Category Archives: Theater

I’m Rich! I’m Wealthy! I’m an American Playwright!

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Good Evening:

I received an email this weekend from the Helen-Jean Play Contest, to which I had submitted a one-act play:

Congratulations, your submission “The Land of Hope and Dreams”, has won first prize in our contest.  Your will receive a nominal check and a certificate in the mail shortly.

Yes! Not my first win in a competition by any means, but quite welcome all the same! Now the theater company involved will not actually produce LOHAD, as I call it, but they will send me $50.00. So I have fifty bucks!

Ah, not quite. The reading fee for this particular competition equalled five dollars. So I have forty-five bucks!

Ah, not quite. I promptly purchased $40.17 worth of underwear. So I now have $4.83!

Ah, not quite. At a theater event on Saturday night, I spend $3.00 dollars on a soda.

So I now have $1.83.

Which puts me approximately $1.83 ahead of 90% of every playwright in the United States of America for the year 2015.

But I still have $1.83. Not only that, I have a lot of clean new undies.

Perhaps that’s what really matters.

Vonn Scott Bair

Sunday Night, Fun Day Done Right Day.

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Good Evening:

Sunday night in downtown San Francisco could not have gone much better for culture vultures. The Playwrights Center of San Francisco sponsored a fund raiser in which 8 groups of playwrights, directors and actors wrote, directed and acted in 8 short plays. I happened to play a role in this project: aside from providing breakfast for everyone on Sunday morning, I contributed 2 of the 3 required elements for each play.

The required theme for each play was “Surprisingly Unexpected.” Didn’t come up with that one (my offering: “This Is the End of the World As We Know It”), but I did contribute the required noun and the required line of dialogue. The noun: “Escape Vehicle.” The line of dialogue: “But what about the strawberries?” Thought the poor playwrights would suffer. Thought very wrong. The show was great.

Think for a moment of what kind of play you might write with the theme “Surprisingly Unexpected,” the noun “Escape Vehicle,” and the dialogue, “But what about the strawberries?” Offhand, I can recall these:

  • An extraterrestrial crash-lands her UFO in a male Earthling’s strawberry patch.
  • Two zombie cheerleaders try to cash a check.
  • A mother accidentally reveals that she has lied to her daughter for 21 years–she does know her father’s name.
  • An Elizabethan woman asks William Shakespeare to pretend that he wrote her plays.
  • A nice elderly Jewish couple, both wizards, discover that their new human customer used to be their pet hamster. Not a misprint.

Surprisingly unexpected, aren’t they? And yes, they all included escape vehicles and strawberries.

San Francisco playwrights have excellent imaginations.

After an excellent show, maybe the best 24-hour playfest the PCSF has done, I wandered down to the cable car turnaround on Powell Street, where a gentleman with what appeared to be a 4.5 inch reflector telescope hosted a “Saturn Party,” wherein he offered free viewings of the planet. A little different, even by San Francisco standards.

Just around the corner, in front of the Gap store, stood Clare Means. Who? Clare is a tall woman with Pre-Raphaelite hair, an acoustic guitar, and quite a gift for songwriting in the genre some might call Americana. She currently has a curious sort of nationwide tour in progress: she travels from city to city, busking on the streets with her guitar and portable amp, performing songs from her two current CD collections, collecting dollars to pay for gas and food–basically trying to make a name for herself without a record deal and with an advertising budget of zero. Dropped a dollar in her guitar case and listened to “Look Who’s Lucky Now,” a great intro to her music, which you can find on iTunes. Have heard a lot of musicians and bands that deserved only the greatest success never came anywhere close. Clare Means is just the latest of the bunch, but it would feel pretty darn good some day to see her name on a Top 20. I mean, come on, Pre-Rephaelite hair. Dang.

I even found two dimes on the sidewalk.

Sunday night was that kind of night.

Vonn Scott Bair

Intervention at Disneyland.

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Good Afternoon:

Every second Saturday of the month, San Francisco’s Exit Theatre hosts something called Saturday Write Fever, a fun little event of instant theater creation. I attended last night’s get-together.

