Cutting Ball Theater Announces 2012-13 Season

San Francisco's cutting-edge Cutting Ball Theater today announced the lineup for its 13th season. The season opens in October with Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep, August Strindberg's Chamber Plays in new translations by Paul Walsh, directed by Cutting Ball Artistic Director Rob Melrose; this will be the first time all five of Strindberg's Chamber Plays will be performed together in repertory in any language.

RISK IS THIS.THE CUTTING BALL NEW EXPERIMENTAL PLAYS FESTIVAL returns in January with three new works and two new "Risk Translations" in staged readings that push the boundaries of what theater can be. The season continues with Eugene Ionesco's absurdist classic THE CHAIRS in a new translation by Rob Melrose, directed by Annie Elias (Tenderloin). Rounding out the season, Cutting Ball presents the World Premiere of KRISPY KRITTERS IN THE SCARLETT NIGHT, San Francisco playwright Andrew Saito's poetic portrayal of the heart of a dystopian city. In addition to the main stage season, Cutting Ball Theater continues its Hidden Classics Reading Series with five new installments. The entire 2012-13 season will be staged in San Francisco at the Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor (277 Taylor Street at Ellis). For tickets and information, the public may visit or call 415-525-1205.

"The highlight of the new season is certainly Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep," said Cutting Ball Artistic Director Rob Melrose. "In addition to pioneering theatrical movements in both Realism and Expressionism, Strindberg was a painter, writer, botanist, chemist, photographer, and a linguist. Strindberg was like the Leonardo da Vinci of the Modern world. He was a fascinating human being and one of the fathers of avant garde theater. At the end of his career, Strindberg wrote five thematically connected plays for the Intimate Theater in Stockholm; he called them chamber plays because he thought that they related to his earlier, large-scale work in the same way that chamber music relates to symphonies. We are thrilled to present these works in repertory for the first time, and very grateful to the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation for providing major support for Strindberg Cycle."

Continued Melrose, "After Cutting Ball's successes with Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and Victims of Duty, I am eager to present our new translation of The Chairs. Annie Elias, who did such marvelous work with Tenderloin, will direct this production, and I can't wait to see what she does with this masterful play. Likewise, we are excited to present the World Premiere of Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night by Andrew Saito, one of the most imaginative writers I have ever met; Krispy Kritters, which was the hit of the 2011 RISK IS THIS.The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival, is an extraordinary new work from this local playwright."

"Cutting Ball continues to make new translations and adaptations an important part of RISK IS THIS. and has commissioned a new version of the ?apek's Insect Play by Bennett Fisher; we are also starting a collaboration with Russian Director Yury Urnov, who will direct my translation of Ubu Roi, published by the EXIT Press earlier this season. I am thrilled to start this collaboration with Yury, and to start the groundwork towards a major production of this seminal avant garde play. We are also developing a new play by Campo Santo's Sean San José about the rise of crack in the 1980s, as well as new plays by recent graduates of the Yale School of Drama and the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. As part of our Hidden Classics Reading Series, we not only continue our exploration of the work of August Strindberg, but also honor recently deceased playwright and president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel. This promises to be an extraordinary season, by far our most ambitious season yet."

In chronological order, The Cutting Ball Theater 2012-13 season is as follows:


By August Strindberg

in new translations by Paul Walsh

Directed by Rob Melrose

October 12 - November 18, 2012

Part 1: The Ghost Sonata - Press Opening: October 18 (Previews Oct. 12-14)

Part 2: The Pelican and The Black Glove - Press Opening: October 27 (Previews Oct. 25-26)

Part 3: Storm and Burned House - Press Opening: November 3 (Previews Nov. 1-2)

Cutting Ball Theater opens its 13th season with Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep, August Strindberg's Chamber Plays in new translations by Paul Walsh, directed by Cutting Ball Artistic Director Rob Melrose. The Chamber Plays are THE GHOST SONATA, THE PELICAN, THE BLACK GLOVE, STORM, and BURNED HOUSE; this will be the first time all five of Strindberg's Chamber Plays will be performed together in repertory in any language. Strindberg Cycle provides audiences an opportunity to see the plays performed separately, as well as in a "Chamber Play Marathon" of all five shows in one day.

A true theatrical innovator, August Strindberg spent his life dedicated to fervent experimentation, pioneering work in naturalism, proto-expressionism, and his own dream-like dramaturgy. Strindberg Cycle is the final offering in Cutting Ball's year-long programming celebrating the centennial of Strindberg's death, which honored the playwright's vast career throughout 2012 with symposiums, lectures, and staged readings of his works, in addition to fully-staged productions of the Chamber Plays.

