Science on Stage

I suppose I’m mostly known for my play Zombie Town: A Documentary Play, which has had a number of productions around the country. But I’m also really into science and science plays, as perhaps evidenced by my plays Gyroball (which is about the physics of baseball and was a Sloan Foundation commission) and Harold the First (which is about the invention of radio and the first radio broadcast of a baseball game). (Which I guess means I’m also into baseball.)

So it was much joy that I saw several of my local Bay Area playwright friends (Lauren Gunderson, Geetha Reddy, and Anthony Clarvoe) interviewed by Theatre Bay Area about the inherent theatricality of science on stage:

As playwright Lauren Gunderson points out, science has theatrical juice. “It’s the power of a well told story, with a great climactic moment. Science is great drama: people risking for something they believe in that may sound crazy to other people, something that will create great change at the climactic moment. When the fight is fought, science changes the world; you can’t really have a bigger change than that….”

Check it out!

Playwrights, Rewrites, Multiple Productions

My colleague Peter Sinn Nachtrieb is interviewed by my colleague Laura Brueckner and mentions a bunch of his colleagues who’ve all had rolling premieres lately. I bring this up only because this is most definitely how theater should be headed:

Three different spaces, three different casts, two directors, very different design approaches all helped stretch and test the play…. I was able to try stuff out, and then change it for the next production–and see not only where different people can make fantastic discoveries with my play, but also where maybe I was being too ambiguous or unclear; where a production where I’m not around might go astray. I think I was able to make the machine more tightly wound that way, but still keep it inviting enough that different productions can find a home in it.

On HowlRound and worth reading!

‘Moments From The Bubble’


Three of my one-minute plays will be featured in the latest One Minute Play Festival event at Z Space in San Francisco on Jun 27 and Jun 28. It’s called Moments From The Bubble, Or: How The [Google] Bus Stops Here and it’s part of what’s being described as “a playwright-driven community action project in response to the rapid gentrification of San Francisco”:

The One-Minute Play Festival (#1MPF) and Z Space have created a dynamic partnership to explore topics of gentrification, economics, displacement, race, class, and transitions in the city of San Francisco for Moments From The Bubble, Or: How The [Google] Bus Stops Here, with part of the proceeds to benefit artist residency programming and community actions projects related to these topics.

Featuring Brand New One-Minute Plays As A Community Action By:
Kate E. Ryan, Brian Thorstenson, Ken Slattery, Andrew Saito, Christopher Chen, Geetha Reddy, Lauren Gunderson, Erin Bregman, Elizabeth Gjelten, Robert Henry Johnson, Aaron Loeb, Peter Nachtrieb, Garret Jon Groenveld, Amy Suzara, Patricia Cotter, Tim Bauer, Patricia Reynoso, Megan Cohen, and Lachlan Philpott.

I’ll unfortunately be traveling, but you should check it out!

You Should Probably Be Listening to This

BornReady Rob Ready and Ray Hobbs have an excellent podcast up and running.

I have listened to every single episode, and I can firmly state that “Born Ready” is just as much fun as having a beer with Rob Ready, with the added bonus that you don’t have to be intimidated by his manly beard.

You’re also free to drink better beer than the Molson or Pabst that he would probably serve.

This will also help: Their tagline is “Theater has issues. We make fun of them all.” (Bonus points for spelling “theater” right.)

Go check it out. Subscribe in iTunes so you can say you were a fan since before they got big, because you’re probably a hipster who would take pride in that sort of thing.

Learning from the Gamification of Theater

In light of my work on San Francisco’s own immersive theater piece, “The Speakeasy”, this article really struck my fancy. It analyzes different styles of immersive theater, from “Sleep No More” style open-world productions to more directed on-rails style productions.

I’m in the beginning stages of developing a piece of immersive theater; I imagine that I’m not alone. I look at the droves of people playing ‘Sleep No More’ and wonder if there is a better experience to be had for the audience. The answer might lie in the audience size—an open-world theater performance could be enjoyable to everyone with only a fraction of the current ‘Sleep No More’ attendees. It might be in removing the anonymity granted by the masks, or setting the performance on-rails to control all of the variables. The combination of games and theater is too full of new possibilities to not explore it more. I’m interested in an exploration that respects the artistic experience as much as the gameplay involved.