The idea is simple: create a one-person monologue in 30 minutes. The overall theme for last night’s event: “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Each playwright drew a piece of paper from an urn (not a chalice, an urn) that contained a line that he or she had to include in the monologue. Since I don’t swear, I can’t tell you exactly what mine was, but it was very close to “Who holds a f@#$king intervention at Disneyland?!”

Keep in mind that the writers have no idea which actors will read their material.

And yes, that does make things interesting.

After the writers returned to the cafe in which the performance would take place, we drew slips of from a chalice (not an urn, a chalice) with the names of the actors. I worked with the actor Rob Stern, who could not have looked or acted more well-suited for my little rant of a piece. Good thing, too: the quality of the writing and acting was the best I’ve seen at these Saturday Write Fever events, with not even one weak monologue or performer.

And so, I present “Intervention at Disneyland.” I have slightly edited the piece, adding <> to bracket and identify the new material. Incidentally, I was the only writer who not only included his/her line, I included the Theme as well.

INTERVENTION AT DISNEYLAND

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” You know what I say, Terry? “Today is the last day of the rest of your life!”

It isn’t how you cheat on me with other men. It isn’t how you cheat on me with other women. It isn’t how you steal from your boss, steal from your church, or steal from me.

It isn’t how you lie to EVERYONE, most of all me.

It isn’t how you leave the toilet seat up.

It isn’t even how you drove me to drink.

So what is it that will make me kill you in the next five minutes, <turn myself in to the police, confess, plead justifiable homicide, and get acquitted by a jury of my peers>?

Today you had a doctor, a counselor, a social worker, and a priest AMBUSH me at an amusement part in front of our children because you think I have a drinking problem.

That’s why you die tonight.

WHO HOLDS A F@#$ING INTERVENTION AT DISNEYLAND??

Vonn Scott Bair

The Taming of the Shrew, The Heidi Chronicles, and The Dead Play.

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Good Morning:

Can we please finally agree that The Taming of the Shrew is a dead play? Please?

I probably should backtrack and start over.

Many years ago, I joined a group of aspiring playwrights who liked to attend a play together and then have a few beers afterwards to discuss what they had seen. Not sure which is more important; sometimes it seems humans invented theater as something they could do to provide an excuse to have a few beers afterward. All of the other playwrights were at least a score of years younger than yours truly, a point that will soon become important.

Once and only once during a show, the entire group left at intermission and did not return. The play in question, Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, had a fine cast and a good director with an interesting vision for the script. The script itself has held a prominent place in American theater since its Pulitzer Prize winning debut in the late 1980s. And yet we walked out at intermission.

The other playwrights, especially the women, expressed virulent disgust with the writer’s portrayal of women in the script. Those of you who have read or seen the play might feel quite surprised; the cast consists primarily of female characters and traditionally has a cast of five women and three men. I agreed that the women characters were poorly written, focusing on one particular lesbian character who was so one-dimensional that a homophobe would call Wasserstein a compadre. But I had a bigger reservation.

“Let’s face it. The Heidi Chronicles is a dead play.”

“What do you mean?” asked one young woman

“In this particular case, it’s hopelessly dated, it’s stuck in its time, it doesn’t resonate with anyone younger than me, it doesn’t resonate with any of you. I mean, nothing says ‘dated’ quite like a Laura Nyro joke.”

Everyone laughed. Then another young woman said, “Who’s Laura Nyro?”

I don’t know much about theater (even after almost thirty productions of my own plays), so I don’t know if the concept of “the dead play” or perhaps another term with the same meaning has any place in the business. But sometimes plays just don’t work anymore. Almost all of 19th Century American theater is dead, and rightly so; the plays sucked. In The Heidi Chronicles, the problem lies with most of the characters, cliches flatter than the 2 of Clubs in a deck of cards. The play does still resonate with a tiny sliver of the theater-going world; aside from my group, the audience consisted almost entirely of women in their 60s or older. I have serious doubts that anyone will want to see it in a few decades.

And yet people will still want to see Shrew.

