Word For Word Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Stories By Tobias Wolff and George Saunders
Word for Word celebrates this 25th season with a rare production "Anniversary! Stories by Tobias Wolff and George Saunders" featuring Wolff's "Deep Kiss" and Saunders' "Victory Lap," works by two of the companies favorite authors, directed by Joel Mullennix and Delia MacDougall. "Anniversary! Stories by Tobias Wolff and George Saunders" opens with a press night Saturday August 11, 8pm (Preview Aug 8, 9 & 10) running through September 2 at Z Space Main Stage in San Francisco's Mission/SOMA district. Tobias Wolff and George Saunders are brilliant performers in the short story form, and the company feels lucky to be staging their stories for its 25th Anniversary. Over the past quarter century, Word for Word has had the pleasure and the honor to work with some of the best writers of all time.
On August 15th, "An Evening With Tobias Wolff and George Saunders" a post-show event with Tobias Wolff and George Saunders in conversation with Z Space Playwright-in-Residence Peter Nachtrieb. (Ticket for this event $125)
On Monday August 27 at 7 pm "What a Long Great Road It's Been" - For this celebratory evening (without "Deep Kiss" and "Victory Lap" performances) the entire Word for Word Charter Group presents milestones from the company's 25-year history, illuminated by a retrospective slide show. Mix and mingle with us for a party afterward. Tickets $25 This evening features special guest John Billingsley, the stage and screen actor (The West Wing, Star Trek: Enterprise, Twin Peaks (reboot), Eli Stone, The Nine, True Blood, Cold Case, Prison Break, etc.) John helped spark the creation of Word for Word. (Ticket for this event $25.0
The stories of "Anniversary! Stories by Tobias Wolff and George Saunders" are by two supreme short story writers, are linked by their themes of adolescence and youthful longing. Tobias Wolff's "Deep Kiss" captures yearning adolescence: this is Joe Reed's story of first love which nearly breaks him, and resonates into his middle age. "A stand out...the painful genius of Tobias Wolff's storytelling"--New York Times. "Victory Lap" shows us two awkward teens and one alarming bully, enhanced by Saunders great sense of voice and tone. Humor develops into great menace, with a soul-saving ending. "Saunders might have achieved perfection...the architecture of this story is a marvel"--Los Angeles Review of Books
Directed by Joel Mullennix and Delia MacDougall the production "Anniversary! Stories by Tobias Wolff and George Saunders" features actors Molly Benson, Adam Elder, Isabel Langen, Paul Finocchiaro, Susan Harloe*, Alexander Pannullo* and Mohammad Shehata (*AEA). The design team for "Anniversary! Stories by Tobias Wolff and George Saunders" includes Set by Jacquelyn Scott, Costumes by Callie Floor, Sound by Sara Huddleston, Props by Mia Baxter, Lighting by Jim Cave with Choreography by Andrea Weber.
"This year, we're thrilled to return to the short story master, Tobias Wolff, who gave us some of our earliest hits: 'Bullet in the Brain,' 'In the Garden of the North American Martyrs,' and 'Firelight.' We are excited to be performing his heartbreaking 'Deep Kiss,' so filled with longing. Paired with the inimitable George Saunders' remarkably horrific and hilarious 'Victory Lap,' we offer two moving, deftly crafted stories. Both deal with moral choice and the loss of innocence; both remind us of our need for connection." Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter Co Artistic Directors Word for Word.
Tobias Wolff (author, "Deep Kiss") Tobias Wolff is an American short story writer, memoirist, and novelist. He received BA in English Language and Literature at Oxford University, an MA at Oxon, and an MA at Stanford University. He is known for his short stories and his memoirs , particularly This Boy's Life: A Memoir (1989, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award) and In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War (1994). Other works include The Barracks Thief (PEN/Faulkner Award), Back in the World, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, The Night In Question, Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories (The Story Prize), and Old School. His work has been anthologized in many, many collections, and published in The New Yorker, among other magazines. Other awards include the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, the Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement, The Whiting Award for Fiction and Nonfiction, the Rea Award for Excellence in the Short Story. In 2015, Tobias Wolff received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.