Very much worth reading!

‘The Speakeasy’ is Everything I Love About San Francisco

I’ve been posting about The Speakeasy a lot, but what else am I going to talk about? So here’s a great (and great-looking) review of the show, written by The Bold Italic magazine. It’s got a pretty good description of the experience, too, if you’ve been trying to figure out exactly what it is:

The Speakeasy is less a straight narrative and more a choose-your-own-adventure collection of character studies of the folks who populate a San Francisco speakeasy in the 1920s. There are the mob bosses and the showgirls, the fallen heroes and the families they (tried to) leave behind. The dramatic tension here is romantic and political, it comes out through dialogue, song, and dance, and it’s performed in the chair next to you one moment and behind glass the next…

It also feels very San Francisco in more than just concept. The narrative theme of coming to this city to make your fortune, and then watching that dream become a fantasy, is something that repeats throughout the ages here. And it’s especially poignant now.

TheatreStorm Reviews ‘The Speakeasy’ (*****)

Charles Kruger reviews “The Speakeasy”, gives a shout-out to the Associate Head Writer, and says it’s “theatrical art of a high order” that should “run forever.” Not bad:

Director Nick Olivero has collaborated with a stellar troupe of writers, designers, musicians and actors to create an immersive experience that will blow your mind…

Just give yourself over and play along for an experience you will never forget…

The company of “The Speakeasy” has achieved a marriage of lowbrow and highbrow that is unlike anything else. The themes are complex, and all the stories interrelate. In short, “The Speakeasy” is much more than a novelty; it is theatrical art of a high order.

SFist Reviews ‘The Speakeasy’ From Boxcar Theatre

Hey, hey, the play that I was Associate Head Writer for got a really nice review from SFist:

As immersive, progressive performance experiences go, you aren’t going to find much that isn’t fun and cool about the Boxcar Theatre’s latest….

All told, Olivero and his Boxcar ensemble have pulled off an innovative and impressive piece of theater that’s unlike anything I’ve seen in the Bay Area, and it’s likely to be a lasting hit, if I [were] to guess, for that very reason.

Top 10 Movies I Didn’t See in 2013

American Hustle
Wow, what an amazing cast. This looks like something I would totally see. But I didn’t see it.

This one gets mixed reviews. Some people love it, some say it’s a bit dull, and some of us didn’t see it.

Fast & Furious 6
It might be surprising that this movie made the list. But it deserves mention because, like the others on this list, I didn’t see it.

Blue Jasmine
This one gets a special call-out as one that I almost saw, but then didn’t.

The Hobbit
If you like fantasy films, this is the one to see. I don’t, so I didn’t see it.

Scarlett Johannson plays something like a computer operating system, or the voice of a computer operating system, or something along those lines, and Joaquin Phoenix grows a mustache so he can…mmm, I don’t know. I didn’t see it.

The Great Beauty
This one is about Italy. Instead of seeing the movie, I went to Italy.

The big question on this one is whether to see it in 3D, whether to see it in IMAX, or whether to not see it. I chose the last one.

The Act Of Killing
I imagine that this film is so brutal, you will recoil at every act of violence. But I’m not sure about that, because I didn’t see it.

The Wolf Of Wall Street
Too long; didn’t see.

We’re Having A Reading

2014_01_05_Victimless_lgYou know I’m in a group called Portuguese Artists Colony, and you know that we throw literary events from time to time, and now you know the next one will be on Sunday, January 5, at 5:00 pm at the Make-Out Room in San Francisco.

Guest readers:

  • Tom Barbash, whose novel The Last Good Chance was a Publishers Weekly Book of the Year.
  • Carolyn Cooke, who chairs the MFA Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
  • Maisha Z. Johnson, who is a queer writer and activist with an MFA in poetry from Pacific University.
  • Nicole M. Taylor, who won November’s live writing.
  • Caitlin Myer, who founded the colony and will read new work.

And the musical guest is Girl Named T, because it’s not just words (and alcohol) (although that should be plenty to tempt you). See you there!