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UTOPIA, Charles Mee's New Virtual Play, to Stream For One Final Week

The production is now available to stream through November 15, 2020.

UTOPIA, Charles Mee's New Virtual Play, to Stream For One Final Week

Audiences worldwide have one final week to stream Utopia, the wildly inventive premiere from Obie Award winning playwright Charles L. Mee, presented by San Francisco's Cutting Ball Theater. Presented virtually, this multidisciplinary play debuted October 16.

'Utopia' can be enjoyed as respite, a candy-coated breather from the horrors just outside our window." Incorporating vivid contemporary dance and animated artworks, Utopia explores the question "how do you make a life?" from the perspective of a nine-year-old girl in a café, observing the divergent paths of fellow diners and passers-by while wrestling with the promise of her own future. Performed by a cast of nine diverse and multitalented actors, plus a bevy of dancers, Utopia celebrates the power of community and a commitment to promoting hope and positivity in an environment of scarcity. Utopia streams online on Vimeo now through November 15, 2020. For tickets ($30 per household) and more information, the public may visit cuttingball.com or call (415) 525-1205.

Commissioned by Cutting Ball Theater, this new production from Mee, lauded poet and sculpting pioneer of American experimental theater, is directed by Cutting Ball Theater's Artistic Director Ariel Craft. Mee's quirky work is inhabited by couples in varying stages of love and partnership, along with outlandishly outfitted bystanders and a curious server with a bottomless ice cream menu, offering nourishing musings on life, love, the absurdity and sanctity of the every day. Sometimes reflective, sometimes explosive, and always joyous, Utopia is a tribute to life, love, and variety, rich with laughter, passion, and poetry. Mee's newest theatrical masterwork transforms the simplest moment of a mundane day-a lazy morning in a café-into a surreal and colorful ride through fantasy, self-expression, connection, and community. Mee's wonderfully distinctive interdisciplinary approach also inspired Cutting Ball Theater to engage Bay Area artist communities of different mediums to collectively realize this world premiere play. Utopia features "gorgeous excerpts" (San Francisco Chronicle) by RAWdance, a contemporary dance company, and "vibrant work" (KQED) from Creativity Explored, an organization supporting artists with developmental disabilities-creating a work that harmonizes theater, dance, and animation in a genre-defying dreamscape audiences can stream from home. To provide greater access to Utopia, Cutting Ball Theater offers a low-income ticket discount, and versions of the virtual play including captions, ASL interpretation, and audio descriptions.

Cutting Ball Theater assembled a stellar cast for this production, featuring Joel Chapman (Bob), Chloe Fong (Tilly), Gabriel Montoya (Herbert), Regina Morones (Evie), Sharon Shao (Jennifer), Chris Steele (Edmund), Michelle Talgarow (Edna), Jasmine Milan Williams (Harriet), and Don Wood (Waiter). The diverse cast of characters brings Mee's Utopia alive in a rowdy and electric production of the world as it could be. Joel Chapman (he/him) is a conductor, comedian, bass-baritone, and actor. Chapman has sung with and conducted Convivium, a new chamber choir, and Fleet Street, a male comedy a cappella group. Chloe Fong (she/her) is a youth actor whose recent credits include Flounder in The Little Mermaid, Baby Louise in Gypsy, and Winthrop in The Music Man. Sharon Shao (she/her) is an actor and teaching artist whose recent onstage credits include Vinegar Tom at Shotgun Players, Good Person of Szechwan at Cal Shakes, and Hamlet at Oakland Theater Project. Shao also collaborates with an interdisciplinary artist troupe, SoulTalk Collective. Chris Steele (they/them) is a queer trans nonbinary performance artist, writer, and activist whose work highlights queer narratives throughout history and combats bigotry and white supremacy. Steele has performed with Cutting Ball Theater before, in Timon of Athens. Steele is a co-founder of Poltergeist Theatre Project and the creator behind award-winning drag personas Polly Amber Ross and Peter Pansexual. Michelle Talgarow (she/her) is a Kalmyk/Filipina theater-maker and a company member of Mugwumpin and Shotgun Players. Talgarow's recent performance credits include Dance Nation at San Francisco Playhouse, Vietgone at Capital Stage, A Good Neighbor at Z Space, and Two Mile Hollow at Ferocious Lotus. Jasmine Milan Williams (she/her) is an actor whose recent performance credits include Bull in a China Shop at Aurora Theatre Company, Inked Baby at Crowded Fire Theater, and The Last Sermon of Sister Imani and Waafrika at TheatreFIRST. Williams has also performed with Campo Santo (company member), Those Women Productions, African-American Shakespeare Company, and New Conservatory Theatre Center.

Regina Morones (she/her) is an actor, singer, educator, a resident artist at San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and a company member at Oakland Theater Project. Morones holds a BA in Theatre Arts from Clark Atlanta University and an MFA in Acting from the University of Iowa. Gabriel Montoya (he/him) has acted with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, Word for Word, Custom Made Theatre Co., Central Works Theater Company, San Francisco Playhouse, Brava Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival on Tour, and Boxcar Theatre. Montoya and his wife's production company, The Department of Badassery, made theater history in 2015 at San Francisco's PianoFight by simultaneously premiering Ben Fisher's Don't Be Evil onstage and in virtual reality. Although Don Wood (he/him) has previously worked with Director Ariel Craft and Associate Director Maya Herbsman in Dry Land at Shotgun Players, Utopia will mark his first appearance at Cutting Ball Theater; Wood was last seen onstage in The Human Ounce at Central Works Theater Company. Actors Chapman, Fong, Morones, Montoya, Shao, Talgarow, Williams, and Wood all make their Cutting Ball Theater mainstage debuts in Utopia.

The production team for Utopia includes James Ard (he/him) - Sound Designer, Cassie Barnes (she/her) - Lighting Designer, Joel Chapman (he/him) - Composer, Toni Lynn Guidry (she/her) - Assistant Stage Manager, Sarah LeFeber (she/her) - Costume Designer, Caitlin McFann (she/her) - Production Stage Manager, and Adeline Smith (she/her) - Properties Designer.


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