I have read the play, a complete primer on the ever-so-splendid art of spousal abuse (please tell me you spotted the sarcasm). It’s all here, and you can check them off, one by one: physical beating, check; starvation, check; sleep deprivation, check; psychological abuse in myriad varieties, check, check and check.

And people want to produce this?!

Modern productions resort to a lot of tricks to try and redeem this garbage. Typically, they will delete scenes which make people uncomfortable, and/or portray Kate a willing participant who thinks the whole thing is a joke. I saw one production last week (a friend played Kate’s father) where they tried to excuse the whole thing as a sham, where the actors played actors playing The Taming of the Shrew as a sort of “play within the play” as part of an elaborate prank played by a rich nobleman on a homeless man.

As if adding practical jokes at the expense of the homeless makes everything better. And to do this in San Francisco?! In a theater on a block that includes among other things a homeless shelter?!

Yes, William Shakespeare was a playwright for our time and for all time; he was also a man of his time, with the prejudices and conventional beliefs of his time. It does nothing to diminish his greatness to state that sometimes he just plain sucked. The closest thing to a virtue this play retains is that it might remind viewers that in our time we have our own prejudices and conventional beliefs and how a few centuries from now they might seem quaint at best and dangerously wrong at worst (he wrote, suddenly thinking of a recent Irish vote).

The Taming of the Shrew is just a creepy (by the standards of our times) misogynist (by the standards of our times) misfire from a guy who–like us–didn’t even know that sometimes he was blind to the prejudices of the era in which he lived, prejudices that he might not have known that he had. No one can do anything to redeem the play short of changing it so drastically that it ceases to be the play that Shakespeare wrote. He wrote a play glorifying spousal abuse because he thought spousal abuse was a good idea. By the standards of his time, William Shakespeare might have been a comparatively good human being. He’s still one of the greatest writers ever.

But he’s still just as human as the rest of us.

And The Taming of the Shrew is just as much garbage as the dust in my vacuum cleaner.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–If you do not know who Laura Nyro is, for heaven’s sake please do yourself a kindness and head on over to the iTunes store and start downloading.

PPS–The Merchant of Venice is also dead. Come on, people, stop trying to pretend that Shylock is a tragic figure, a sympathetic character. So what if he speaks eloquently on his behalf? So does Richard III. So do all of Bill’s villains.

The Aristeia of Clarence Clemons @ 3:12 a.m., and a New Puzzle!

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Good Morning:

Did you know that Clarence Clemons’ legendary saxophone solo during “Jungleland” on the Hammersmith Odeon, London ’75 album runs exactly two minutes, twenty-three seconds?

In simple English, I have taken part in another 24-hour “play in a day” festival and at 3:12 a.m., determining the exact length of The Solo was the most important thing I could do. The Playwrights Center of San Francisco runs two of these events each as fundraisers, and they conduct business by picking slips of paper from a hat. I was selected as a writer by a software version of the same, assigned my director by drawing his name from a hat, assigned the cast size by drawing a number from a hat (3), and assigned the specific actors by the same process.

Finally, the theme. “The Devil Made Me Do It.”

Assignment was the same as ever: write an entire play in 9 hours for a production the following night.

Usually, writing a short play under these circumstances proves surprisingly easy, but for some reason, the theme made this the most difficult 24-hour project I’ve undertaken in 15 years, since the night our theme was a Rene Magritte painting. Oddly, the final script is only 8 pages long, but the theme still made the project tough. However, I can proudly proclaim that I wrote the line “Niccolo Machiavelli. Dear Nicky–always in a class by himself,” and it actually makes sense in the context of the play.

In slightly over 14 hours, “The Latest Small Triumph of Levia Stand” receives its world premiere. I have never worked with the director or any of the actors before, but feel cautiously optimistic that they can wring something decent from what I dump upon their poor heads. If the show turns out well, I will publish the script here. If not, I shall do the right thing and spare you the agony.

Meanwhile, if you like anagrams, I have a fun new puzzle for you! “Levia Stand” is an anagram containing two names used for one of the great characters in all of literature, theater, and musical comedy. What are the two names?

Vonn Scott Bair

Another New Picture Puzzle!

