Cutting Ball Theater Sets 2014-15 Season: SUPERHEROES, ANTIGONE, MT. MISERY & More
San Francisco's cutting-edge Cutting Ball Theater proudly announces the lineup for its 16th season. The main stage season opens in November with the World Premiere of SUPERHEROES, written and directed by Sean San José (Campo Santo), followed by Sophocles' ANTIGONE in February, directed by Cutting Ball Associate Artistic Director Paige Rogers, in a new translation by Daniel Sullivan. Cutting Ball presents the World Premiere of resident playwright Andrew Saito's MT. MISERY in May. RISK IS THIS...THE CUTTING BALL NEW EXPERIMENTAL PLAYS FESTIVAL returns in May to round out the season with five new works, including two new plays from resident playwright Andrew Saito, in staged readings that push the boundaries of what theater can be. In addition to the main stage season, Cutting Ball Theater continues its Hidden Classics Reading Series with five new installments. The entire 2014-15 season will be staged in San Francisco at the Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor (277 Taylor Street at Ellis). Single tickets on sale August 1. For information about season memberships, the public may contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For tickets and information, the public may visit cuttingball.com or call 415-525-1205.
"Big changes are happening at Cutting Ball!" said Artistic Director Rob Melrose. "For the past few years, Paige Rogers and I have been excited about the theater we've been seeing in Poland. We were particularly taken with the Dialog Festival in which plays are curated around a central theme with a series of lectures and discussions held throughout the festival to give audiences an opportunity to engage with that theme and build upon their theater experiences. I have always felt that theater was about more than just a fun evening out. It is a place where we can ask big questions about our lives and wrestle with them together as a community. For the next three years, Cutting Ball will center each season on a theme: 2014-15 Justice, 2015-16 Dreams, 2016-17 Sex. Each year the three main stage productions will be connected by these themes and a series of lectures and discussions will be held throughout the season as a way to give audiences the opportunity to engage more deeply with each subject."
Continued Melrose, "My mentor, and Cutting Ball honorary Board member, Oskar Eustis, told me that after developing and directing Tony Kushner's Angels in America, he felt what it was like to have a play become part of a national conversation and it gave him a sense of what the role of theater in America could be. Oskar has been an inspiration to me for years and his important work at the Eureka Theater is one of the reasons Paige and I chose San Francisco as Cutting Ball's home 15 years ago. We share Oskar's deep sense of the vital role theater can play in people's daily lives. To that end, the theme for Cutting Ball's 16th season is Justice, in which we start by looking at justice right here in our neighborhood with the World Premiere of Sean San José's Superheroes, a penetrating exploration of the crack epidemic in San Francisco. In the same way we asked our audiences to look at the Tenderloin through new eyes with our 2012 production of Tenderloin, with Superheroes we ask audiences to consider the issues of social justice and drug use in San Francisco. We will also be partnering with Glide and other local organizations to allow the impact of the production to reach far beyond the Cutting Ball theater walls. I have long been an admirer of Sean and his wonderful work with Campo Santo and I am thrilled to be working with him at Cutting Ball. "
"The second production of the season, a new translation of Sophocles' Antigone by Daniel Sullivan, continues the theme of Justice in an examination of the individual versus the state and civil disobedience. Associate Artistic Director Paige Rogers, who helmed Cutting Ball's productions of Tontlawald and Mud, will direct, using music and movement techniques gleaned from Poland's famed Teatr ZAR workshop visit to Cutting Ball. Additionally, the company of Antigone has been invited by ZAR for a two-week residency at the Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, Poland, making them the first American company to receive such an invitation in over a decade. After Paige's wildly inventive work on Tontlawald, I am extremely excited about the bold theatricality, contemporary aesthetic, and musical sense that she will bring to Antigone."
"The final main stage production of the season, the World Premiere of resident playwright Andrew Saito's Mt. Misery, explores the fact that Donald Rumsfeld and his wife purchased the plantation where Frederick Douglass was a slave for use as a vacation home. The play asks us to look at the injustices our country has perpetrated in the past and the injustices we condone for the sake of safety and convenience to this day. It is a powerful play and I look forward to directing it."
"The Hidden Classics reading of Aeschylus' three play cycle, Oresteia, and a discussion of theater and justice, will officially open the season. Considered to be one of the earliest dramas, Oresteia is in many ways a celebration of the invention of the Greek legal system. Hidden Classics continues later in the year with plays being developed for Cutting Ball's Dream season: A Dream Play by August Strindberg in a new translation by Paul Walsh and Life is a Dream by Pedro Calderón de la Barca, in a new translation by Andrew Saito. RISK IS THIS...The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival returns to close the season with new plays by Andrew Saito, Christopher Chen, Katharine Sherman, and Mark Jackson. It promises to be a sensational season and the start of something brand new at Cutting Ball."
