25 Best American Plays Since ‘Angels in America’ →

Here are two fun things to do. First, read just the titles and see if you can name the playwrights. Then, count how many you’ve seen, and how many you’ve read. For me, I saw 15, read four, and got 17 1/2 playwrights’ names right. (For one, I remembered their first name but couldn’t remember their last name. Odd.)

BTW, this is what the article’s about:

Tony Kushner’s “gay fantasia,” fusing the ambition, morality and underdog sympathies of earlier 20th century masters, felt not only like a great American play but like a culmination and reimagining of great American playness. It slammed a door open. That was 1993. Exactly 25 years later, the first Broadway revival of “Angels in America” started us thinking about what has happened to American plays in the meantime. Have they been as great? Is their greatness different from what it was? Is “greatness” even a meaningful category anymore?

From The New York Times.

‘Zombie Town’ at Contra Costa College

Another Halloween, another production of my play Zombie Town: A Documentary Play. From the East Bay Times:

Get into the mood for Halloween with a trip to “Zombie Town,” a horror spoof about zombies who invade a small West Texas town, being staged at Contra Costa College in San Pablo….

The play, written by Tim Bauer and directed by Tara Blau, is on stage Oct. 13 through 22 at the Jean and John Knox Center for the Performing Arts at the corner of Castro and El Portal Drive on the CCC campus. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays.

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.