Queer History Tour Of San Francisco's South Of Market Livestreams During Pride Month

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Queer History Tour Of San Francisco's South Of Market Livestreams During Pride Month

Eye Zen Presents is pleased to announce the return of OUT of Site: SOMA, its performance-driven, queer history tour of San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood, this time as a livestreamed but still interactive event. Like so many other arts organizations, Eye Zen has decided to move its affairs online due to health and safety concerns in the wake of COVID-19.

OUT of Site: SOMA will have an initial run of six shows - Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7 p.m., local time, June 19 -28. Tickets, with a suggested donation of $25, are now on sale at eyezen.org/out-of-site.

Conceived and directed by Eye Zen Founder and Artistic Director Seth Eisen, OUT of Site launched in 2018 with a sold-out run of performances in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. The project continued last year with another sold-out run, this time spotlighting San Francisco's South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, home of the world's first "Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District."

With a stellar ensemble cast featuring Leigh Crow, Ryan Hayes and Hector Zavala, OUT of Site: SOMA rediscovers the neighborhood once known as South of the Slot, from a 19th-century transgender journalist at the San Francisco Examiner to our leather culture forefathers. Audiences will meet the founders of the Folsom Street Fair, lesbian auto-mechanics, labor activists, dock workers and drag queens as they travel virtually from Ringold Alley to the Toolbox and Stud bars, and the Bay Brick Inn, among several other places of historical importance.

"This project asserts that it's impossible to move forward without knowing where we came from," said Eisen. "With stories of queer resistance and resilience, it reminds us of how we can get through these challenging times. San Francisco's recent wave of rapid gentrification provided the initial urgency to launch a project like OUT of Site. We commemorate the stories of those individuals and businesses that have been displaced in the last 10 to 25 years. We also tell the stories of people taken by the AIDS epidemic and those who survived, stories from the birth of SoMa's modern-day leather community in the 1950s and 60s in the wake of the urban renewal movement, and farther back still to when the neighborhood was a ramshackle plot of homes for factory workers and tent villages for gold miners within an area of sand dunes."

Since the San Francisco Bay Area issued the nation's first shelter-in-place order two months ago, an international group of theater makers has joined forces to brainstorm ways of transitioning their work from purely physical to digital exchanges. Under the banner of "Digital and Transmedia Producing in The Age of the Pandemic," the group includes individuals from organizations big and small, from The Public Theater and Oregon Shakespeare Festival, to foolsFURY and Eye Zen.

"We're interested in generating new ways of developing, distributing and experiencing cultural production," said co-founder Claudia Alick.

Eye Zen's new edition of OUT of Site: SOMA is an experiment in form that's benefited from the group's conversations. "We're calling it a participatory, live viewing party," said Eisen. "It's a play, it's a concert, it's a dance party, it's an immersive spectacle with a chance to show off one's best leathers and meet someone new. Audience members can even volunteer to perform small roles."

"Behind the scenes, we're doing something we've never done before drawing on tools including Zoom, Wirecast, Google Earth and Qlab - to make live theater without conventional theater."

Collaborators on OUT of Site: SOMA include Adam Sussman, assistant director; Kat Cole, company manager; Jesse Hewit, production manager; Maximilian Urruzmendi, technical director; James Goode, sound designer; Karl (K.M.) Soehnlein, lead writer and researcher; and Chris Carlsson and LisaRuth Elliott, co-directors of Shaping San Francisco.

OUT of Site: SOMA (2020) has received generous support from CounterPulse, its fiscal sponsor, as well as the California Arts Council, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and San Francisco Grants for the Arts. This funding, however, does not cover the full cost of production, and Eye Zen will gratefully accept donations to help pay artists and staff. An amount of $25 for each livestream participant is suggested, but those who are able to pay more will help to subsidize the cost of tickets for those who are out of work due to the global pandemic.

June 19 - 28, 2020 Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7 p.m. PDT (UTC -7). Livestreamed on Zoom. TICKETS: $25 Tickets now on sale at eyezen.org/out-of-site. Direct link: eventbrite.com/e/out-of-site-soma-a-virtual-performance-driven-queer-history-tour-tickets-105188720294.

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