theater Around The Bay: April’s Theater Pub Cast Announced!

Theater Pub is very excited to announce the cast of this month’s show, t gondii presents the lovesickness circus, by Katharine Sherman.

Please welcome to the stage:

Soren Shane Santos in the role of Mick.

Soren Santos

Marlene Yarosh in the role of Snowball.

Marlene Yarosh

Jeunee Simon in the role of Toxo.

Jeunee Simon

You may be thinking, “that’s great SFTP, but what is this play about? I heard something about a cat and a rat?” You heard right! Mick, a street-wise rat, takes Snowball, an indoor cat, to a circus run by Toxo – a parasite! You will laugh. You will ponder. You will question everything you eat from here on out. You don’t want to miss it!

You can catch us on these dates at PianoFight:

April 18 @ 8:00pm
April 19 @ 8:00pm
April 25 @ 8:00pm
April 26 @ 8:00pm

As always, our show is free, though donations are lovingly accepted so we can pay our incredible cast!

Theater Around The Bay: Announcing Our Next Show!

San Francisco Theater Pub Presents
t. gondii presents the lovesickness circus

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A cat and a rat attend a circus hosted by a parasite.
A typical Monday night, am I right?

Come see this exciting new play by Bay Area playwright Katharine Sherman and directed by Rem Myers!

t. gondii presents the lovesickness circus plays four performances at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street):

Monday, April 18 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, April 19 @ 8:00pm
Monday, April 25 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, April 26 @ 8:00pm

As always, admission is FREE, with a $10 donation suggested at the door. No reservations required, but we suggest getting there early to get a good seat and remember to show your appreciation to our hosts at the bar!

See you at the Pub!

Get there early to enjoy PianoFight’s full bar and menu!

Theater Around The Bay: Tonya Narvaez Talks Rainbows

Our next show opens a week from tonight and it’s not secret that people are already a little obsessed with it. We sat down with author/director Tonya Narvaez to talk about just why people love Lisa Frank… and fear her… and why this show is another Theater Pub event that you can’t miss!

Tonya was told to submit a "fun" photo and here it is. Also it has two other cast members in it - Sam Bertken and Andrew Calabrese. Photo by Sam Bertken.

Tonya was told to submit a “fun” photo and here it is. Also it has two other cast members in it – Sam Bertken and Andrew Calabrese. Photo by Sam Bertken.

So, what’s this crazy show all about?

A young Lisa Frank finds a portal (in her bathroom) to The Wonderful World, where all her stuffed animals have come to life. She quickly discovers that everything is not as it seems. That the rules are different here. That even the cutest of characters can have a vicious streak.

Okay… and where did you get this idea?

Ashley Cowan and I were going to write a play together for the February show. It would be about love and dating and about how two people can have such different reads on the same experience. While developing the idea, I started talking about Lisa Frank with someone at PianoFight – I believe it was Megan Cohen. Suddenly the idea had morphed into a play about Lisa Frank on Tinder. This idea thrilled me, so I let myself fall into a Lisa Frank rabbit hole. I read everything I could find about her. She’s the most curious person. She’s guarded but outgoing, bubbly with a hint of sadness. Every article I read included quotes from former employees, who had terrible experiences working at the headquarters in Tucson. It seemed like there was a better story there. Better than imagining Lisa Frank on Tinder. So I decided to write a fictional origin story.

What does the cast think about this project? How are rehearsals going?

I am very fortunate to have this cast. Truly, they have been so game and so fantastic to work with thus far. Some amazing work has been done on these characters. They have taken every bit of information I’ve given them about Lisa Frank and about this strange, topsy-turvy world I’ve created and just ran with it.

When casting, did you ask people what their feelings on Lisa Frank are?

Yes! I asked for their “Favorite Lisa Frank image or character and why”. I received such a mixed bag of responses. Some people were genuinely interested in Lisa Frank characters and had childhood anecdotes to tell. Others were never really interested in Lisa Frank but sent their favorite Nihilisa Frank image. (http://nihilisa-frank.tumblr.com/)

What’s your own personal relationship/history with Lisa Frank? Do you have a favorite product?

I really liked some of the Lisa Frank imagery growing up but I thought I was too cool to admit it. I would make fun of it in passing, but secretly wanted a Trapper Keeper with dolphins and hearts and rainbows all over it.

What would you do if she showed up to the show?

I’m not entirely sure. My instinct says I would hide. My intellect says I would be really interested in what she thought of the show and would try to have a conversation with her about it.

When you write a play, what’s your process and how do you go about shaping a script?

I start with a really basic premise, like “Lisa Frank origin story a’la Wizard of Oz/Alice in Wonderland”. Then I do more research than is needed. Then I develop the characters and the world/s. Once I have a really solid cast of characters to begin with, I’m able to write pretty freely. There are times when I get stuck. When I do, I usually realize it’s because I didn’t build a character out enough, or am trying too hard to stick to some sort of “rule”. Or clinging on to something that isn’t as important as I think it is.

