Gentrification is a frequent topic of conversation around these parts. However, recently it’s felt like the tone of these conversations has shifted, from one of righteous indignation, to that of resignation. Two years ago DT&D had the good fortune to interview Eric Reid, Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Theater MadCap, who also used to run CELLSpace/Inner Mission SF before it was lost to The Beast on Bryant. Eric, partially inspired by Theater MadCap’s displacement, teamed up with HBO Def Poet and Youth Speaks co-founder, Paul S. Flores, to produce You’re Gonna Cry, a one man show about gentrification in the Mission in the 90s. Their goal is to make the gentrification conversation a little more action oriented. So off we went to Union Square (since their art space was gentrified out of the Mission) for some Drama Talk and Drinks.
Katie: It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting it to be more innovative, with more spoken word and poetry.
Brittany: Yeah, it felt more like it was going for an Anna Deavere Smith vibe, lots of monologues around a theme. Some of the characters that were created were super compelling. I loved the immigrant mother with her daughter finding the old microwave on the street. Or the old women selling books. I wanted to know their stories. But despite some bright-spots, the pacing was off, and the show dragged for me.
K: The pacing was definitely a problem for me too. The transitions between the different characters took too long, and some of the staging was just wonky, like when he played all 3 characters at the same time. I don’t envy Flores, it’s not an easy show.
B: There were some technical problems with the TVs that were distracting too. This is a one man show, shit needs to be tight, and it wasn’t.
K: I appreciate what they are trying to do though, It’s important to have this dialogue. I also really appreciate that they had the post-show discussion with an activist. You want theater to inspire action, and it’s great they’re helping to direct people’s frustration about gentrification in positive ways.
The Verdict: The show needs some tightening, but the message is on-point. Making yourself a more empathetic and informed San Franciscan while supporting local theater is not a bad way to spend a night. Go and stay for the discussion at the end.
The Drama Talk: A play about gentrification in the Mission couldn’t even take place in the Mission because of gentrification. That’s pretty intense. The production itself could have been tighter. Slow transitions and some tech mishaps meant it lost some of its momentum and therefore emotional impact. MadCap’s website encourages audiences to “Come for the play. Stay for the discussion.” and we really appreciated the dialogue that happened after the show. Each night has a different local artists or activist who leads the post-show talk, so check the list below since discussion will vary dependent on who’s leading:
May 14th – Amy Farah Weiss – Homeless advocate.
May 15th – Norman will talk about wages and the struggle for gente to teach gente in the Mission.
May 20th – Adriana Camarena – Local Mission activist and author.
May 21st – Edwin Lindo – District 9 Supervisor candidate.
May 27th – Luna Malbroux – Comedienne/Community activist.
The Drinks: Afterwards we went to Benjamin Cooper, which was literally right next to the theater entrance. Exit the building, make a left, then an immediate second left into an unmarked door, up the stairs to a small cocktail bar. When you enter go right and head to the back, there are usually a place to sit. And after a discussion about SF’s housing crisis you will need a strong drink.
You’re Gonna Cry runs through May 28th at The Phoenix Theater. Tickets are available through the MadCap website and are $20.