George Saunders (author, "Victory Lap") George Saunders studied under Tobias Wolff in the graduate program in creative writing at Syracuse University. His work includes the short-story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award), "Pastoralia," In Persuasion Nation (a finalist for the Story Prize), Tenth of December (a finalist for the National Book Award and recipient of the Folio Prize), Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness, and Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel (winner of the Man Booker Prize). Saunders has won prizes for his best-selling children's book, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, and for a book of essays entitled The Braindead Megaphone, and he has been featured in the "O. Henry Prize Stories," "Best American Short Stories," "Best American Nonrequired Reading," "Best American Travel Writing," and "Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy" anthologies. Named by The New Yorker one of the best American writers under the age of forty in 1999, Saunders has received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Delia MacDougall (Director "Victory Lap") is an actor, director and Charter Member of Word for Word. Delia has directed a number of productions for the company including: Winesburg, Ohio and In Friendship (Critics Circle Award winners for best production), Oil! The Ride (Critics Circle Nomination for Best production), Immortal Heart, Mrs. Dalloway's Party, The Confessions of Madame Psyche, and The Falling Girl. She has also directed for ACT, Shotgun Players, Marin Shakespeare Company, The Harbor Theater, SFSU, and a number of productions for Campo Santo. Delia is happy to be celebrating Word for Words 25 years with Word for Word's amazing women of the charter group, and with Joel Mullennix with whom she created Industrial Strength Productions years before the birth of Word for Word. "To lifelong friends and the creation of art; I am so very thankful."
Joel Mullennix has directed a number of Word For Word's most successful productions, including "Olive Kitteridge", by Elizabeth Strout, More Stories by Tobias Wolff, Stories by Alice Munro, and "Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People" by Lorrie Moore. Additionally, he directed Acid Test by Lynne Kaufman, the long running one man show starring Warren David Keith; and Family Alchemy, featuring the works of Bernard Malamud and Grace Paley, for A Traveling Jewish Theatre. Joel has also directed A View From the Bridge; The Cherry Orchard; Our Lady of 121st Street, by Stephen Adly Giurgis; Sons of the Prophet by Steven Karam; and just directed Romeo and Juliet at Chabot College for the 2nd time. He is thrilled to be working with these truly great writers and with the wonderful Delia MacDougall.
Molly Benson is an Actor, Director and Professional Voiceover Artist as well as an Associate Artist with Word for Word and Company Member at Pianofight. She has worked with Theaterworks, Shotgun Players, Cutting Ball, Custom Made, Pianofight, Atmostheatre, Town Hall, Cal Shakes, Killing My Lobster and Word for Word.
Adam Elder is a graduate of the WIlliam Esper Studio in New York, where he studied under master teacher Bill Esper. His Bay Area credits include San Francisco Playhouse's On Clover Road, Shotgun Players Nora, Roustabout Theater Company's Betrayal and A Moon for the Misbegotten, and Inferno Theater's King Lear
Paul Finocchiaro has performed at Berkeley Rep., The Magic Theatre, ACT, Aurora Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, and Eureka Theatre. He has received four Bay Area Critics Awards for his acting. With Word For Word he has appeared in over 20stories, including all six of the company's productions of Tobias Wolff's stories. He has taught acting in The Studio of American Conservatory Theatre for 30 years.
Blythe de Oliveira Foster* has worked with American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Rep, Aurora Theatre, Shotgun Players, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Rep, TheatreWorks and foolsFURY, as well as a number of New York theaters. Blythe holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia University. In 2015, she created the award-winning Hollywood Fringe Festival piece, La La La Strada. Blythe has taught theater at U.C. Santa Barbara and will be designated as a Linklater Voice Teacher in January.
Susan Harloe* is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Word for Word. She has originated roles in many of the company's productions, and is also the creator and manager of Word for Word's France tour. She has an MFA from U.C. Davis, an MLS from the University of Pittsburgh, and a BA from San Francisco State University.
Isabel Langen is making her Word for Word debut. Her recent credits include #2 in The Wolves (Marin Theatre Company), and Pearl in Bull in a China Shop (Mendocino Theatre Company). She received her BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Alexander Pannullo* is making his Bay Area theatre debut. He is a recent graduate from UC San Diego with a degree in Political Science. His theatre credits include Mud Blue Sky and Junie B Jones Is Not a Crook at the B Street Theatre in Sacramento. Some of his favorite roles include George (Our Town) and Seymour (Little Shop of Horrors).
Mohammad Shehata*: Recent work includes Disgraced with the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Guards at the Taj with Capital Stage, and the world premiere of In Braunau by Dipika Guha with San Francisco Playhouse. He has also worked with the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, Ubuntu Theatre Project, Crowded Fire, We Players, and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.
*Actors Equity Association