We Built This City spotted this dude on 17th and Mission today.
On April 26th over a hundred local filmmakers took their cameras to the streets to document life in San Francisco over a 24 hour period. It was part of a new doc series from the people who made the feature length documentary One Day on Earth. One Day in SF was produced by local filmmaker Winnie Wong, and on the same day filmmakers in ten other cities around the US were participating simultaneously. I was out there with the BAYCAT crew, interviewing people in front of the Roxie and at The Secret Alley. The One Day on Earth team is putting all the pieces together for a 3-part documentary series that we’ll be hearing more about later in the year. You can see the locations of everyone’s videos and watch them on the interactive map, and I’ve included some selections below, mostly Mission-based.
Riding along with an ambulance for the night. Great night shots, and nice profiles of the EMTs:
Kind of has a perfect opening line:
Katie & Brittany saw the new show at the Magic, and it sounds pretty compelling. Also, good title.
by Christina Anderson
directed by Ryan Purcell
1896: the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. A father and son board a ship heading for Africa on a mysterious mission with an opinionated young woman. On the open sea, an unexpected detour resurrects family secrets and reveals true intentions, fundamentally changing the course of their journey and their lives forever. Magic is delighted to celebrate the return of playwright Christina Anderson, “whose work will be transforming America’s Stages for decades to come” (American Theatre Magazine) after her term as our 2011 Playwright in Residence.
Despite our weariness when it comes to trekking to the Marina, we keep going back to Magic Theatre at Fort Mason because they consistently produce inventive and professional shows. They might not always be to our taste, but they are always in good taste. As we overheard another patron say as we entered “Magic Theater is where you go when you want to see real theater.” The world premiere of Pen/Man/Ship by Christina Anderson stayed true to this trend.
Katie: I was entertained, I was invested in the characters, I wasn’t blown away, but I liked it. It was an intense story that was on the sad side, but it was really well done.
Brittany: I liked it too. It felt a little long though, especially the first act. It’s funny because most the time when shows don’t have an intermission it bothers me and I’m like “Ahh, give me a break, I need a break.” This is a show I feel like could have been cut down with no ill effect and done without an intermission. We lost a chunk of audience members at intermission, which is too bad for them because I thought the second act was really strong.
K: Yeah, It had really slow start but it picked up at the second act. The second act was intense. Overall, they cast really great actors and had an amazingly inventive set, lighting design and costumes.
B: It was set in an interesting time period, during the time of Jim Crow laws, after the emancipation of slaves, but slavery is still really fresh in a lot of people’s minds. The show took an interesting look at the hierarchy within the African American community, which doesn’t often get talked about in theater. Although it was definitely a show grappling with the African American experience, a lot of the themes and family drama it explored told a universal story too.
The Verdict: If you love drama this show doesn’t hold back in that department. Go see it, and stay for the second act. It takes a while for the story to warm up, but once it gets going it gets powerful.
The Drama Talk: Overall an entertaining, intense, well told story about a different time. As usual Magic doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to design. An impressive set, lighting and sound give the small cast just enough to set the scene, without distracting from their raw performances, especially the knockout performance by Adrian Roberts who played Charles.
The Drinks: If you haven’t been to Fort Mason’s Off the Grid on Friday nights this show is a great excuse to check it out. Grab a bite before the show and a drink and do some skee ball after the show. It really makes for an entertaining Friday night out. The night we went was pretty chilly, it’s almost Summer after all, so we both got warm spiced wine and stood under a heat lamp (of which there were plenty) while discussing the completely different world and time we just experienced.
Pen/Man/Ship runs through 6/15 at the the Magic Theatre, and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary from $20-$60 depending on where you sit.
Interview edition! Here’s Brittany and Katie’s report:
A few days after Brittany attended a Jazzy-Hip-Hop dance class at City Dance, a review request came across the DT&D desk (aka email) for a new musical, Mr. Irresistible, by D’Arcy Drollinger & Christopher Winslow. Still sore from all the booty-popping, Brittany recognized D’Arcy’s name as her fabulous dance instructor. We decided this would be the perfect opportunity to do a pre-show chat and get our groove on. So we donned our spandex and leg warmers, and went to D’Arcy’s Sunday Skool Sexitude dance class. After an hour and a half of sexitudeiness, we sat down with D’Arcy to get the scoop on his new show Mr. Irresistible that opens tonight!