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Good Evening:

Fair warning; this post is a tad raunchy. I don’t mean to offend anyone.

The men’s room at The Exit Theatre is famous in the Bay Area theater scene for possessing one of the most abused warning signs in the entire history of restrooms inside Western theaters.

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Oh, well, look at the bright side–it’s time for another picture puzzle!

How many clever puns on “urine” or “urinal” can you find?

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–The answer: sorry, it was a trick question. There are no clever puns in the sign!

PPS–OK, so how many groaningly bad puns can you find?

PPPS–I have no idea what the women have with their sign.

The Genuine Show! Rehearsal, 12 March 2015.

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Good Evening:

Load-In Day. A phrase that frequently evokes terror in the theater world, Load-In Day refers to one of the physical events in theater, when the entire cast and crew combine to move all of their costumes, props, special equipment, cases of 8 oz. bottles of water, and other sundry heavy items into the theater they will call home during the show’s run. Fortunately, we have an excellent director in Wesley Cayabyab, whose organization worked so well we only needed an hour to get everything done.

So we had our first full run-through.

And all I can say is “Wow.”

The Cast of The Genuine Show! Listening to Instructions from Their Director

The Six Actors of The Genuine Show! Listening to Instructions from Their Director

“Wow” has become one of our inside jokes (from one of the plays, “Jack & John & Jackie & Joanie”), but here it means that I am ab-so-lute-ly THRILLED with the work the cast has done. They bring more than creativity to their acting; they always surprise me with interpretations that I would never imagine in a hundred years, yet whatever they do remains true to the script.

Incidentally, I took all of these shots with my iPhone 6 Plus, which has done surprisingly well in low-light conditions, requiring only a few adjustments in iPhoto.

Sarah Galarneau & Philip Goleman in "Yes Maybe No."

Sarah Galarneau & Philip Goleman in “Yes Maybe No.”

Playwrights become pretty darn useless at this point in the production; seriously, the best help we verbose critters can provide consists of silence. At the end of the run-through, I kept it simple: “I have just one word to add, no, two. Thank you.” OK, that’s eleven words, but still really, really reticent by playwright standards.

Rehearsing "Keeping You Man in Line on the 21-Hayes." Left to right: Sarah Leight, Jocelyn Truitt, Philip Goleman, Colin Hussey (standing), Sarah Galarneau, Richard Wenzel.

Rehearsing “Keeping You Man in Line on the 21-Hayes.” Left to right: Sarah Leight, Jocelyn Truitt, Philip Goleman, Colin Hussey (standing), Sarah Galarneau, Richard Wenzel.

Keeping You Man in Line of the 21-Hayes has two unique distinctions among the plays–the only one with no dialogue and the only one inspired by one of my own blog posts! Please see this post (one of my very earliest!) for the story.

Can’t wait for Opening Night on Thursday. No jitters, just good old-fashioned excitement. If you can’t wait, either, tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets.

Vonn Scott Bair

Photos from The Genuine Show! Rehearsals.

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Good Evening:

The search for a reasonably priced trombone goes on, but so have the rehearsals, and The Genuine Show! has come together very well. Here are some shots from a recent rehearsal. Tickets for the show available at Brown Paper Tickets, brownpapertickets.com/event/1409569.

Director Wesley Cayabyab did a great job directing The Duck last year, and is bringing all of his energy to the new show.

Director Wesley Cayabyab did a great job directing The Duck last year, and is bringing all of his energy to the new show.

Jocelyn Truitt, Ric Wenzel, Sarah Galarneau, Sarah Leight and Colin Hussey listening to Wesley's instructions.

Jocelyn Truitt, Ric Wenzel, Sarah Galarneau, Sarah Leight and Colin Hussey listening to Wesley’s instructions.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Genuine Show Opens April 16!

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Good Evening:

I have waited a long time for this–my first ever full-length evening of theater!

Pictured: Colin Hussey, Ric Wenzel and Jocelyn in "This Is Not a Play."

Pictured: Colin Hussey, Ric Wenzel and Jocelyn Truitt in “This Is Not a Play.”

