Drama Talk & Drinks: The Golden Girls

Katie & Brittany are back just in time to review a true holiday classic, Golden Girls Christmas episodes performed live and in drag. If you ask me, that Sophia below looks pretty amazing. Here’s their report:

Haul out the holly and tack up the tinsel, Christmas has come to the Mission. When we agreed to check out the opening weekend of The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes we had no idea what a following this show had. We arrived at the Victoria Theater to a line stretching almost to Mission Street of people hoping to snag a seat to the sold out show. Once inside the theater we were welcomed by a beautiful drag queen who offered us peach fizz shots. The merriness was palpable. The lights went down, the Golden Girls Theme song began, and the audience burst into song. We now know why everyone is going gaga for the Golden Girls.

Katie: If you like the Golden Girls you are going to fucking love this because those four drag queens nailed it! What an entertaining and fun show. The secondary actors should have been better, but what can you do.

Brittany: The ladies’ timing was remarkable. At first I was a little bit worried – were they going to honor the Golden Girls? Or were they going to make it too corny? I was pleasantly surprised that they found a perfect balance of the two. There were some missed opportunities, but overall a really fun night.

K: Yeah, it would have been great to actually see the commercials they played in between scenes and not just hear the audio. It would have been awesome if they were projected, or better yet if they had reenacted the commercials. That would have really upped the production value.

B: So true! They really captured the holiday spirit though, right down to the shopping frenzy. The audience was having a great time, it was full of Christmas sparkle.

K: And so much glitter, such great costumes. The gaudy Christmas sweaters and brooches, ahh so good.

B: At the end when the actresses came out to give the birthday people in the audience a lap dance the man sitting next to me turned to me and said “This is the strangest thing I have seen in my life”. I don’t know if I agree with that, but you sure don’t get to see a 90-year-old get a birthday lap dance from a drag queen dressed as Blanche everyday.

 

The Verdict: This is exactly how San Francisco brings in the holiday cheer. Drinking, drag queens, and reenacted Christmas specials from an ’80s TV show, what’s not to like? If you enjoy the Golden Girls you will definitely love this drag queen tribute.

The Drama Talk: The length was great. They did two episodes, with an intermission, in under two hours. This show is POPULAR, so be sure to get your tickets early, and get to the theater early. We were lucky and had seats Orchestra level. The balcony at The Victoria is steep, and far less comfortable, so get to the theater early to grab some seats and shots before the show.

The Drinks: The only way to cap off a night of drag queens in the Mission is with more drag queens, obviously. We headed over to Esta Noche for some post-show cocktails. We were not the only show-goers who thought this way, and there was quite the crowd who paid the $5 cover to keep the fun going. We got some margaritas and settled in for the 11:30pm drag show. Another successful evening of drama talk and drinks.

The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes shows at the Victoria Theater on 16th Street and Capp, and runs Thurs-Sun until December 22nd, so you only have two more weekends to check out this show. Tickets are $30 (involving a two part purchase with $15 going over Eventbrite and $15 at the door- don’t ask us why) and can be reserved online.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Urge for Going

With Katie out of town, Brittany took a date and followed up with a commenter to see a new play last week. Here’s her dispatch from the press seats:

David Allen]

A Drama Talk & Drinks reader, connected to Golden Thread Productions, invited us via our comments section to their newest play, the west-coast premiere of Urge for Going, at Z Below in the Mission. Katie was out of town this weekend, but we didn’t want to let a show go unreviewed, or a comment go unanswered. So Brittany decided to enlist the help of a guest reviewer for this installment of Drama Talk & Drinks. Sam Clay, her boyfriend, grew up in a Ukrainian-Jewish household. He also has a theater minor. So who better to take to a show about a young Palestinian girl growing up in a Lebanese refugee camp?

Sam: I thought it was a good show. I thought the text was an excellent place to start, and I enjoyed the world the playwright created.

Brittany: There were definitely parts of the script I liked, but one of the problems with this play, is it was based around a teenager’s conflict with her parents. Part of that was good, because that  made it a more relatable story. What teenager doesn’t fight with their parents? This script placed that everyday conflict in a heightened environment which was interesting. At the same time it was a teenager arguing with her parents. Which is just annoying to watch.

