Drama Talk & Drinks: Role Call – “Am I supposed to be impressed with how actorly you can be?”

We have never seen a show from the company FoolsFURY so we were excited to learn about their new show Role Call, which is comprised of two new one-woman shows by local theater artists. The first piece Sheryl, Hamlet and Me, written and performed by Michelle Haner “explores the costs of ambition in the digital era.” The second piece (dis)Place[d], written and performed by Debórah Eliezer, “tells her story as the child of a first-generation immigrant to America ‘caught between cultures.’” We have also never been NOH Space where the pieces were being performed. So we headed to Potrero Hill for for some new experiences and drama talk and drinks.

Debórah Eliezer, left, and Michelle Haner, right. Photo by Wendy Yalom

Debórah Eliezer, left, and Michelle Haner, right. Photo by Wendy Yalom

Brittany: I wish I could say something positive, because I really want to support female voices, local playwrights and small scale theater. Both of these shows were  just so out of touch with what most people would want to watch, I just don’t think I can recommend it.

Katie: Yeah, I completely agree…I don’t know what else to say right now. I didn’t connect with either piece… at times they almost felt like parodies of one-woman shows. Both scripts were all over the place, they never let me fully connect to the stories they were trying to tell. And a big personal pet peeve, both of the actors did characters that had accents which were inconsistent.

B: Yeah, there were tons of little messy things like that which took me out of both pieces, but I think the biggest challenges with both of these plays is they tried to do too much. The second play (dis)Place[d] had some good moments, and I liked the concept of telling this very personal story about her father’s life to explore her complicated Jewish-Arab identity. However, she tried to play too many characters, and wasn’t able to do them all well, which detracted from the story. Also that bizarre, poetic desert-goddess character really took me out of it.

K: Yeah, I could have definitely done without that, and the weird recorded voice with the echo effect with the over the top movement.  I did love when she (Debórah Eliezer) sang though, she has a beautiful voice. A simpler telling of the same story would have been so much better.

B: Then the first piece, Sheryl, Hamlet, and Me, I didn’t enjoy at all. Sometimes actors take themselves way too seriously, and this play is a perfect example of how out of touch theater can feel when that happens. I studied acting, so I get where the breathing and stylized movement come from, but when taken to this extreme it just feels self indulgent. Am I supposed to be impressed with how actorly you can be? She made a few good points about how is Facebook creepy, but it wasn’t that insightful. It almost felt like she realized she had to make a point that people could connect with, and so she decided to pander to tech hating in the Bay Area since that’s an easy target.

K: Yeah, I don’t really know what she was going for, but I didn’t connect to this piece at all. If you could come for just one of the shows (dis)Place[d] felt like it had potential, but Sheryl, Hamlet and Me I’d definitely skip.

The Verdict: Not a show we would recommend for non-theatergoers. Maybe not even a show we would recommend for frequent theatergoers, although it is always interesting to see new plays by local female playwrights.

The Drama Talk: While it’s clear both of the women who created and performed these shows are talented, we didn’t particularly enjoy either of these plays. They try to do too much, they indulge in overly stylized techniques to the detriment of their stories, and they just weren’t that engaging. With some major edits (dis)Place[d] could be a really lovely piece. While Sheryl, Hamlet and Me tried some interesting techniques with video, the story just wasn’t there. We didn’t care about any of the characters (Sheryl Sandberg, Hamlet or the playwright as herself), and so we didn’t really care about the play.

The Drinks: We checked out Darger Bar, which was once Dear Mom. We liked the reboot. Still a lot of seating and relaxed atmosphere but a better drink and food menu.

Role call plays until October 22nd at NOH Space. Tickets are available on their website for $30. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar for $15.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Mineola Twins – “Ridiculously relevant”

Fall theater season is upon us, which means lots of great new shows to see around the Bay Area. Cutting Ball Theater’s first show of their 17/18 season just opened at the Exit Theater on Taylor. The Mineola Twins, by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel, is a “razor sharp satire about domestic upheaval in times of political progress and in the rise of conservatism”. It sounded like a pretty timely topic, so we headed over the the TL for some drama talk and drinks.

