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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!