S: It was a universal conflict, and I related to it. Also, on the Jewish side, they talk about all these same struggles, just from a different perspective, and hearing this perspective was interesting for me.

B: I thought the set was very well done. The sense of claustrophobia they were able create, because Z Below is such a small space, worked really well for this play. Definitely one the things driving the conflict between the characters is this sense of claustrophobia. Six people stuck living together in one small room, and they can’t get away from each other. It felt like there wasn’t enough room to breath. They created that atmosphere very well.

S: There was something I really liked about the interplay between the characters, particularly the father, Adham, and his brother Hamzi. It reminded me of my family. Getting a little personal, my family is a family of Jewish immigrants. I was the first to not have to live with three generations in the same apartment. So I saw a lot of parallels in the way the play’s family treats each other, which I enjoyed.

B: Yeah, when they were interacting as a family, despite a few line-hiccups, they seemed really believable. The relationships between the characters felt genuine, and you could tell they took time developing the back-stories between the characters, so it had a sense of history. When they broke the 4th wall and went into the chorus sections, I don’t think it worked.

S: I agree with you, I want to stay positive though, because overall I think it was good. I think it’s well done and an important story to hear. I would recommend it to anyone who asks.

 

The Verdict: Overall an interesting show. Strong believable relationships between the characters, combined with a well done set design, make the show engaging. Although some of the more theatrical elements, such as the chorus, don’t quite work. If you’re interested in seeing a play about a story rarely told, go check this out.

The Drama Talk: Although there are moments that the actors get indulgent, this play paints a vibrant picture of a family struggling to live together as they long for more. Although the conflict between the teenage girl Jamila (played by Camila Betancourt Ascencio) and her parents feels universal, placing this conflict in a Palestinian refugee camp makes it interesting. Golden Thread Productions “is dedicated to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities as expressed around the globe . . . [their] mission is to make the Middle East a potent presence on the American stage and a treasured cultural experience.” This play does a good job opening an audience’s eyes to the everyday struggles of a Palestinian family stuck in a country that doesn’t want them, with nowhere else to call home.

The Drinks: We tried to go to Trick Dog for drinks, which is a silly thing to try to do on a Friday night. So we ended up at Southern Pacific Brewing Company. Brittany got the California Blonde, and Sam got the Pale Ale, and cheered to a enjoyable night at the theater.

Urge for Going runs until December 8th, in repertory with 444 Days, a play written by Golden Thread Productions’ Artistic Director, at Z Below. Tickets range from Pay-What-You-Can on Thursdays to $35, with discounts available for students and seniors. You can also get a two play pass for $45. All available through the Golden Thread Productions website.

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: Porgy and Bess

Brittany and Katie are on a roll, seeing some really great theater around town. Here’s their review of Porgy and Bess:

After speed dating the cast and creatives of the touring cast of Porgy and Bess, now playing at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater, we were excited to see them in action. Donning our Julia-Roberts-in-Pretty-Women opera wear, we headed to the theater for some Drama Talk and Drinks.

Katie: I liked it (laughs) . . . I mean opera isn’t my favorite, but I really enjoyed this story. Everyone was really talented and I cared a lot about the characters. I was moved by this play.

Brittany: I think what was remarkable about this production is that they did such a good job of making the opera really raw. They brought a slightly more contemporary way of singing to some songs, which I liked, but it still honored the opera tradition. If you are a purist, some of these numbers may not sound like you remember, but I think it translates well for a new musical theater audience. The way they brought the wailing and the opera together. Their crying was singing, and their singing was crying, and I loved that.

K: Yeah, The music was beautiful. The struggle really spoke to me. The love between Porgy and Bess – I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m a closeted hopeless romantic – that story kept me engaged. All I can say is it was passionate and beautiful, everything I think an opera wants to be.

B: It was a beautiful production. The costumes were beautiful. ESosa created clothing that made the actors look great. The lighting was my favorite part. I thought it was perfectly done, and did such a good job of directing your attention in subtle ways. I thought every single one of the actors had a deep and awesome backstory, and it was great to see those develop throughout the show.