Brittany: How did Mr. Irresistible come to be?
D’Arcy Drollinger: When I first moved to New York, I had a dare going with my friend. She was going to write a novel in 45 days, and I was going to write a full musical in 45 days, and so that’s actually when I started writing Mr. Irresistible, early in ’98. Flash forward to about a year ago, I had been talking with the artistic director at ODC, and I told her about this show I had never completed, and she liked the idea, so I began an artist residency at ODC. At the time I was also working on a different piece with Christopher Winslow, the composer of this show, a musical parody of Flowers in the Attic. So I asked him if he wanted to take a break from that and work on Mr. Irresistible. We spent six months tearing apart the old show, rewriting the songs and putting it back together. After readings at ODC, La Mama offered us a two week workshop in New York, which sold out, then we got a letter from SFAC that we got a seed grant to produce the show here and add in a lot more of the video elements, so we started looking for a theater.
Katie: Tell us a little about the show.
D’Arcy: This show starts as a real traditional musical, and then about ⅓ the way through it, it turns into a horror musical, when Mr. Irresistible starts killing everyone because he doesn’t understand metaphor. At the end, it turns into The Terminator, an action thriller with laser fights. It gets a little dark and heavy, but it’s still a happy ending.
K: I hate to be the person who asks this, but are there “concessions”?
D’Arcy: There are drinks, people can can buy booze before the show, and during intermission. Unfortunately it can’t come into the theater.
B: You’ve worked and lived in NY and SF, but made SF your homebase, how’s it working out for you? Is this a viable place to make a career as an actor or artist?
D’Arcy: I was born in San Francisco, and then in junior high we moved to Nevada City, so I grew up there. I came back to SF for college at SF State, then a few years after college I was transferred to New York for work. New York is such an industry. I was missing the lifestyle here. The food, the mellow pace. I love New York, especially for the theater and the dance, but it has been better for me to be a Bay Area local artist. I have a community here that rallies around what I do. I think that’s the great thing about San Francisco audiences, they really rally around things. I’ve been making a decent living here making theater, which is CRAZY. If I didn’t know anybody here, I don’t think this would be the first place I would come to do theater. As I’m sure you know, in the last couple years this place has become so expensive and so many small venues have had to close. But there’s a lot of community support that’s hard to get like somewhere in New York.
K: What do you think about the future of theater and arts in San Francisco?
D’Arcy: I wish places like Google and Twitter would invest in more nightlife experiences for people that work for them that aren’t just bars. To keep this as a first class city we can’t destroy the downtown underground arts scene, and only have the big touring shows and a bunch of bars and nothing in between. People want hip stuff to do. I did a lot to make Rebel into a cabaret space, because there wasn’t anything like that, and now someone bought the building and is turning it into condos. I’m working very hard with some partners to create a cabaret space within a bar, where we can have a little more security knowing the building won’t be sold out from under us. But we need more viable nightlife, and a place for smaller productions.
B: What is your hope for Mr. Irresistible next?
D’Arcy: I’ve done nine musicals, and in a way this feels like my most commercial venture. It’s wacky, it has the love story, the thriller aspect, you’ve got your gay characters, you’ve got your drag queens, you’ve got Joey the Exterminator who the straight guys can identify with, it’s got the Sci-Fi aspect so all the Sci-Fi nerds can geek out on that. I could see this being a fun regional show. Start with a bigger production here, and then tour it, but with San Francisco roots. I can’t wait to show it to everyone. I feel so fortunate.
Mr. Irresistible runs June 4 – 8, 2014, Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sunday at 7:00 pm at the Alcazar Theatre (650 Geary St. in SF). Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased on the Mr. Irresistible eventbrite page. There are also half priced tickets available on Goldstar. Even if you can’t make it out to this show, make sure to check out one of D’Arcy’s incredibly fun sex-positive dance classes, or another one of his many upcoming shows.