THE GHOST SONATA tells the story of a strange encounter between a student and an old man and begins the morning after a terrible fire. A "ghost supper" is shared in a round room, secrets are divulged, plots are foiled, illusions are shattered, and the true haunting nature of things is revealed. The most well known of Strindberg's Chamber Plays, THE GHOST SONATA serves as the centerpiece of Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep.

Based on the belief that a Pelican sheds its own blood to feed its young, THE PELICAN presents a family where the exact opposite is true. The widow Elise plots with her lover to steal her children's inheritance while they starve in their own home. When the children discover the truth, the revelation sparks a small revolution.

In THE BLACK GLOVE, it is the day before Christmas Eve in a five-story apartment building. An old man and a caretaker find a black glove in the entryway, precipitating a strange chain of events involving a young wife, two maids, two spirits, a missing ring, and a child.

In STORM, an elderly gentleman near the end of his life lives peacefully in a building neighbors call "the quiet house." His peace is shattered, however, when the new neighbors upstairs, the young wife and child he left many years ago, and her new husband, plan to turn their home into a private casino. Years of jealousy and resentment rise to the surface as he tries to help his former wife out of a bind and finds that the ghosts of his past still haunt him.

In BURNED HOUSE, prodigal son Arvid arrives in his hometown of Stockholm after decades of living in the United States only to find that his childhood home burned down the night before. While detectives search through the rubble for clues about the cause of the fire, Arvid sifts through the ashes to uncover the dark secrets hidden by his family and the town. As more secrets are revealed, Arvid finds the tools he needs to exact revenge on his brother for crimes committed long, long ago.


January 11 - February 9, 2013

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 three new works and two new "Risk Translations" in staged readings that push the boundaries of what theater can be.

Written and directed by Sean San José

January 11-12, 2013

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.


By Alfred Jarry

In a new translation by Rob Melrose

Directed by Yuri Urnov

January 18-19, 2013

When Alfred Jarry's UBU ROI premiered in Paris on December 10, 1896, the audience broke into a riot at the utterance of its first word. Jarry's irreverent parody of Shakespeare's Macbeth defies theatrical tradition through its scatological language and disregard for audience expectations, replacing Shakespeare's tragic hero with a greedy, sadistic, obscene ogre who becomes the king of Poland by force and through the debasement of his people. Cutting Ball's version explores UBU ROI as a reflection on the fall from grace of many a contemporary political leader corrupted by power on the international stage.


By Basil Kreimendahl

January 25-26, 2013

SIDEWINDERS owes as much to Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot as it does to SF Pride. In this absurdist-western romp through gender queerness, Dakota and Bailey find themselves lost, possibly upside down, in a strange world with even stranger characters. Their journey to getting right side up provokes questions of sex anatomy, transgenderism, and who we really are from the inside out.


By Dipika Guha

February 1-2, 2013

On an unnamed colonized island, an ill-suitEd English couple are engaged in a desperate attempt to make their marriage work. But soon after the loss of their baby, a young indigenous island girl enters their home, changing both the course of their lives and history forever. Viewed through the frame of an art exhibition, PASSING examines how we construct historical narratives through our museums, our theaters, and our hearts.


By Josef and Karl ?apek

In a new translation by Bennett Fisher

February 8-9, 2013

In Karel and Josef ?apek's masterpiece THE INSECT PLAY, a vagrant, disgusted and disillusioned by the hypocrisy and cruelty of men, wanders into the forest to live in isolation. As night falls, he experiences fantastic visions of anthropomorphic insects and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. One of the last plays from renowned Czech dramatist Karel ?apek and his brother Josef, THE INSECT PLAY constructs an impish satire of human relationships, using butterflies, ants, and beetles to explore human vices in a powerful allegory about what it means to be human.


By Eugene Ionesco

In a new translation by Rob Melrose

Directed by Annie Elias

March 1 - 31, 2013

Press opening: March 7

Gala opening: March 8

Cutting Ball Theater continues its 13th season with THE CHAIRS. This tragic farce, in the tradition of Cutting Ball's hit productions of Ionesco's The Bald Soprano (2010) and Victims of Duty (2008), is as comedic as it is heartbreaking. THE CHAIRS follows an elderly couple who pass their time in an abandoned seaside building playing private games and telling each other half-remembered stories. Adrift in a world of their own, the Old Man resolves to convey his wisdom to a lifetime of friends, but while the Old Woman frantically sets out chairs, all of their invited guests appear to be imaginary. An eccentric meditation on the human condition, THE CHAIRS humorously blurs the line between fantasy and hallucination as the couple's game becomes their reality. Directed by Annie Elias (Tenderloin), Melrose's new translation holds a mirror up to contemporary social networks and offers a fresh take on this absurdist masterpiece.