 

The Verdict: This is a beautiful revival. If you aren’t an opera person, this could be a good way to get your feet wet. It has the operatic qualities, but also falls back on the Gershwins’ jazz influences throughout the production. If you’re a Porgy and Bess purist be warned, this production moves a lot faster than the original opera, which may not be a welcome change (it wasn’t for the Porgy and Bess superfan we went with, although he still enjoyed the show). If you really can’t stand opera, Porgy and Bess probably isn’t for you no matter how good or short the production. The folks we chatted up at Mr. Smith’s after the show were admittedly not opera people, and haven’t been to a musical in years. They were significantly less impressed than we were.

The Drama Talk: Porgy and Bess started as a book that explored the Gullah culture and the lives of African American fisherman on “Catfish Row” in South Carolina. The story was first turned into a play, then Gershwin turned it into an American folk opera in 1935. Many opera companies were uncomfortable staging it because Gershwin insisted it be played by black performers, so it was first performed as a musical. This revival honors that history, from it’s Gullah roots to its civil rights undertones, rounding out with 1930s jazz influences. In doing so it creates a layered and beautiful production of this classic American opera.

The Drinks: Mr. Smith’s is right around the corner from SHN’s Golden Gate theater, on the corner of 7th and Market. But despite it’s convenient location, the trek through Mid-Market is evidently too much for many theater goers, because they were empty and about to close when we arrived after the show. The bouncer, Jerry, and bartender, Mike, were true gems, and invited us in for a final drink. We had delicious craft made cocktails, Brittany got the Marmalade Sour and Katie got the 7th Street Gimlet, and we had a great conversation with a few fellow audience members about the show and theater in San Francisco. That’s what’s great about mixing theater and drinking, it brings strangers together.

Porgy and Bess runs through December 8th at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater. All tickets are subject to dynamic pricing based on demand, but prices seem to range from $40 – $210, and are available through the SHN website.

 

Porgy and Bess Pre-Show Cocktails – Speed Dating

In anticipation of an upcoming Drama Talk & Drinks review of Porgy and Bess, Katie and Brittany got to chat with the cast and crew, here’s their report:

When we got invited to a pre-show event for Porgy and Bess, opening at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater, we weren’t sure what to expect. We were, however, told there would be free drinks, so of course we went. This special event for SHN subscribers and Press, featured a talk from the Director and one of the show’s producers, as well as a sneak peek behind the scenes of a tech rehearsal. For press it also featured a speed-dating-like round robin of interviews with the Cast and Creatives. Crammed into our little post-it assigned space in the back of the theater against the wall between “Fashionista Lab” and “The Bold Italic”, we had 5 minutes with each interviewee to get the important questions answered. We were pretty nervous, since this is not the kind of thing we usually do, but we are always down for potentially humiliating and awkward yet interesting situations. So we prepped like any speed dater would, and rehearsed our 3 burning questions to get the conversation started: Why are they excited to be in our great city? What’s it like to work on Gershwin’s iconic American folk opera? And why should people come see it?

After some drama talk and drinks here are the highlights from our dates.

Interview date #1: ESosa (Costume Designer who was featured on Project Runway Season 7)

On SF: What I like about SF, coming from New York, is that it’s a walkable city and I love to walk. And the food here is amazing!

On The Show: As a designer I like to work on new things so Porgy and Bess is the first revival I’ve ever worked on. For me theatre design and fashion design are two sides of the same coin and I approach it the same way. I want to make my characters look good, feel good, and be able to tell their story.

Interview date #2: Roosevelt Andre Credit (Fisherman)

On SF: I was born and raised in Oakland and went to Skyline High School. I now live in New York, so I’m excited to be back in the Bay.

On the show: What Diane Paulus (the Director) did was take the opera, which is four and a half hours, and made it short enough to go on Broadway, because you have to have a show in three hours or less. We really wanted to focus in on the story and this story definitely translates to today.

