BWW Feature: Santa Barbara Summer Theatre Preview
Don't be depressed by Santa Barbara's early-onset May Grey; there's plenty of end-of-season theatre to keep everyone rolling on summer vibes up and down the Central Coast. In Santa Barbara, Ensemble's end-of-season production is a rom-com about an odd couple that comes together while learning to dance. SBCAST, an art space yet underutilized by the theatre community, will host Dogstar Theater Company's drink-and-walk exhibit of scenes and short plays. In Carpinteria, catch DramaDog's production of The Lost Virginity Tours, a comedy that takes four women on a road trip of memories as they visit the sights of first love. Up in Isla Vista, UCSB is producing the student one-act plays and a main-stage play about a young woman's heroine's journey over the border. Out in the valley, PCPA presents a raucous contemporary Broadway musical in the outdoor amphitheater in Solvang for theatre under the stars.
DogStar Theater Company Presents:
An evening of One-Acts
May 9, 10, 11, 12
Nothing says summer like walking through an outdoor theatre gallery on a warm night with a glass of wine (and you don't even have to go to Brooklyn!). DogStar Theater has devised a walking tour through SBCAST that stops for monologues and short plays in a variety of alternative spaces. Director and DogStar co-artistic director Nita Davanzo was inspired to create this project to bring performance closer to the audience. The physical intimacy of these spaces offers audiences a more intense experience of the performer and the material. The pieces touch on identity, gender, class and status, and relationships. The one-acts, accompanied by assorted monologues from contemporary playwrights, include:Trifles, by Susan Glaspell; The Last Yankee, by Arthur Miller; and Something Unspoken by Tennessee Williams.
Says Davanzo: "I hope for the audience to come with a sense of adventure and curiosity." Using the non-traditional space to create theatre was a challenge Davanzo wanted to take on, especially as these types of theatrical "experiences" grow in popularity. "I hope to do more productions like this," she says, "and work more and more in collaboration with other artists and venues, keeping the art form of theater alive and vibrant for the future, yet also keeping it accessible to those who love its current form."
UCSB Theatre Department Presents:
The New Works Lab
May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 19
The New Works Lab is a different kind of short-work showcase; these scenes, in a more traditional theatrical space, are the early manifestations of short plays in development by the UCSB students. There's a level of surprise and intrigue that comes with an evening at the New Works Lab; the experience has a very "workshop" feeling, and every piece is an open-ended question, a way to see what's working and what could be stronger. These plays, written, acted, and produced by the students, offer the most authentic representation of the artists in the program. This year's line-up includes plays by Jason Bowe, Audrey Sherey, Jennifer Johnson, Harry Davis, and Olivia Nathan.
UCSB Theatre Department Presents:
Into the Beautiful North
by Karen Zacarias
May 24-June 2
Into the Beautiful North is a multi-layered heroine's journey in the direct lineage of epic tales like The Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven, and Luis Alberto Urrea's novel, Into the Beautiful North. A 19-year-old woman, inspired by The Magnificent Seven, leaves home in search champions to save her ravaged community from exploitation. This small Mexican town is absent its working-age population of men, who've left to find jobs across the border in the U.S. Plagued by the tyranny of the cartels and corrupt political bodies, the young woman seeks to find and convince seven Mexican men, including members of her own family, to return home and protect their community. From Mexico into California, and across the United States, this story makes the border crossing that's on everyone's mind.
DramaDogs, A Theater Company Presents:
The Lost Virginity Tour
By Cricket Daniel
June 13-14, 16, 20-23
To fight the lack of representation of women over 60 on stage, DramaDogs is producing Cricket Daniels' The Lost Virginity Tour at the Alcazar Theater (formerly the Plaza Playhouse) in Carpinteria. This story introduces audiences to four women in their 60s living in an Arizona Seniors' community. They may be of an advanced age, but they haven't lost their sense of adventure. A conversation about the past leads them on a road trip to revisit the location of their first sexual encounters. It's a comedy that allows four characters to looks back at the past through wiser eyes, and to examine how their experiences molded their lives.
Ensemble Theatre Company Presents:
By Mark St. Germain
Ensemble presents light summer fare for their final show of the season, a story of discovery for a man with Asperger's Syndrome who learns to dance from a professional performer recovering from a devastating injury. Ever isn't great with personal interactions-he can't intuit mood from expressions and "emotional empathy" isn't his strongest natural instinct. But he excellent at his job; so excellent that he's speaking at a gala in his honor, a black-tie event in which he's expected to dance. To overcome his distaste for physical contact and to learn some steps, he taps a neighbor, Senga, a professional dancer recovering from a shattered knee, for lessons. They forge a connection that moves them through the anxiety of Ever's social discomfort and Senga's uncertainty in the face of a potentially career-ending injury.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
by Robert L. Freedman and the music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak
One of my favorite summer theatre experiences is seeing shows at PCPA's outdoor amphitheater, the Solvang Festival Theater. This June, audiences get to enjoy the popular musical comedy, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder, under a setting sun and a summer evening sky. This show, which one four Tony Awards in 2016, including Best Musical, follows Monty Navarro as he works his way up the family hierarchy of inheritance, knocking off competition until he's first in line for the money and the title. A recent crowd favorite, don't miss this hilarious production, in Solvang from June 13-30.