Show love for your Bay Area actors, and do your part to keep SF a first-class arts city.
Fun DT&D fact: Katie, Brittany and I work together at BAYCAT, and one of the most famous shots in cinema history, the hallway shot from The Right Stuff, was shot in the hallway right outside our door. Legend goes that Walter Murch (personal hero of mine) was editing right here in the Dogpatch’s Northern AIC building, and they needed a pick up shot of the astronauts walking in slo-mo to really capture the gravitas. I did a little comparison as “proof” back in 2006, with myself as a piss poor stand in for the mightiest of hero shots.
Anyway, Sam Shepard was nominated for an Oscar® for his role in that film, as Chuck Yeager, the first human to break the sound barrier. Last week Katie & Brittany saw the Magic’s newest take on Shepard’s works. Here’s their report:
Sam Shepard, playwright, actor, director and Patti-Smith-ex, is turning 70. As part of Magic Theatre’s “Sheparding America” festival (Shepard was a playwright in residence at the Magic Theatre in the 70’s), Bay Area theaters are producing a series of shows that celebrate this great American playwright. While other productions are honoring Shepard by performing his plays, Word for Word member Amy Kossow decided to do something a little different. Taking a year to sift through five of Mr. Shepard’s collections of short stories, Kossow created 36 Stories by Sam Shepard, which weaves together Sam Shepard’s shorts about America’s desert highways into a single piece about a writer’s struggle as he searches for inspiration.
Word for Word’s production of 36 Stories by Sam Shepard, at Z Below 5/21/14 through 6/22/14. L to R: Carl Lumbly, Rod Gnapp. Photo by Mark Leialoha
The Writer (Rod Gnapp) has a philosophical discussion with the spirit of the severed head (Carl Lumbly).
Brittany: It was artsy, so I liked it. But, I thought the way the piece was constructed was a bit problematic. It was essentially a play about about a writers’ struggle, but I didn’t care as much about the writer’s struggle, as I cared about the stories he was telling. All the actors were great, and I thought the piece as a whole was really well done. Rod Gnapp did an amazing job with a character I didn’t think was compelling. But it was a little hard to stay fully engaged when the stories kept switching. That being said, I thought it was a really good production, and some of the actors’ individual performances were really remarkable, especially getting to see their range as they played different roles.
Katie: The actors were great but that didn’t help me to care about what was happening. It just didn’t work for me. I don’t know Brittany….I guess I just don’t get it because I just don’t understand how this is entertaining…maybe I just don’t know Sam Shepard enough. The set and the staging were good though. The actor who played guitar was really good and really cute. They should have just turned Sam Shepard’s short stories into songs and he could of just been on stage the whole time singing. I’d be into that shit.
B: I would say if you are interested in seeing a very well acted series of stories, you should go.
K: I would say skip this one.
The Verdict: If you enjoy poetic language and are interested in seeing it very well acted out in a series of stories, this is the show for you. If you know, and like, Sam Shepard’s writing, this is the show for you. If neither of those things apply, this is not the show for you.
The Drama Talk: This is a Bay Area all-star cast. It was well staged, and well performed. Word for Word does plays word-for-word, this means reading stage directions as well, so be prepared for that. Although Shepard’s stories themselves are intriguing, the piece which is used to tie them together is not as strong as its parts.
The Drinks: Everything Sam Shepard writes is a little dark, so after an evening of All-American ennui, we decided to go in for some All-American fun and check out Urban Putt. Brittany got the Seasonal Shandy and Katie got a Calimocho (red wine and Coke, classy), and we watched the many revelers (who waited in line for over an hour on a Wednesday to play putt-putt) take in a Bay Area fantasyland.
36 Stories by Sam Shepard runs through 6/22 at the Z Below, and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary from $30-$55 depending on how close you are to the stage, but it’s a small theater so any seat is good. There are also ½ price tickets available on Goldstar.