Interview date #3: Kent Overshown (Mingo, the Undertaker, u/s Porgy)

On SF: I grew up in Oakland but I moved to New York 3 years ago but I wish I was still here honestly. I’m not a fan, but it’s where the business is most lucrative, but there is nothing like the Bay Area.

On the show: Unlike most theatre this isn’t about the spectacle, it’s not about this grandiose thing. It’s not above life, it is life. It’s about community. How we communicate with each other, how we struggle together and the challenges we face together. How we celebrate together as well. I think it’s an important story because people feel alienated by the theater especially young people but this is our story and they need to see it.

Interview date #4: Nathaniel Stampley (Porgy)

On SF: This is my first time here. I’m loving San Fran already [Ed. Note: Oops.], I was so excited to hear we were opening the show here. There is so much history and culture here, it’s such a great city.

On the Show: I think the biggest thing about this production is we are introducing this show to a younger audience and I think it’s in a way that they’re going to absolutely love. It’s two and a half hours. I think any night you are listening to Gershwin is a good night. If you have ears and you are alive you are going to love this show.

 

The Verdict: Our speed-dating-like round robin of interviews was fun but (let’s be honest) stressful. If we had to chose our favorite date Brittany would chose Kent, because who can say no to that deep seeded Bay Area love and Katie was all about ESosa because he’s into the amazing San Francisco food just as much as she is.

The Drama Talk: Based on the very little we saw of the tech-rehearsal, and our conversations with the actors, it sounds like this is a very fresh and real take on this beautiful show. We’re excited to see it and report back to you soon.

The Drinks: SHN knows how to treat their subscribers right. Open bar before a sneak peek tech-rehearsal? Yes please!

Drama Talk & Drinks: Beautiful

Here is Brittany & Katie’s new review of Beautiful:

What do “The Locomotion”, “Like a Natural Woman”, and “It’s Too Late” have in common? Aside from the general time period they were written, we didn’t think much. That is until we saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at SHN’s Curran Theater.

Katie: These reenactment musicals, where they just sing songs that we all know, never get me like other musicals. I like original songs, not ones I know repurposed. I thought the acting and the singing was really good, the set was great, but I wasn’t really taken away anywhere.

Brittany: I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it’s a very well constructed musical. I had NO IDEA who Carole King was going into the show. I really like all the songs she wrote, but I had no idea she wrote them. My Mom always had on the on the 60s oldies station in the car, and we’d sing along to these songs, so there was a fun nostalgia in seeing them performed on stage. But like you said, I don’t think I was ever that into the play. It felt like the writer tried to cram in every single hit she ever wrote, which made the plot really brief.

K: Right there was so little story! I wanted more.

B: What was there of the story was great, and surprisingly endearing, but I wish there were a few less hits and a little more of the characters. I thought all the actors were great, the singing was great, I just wish there had been more story.

K: That’s definitely what I was thinking. Especially in the first act when it was hit after hit, I wanted to go back to her and her life.

B: Part of the problem is we’re not appropriately aged to know if the actors playing the bands that played her hits acted and sounded exactly like that group. It sounded similar to what I remember of the recordings, but for me it was never “Oh my God those girls have The Shirelles nailed”. I bet they did, but because I didn’t know the first act got repetitive. I think my Mom might have loved it.

K: Well done production, the woman who played Carole (Jessie Mueller) was amazing, I just wanted more of her. She was such a good actress. I mean, if you love this music, you love Carole King, you’ll love this musical.

 

The Verdict: Are you a huge fan of 60s/70s pop music? Are you into music history? You should totally go see this show! Don’t care about music from that era? You’ll probably be disappointed with the brevity of the story, even though it’s an endearing one. But it is going to Broadway next, so there’s always the cache of seeing it first.

The Drama Talk: Just like most shows put up by SHN, this one doesn’t fail to dazzle with the production. Beautiful sets, talented actors, overall a great spectacle. The only thing that fell short was the play, which choose hits over substance.