In chronological order, The Cutting Ball Theater 2014-15 season is as follows:
Written and directed by Sean San José
November 14 - December 14, 2014
Press opening: November 20
Gala opening: November 21
Cutting Ball Theater opens its 16th season with the World Premiere of SUPERHEROES. Defiant, passionate, and bursting with poetic energy, SUPERHEROES tells the story of a journalist working to separate fact from fiction as she investigates the sordid history of the crack-cocaine epidemic. Partially inspired by Gary Webb's groundbreaking investigative journalism into the relationship between the CIA and Nicaraguan drug traffickers, this incendiary new play traces a lyrical labyrinth through churches, courthouses, and street corners in pursuit of a shocking truth. SUPERHEROES was developed as part Cutting Ball's 2013 edition of RISK IS THIS... The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival.
Written by Sophocles
In a new translation by Daniel Sullivan
Directed by Paige Rogers
February 19 - March 22, 2015
Press opening: February 21
Gala opening: February 22
In this seminal Greek play by Sophocles, Antigone defies the royal edict sent out by her uncle, Creon, not to bury the body of her brother, Polynices. Exploring the struggle between the individual and the state, this elegant tragedy about tyrannical power and civil disobedience is considered to be Sophocles' masterpiece and has become synonymous with political protest. ANTIGONE appeared as a staged reading as part of Cutting Ball's Hidden Classics Reading Series in 2013. Associate Artistic Director Paige Rogers, who helmed Cutting Ball's productions of Tontlawald and Mud, will direct, using music and movement techniques inspired by Poland's famed Teatr ZAR. Bay Area favorite Madeline H.D. Brown returns to the company and reprises her role as Antigone.
By Andrew Saito
Directed by Rob Melrose
May 8 - June 7, 2015
Press opening: May 14
Gala opening: May 15
Cutting Ball's resident playwright Andrew Saito examines the United States' inconsistent progress on issues of power and race through the colliding histories of two prominent American figures on one shared tract of land. On a plantation in a small Maryland town, a teenaged slave named Frederick Douglass once fought and triumphed against an overseer named Edward Covey. The moment would permanently alter the course of Douglass' life, freeing him from fear and building a new sense of agency. In 2003, Covey's home, "Mount Misery," was purchased by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for $1.5 million. In MT. MISERY, Saito imagines Rumsfeld and Douglass' interactions across time. MT. MISERY was commissioned by Cutting Ball and developed as part of the 2014 edition of RISK IS THIS... The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival.
RISK IS THIS...THE CUTTING BALL NEW EXPERIMENTAL PLAYS FESTIVAL
May 17 - June 15, 2015
RISK IS THIS...THE CUTTING BALL NEW EXPERIMENTAL PLAYS FESTIVAL is one of the only play festivals in America solely dedicated to experimental works for the stage. This year's festival features five new works in staged readings that push the boundaries of what theater can be.
By Christopher Chen
Directed by Rem Myers
May 17 - May 18, 2015
An art gallery hosts a retrospective of the work of legendary Chinese dissident and artist Lin Bo, who was imprisoned in a Chinese detention center for a single work of art. Recently profiled in The New Yorker, the artist himself is present and he shares with patrons the details of a personal ordeal that defies belief. What follows his talk are a series of surreal scenes that question the very assumption of truth in art, performance, and journalism. This new play from Christopher Chen (The Hundred Flowers Project) takes a profound look at reality and what role it plays in art.
WHO IS HEINER MÜLLER OR THE END OF HISTORY
Written and directed by Mark Jackson
May 24 - May 25, 2015
An Author is interrogated by a childhood friend, whose work and name the Author ran off with in the post-World War II chaos of Germany. After 50 years of living in the margins, the old friend kidnaps the now famous Author to exact his revenge by particularly theatrical means. What begins as a puzzling interrogation with questions of death and childhood quickly evolves into a debate between conflicting values of political awareness and personal desire before taking a sharp turn when the interrogator unleashes a play dramatizing the Author's "true" origins. Neither a biography of Heiner Müller nor an attempt to represent his work, WHO IS HEINER MÜLLER OR THE END OF HISTORY is a psycho-mystery-thriller-comedy about death, identity, amnesia, cynicism, world politics, and revenge.