The first bar I ever went to (besides with my dad as a kid) was the Uptown. It was a great experience, just what I always thought a bar would be like: Dark, damp and a little scary. I felt totally at home. Last week the owner, Scott Ellsworth, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. I didn’t know Scott that well, but the couple times we talked he was always really friendly, and very supportive of the weird artsy place my buddies and I were building across the street. He ran a bar that didn’t have a cocktail program or a dress code. He ran a bar where you could sit down, have a shot and a beer and chat with familiar regulars. Inside the Uptown I’ve stored paintings during a scavenger hunt art show, made business deals, broken up fights, maybe gotten in a fight, tried in vain to get up the nerve to talk to a girl, watched my team dominate the World Series, and seen Sean Penn close it down.
The Bold Italic has a great tribute to him today, which would have been his 60th birthday.
In 2011, when I posted a picture of “KiTOS”, the letters on the back of the bar, Scott wrote in to tell us that it stood for the previous owner’s names, Kim and Tony. Let’s just say now it stands for “Keep in Touch, Ol’ Scott.”
Brittany & Katie went to a show at Z-Below, and they seemed to have appreciated it, though not quite to the point of actual enjoyment . . .
Pictured left to right: Tamar Cohn as Kay, Craig Souza as Carpenter, Donald Currie as Auden, Justin Lucas as Stuart, Kathryn Wood as George, and John Fisher as Britten in The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett, directed by John Fisher, a Theatre Rhinoceros production at Z Below
Photo by Kent Taylor.
Theater Rhinoceros, the (self-proclaimed) oldest queer theater in America, has a mission to “produce works of theatre that enlighten, enrich, and explore both the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of our queer community.” Although the description of Allen Bennett’s play The Habit of Art about British poet, W. H. Auden, and British composer Benjamin Britten, didn’t have us rushing to the box office, we were intrigued to see if the playwright who brought us The History Boys had an equally witty and enlightening take on what could be a very dry topic. So we returned to one of our favorite mission theater venues, Z-Below, to see what Theater Rhino had in store.
Brittany: It was very arty. The whole play within a play thing was interesting, but despite some strong actors, I don’t think they made the play within a play thing work. Some of my favorite moments were when they pulled back to the focus on the rehearsal, so I enjoyed it as a device, but they didn’t real nail it for me.
Katie: I really struggled through the first act, especially when they were acting like actors that didn’t know their lines and standing up there with scripts. I think the actors did the best with what they were given, but sometimes they would go in and out of their English accents and that was a little distracting to me. Jumping in and out of the play to the “rehearsal” gave me whiplash.
B: I think the other thing that’s hard is that the play they were rehearsing wasn’t a very good play, at least in my opinion. I really liked the woman who played the stage manager though (Tamar Cohn), she was great and her monologue at the end was really touching.
K: I wouldn’t say it was a bad production, I just feel that this show is for a theater person. If I sent my non-theater-going friends to this show they would never trust me again.
B: Yeah, some of the most charming jokes or scenes were the ones that were so specific that non-theater people wouldn’t get them. Definitely not a show for everyone.
The Verdict: If you’re a theater person, you’ll probably find the play within a play element of this show intriguing, and you’ll get all the rehearsal related jokes. If you’re familiar with W.H. Auden or Benjamin Britten, you’ll probably find this insight into their relationship, and their personal lives, interesting. Otherwise, skip it, this probably is not the show for you.
The Drama Talk: The play within the play is full of poetry, music and theatricality. An interesting story about two aging artists, no longer in their prime, and the young men who helped feed their artistic temperament (AKA male prostitutes and pre-pubescent choir boys). Jumping between the story found in the play, and the rehearsal of that play, made the emotional through line fall short (as Katie said, whiplash inducing). The rehearsal elements of the show, however, are some of the most endearing and are definitely where the humor is found. Despite some strong actors, and a well designed set that makes the sometimes cramped theater feel much bigger, this piece falls into the category of only-for-the-artsy-types.
The Drinks: We went to nearby Benders for their free afternoon Sunday BBQ. Brittany got a dirty martini (since they were drinking martinis during the show) and Katie got her usual rum and coke. What better way to unpack an highbrow play than with some lowbrow BBQ.