The Drinks: We’re always at a loss when it comes to food and drinks near Union Square. Luckily, Katie did her research and we decided to check out Redford down the street. We now have a new go-to spot for happy hour in the neighborhood, which goes extra long on week nights. Brittany got the Redford Manhattan, since the play took place in NY. Katie got a Moscow Mule, because she’s a hippie sympathizer or something. Both were a great end to a fun night.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical runs through October 20th at the Curran Theater. Tickets range from $210 – $75 (on the pricey side) and can be purchased through the SHN website.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Taming

Katie & Brittany are back, and they finally saw a show that they both really liked! Check out their review:

The Taming serves up a heap of good ole' Southern fried politics. From left to right: Marilee Talkington, Kathryn Zdan, and Marilet Martinez. Photo by Tom Toro.

 
“What happens when a conservative senatorial aid, a liberal political activist, and a newly-crowned Miss Georgia walk into a bar?” We wanted to find out, so we headed down the hill to the Thick House to check out Crowded Fire Theater’s premiere of The Taming, a political comedy by Lauren Gunderson. The Thick House is located in a very residential area of Potrero Hill, and is actually beneath condominiums, a strange place for a theater. We knew it was a good sign.

Katie: So, would you send people to see this show?

Brittany: As long as they go in with the expectation that it’s a satire I totally would. I laughed out loud, the script was really funny and the woman who played Patricia (Marilee Talkington) and the woman who played Miss Georgia (Kathryn Zdan) were both such good actors.

K: They were so good! Too bad the third actress, who played Bianca (Marilet Martinez), was rough.

B: So true, but I still think people should see it because it was really fresh playwriting about a very relevant topic. The director took some of the slapstick too far, there were some rough acting moments, and a few cues needed tightening, but I still really enjoyed it as a whole.

K: Definitely. The script was good and when the actresses nailed the timing – I had the best LOL’s that I have had at a show for a really long time.

The Verdict: The government is shut down but that doesn’t mean your social life is as well. This show is a hilarious night out we highly recommend.

The Drama Talk: This satire on our government couldn’t have come at a better time. Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s script is sharp, silly and smart all at the same time. The theater is pretty tiny and they’re packing audiences in, so be prepared to get cozy with your seat mates.

The Drinks: After the show we walked up the hill to Bloom’s Saloon. The place seemed like an ordinary, neighborhood dive bar, but we found out it has an extraordinary view of the Bay Bridge. We ordered two Angry Orchard ciders, because we know George Washington would be angry if he saw what’s going on in Washington, and enjoyed the view while beaming from a fun night of theater.

The Taming runs through 10/26 at The Thick House, and tickets can be purchased through Crowded Fire Theater’s website, tickets range from $20-$35.

There are also tickets available on Goldstar for $10-$12.50.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Hush

Fall is a great time for seeing live theater, as the Indian Summer winds down and temperatures drop into that horrible 50-60° range, warm theaters are a welcome sanctuary. Katie & Brittany are on a roll, seeing all kinds, even though they’ve been overall less impressed than they hoped to be, but more on that later. Here they are with a report from Hush at Z Space:

Andrew Ward (top) and Felipe Barrueto-Cabello (bottom) perform in Hush; photo by Margo Moritz

Z Space is one of our favorite live performance venues in San Francisco, not just because it’s a beautiful warehouse theater, with not a bad seat in the house, and an art gallery in the lobby but also because there is always something new and different. Last week they premiered Hush a dance-theater piece created by the Joe Goode Performance Group. It had been featured on the cover of Theatre Bay Area and has been generally buzzed about, so we were very excited at opening night . . . maybe too excited.

Brittany: There were a lot of good things about this show. They were all really talented dancers. The foley and music was awesome. I loved watching the sound effects happen live. The set was pretty cool. The problem was the story was disappointingly trite, so the piece didn’t live up to the hype.

Like any play, once the plot was established I felt like the relationships between the characters should be driving the piece, but that didn’t happen. They established that there were specific relationships between specific actors, and that those people were playing the same roles throughout the play, but they were so focused on dancing they didn’t let the relationships develop. Great dancers don’t necessarily make great actors I guess. It felt like the piece lacked an emotional through line.

If this same story was told in 30-40 mins, instead of an hour fifteen, I would have probably walked away feeling like this was a perfect dance-theater piece, but for me it dragged.

Katie: Right! Wow, I couldn’t have said it better . . . so I won’t even try.

