‘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.

PlayGround Announces 20th Season and Writers

At PlayGround’s 20th Season Kick-Off this past Monday, PlayGround Artistic Director Jim Kleinmann introduced the 2013-14 PlayGround Writers, including the 20 Resident Playwrights. Some of the names may look familiar:

PlayGround Resident Playwrights, representing some of PlayGround’s most distinguished alumni and a Who’s-Who of Bay Area writers, include Trevor Allen, Crish Barth, Tim Bauer, Cass Brayton, Erin Bregman, Garret Groenveld, Daniel Heath, Brady Lea, Aaron Loeb, Jonathan Luskin, Katie May, Evelyn Pine, Kenn Rabin, Mandy Hodge Rizvi, Robin Lynn Rodriguez, Diane Sampson, Ken Slattery, Martha Soukup, Tom Swift, and Ignacio Zulueta.

We’re Having Another Literary Event

2013-07-07 disaster_sm

As you know, I’m a member of the Portuguese Artists Colony, “a collection of untrustworthy characters who gather regularly to engage in the disreputable act of writing.” We regularly stage performances of poetry, fiction, plays, screenplays, music and uncivil behavior — and July 7 is our next show, with some awesome guests:

  • Elizabeth Bernstein is the founding editor of the literary magazine The Big Ugly Review and teaches short story workshops at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.
  • Seth Fischer’s writing is in Best Sex Writing 2013, PANK, The Rumpus, Buzzfeed, Guernica, and elsewhere, and he has a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013.
  • Maw Shein Win was co-founder of Comet and is currently a co-publisher for Stretcher, plus she’s a freelancer at the SF Writers’ Grotto.
  • Heather Yager, of Ladies in Blouses, will provide the tunes.

Sunday, July 7
The Make-Out Room
3225 22nd St., SF
Show at 5:00 pm
Sliding scale $5-10

→ Good Criticism Encourages More | Writers on Writing : Medium

Good Criticism Encourages More

My friend (colleague? fellow PlayGround writer? other local tall playwright dude?) Aaron Loeb outlines a fantastic approach to criticism in his article on Medium, based on the idea of assuming the writer you are a critiquing is a “master.”

He calls is the “assumed master” approach. So instead of pointing out things that just don’t work because you are so much better than the writer, instead you assume she’s an expert in her craft and that there’s something you need to talk out so you can understand. The idea being that when you explain what worked, the master will learn what’s going in her work and be encouraged to do more of that. And when you explain where you couldn’t figure out why the master did something, “well, she may find that helpful too”:

It is vital that anyone creative disabuse themselves of the notion that their “I just didn’t get it,” or “Nope. Didn’t work for me,” are so much richer and more meaningful than anyone else’s utterances of the same shitty things. When someone opens themselves for critique, you have an opportunity to elevate them and yourself, to open a door to incredible possibilities that weren’t there just moments earlier. What could possibly be better than that?

A great approach, and one that’s getting a lot of love on Medium. Check it out.