Elissa Beth Stebbins as Myra (right), Steve Thomas (left) and Sango Tajima (center) Photo by Liz Olson

Elissa Beth Stebbins as Myra (right), Steve Thomas (left) and Sango Tajima (center) Photo by Liz Olson

Katie: That was so interesting! What a cool story! I wish I went in knowing a little bit more about the script. Usually I like to be surprised, but this was such a smart show, I think may have gotten more out of the first few scenes if I had known more about the story.

Brittany: I really liked it. The woman who played the twins (Elissa Beth Stebbins) was amazing. She played each sister so well I honestly couldn’t tell at first if there were two different but nearly identical looking actors, or just one amazing actor playing both roles. Turns out it was just one incredibly talented person, but her physicality was so good each character was totally distinct.

K: Yes, she was remarkable. It was such an interesting show too. I was constantly curious about where the story was going to go next.  It is ridiculously relevant to what the country is going through now and it’s a play that was written in the 90s. I think it did such a great job at creatively exploring the left versus right, conservative versus liberal.

B:  Yes it’s super timely. It also makes you reflect on your own beliefs, and that feeling of superiority that comes with feeling you have the moral high-ground. It’s great to see a play that reveals so much about the division in our society without hitting the audience over the head with politics too. It was just a compelling story about twins, who while they couldn’t be more different, still are the same.

The Verdict: Go see it! Great actors and a super relevant script make it an enjoyable thought-provoking evening.

The Drama Talk: Even though this play was written in the 90s it couldn’t feel more contemporary and in-tune with the political turmoil happening today. Cutting Ball Theater always does really relevant work, but their artistic director did a great job picking this play for this season. Beyond a great script the lead actor Elissa Beth Stebbins was remarkable. It’s worth going just to see her performance. While there were some nitpicky things that we didn’t love, the show as a whole was so engaging nothing could really detract.

The Drinks: A block from the Exit on Theater, is a chill cocktail bar in the Tilden Hotel called The Douglas Room. It has great cocktails and delicious well priced snacks. We also love that they had plenty of seating the two times we have gone. It was a great place to debrief about this thought provoking show.

The Mineola Twins plays through October 29th the Exit on Taylor. Tickets range are $35 and can be purchased on their website. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar for $15-$20.

Drama Talk & Drinks on BFF.fm Roll Over Easy

Yesterday Drama Talk & Drinks sat down for coffee with our friends on the Roll Over Easy show on BFF.fm to talk about the theater scene in SF.

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What’s Roll Over Easy you ask?:

Roll Over Easy is a radio show that’s all about starting your day off right. We take you from under the covers to after coffee every Thursday morning, and along the way we’ll give you plenty of good tunes and fun conversation about the City you know and love. 

Our hope is that by the end each show you’ll be a bit more knowledgeable about San Francisco, and hopefully a bit more in love with it too. Our show takes place in a fictional diner and is made from one part us, one part you, and a dash of coffee.

So if you’re waking up next to your babe or if Muni is making you late for the 4th time this week, let Sequoia & The Early Bird serenade you with the sweet sounds of a proper San Francisco good morning. 

If you ever wondered what your DT&D writers sounded like in-person here’s your chance! Our interview begins roughly mid-way through the episode (at the 1:06 mark) – but give the whole show a listen for lots of SF love.

Drama Talk & Drinks: A Tale of Autumn – “A long philosophy lesson”

Bay Area Obie award-winning playwright Christopher Chen‘s latest work, A Tale of Autumn, just had its’ world premiere at Potrero Stage. One of DT&D favorite theater companies, Crowded Fire Theater, commissioned the work “a psychological rise-to-power fable”, so we knew we wanted to check it out for Drama Talk & Drinks.