The Verdict: Do you love, love, love dance pieces? You need to see this show! Are you more into a well told story that happens to have beautiful movement and awesome music, then we don’t think you will be blown away by this piece as a whole.

The Drama Talk: All the elements to make an amazing dance-theater piece were there: talented people, a very awesome space, insane cool music and sound effects, however this was one time the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts. Falling short on the storyline, and indulging in few too many artsy repetitions of dance movements, made the show a little long and as a whole get a little . . . [we so don’t want to say it, because we HATE this word] boring.

The Drinks: Since the characters worked a dive bar we thought it would be best to go to the Homestead a few blocks away. We got our usuals and poured one out for unrealistic expectations.

Hush runs through 10/5 at Z Space, and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary. You can get seats way in the back for $15-20, but the best seats in the house will run you closer to $65-70.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Buried Child

Yet another Drama Talk that I was bummed to miss. I love Sam Shepard, murky and complicated as I am. Brittany and Katie sent in this report of Buried Child at Magic Theatre:

Bradley (Patrick Kelly Jones, right) prepares a rude awakening for his father Dodge (Rod Gnapp) in Sam Shepard’s Buried Child at Magic Theatre through October 6. Photo: Jennifer Reiley

It was a rare beautiful sunny Sunday in San Francisco. America’s Cup festivities had Fort Mason abuzz with the kind of exuberance that can only come from the carefree joie-de-vivre of rich people and their fancy hobbies. After strolling along the waterfront and looking at all the beautiful things and people, we ascended the stairs into Magic Theatre to see their recently opened revival of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. As we entered the theater we were transported to a decaying gray house in farm-town Illinois on a desperately rainy day. We knew we were in for some Drama Talk & Drinks.

Brittany: I’m a little confused, but I think that ‘s the intent of Shepard. It’s supposed to be a play you come away from feeling uncomfortable and confused. Like “OMG what did I just see? I just saw a family, or the remains of a family, crumble on stage”.  There’s something about watching something so raw, so uncomfortable, and so unhappy. I don’t know if I’d tell people to run out and go see it, unless they’re really up for a depressing evening, but I do think it was a good production. Although, I couldn’t stand the actor who played Halie (Denise Balthrop Cassidy).

Katie: Right, it felt like she was reading directly from the script half the time. Other than her, I thought all the actors were very good. Like the actor who played Dodge (Rod Gnapp), he was really remarkable. The set was really good too. I loved the porch and the real rain.

Brittany: Yeah, loved the set. Magic is such a small space, the way they built out the stairway into the wings made the space look huge, and really gave it the feeling of a big old decaying country house. The sound design was on point too. That sad guitar at the beginning had such a lonely harsh sound. With the rain, and dirty decaying set, it set the stage for the rest of the play which is just a raw look at an American family destroyed.

The Verdict: What a depressing show. Shepard really knows how to ruin a beautiful Sunday. It was a good production, with some really strong actors, great design, and good direction, but MAN. Wear a cup because Shepard is going right for the balls with this play, and the Magic cast led by Rod Gnapp as Dodge, shows no mercy.

The Drama Talk: This show is not for everyone. If you like Sam Shepard, and therefore like having your guts wrenched, you’ll probably enjoy it. Otherwise be forewarned. As the name implies, think of the most messed up depressing things that could be buried within a family. Those will be dug up and thrust in front of the audience throughout the show.

The Drinks: After watching that much desolation on stage we needed a strong drink. Since we were in the Marina, we decided to follow the advice of Mission Mission friend, Stuart Schuffman, and head to Horseshoe Tavern. There were thankfully very few Marina folk, just 49ers fans, so we could wallow freely without the company of too many crisply starched polos and gaily printed Lilly Pulitzer frocks. The whole first act transpired during a massive on-stage thunderstorm, so Katie appropriately ordered a Dark and Stormy. Brittany contemplated ordering whiskey straight up, but it was only 5pm and we had one more show to see that day, so whiskey ginger it was.