You’re also directing this. Is directing your own work something you like to do? How is directing your own play different from directing something someone else wrote?

I do like to direct my own work, but for selfish reasons. I like to be able to change the script to suit the cast. Or if I see something I’ve done is terrible, I can still change it early on in the process. Often times right then and there at rehearsal. I find it much more challenging to direct another person’s work. There isn’t as much liberty to be taken, and there has to be more structure to the development process. I think as I continue to grow as a writer and as a director this answer will change.

Any shout outs to the rest of the community and what else is going on?

Yes! I want to give shout outs to all the shows I missed because of this show and because of the move I just completed this weekend: Mousetrap at Shotgun Players, Of Serpents and Sea Spray at Custom Made, and Peer Gynt at The EXIT Theatre. And two shows I hope to see soon:

1. Anything from the new Undiscovered Works Series, part of Custom Made’s New Play Development Program. Tomorrow is their second offering at 7pm, “Truest” by Megan Cohen, directed by Ellery Schaar. At the Gallery Cafe – 1200 Mason Street, San Francisco. Free and open to the public, with a $5.00 suggested donation in support of new play development at Custom Made. Food, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase!

2. Killing My Lobster’s most recent offering, Sex Battle written and directed and performed by many people more hilarious than me. Pay What You Can: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sex-battle-pay-what-you-can-night-tickets-20912564042 or other nights: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sex-battle-tickets-20912351406

3. Tinderella from Faultline, because February deserves a Tinder play! Book by Rose Oser, Music by Christian B. Schmidt, Lyrics by Weston Scott and Directed by Rose Oser. http://www.faultlinetheater.com/#!tickets/cmt5

Don’t miss OVER THE RAINBOW, opening next Monday, only at Theater Pub!

Theater Around The Bay: So, Good Craic?

Meg O’Connor Trowbridge is here to sell you some good craic.

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Yes. It’s pronounced like crack. We’re hosting an event in the Tenderloin advertising Good Craic. Who knows what mayhem may ensue?!

Well… I do. I put this thing together. Back in December, Stuart Bousel asked if I was interested in being an Artistic Director for Theater Pub. Considering I have loved everything about Theater Pub since it’s inception, I jumped at the opportunity. Perhaps naively. When I quickly became overwhelmed looking at four months of programing, Stuart calmed me while also stoking the flames, saying: “It’s a gift and a curse – you can do whatever you want, but you have to do something.”

Whatever I want? Well, hows about a night devoted to turn-of-the-20th-century Irish playwrights accompanied with an Irish sing-a-long? Hows about a title that needs a translation? GOOD IDEA MEG!

I was born Meghan Kathleen O’Connor. My father’s side of the family is PROUD of our Irish roots. My granddad was a Grand Marshal in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Minneapolis. I was programmed to be drawn to Ireland. And, I had the fortune of living in Dublin when I was 20. How many times I was asked “what’s the craic?” ( what’s up?) or told that a party was going to be “good craic” (hella fun), I can’t keep count of. After 6 months, I fell in love with Ireland. This evening is a selfish trip back there.

Granted, we don’t actually have any Irish folks in the piece, and we’re completely BUTCHERING the pronunciation of towns and Gaelic names, but having a night to tell stories, sing songs, and drink Guinness and Jameson… well, that’s getting pretty close to the 6 months I spent in Dublin.

Come hear lesser-known scripts by Yeats, Lady Gregory, Sean O’Casey and John Millington Synge. Come get a Guinness freshly poured behind the PianoFight bar. Come hear me sing with a band of misfits thrown together for this very event (including a Brit! Oh sweet Irony!) It will be good craic.

Good Craic starts tonight at Theater Pub, and plays Monday and Tuesday of this week and next week. Find out more information HERE.

Theater Around The Bay: Opening One Week From Tonight!

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Theater Pub Celebrates the Playwrights of the Irish Literary Revival!

This July, Theater Pub celebrates the playwrights who brought the voice of the common people and the Irish language onto the stage: William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, Sean O’Casey and John Millington Synge. Conceived and Directed by Meg Trowbridge, each performance of July’s Theater Pub will feature one of these playwrights’ shorter, lesser-know works, and will be accompanied by traditional Irish tunes we all know (right?) for a good old fashioned sing-a-long.

Join us. It will be Good Craic*.

The show plays four performances at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street):

Monday, July 20
Tuesday, July 21
Monday, July 27
Tuesday, July 28

All performances are at 8 PM. As always, admission is FREE, with a $5 donation suggested at the door. No reservations required, but we recommend getting there early to get a good seat and remember to show your appreciation to our hosts at the bar!

Come early to PIANOFIGHT and try out their great new dinner menu!

See you at the pub!

*”Craic” (/kræk/ KRAK), is a term for news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation, particularly prominent in Ireland.