A special Hidden Classics reading of Hamletmachine by Heiner Müller will be held before the May 25 reading of WHO IS HEINER MÜLLER.
UNTITLED MOBY DICK ADAPTATION
By Andrew Saito
Directed by Rob Melrose
May 31 - June 1, 2015
Cutting Ball's resident playwright Andrew Saito returns to RISK IS THIS with an adaptation of Herman Melville's classic novel about obsession, vengeance, and humanity. This revision of Melville's famous and expansive sea epic focuses on the often-neglected narratives of its people of color. Saito explores Melville's formal innovations in literature and translates them for the stage in this ambitious new play.
By Katharine Sherman
Directed by Rob Melrose
June 7 - 8, 2015
nightcap is a dream play built around two juxtaposing structures: the medieval dream vision - a sleeping seeker, an ethereal guide, a dreamscape backdrop - and the form of one night's sleep - hypnagogic imagery giving way to the stages of light sleep, to deeper sleep, to dreams. This ode to August Strindberg's surreal masterpiece A Dream Play was commissioned by Cutting Ball Theater. Sherman's play Ondine was featured in the 2014 RISK IS THIS festival.
LOOKING DOWN AT THE STARS
By Andrew Saito
Directed by Paige Rogers
June 14 - 15, 2015
Cutting Ball's resident playwright Andrew Saito explores the relationship between the Man in the Moon, Ellison Onizuka, the first Asian American in space, and a Tihuanaku (Pre-Incan) priest and astronomer. A child of the 1980s, Saito was in the second grade during the Challenger space shuttle explosion and the story of the often forgotten Japanese-American astronaut among its crew left a lasting impression.
Hidden Classics Reading Series
This season, Cutting Ball's Hidden Classics Reading Series celebrates a variety of works ranging from the ancient Greeks, the Spanish Golden Age, Expressionism, and contemporary satire. The series offers a profound look at some of the most adventurous authors to write for the stage in a program that continues to be one of San Francisco's best-kept secrets.
In a translation by Ted Hughes
October 26, 2014
Cutting Ball's Hidden Classics Reading Series opens the season, dedicated to the theme of Justice, with Aeschylus' ORESTEIA, translated by Ted Hughes. With this trilogy of Greek tragedies (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides), Aeschylus took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos at the end of the Trojan War. When King Agamemnon is murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, their son, Orestes, is commanded by Apollo to avenge the crime by killing his mother. When Orestes returns from exile to do so, he brings upon himself the wrath of the Furies and the judgment of the court of Athens. Moving from darkness to light, from rage to self-governance, from primitive ritual to civilized institution, the ORESTEIA explores the shift from blood justice to the legal system. This reading will be followed by a Theater and Justice lecture.
A MURDER OF CROWS
By Mac Wellman
Directed by Rem Myers
March 8, 2015
Set in America's Heartland in the wake of the Gulf War, A Murder of Crows from Obie-winning playwright Mac Wellman satirizes a family struck down by the toxic winds of pollution. Susannah reels from the death of her father, killed under a pile of radioactive chicken droppings. With her brother slowly turning into a statue in the garden and fed up with the rest of her greedy family, Susannah finally follows her dead father's advice and leaves to live with the crows. Exploring consumerism, post-traumatic stress disorder, patriotism, and the human condition, this scathing, apocalyptic comedy pinpoints the poisons in everyday life, mocking our hypocrisy about true and false heroics.
LIFE IS A DREAM
March 15, 2015
By Pedro Calderón de la Barca
In a new translation by Andrew Saito
Directed by Paige Rogers
First published in 1635, LIFE IS A DREAM is a philosophical allegory regarding the human situation and the mystery of life. Often described as the supreme example of Spanish Golden Age drama, it tells the story of Segismundo, a Prince of Poland, who has been imprisoned in a tower by his father following a prophecy that the prince would bring disaster to the country and death to the King. When the prince is briefly freed and goes on a rampage, the king imprisons him again, persuading him that it was all a dream. Wrestling with free will and fate, LIFE IS A DREAM remains one of Calderón's best-known and most studied works. Commissioned by Cutting Ball, resident playwright Andrew Saito pens this new translation of the Calderón classic.
In A DREAM PLAY, Indra's daughter comes down to earth to better understand the plight of man. Through this surreal journey, she meets an officer, a lawyer, and a poet. Strindberg structured this play using a dream logic that was later adopted by Expressionist playwrights. Paul Walsh, who translated all five plays in Cutting Ball's 2012 Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep, provides this translation of one of Strindberg's most admired and influential dramas.