The Unknown Players, a new theater company in San Francisco, selected a collection of my shorter one-act plays for their first production–a great honor. The Genuine Show! includes seven short plays, mostly comedies, about relationships ranging from normal to literally Surreal (“This Is Not a Play” is a tribute to Belgian Surrealist painter Rene Magritte).

Six performances, Thursday through Saturday, April 16, 17, 18 and 23, 24, 25. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit our listing at Brown Paper Tickets.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you can attend!

Vonn Scott Bair

And She Bakes, Live. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!)

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Good Evening:

For my part, I too do not consider American theater all that adventurous nowadays. It’s a money thing: theaters need to get people into the seats; they know what has put butts in seats in the past; therefore, the entire nation sometimes feels like one big Shakespeare retrospective.

Fringe Festivals are adventurous.

The San Francisco Fringe Festival, one of over 200 such festivals worldwide (and it’s surprisingly hard to get an exact number, but 200 minimum seems about right), dominates the local theater scene every September, and the first event I’ve seen, And She Bakes, Live., based upon the cooking/comedy YouTube series, is also the first I’ve ever seen that begins with a performer asking every member of the audience if he/she has peanut allergies.

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Daliya Karnofsky (shown above on the right setting her stage) plays a mildly wacko baking show host who combines actual recipes with gripes about the men in her life and in the lives of her fans. She actually cooked some Gluten Free Peanut Butter Vegan Treats on stage (I ate two; they were very good) and had to check for audience allergies. One audience member claimed to have severe peanut allergies, but since it did not occur to the spectator that perhaps she really needed to ask for a refund, Karnofsky put her in the seat furthest from the stage.

I’ll be the show was a serious adventure for that spectator. Good news, she got out unscathed.

Before the show, Karnofsky did something to me that no actor has ever done before. She told me that I reminded her of a macaroon. Because I’m not fashionable now, but since I’m gluten-free, like the macaroon I’m coming into my own.

“Am I dipped in chocolate?”

“Why yes, how did you know?”

I said, “It’s a mind-melt thing,” but since the Fringe is so noisy, I doubt she caught the pun.

Karnofsky’s one-person show is one of the highlights of the Fringe this year, and a good example of why I like to see the shows of which I know absolutely nothing. If you know what’s going to happen, it’s not an adventure.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Leftover Memories of Venue 222 (Weekly Photo Challenge: Container)

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Good Evening:

This ugly little dump contains some of my happiest memories in the theater.

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During the 1960s and 1970s, City College of San Francisco’s enrollment grew so much so quickly that the buildings could not hold all of the students, and the administration could not build new classrooms quickly enough. Therefore, the college threw up these pre-fab cabins for use as ad hoc temporary classrooms. However, ad hoc temporary solutions have a way of becoming ad hoc permanent solutions. Cabin 222, notwithstanding its leaky confines, lack of heating, and air conditioning, became the home of theater majors getting rained on or freezing or cooking in its confines depending upon the season.

A few decades ago, a drama professor named Ann Shay had a bright idea: double-purposing the cabin as both classroom and a 49-seat black box theater. She created her own company, the California Travel Troupe, so named because they usually travelled to Edinburgh, Scotland to participate in the grandfather of all fringe festivals. In between trips, she would produce shows in what was no longer cabin 222; it had become Venue 222.

I met Ann when one fine day, totally out of the blue, the at the time complete stranger emailed me and offered me a directing job for her next evening of one-act plays. My first directing job? No problem! I didn’t even ask her how she got my name. What I did not know was that everyone else she asked had declined the offer because everyone else–including the playwright!–thought the little ten minute script was garbage. So she offered me the leftovers. I didn’t know the play was garbage, numbskull that I am, but because I didn’t know how to evaluate scripts, took this opportunity seriously and to the surprise of Ann and the cast, and the shock of the playwright, directed a, well, um, pretty good play.

Ann Shay producing her last show, another evening of one acts, at about the time when her friends suspected, and she knew, that she would not win her final battle with cancer.

Ann Shay producing her last show, another evening of one acts, at about the time when her friends suspected, and she knew, that she would not win her final battle with cancer.