By Andrew Saito

Directed by Rob Melrose

May 17-June 16, 2013

Press opening: May 23

Gala opening: May 24

Cutting Ball presents the World Premiere of KRISPY KRITTERS IN THE SCARLETT NIGHT, San Francisco playwright Andrew Saito's poetic portrayal of the heart of the city in the spirit of Alan Ginsburg's Howl, William S. Burroughs, and the plays of Suzan-Lori Parks. KRISPY KRITTERS IN THE SCARLETT NIGHT dazzles with sublime, surreal language and images fit for a Dalí painting in a play about love and longing in the neglected neighborhoods of a fictional city. At the center is Scarlett, a woman who takes care of her grandmother by pulling wild animals out of her ears and letting them loose in her backyard menagerie. She makes her living as best she can off of the dreams and desires of married men who are willing to sacrifice everything for her. Drumhead, a lowly morgue worker with a wild imagination, comes across a carnival poster boasting of the wonders of Scarlett and can't get her out of his head. He too has a relative to care for: his Navy veteran father who lost his legs in a war and spends his days reenacting great battles in the bathtub. KRISPY KRITTERS IN THE SCARLETT NIGHT follows these seeming misfits on their journey to find each other.

KRISPY KRITTERS IN THE SCARLETT NIGHT was workshopped during Cutting Ball's 2011 RISK IS THIS.festival.

Hidden Classics Reading Series

This season, Cutting Ball's Hidden Classics Reading Series continues to explore and celebrate the work of August Strindberg, as well present a variety of extraordinary works ranging from the ancient Greeks to the Elizabethans and modern experimentalism. The series offers a profound look at some of the greatest authors ever to write for the stage in a program that continues to be one of San Francisco's best-kept secrets.


By August Strindberg

August 19, 2012

Cutting Ball opens the Hidden Classics Reading Series with August Strindberg's THE FATHER. One of Strindberg's best known plays, THE FATHER, like Strindberg's Miss Julie, is an intense look at the power struggles between men and women. The Captain is a former military hero who, in a patriarchal society, seems to have all of the power. In a struggle over how to raise their daughter, the Captain's wife raises doubts in his mind as to whether or not he really is the father of his child. Whatever power the Captain has, he is totally at the mercy of his wife's faithfulness or unfaithfulness.

This reading will be followed by a discussion on Strindberg and women.


By Vaclav Havel

December 9, 2012

Cutting Ball honors the life of celebrated playwright, political dissident, and former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, with a reading of one of Havel's most challenging and delightful plays. Social Scientist Eduard Huml is busy conducting experiments, coming up with theories, and trying to keep his wife, as well as his mistress, happy. The complexity of his life is accentuated by Havel's writing the scenes of Huml's life in "out-of-time" order. A hilarious, dizzying, exhilarating experience, THE INCREASED DIFFICULTY OF CONCENTRATION was first produced during the Prague Spring; it went on to win an OBIE when it was produced at Lincoln Center.


By Sophocles

January 27, 2013

Set a few years after the Trojan War, Electra's father Agamemnon has been murdered by her mother Clytemnestra. Her brother Orestes has been missing for years and is thought to be dead. In order to avenge her father's death, she must do the unthinkable and kill her mother. ELECTRA is in many ways the female version of Oedipus Rex and Hamlet, exploring the complexities of mother/daughter relationships. It is from this Greek tragedy that we get the psychological concept "Electra Complex."


By William Shakespeare
March 24, 2013

The fat, fun-loving character of Falstaff is considered by many to be one of Shakespeare's greatest inventions. Perhaps the biggest fan was Queen Elizabeth, who insisted that Shakespeare write a play that featured Falstaff after he killed him off in Henry V; THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR is the result of that request. While in Shakespeare's history plays, we see Falstaff's antics in war, here we see the ridiculousness of Falstaff in love.


June 9, 2013

Cutting Ball is considering several new projects for the final Hidden Classics staged reading of the season and will make an announcement soon.

Co-founded in 1999 by theater artists Rob Melrose and Paige Rogers, Cutting Ball Theater presents avant-garde works of the past, present, and future by re-envisioning classics, exploring seminal avant-garde texts, and developing new experimental plays. Cutting Ball Theater has partnered with Playwrights Foundation, and the Magic Theatre/Z Space New Plays Initiative to commission new experimental works. The company has produced a number of World Premieres, West Coast Premieres, and re-imagined various classics. Voted "Best Theater Company" in the 2010 San Francisco Bay Guardian Best of the Bay issue, Cutting Ball Theater also earned the Best of SF award in 2006 and Best Experimental Theater award in 2012 from SF Weekly, was selected by San Francisco Magazine as Best Classic Theater in 2007, and received the 2008 San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie award for outstanding talent in the performing arts. Cutting Ball Theater was featured in the February 2010 and 2012 issues of American Theatre Magazine.

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