Custom Made to Open Season with Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, 9/12-10/12

Custom Made to Open Season with Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, 9/12-10/12

A satirical and horrifying anti-war story, Slaughterhouse Five, carries a unique poignancy - and humor. A best seller when released, the novel brought Vonnegut to prominence as a major voice in American fiction. It has been adapted for the stage by Tony-nominated and Oscar-winning Eric Simonson and is directed by Custom Made Theatre's Artistic Director Brian Katz.

With eleven actors playing dozens of characters, dynamic multimedia, and creative staging, Custom Made's "Slaughterhouse" is sure to an unforgettable theatrical event.

Slaughterhouse Five plays September 12 through October 12 at the Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough Street in San Francisco.

Slaughterhouse Five introduces us to Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes 'unstuck in time.' Billy says this happened after being abducted by aliens at his daughter's wedding. In a plot-scrambling display of virtuosity, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his shattering experience as an American prisoner of war who, like Vonnegut, witnesses the Allies' firebombing of Dresden.

Cast

Ryan Hayes ......................................................................................... Billy Pilgrim

Brian Martin.............................................................................. Young Billy Pilgrim

Dave Sikula*..................................................................................................... Man

Alun Anderman /Myles Cence............. Billy Boy (alternating performances)

Stephanie Ann Foster ............................................... Valencia/Derby/Ensemble

Sal Mattos............................................................... Weary/Rosewater/Ensemble

Chris Morrell...................................................... Chetwynde/Campbell/Ensemble

Jessica Jade Rudholm* ........................... Barbara/Tralafamadorian/Ensemble

Carina Lastimos Salazar............................ Montana Wildhack/Dotty/Ensemble

Paul Stout*......................................................... Kilgore Trout/Reggie/Ensemble

Sam Tillis................................................................ Lazzaro/Rumfoord/Ensemble

The cast is comprised of a number of Custom Made veterans, and award winners, including Ryan Hayes and Brian Martin as Billy Pilgrim at different stages of their lives. Hayes and Martin shared the stage in The Merchant of Venice. Also returning is Dave Sikula (Superior Donuts), Sal Mattos (Why Torture is Wrong), Chris Morrell (A Bright Room Called Day), Jessica Rudholm (Eurydice), and Paul Stout (Why Torture is Wrong).

Production Crew

Brian Katz*, Director
Cat Howser, Stage Manager
Christine Keating, Asst. Director
Sarah Phykitt*, Scenic Designer
Maxx Kurzunski*, Lighting Design
Karina Chavarin, Costume Design
Rebecca Longworth, Video Design
Liz Ryder*, Sound Design
Daunielle Rasmussen*, Movement
Stewart Lyle*, Technical Director
Perry Aliado*, Dramaturge

*Member, Custom Made Theatre Co

Some Notes on the Production

Scenic Design is by Sarah Phykitt, who is the Technical Director for ACT Conservatory. Sarah previously designed the sets for Custom Made's Eurydice and The Play About the Baby. The set will be comprised of broken geodesic dome representing the world of Tramalfadore (where Billy Pilgrim says he was put on display in an alien zoo), which will surround the stage, as well as the meat hooks of the Slaughterhouse where Billy Pilgrim (and Vonnegut) were kept during the Dresden firestorm. Both elements of the design represent the shattered nature of Billy's personality in this non-linear tale.

Video design will play a major role in Custom Made's story-telling. Three screens built into the geodesic dome will be used for multi-media, with animations designed by Rebecca Longworth whose production of O Best Beloved! won a "Best of the San Francisco Fringe" last year. Vonnegut often put his own line-drawings into his novels, starting with Slaughterhouse, and Longworth's animations will help show the author's hand in this tale, which many have described as a novel about the writing of a novel.

Narrative movement is by Daunielle Rasmussen, the Education Director at Marin Theatre Co and a Custom Made board member, as well as winner of a SFBATCC award for her work on Custom Made's Eurydice. "There are 50 scenes in the 90-minute play, and movement will be used to show the time-tripping as well as the more operatic parts of this story," says director Katz.

The score is by Liz Ryder, who most recently scored Custom Made's The Crucible and who also won a SFBATCC award for her work on Eurydice. Lighting is by Maxx Kurzunski, who also won an SFBATCC for Eurydice and A Bright Room Called Day

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and Slaughterhouse Five

The New York Times has called Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. "the novelist of the counterculture." His works like Cat's Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blend satire, gallows humor, and science fiction. As a citizen he was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a critical pacifist intellectual. He was born in Indianapolis, in 1922, served in the U.S. Army in Europe, and died in New York City in 2007.

Central to his later writing were his war experiences. He was assigned to the European front after Normandy and was captured during the Battle of the Bulge. Imprisoned in Dresden, he was chosen as a leader of the POWs because he spoke some German. After telling some German guards "what [he] was going to do to them when the Russians came," he was beaten and had his position as leader revoked. He witnessed the Allied firebombing of Dresden in February 1945, which destroyed most of the historic city. The firebombing of Dresden was the largest massacre of civilians in World War II. More civilians died than in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. It was a "safe city" bombed by the Allies, then covered up after the war

Vonnegut was part of a group of American prisoners of war who survived the bombing in an underground slaughterhouse meat locker used as an ad hoc detention facility. The German guards called the building Schlachthof Fünf ("Slaughterhouse Five"), and the POWs adopted that name. Vonnegut said that the aftermath of the attack on the defenseless city was "utter destruction" and "carnage unfathomable". The experience was the inspiration for his famous novel Slaughterhouse-Five, and is a central theme in at least six of his other books. (Source: Wikipedia)

If the novel Slaughterhouse Five has to be classified, it would be as an anti-war book. But Vonnegut writes that he might as well have made an anti-glacier novel. " And even if we could stop wars (or glaciers) there would be just plain old death." Both novel and play have a unique combination of fatalism and humanity.

The Simonson adaptation of the play debuted at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater in 1996, then was rewritten in 2008 for Godlight Theatre in New York.

"We are doing the latest version which calls for an ensemble of actors, a minimum number of props, and a lot of imagination," Brian Katz says.

Show Times and Tickets

Preview Sept 12 &13, 8:00 pm; Sept.14, 7:00 pm
Opens Sept 16, 8:00 pm
Runs Sept 18-Oct 12 Thurs-Sat 8:00 pm, Sun 7:00 pm
Matinees Oct 5 & 12, 3:00 pm.

Tickets $20-$50

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