Ann felt grateful enough for my salvage job that when time came to produce another evening of one acts, she invited me to submit one of my own scripts. I had just finished a 20-pager called Starvation, an experiment in the horror genre to see if it was still possible to scare a theater audience in this day and age.

She accepted it into the show, which was great, not telling me that on paper she thought that Starvation looked like a piece of s— (one of her favorite words). She needed one more play to fill out the evening and would have accepted anything. Much to the surprise of the director and cast (and playwright), and much to the shock of Ann, the 20 page horror play that looked like a piece of s— on paper worked astoundingly well when performed, and was in fact the best play of the show. On the night of the world premiere, I snuck into the audience to gauge reactions. The play describes an encounter between two women, both monsters; Mrs. Essex is a sexual predator and Melody–nah, no spoilers here. I sat next to a young couple on a date. At the climax of the play, the young lady of the couple shrieked “Omigod, she’s a ____!” wrapped her arms around her date, and buried her face into her young man’s chest.

I think I made his night.

My leftover script turned out rather well.

The Former Dressing Room at Venue 222.

The Former Dressing Room at Venue 222.

In 2004, I had built up a curious acting resume; lead roles in a few feature films (none of which went anywhere), and zero leads in full-length stage plays. So when Ann emailed me out of the blue and offered me the title role in a masque production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, yes, of course I took it. Incidentally, for all of my gigs with the California Travel Troupe I received the combined grand total of $0 in payment. What Ann did not tell me at the time was that she couldn’t find anyone else for the job. Once again, the leftovers ended up on my plate.

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The show did very erratically in terms of attendance, alternating sellout crowds with near-empty houses. One performance had exactly one audience member, and the only reason we had that one person is that a woman in the cast was juggling two boyfriends at the time. Still, Hunchback remains one of my happiest memories; the above moment, from the final scene between Quasimodo and Esmeralda, generally elicited audible sniffles and crying from the people who did see the show. Ann herself told me after the last performance that she sometimes cried. This was right before she told me that she only picked me because she couldn’t find anyone else. Just another leftover.

Today, Venue 222 is every bit as decrepit as it looks, and when Ann died, the California Travel Troupe died with her. As I passed the cabin on my way to my date with destiny and a beer can in Almost, Maine, I took a few pictures with my iPhone.

And wondered how something so ugly could contain such beautiful memories.

Vonn Scott Bair

The Brief But Curious Theatrical History Contained Within a Can of Beer (Weekly Photo Challenge: Container)

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Good Evening:

A still life, inexpensive-American-beer-can-style:

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How this can and I came to make our acquaintance–therein lies a tale.

Once upon a time, a brewery filled this newly manufactured can with newly manufactured beer. Another human being purchased this can containing inexpensive American beer, emptied its contents (presumably in the usual fashion), cleaned it thoroughly with soap and water, and brought it to the Diego Rivera Theater on the campus of the City College of San Francisco for use as a prop in a production of John Cariani’s Almost, Maine, one of the most beloved new plays in American theater. Since I knew two of the actors in the cast and had heard a lot of good things about the play, I attended last Saturday night’s performance.

Shortly before the play began, a crew member filled the can with water. Halfway through the show, an actor grabbed this can containing San Francisco Public Utilities Commission tap water and a second one also containing water and carried them with him onstage.

Thus fate decreed that your correspondent and this can would become one.

For having finished drinking the two cans of “beer,” the actor crumpled both of them and then hurled the first can and the second can over the heads of the audience to the offstage area.

Well, that was the idea.

The first can flew directly into the audience.

Specifically, my left shoulder.

Of course I suffered no injury; modern beer cans are so lightweight that if I hadn’t watched it hit my shoulder I never would have felt it. But no way did I intend to part with this can. You and I have seen multiple cartoons and comedies where an audience will throw rotten tomatoes and other vegetables at the actors. I have never seen an actor throw anything at an audience. I have seen the cast booing the audience before the show even began (one of Monty Python’s Secret Policeman Balls) yet there I was, participating in theatrical history as the first audience recipient of an actor-thrown projectile in theatrical history.

