Photo Flash: Pear Theatre Presents PEAR SLICES
Spring is in the air - and for Pear Theatre patrons, that means "Pear Slices," a collection of original, short plays from the members of the Pear Playwrights Guild. Now in its fifteenth year, Pear Slices presents fifteen-minute vignettes: a stunning variety of stories, settings, and plot twists occupy the Pear Theatre stage, penned by local playwrights and brought to life with a single cast of highly versatile, local actors. "Pear Slices 2018," directed by Robyn Ginsburg Braverman and Troy Johnson, previews on May 3, with press and Opening Night on Friday, May 4, followed by a champagne gala. The show runs Thursdays through Sundays through May 20. All performances are held at the Pear Theatre, 1110 La Avenida St., Mountain View. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.thepear.org or calling (650) 254-1148.
This annual short play showcase has become a favorite among Pear audiences and never fails to amuse, intrigue, and inspire. Although plays for Slices are not chosen with a theme in mind, one often emerges - and this year promises to be one that takes a look at many contemporary issues, in ways both philosophical and hysterical.
In "Afternoon Tango," by Barbara Anderson, an affluent couple meets a gracious older woman while catching a quick lunch in a suburban city plaza. The conversation ranges from wine to fashion to fitness, from elder care to the chronic problem of homeless people in the big city. Although the two professionals have plenty of ideas on how to solve the various problems around them, it is the older woman who would have much to teach them - if they were able to listen.
From the ever-fertile mind of Paul Braverman comes "Stuck in the Middle," with three characters who heatedly debate the meaning of their existence, the possibility of an afterlife, and whether or not their closest neighbors pose a threat to their safety and way of life. The twist? The three are convenience store hot dogs, eternally rotating in expectation of The Ascension. Braverman's knack of addressing real-world conflicts in absurdly hilarious ways has made him a Pear Slices audience favorite.
A child's pirate-themed birthday party in the not-distant future is the setting for Leah Halper's "Walk the Plank." As unseen children run in and out of the house, the birthday boy's parents find their relationship with their helpful friend tested by news of impending changes in the hospital where they all work. As tensions mount, long-suffering silences are broken, wounded pride rears its ugly head, and a long friendship may be at an end, all in the name of progress for Western medicine.
In a lighter vein, "Duelin' for Keeps" brings us a Old Western town with a classic showdown between two men fighting over a woman. But Evan Kokkila-Schumacher throws a few twists - and a few laughs - into the trope, including a good guy with an annoyingly diverse vocabulary, a bad guy who can't not quit with the double negatives, and the woman in question who just may decide she's had enough of both of them.
Steve Koppman brings a sweetly nostalgic piece to Slices with "Helping Out Mrs. G," set in the 1970s. While waiting for his friend to come home, Mitch agrees to help his friend's mother tackle a few chores the men of the house have been missing: carry in the groceries, change a lightbulb, oil the squeaky door hinges. As they proceed from project to project, Mrs. G gives the teenager some wise advice; and in turn, Mitch makes the amazing discovery that adults are just teenagers who grew up.
"Housemaster 3000" takes us into the future, where everyday life is managed by our artificially intelligent household software - which is great, until it inadvertently tells your newest girlfriend much more about you than you really wanted her to know. Ross Peter Nelson creates a laughable world eerily similar to our present reality.
Bridgette Dutta Portman offers an imagined account of a real meeting in February 1616 in "A Mind Full of Venom." In Rome, legendary astronomer Galileo Galilei receives a visit from the priest Tommaso Caccini, who publicly denounced him as a heretic and set in motion a trial by the Inquisition. Caccini claims to have come to offer his apologies to the scientist, but his arrogance persists. Can scientific and theological beliefs coexist? Can any religion claim to have the answers, if that religion insists on avoiding, ignoring, and denouncing any contradictory information?
Rounding out the short plays to be presented is Barry Slater's "Eagles in Heaven," wherein a widower and his teenaged granddaughter take what may be their last camping trip together. Both struggle with the loss of a loved one, and the painful changes that loss has caused to their daily life at home; but will their losses bring them closer together, or separate them forever?
The cast, each playing multiple characters across plays, consists of Ariel Aronica, Matt Brown, Bill C. Jones,Alyssa Lupo-Zulueta, Nicole Martin, and Kyle Smith. Kelly Weber Barraza stage manages, Norm Beamerprovides set construction, and Meghan Souther designs lighting.
Pear Theatre is one of the only theatres in the Bay Area to host its own playwrights development group, known as the Pear Playwrights Guild. Playwrights meet regularly to share their writing, whether short plays or full-length works. Newer playwrights get the benefit of the more experienced writers' knowledge of plot development, character development, and action that sounds good on paper but may not translate well to the stage. Short plays from the Guild are considered for each year's Pear Slices, and longer plays often see full productions at the Pear, such as last season's production of "What You Will" (Max Gutmann) and this season's upcoming premiere of "Sojourn" (Evan Kokkila-Schumacher).
Pear Theatre began as the Pear Avenue Theatre in June 2002, under the leadership of Artistic Director Diane Tasca, by a group of theatre artists who believe that audiences are eager for plays that challenge as well as delight and move them. Pear Theatre produces intimate theatre by passionate artists, whether classic works or cutting-edge plays. Now in its sixteenth season, The Pear attracts theatre artists and audience from all over the Bay Area for its award-winning and high-quality productions; and its ongoing commitment to excellence was recognized by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle with the Paine Knickerbocker Award, an annual special award for a Bay Area company contributing to the high quality of theatre in the region.
Pear Theatre moved in 2015 from its original 40-seat warehouse space to a new, state-of-the-art black box theatre close by, with capacity of 75-99 seats depending on the configuration of the production. This exciting move allows The Pear to continue its tradition of intimate theatre while taking on new challenges and opportunities. In August 2017, Betsy Kruse Craig took the helm as the new Artistic Director, beginning with this season.
Alison Whismore, Briana Mitchell, and Michael Weiland
Ariel Aronica and Tess Middlebrook
Briana Mitchell, Kyle Smith, and Bryan Moriarty
Kyle Smith and Briana Mitchell
Alison Whismore and Kyle Smith
Alison Whismore and Kyle Smith
Bryan Moriarty and Ariel Aronica