Lawrence Radecker as Dave (left) and Shoresh Alaudini as Gil (right)  Photo by Cheshire Isaacs

Lawrence Radecker as Dave (left) and Shoresh Alaudini as Gil (right)
Photo by Cheshire Isaacs

Katie: What just happened? I was so excited for this show, and that was just…meh.

Brittany: I feel bad. For the first act I was like, “cool, I’m with you”. There were some good actors, a smart script exploring some cool concepts, but I wish it ended at the end of the first act. I mean, I know it didn’t make sense as an ending, but the whole second act felt like a long philosophy lesson. It totally lost momentum.

K: I agree, I just felt like the story could have been more concise. It was like we were being hit over the head with the concept that the ends can’t justify the means. Cool I get it. How is this helping to move the story along? There were a lot of words coming at me and it didn’t help me connect to the characters. A strong story is really important to me, without that I just stop caring.

B:  It wasn’t like the people in it weren’t talented, or the set wasn’t cool, the set was really cool. It was just over written. You can make a point without jamming it down people’s throats.

K: I agree. I don’t think I’ll be telling friends to run out and see this one, but I have for multiple other Crowded Fire shows. This is a piece that seems like it could use some work.

B: Love Crowded Fire though, they always do interesting, innovative work. This one was a bit too much like a lecture.

The Verdict:  If you are a Bay Area theater nerd, you should probably see it. Christopher Chen is a prominent local playwright, and this is the world premiere of his latest work. Otherwise, if you aren’t really into Bay Area theater and having your pulse on the local theater scene, this is probably one you can skip.

The Drama Talk: This is such a promising play, but needs some edits to live up to its potential.  There were lots of cool and smart things A Tale of Autumn explores  -  like what is the line between selfishness and self care, and should we as a society trust “benevolent” companies, but the story gets lost in the philosophizing in the second act. While this show has lots of bright moments, a cool set, and some great actors, it just collapsed under its own weight.

The Drinks: As always after a show at the Potrero Stage, we headed up the hill to Blooms for some drinks with a view.

A Tale of Autumn plays through October 7th at the Potrero Stage. Tickets range from $15-35 and can be purchased on their website. The company also offers the following discounts: Student Tickets are always $15! (Please bring i.d.). Seniors (65+), TBA/TCG Members: $3 off at checkout.Groups of 5 or more receive an automatic 15% savings at checkout

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A night out in the Mission

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Local Livejournal user Honey Jets tells us about a busy night out in a 2-block area of the Mission:

Elisa and Jane met me at Jono’s place at about 5:30. I put my shoes on while we watched Jojo’s video on Vimeo, and then we headed toward the Make-Out Room. Jane had to wait in line for a while to get her hand stamp, so Elisa and I walked around trying to figure out where to eat. Elisa didn’t want anything greasy or fried or containing dairy, so Wes Burger was out, Mission Chinese was out, Escape from New York was out, and F.O.B. Kitchen was out. We settled on Mateo’s. Jess met us there. I ran into Amy and a friend on my way to the salsa bar and we talked about meeting at Doc’s Clock after. On our way out of Mateo’s we ran into Omar and a friend, and we caught up for about half a block. At Make-Out Room Jonathan Richman was pretty good, and we ran into Joe. During the break, Joe and I talked outside about how he, me, Jess and Will had all been in Nashville recently. I told my “P.G. band” story, and he told me a cool story about how English people are different from Americans. After the encore, Jess and I headed for the New Mission. At the bar we ran into Mike and chatted for a minute, mostly about how good he is at his job. Upstairs we waved at Dave and Atousa who were in the row in front of us. Wild Beasts was as gnarly as promised, if not gnarlier. Terror Tuesday rules. After the movie we said bye to Mike, and then to Jess who went home to go to sleep. We joined up with Dave’s friend Brendan and went to Doc’s. Kevin was there already and we talked for a minute about how the new Doc’s is pretty good. Dave and company had gotten a table, so I joined them and we talked about the movie, at length. Dave and Atousa bickered a little (in a cute way) about fried chicken, we talked about plans for Friday, and then I strolled home, and ‘grammed an arty photo of the median on Guerrero in the moonlight.