So of course I kept the can that once contained beer, then contained water, and now contains theatrical history.

Please–try to contain your envy.

Vonn Scott Bair

I Don’t Mean to Brag–Well, Maybe Just a Tiny Little Bit…

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Good Evening:

“Madame de Vionnet,” writing for A Beast in a Jungle, another WordPress blog (!), has reviewed Sheherezade 14 and raved about the entire show. The entire production deserves it; I feel ridiculously fortunate to have become part of such a show. “Madame” has kind words in particular for “The Duck:”

My favorite play of the evening was The Duck, by Vonn Scott Bair, directed by Cayabyab. The premise is ”ripped from the headlines” with a twist. Mbele-Mbong plays Hope, an appropriate name for a character who does not give up. Her monologues are gut-wrenching as she describes what her life has become. The Duck is a well-crafted and beautifully acted short play, with Homan and Galloway delivering solid supporting performances.

What lies beyond “ridiculously fortunate?” Because that’s how I feel about director Wesley Cayabyab and actors Leontyne Mbele-Mbong, Cameron Galloway, and Rick Homan. I frequently use the phrase “legal cheating,” as in “having a director and cast this good feels like legal cheating,” but that phrase has never so true before.

Anyway, we have two more weeks, Thursday through Saturday, ending on the 28th. Hope you can attend!

Vonn Scott Bair

The Stage Is All the Worlds (Weekly Photo Challenge: Room)

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Good Evening:

This is the sold-out house that greeted the world premiere of Sheherezade 14, the short play festival that includes my own world premiere, The Duck:

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Surprisingly decent shot for an iPhone 4, given the lighting. Set up for the first play, that stage had to serve as the backdrop for 8 different worlds, including 6 rooms. In order from beginning to end:

  1. Dissonance (playwright: Terry Anderson): an absurd Dadaist, Pirandellian landscape.
  2. Almost Like Being Alive (Steve Koppman): a coffee shop.
  3. The Interview (Madeline Puccioni): a bar.
  4. Photo Dynamic Therapy (Jennifer Lynne Roberts): a bedroom.
  5. Reframing Rockwell (Jim Norrena): Norman Rockwell’s studio.
  6. The Box (Madeleine Butler): a museum storage room.
  7. The Duck (yours truly): Hope Judith Hauser’s front yard.
  8. Brew, Drink, Repeat (Bridgette Dutta Portman): A coffee shop that exists outside the space/time continuum.

One stage, one room, eight worlds. I think Shakespeare had it backwards.

Anyway, we had a great opening night; full house, actors in top form. When it works, theater is quite the universe.

Vonn Scott Bair

Anouar Brahem @ 3:00 p.m. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Room)

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Good Evening:

I cannot recall how I blundered into the music of the extraordinary Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem; probably just another example of how serendipity is a life skill that can be mastered. He takes his time creating music; he recorded his most “recent” work, The Astounding Eyes of Rita, in 2008. The combination of oud, bass clarinet, bass and percussion produces music at once soothing and intriguing, quiet and mysterious.

In other words, a great addition to my collection of music for 3:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon.

The HR department at the SFPUC also has a great room for enjoying songs like the title track, “Stopover at Djibouti,” and “Dances with Waves.” The Sunol Conference Room has comfortable chairs, a few small tables, an adequate view of the Civic Center, and a soft quiet light suitable for winding down after a busy week and contemplating the upcoming weekend. Someone has taken to leaving old issues of Time magazine in the room. Another co-worker brought plums from his tree to share with the rest of the gang on Friday. Incredibly sweet and flavorful, best I’ve ever had.

So I put the music, magazines, room, plums and the Civic Center together, and got this.

Still Life with Plums and Magazines, 6 June 2014

Still Life with Plums and Magazines, 6 June 2014

The different qualities of light (interior vs. exterior) posed a challenge for my point-and-shoot. Will need some advanced work to make the table whiter.

I hope you have a great weekend. Mine could prove a big one; the world premiere of my short play “The Duck” takes place tonight and the Friday preview looked terrific.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–Did you notice that not all of the flags fly in the same direction?