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!

‘The Speakeasy’ Opens Soon, or What I Worked On In 2013

spsfI can finally tell you what I’ve spent much of 2013 working on. I was a contributor to, and eventually Associate Head Writer of, a new immersive theatrical event coming to San Francisco. It’s being produced by Boxcar Theatre and it’s…well, let’s quote from the Broadway World article:

Conceived and created by Boxcar Artistic Director Nick A. Olivero, “The Speakeasy” recreates an authentic Prohibition-era saloon, complete with period cocktails, craps tables, roulette and a backroom cabaret. Inside its multiple rooms unfolds a fully immersive theatrical experience involving more than 35 actors, singers and musicians. Together they lead audiences back to a time poised precariously between two great calamities, World War I and the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

“The Speakeasy” combines the writing talents of Barry Eitel and Tim Bauer, with assistance from Bennett Fisher, Geof Libby, Olivero, Peter Ruocco and Miriam Wilson. Olivero and Ruocco direct, with music direction by Grace Renaud and choreography by Kelsey Bergstrom.

It’s been a complete blast contributing to this insane project, even when I was staying up way too late struggling to pull together a huge minute-by-minute spreadsheet of where all 35 characters were meant to be throughout the entire evening. You should most definitely check it out.

Here’s the deal, though. In keeping with the rules of 1920s speakeasies, the location will remain undisclosed until the night of the performance, when you will get a text telling you how you’ll be admitted. So your first step is to head over to thespeakeasysf.com and get your name on the list. The show runs from January 10 to March 15, and tickets are already on sale.

Stop Complaining that Young People Don’t Like Shakespeare →

Melissa Hillman rocks, and this article is all you need to know about producing, directing or acting Shakespeare:

If we’re going to go out of our way to teach “Acting Shakespeare,” then what we should be teaching is how to step away from the idea that it’s any different than any other play that uses heightened language. It should be a detox class more than anything else. You’re discovering the language as you say it; it’s the only way you can express what you need to say, focus on your objectives rather than the poetry or states, make your characters real, complex people. Make sure you know the meaning of every single thing that comes out of your mouth, and why you’re saying it. You know: acting.

And as a side note, this:

Older people are given the shaft as audience members these days. Everyone complains about them and no one seems to value them. I *LOVE* having them in our space. They’re smart, sophisticated viewers who have been seeing shows since before we were born, and have insights and opinions well worth listening to. People who look down on older audience members don’t know what they’re missing. And bear in mind that 75 isn’t what it used to be– that 75-year-old woman in your front row was in her 20s, naked, at Dionysus in 69. So don’t judge.

Awesome post. Go read it.

‘Zombie Town’ is an irreverent hit →

It’s that time of year! My play “Zombie Town: A Documentary Play” is playing in three cities this year, and here’s how it’s going in Kentucky:

Set in small-town Texas, Tim Bauer’s inexhaustibly irreverent “Zombie Town: A Documentary Play” views like the unholy child of “Monty Python” and “The Last of Us,” whose creepy uncle is the original “Evil Dead.” Basically, it’s fiendishly awful and brilliantly good.