Buried Child has been extended through October 13th, so you have a few weeks to catch this show before it closes. Tickets are available on the Magic Theatre website and are $45-55 on Tues-Thurs, and $50-60 Friday-Sunday. There’s also a senior and “educator” discount available, so if you’re either of those just bring an ID.

We couldn’t find anything on GoldStar yet, and there’s no mention of student or under 30 discounts, but Magic does say “Keep checking our Facebook page, blog and website for updates and announcements on rush tickets, discounts and special promotions.” so there’s that.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Bay One Acts Festival

For this installment of the good old drama talk with Katie & Brittany, the duo went to see the 12th Annual Bay One Acts Festival – Program 1. Here’s their report.

When we heard that there was a festival going on that brings together local artists and many different theater companies we were really excited to check it out. So, this past Sunday night we headed to the Tides Theater in Nob Hill for the 12th Annual Bay One Acts Festival to see 6 different short form plays. Since there are so many pieces we decided to break it down a little differently than usual, just giving you our first thoughts on each of the plays. Jump to the verdict if you don’t care about our initial reactions to the specific plays.

#1: Modernizing the Afterlife – A dead Google developer gets recruited by St. Peter’s nephew to optimize their afterlife processing.

Katie: It made me think of the time I went on an online date with a guy that developed apps for a living . . . and just like this piece I left that date slightly intrigued, slightly confused and wanting more.

#2: Desiree – A woman copes with the aftermath of ten years in captivity.

K: One word – Awkward. All I could do was compare it to the Cleveland woman tragedy. It was the one piece that no one knew when it ended.

Brittany: There were a number of pieces that fell short because of the acting, this one fell short because of the writing more than anything else.

#3: Write Dirty to Me – Dead writers operate literary phone sex lines.

B: This show is what an english major, who is crazy nerdy, thinks is funny. But if you are not deep into english major land you have no fucking clue was is going on.

K: Which was me.

B: This show also reminds me of the time I saw the Vagina monologues during high school and afterwards we said “cunt” over and over again because we thought it was funny. Dirty words just aren’t that funny when you’re an adult.

Intermission

#4: Love Song of Aflred J. Prufrock – A T.S. Eliot poem set to movement.

B: This show made me think of the time I was at a bar when I was 21 and a 50 year old hit on me.

K: Awkward.

B: Yeah.

#5: Red All Over – In the wake of a school shooting tragedy, new relationships begin.

B: Remember that thing we said last time about story arcs . . . there wasn’t one.

K: There wasn’t even a story . . . to be arced.

B: Also, why does a lesbian romance have to happen at a child murder scene…I don’t get that.

#6: Last Couples Therapy Session on Earth – The Zombie Apocalypse has happened, but that doesn’t mean that this couple is done working through their problems.

B: Well written, cute, vignette. It was the best piece in the series.

K: It would have been hilariously bizarre, Modern Familyish, if not for The Walking Dead.

[pic of The Royal Tug Yacht Club by Rose Garrett for Eater SF]

The Verdict: We really, really, really wanted to love this festival. It’s a great idea executed in a really cool space. We wanted to walk away feeling like we saw some fresh, innovative, well developed, entertaining theater, unfortunately we did not. We did only see Program One, so we can’t speak to the festival as a whole, but if Program One was any indication of what Program Two will be like, this festival is best left for an audience of friends of the artists and/or other artists that want to learn from watching artists, the general public might be disappointed.

The Drama Talk: Bay One Acts is a great platform for local directors, writers, and actors to collaborate, but when it comes down to it people are paying $15 to be entertained and moved and we just really weren’t. We want to bring new audiences to the theatre, not just support art just for the sake of supporting art. We don’t think a new audience would be that impressed by what should be some of the best new works in the SF theatre scene. At least for Program One, the writing itself is really what fell short for us.

The Drinks: We heard of a new bar that opened a couple months back just a few blocks from the theatre. The Royal Tug Yacht Club was the perfect place to discuss the evening, a small, almost empty, interestingly decorated (there’s a huge octopus on the ceiling, what is better than that) dive bar with great, strong cocktails. Brittany had the “Seek and Destroy”, which was what she was hoping this festival was going to do (you know, just “kill it”) and Katie got the “Washed Up”, which was what she felt she was after seeing this show.