I think it’s supposed to be a throwback to posts like this and this from July 2011, which in turn were I think some kind of homage to our dear departed Janebook.

Read on for a brief epilogue about the following morning. (And do go to all those restaurants, and do check out Amy’s blog about the Mission and Omar’s cookies and Mike’s Terror Tuesday lineup and new Doc’s Clock.)

The Salesforce awakens

Local artist Steve MacDonald aka Ramblin Worker says:

#sanfrancisco is getting so crazy! I look out my window & I really thought it was the #deathstar

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[Link]

Puke plea

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[via Doc Pop]

Now please enjoy all these other pleas…

Cool first page of a book

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[via Molly Young]

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Encounter – “like nothing I have ever seen.”

Ever since the Curran’s grand-reopening earlier this year, the theater has been bringing some serious theater game, living up to their mission of “presenting bold, daring work”. Their latest show, The Encounter, promised audiences an “epic journey” through the use of the latest in 3D audio technology. Actor and director Simon McBurney’s one-man-show takes audiences into the Amazon rainforest, following the story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre.  We had a feeling that this was going to be something special, so off we went for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks.

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Simon McBurney in THE ENCOUNTER (Photo by Gianmarco Bresadola)

Katie: This was like nothing I have ever seen. That in itself was magical. There were moments where I could feel myself making a crazy face and thinking “what’s happening, this is so cool”. I have just never experienced storytelling in that way. He (Simon McBurney) was an amazing actor and storyteller. Then you throw in what he did with sound design and it made it a recipe for awesomeness. It was one man on a very bare stage but I really felt taken away.

Brittany: Yeah, it was mesmerizing. It’s also an interesting juxtaposition. On one hand he’s using the story of encountering this remote tribe in the Amazon to critique the consumerism and technological dependence of modern Western society. At the same time, the way he’s able to transport you on this journey is through the use of this amazing audio technology and lighting. There are a few groups in the environmental movement who are exploring how you can use technology to build deeper empathy and concern for places like the Amazon rainforest. That certainly was one goal of this show. While I don’t know if I came away with a concrete way to change my behavior, aside from shunning bottled water, but it certainly gave me a deeper experience of the rainforest. It was a very innovative way to engage people.

Katie: The show presented a lot of interesting questions and ideas on the environment and generally on life. I appreciated the way it encouraged us to challenge our perceptions about the truthfulness of stories we tell, what it means to be alive, and what we should value.

Brittany: Also major kudos to the Curran. When we were walking out I was thinking how unique it is to see a piece like this in a theater this size. It was amazing to see this on a big scale. One little person on this great big stage and he was able to fill it. I feel like you don’t get the opportunity to do that very often. And it was mesmerizing for the 2 full hours.

Katie: I’d have to say that the Curran is really sticking to their promise to be bold and different. I’ve seen some really cool and innovative theater there. Looking forward to seeing what they do next.

The Verdict: SO cool! A very unique and mesmerizing experience. Go! Go now!

The Drama Talk: Simon McBurney did an incredible job transporting the audience to another place. He gets in your head, or at least your ears, through the use of  3D audio technology that is served directly to each audience member via personal headphones found at each seat. The masterful sound design is at once intimate and immersive. The story takes the audience to the Amazon rainforest and the sound design makes you feel surrounded by the jungle, the river, the mosquitos and the swirling voices of the story being told. Technically speaking it was incredible, but beyond the flashy technology, it also was just great storytelling.

The Drinks: A block away from the theater on Geary we checked out the Pineapple Bistro and Bar in the Alise San Francisco hotel. It was a great choice because is was practically empty with plenty of seating and great service. There were lots of pineapple everything, and Katie’s drink even came in a brass pineapple, which felt appropriately jungle themed after an evening in the Amazon.

The Encounter runs through May 7th at the Curran. Tickets are $49-$185 and can be purchased on the Curran’s website.