Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

NCTC to Present World Premiere of SAGITTARIUS PONDEROSA


In January, NCTC is proud to present the world premiere of a whimsical and powerful new play, Sagittarius Ponderosa by MJ Kaufman, directed by Ben Randle. Winner of the 2014 Global Age Project at Aurora Theatre Company and featured on The 2015 Kilroy List of the most recommended new plays by female and trans* writers, the play introduces us to Archer (still Angela to his family), who makes the journey back home to the forests of Eastern Oregon. His journey back proves to be just the beginning when he meets a handsome stranger at night under the oldest Ponderosa Pine. What follows illuminates the transitions of life and death, the comings and goings of love, and the mysteries of the human heart.

Sagittarius Ponderosa runs January 22 - February 28, 2016. Opening Night is Saturday, January 31, 2016 at 8pm. Tickets are $25-45 and available at or by calling (415) 861-8972.

Sagittarius Ponderosa is a personal exploration for Kaufman, who was encouraged by Yale faculty member and playwright Sarah Ruhl to ?"??explore ?new plot form?s? ?for writing about gender?," says Kaufman, who received an MFA from Yale School of Drama. "I had been feeling frustrated that most queer narratives are coming-out stories and most transgender narratives are transition stories. Why are the most prominent narratives organized around arriving at a more stable identity? I wanted trans narratives that would focus on fluidity, highlighting the way many of us are different genders in different spaces. I wanted to create art that would acknowledge constant change as an intrinsic part of being a person."

"I am overjoyed to see the world premiere of Sagittarius Ponderosa at NCTC," exclaims Kaufman. "San Francisco feels like the perfect place to premiere this exploration of love, family, forests and identity."

Playwright MJ Kaufman's work has been developed and produced at the Huntington Theatre, New York Theater Workshop, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges, Page73, Colt Coeur, Yale School of Drama, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Aurora Theater, Crowded Fire, Fresh Ink Theatre, New Harmony Project and performed in Russian in Moscow. They have received awards and commissions from the Program for Women in Theater, the Playwrights Foundation, the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, Young Playwrights Inc., and the Huntington Theatre, where they are also a playwriting fellow. MJ received the 2013 ASCAP Cole Porter Prize in Playwriting, the 2013 Global Age Project Prize, and the 2010 Jane Chambers Prize in Feminist Theatre. MJ is currently a core playwright at InterAct Theatre, a resident artist at the New Museum (X-ID Rep), and a Resident Teaching Artist at Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Originally from Portland, Oregon, MJ attended Wesleyan University and recently received an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama.

Director Ben Randle is NCTC's first Artistic Associate and has directed several acclaimed productions for the Company. Most recently, he conceived and directed the world premiere of Salome, Dance for Me, an original glam rock musical by trixxie carr, with Robert Mollicone, at NCTC. Other world premieres include Into the Clear Blue Sky by JC Lee (BATCC Nomination, Best Director, Scenic Design); The Fisherman's Wife by Steve Yockey for Impact Theatre; Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dionysus: A Greek Comedy Rock Epic (co-written with trixxie carr) at CounterPULSE; and Evan Johnson's celebrated solo play Pansy, which has played to acclaim on tour across the country, following its sold-out premiere at NCTC. West Coast Premieres include The Submission and Don't Ask at NCTC, where he also directed Shakespeare's R&J, Doubt (BATCC Nomination, Best Director), Treefall, and Baptized to the Bone. Other credits include Chalk Boy by Joshua Conkel, for Impact Theatre; Sweeney Todd for Ray of Light Theatre, (BATCC nomination, Best Director), and Hank Williams: Lost Highway at Douglas Morrison Theatre. Randle has also worked at California Shakespeare Theater, Aurora Theatre, West Edge Opera, Brava!, and Thrillpeddlers. He has a B.A. in Theatre from San Francisco State University and was a member of Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab 2010.

The cast of Sagittarius Ponderosa features SK Kerastas, Andy Collins, Janis DeLucia, Michaela Greeley, and Matthew Hannon.

The creative team of Sagittarius Ponderosa includes scenic design by Christian V. Mejia, costume design by Miriam Lewis, lighting design by Anthony Powers, sound design by James Ard, puppet design by Dave Haaz-Boroque and prop design by Adeline Smith.

New Conservatory Theatre Center is San Francisco's premier LGBTQIA and allied performing arts institution and progressive arts education conservatory since 1981. NCTC is renowned for its diverse range of innovative, high quality productions, touring productions and shows for young audiences; its foundational anti-bullying work with youth and educators through YouthAware; and its commitment to nurturing emerging artists and playwrights to expand the canon of queer and allied dramatic work.

Related Articles View More San Francisco Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You