Bay One Acts Festival

Drama Talk & Drinks: Porchlight

For the this installment of Drama Talk & Drinks, Katie & Brittany went saw some live storytelling at the Verdi Club after I had to forfeit my own ticket because of work. Here’s their drama talk:

Porchlight has been going on for ten years, but we hadn’t reviewed it yet. We figured you might not have seen it yet either, so we did what any dedicated reviewers would do: we sacrificed our Monday night Mahjong to kick off our week the most raucous way late 20-something non-profit employees can, with bawdy stories, Drama Talk & Drinks.

Brittany: I was really into storytelling shows, like The Moth and Mortified, maybe 2-3 years ago. So I went to a bunch of them. For the first half dozen I was all wide-eyed and like “real-life people are more funny than professionals.” And then I went to enough of them and realized there’s a reason to have professionals. There can be really funny, really talented people who aren’t professionals, but not always, and that’s what came to mind tonight.

Katie: I’ve never been to Porchlight. I’ve only been to a few storytelling events and they can be awesome but they can also not be. They are very hit and miss events. I love stories, but I am very particular about how they’re told. The idea to me is great, but the execution rarely is. But when you hit a good night it’s so, so fun. Have a little party, have a drink, have people who live in your community tell some funny stories . . . But it just fell short to me.

B: Verdi Club is such an old man space. It feels kind of dingy, like you said earlier, it looks like a Lions Club. If you’re a performer you have to realize it looks like you’re at a retirement party, so you need to bring the energy to make it feel young, hip, edgy, fun, and that first storyteller kind of retirement mixer-ed the whole thing, even though she was young.

K: It was just a hard start. Especially after that bizarrely beautiful musical opening. I didn’t really understand it, but regardless I was very entertained. To go from that to the soft spoken, low energy “Um, hi guys, so uhhh . . . I used to be a writer . . .” was rough.

B: Yeah, it started well with the musical performance, but then the bottom fell out and it killed the momentum. The second act was pretty funny, I mean I LOL’ed. But the fact that the first act was low energy, then they started the second act with someone who didn’t even know she was going to tell a story that night, it made it that much harder for the 2nd act storytellers, who were really talented, to pull it up. They tried, they had some really funny points, but they had a lot to work against.

The Verdict: As a friend who saw the show with us said, “The point of Porchlight is to tell a funny story. In order for a story to be a story there should be something like a fucking story arc.” To put it simply, some of the storytellers fell short, but there were some funny moments, and the MC’s were fun. Maybe with a better prompt, or different performers it could be great, but Monday night was not.

The Drama Talk: Tickets were $16 once you paid the processing fee. You can find tickets on Goldstar to watch professional comedians do a show for $10, so part of the high-expectations came from the high price (I know, we’re cheap). We couldn’t find discount tickets to Porchlight anywhere, so it looks like you’re stuck with the full-price ticket. The Porchlight “Open Door” night, their open mic night which happens monthly, is only $5 and is arguably as funny, if not funnier, than these more curated performances. That may be a good place to start if you want to give Porchlight a shot, same funny MC’s, lower prices and expectations.

The Drinks: We went to Mission Hill Saloon, which was formerly The-Bar-With-The-Long-Name-Involving-Some-Chick-Named-Evelyn. It’s old school Mission [Ed. note: Maybe on the Potrero Avenue side of Potrero Hill, unless you go by 101 boundaries, but feels like old school Mission just the same], a little too far for Mission gentrification to reach, so it still feels a little like a real dive, despite The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and other black and white movies they’re screening. We imagine this is where the old men from Verdi came after their Lion’s Club meeting to get sloshed, so it seemed like a good fit. After a super strong daiquiri at Verdi Club, Brittany opted to slow things down with a hard cider. Katie, never one to call it early, stuck with her signature rum and coke.

Porchlight has two shows monthly, their curated show and their Open Door night. Themes change monthly so check out their website for their upcoming show topics and dates – Heck, if you’re feeling ballsy you can even tell your own story at one of their Open Door events. If you know what a story arc is you just might win $50.