2012-2013 Season Announcement

Rob Melrose, Artistic Director

Our 2012-2013 Season

This season we will hit all aspects of our mission with a re-visioned classic, a seminal avant garde work, and an experimental new play in our mainstage season as well as continued free access to the Hidden Classics Reading Series and experimental new play development in RISK IS THIS… Cutting Ball Theater New Experimental Plays Festival.

The highlight of the new season is certainly Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep. In addition to pioneering theatrical movements in both Realism and Expressionism, Strindberg was a painter, writer, botanist, chemist, photographer, and a linguist. Strindberg was like the Leonardo da Vinci of the Modern world. He was a fascinating human being and one of the fathers of avant garde theater. At the end of his career, Strindberg wrote five thematically connected plays for the Intimate Theater in Stockholm; he called them chamber plays because he thought that they related to his earlier, large-scale work in the same way that chamber music relates to symphonies. We are thrilled to present these works in repertory for the first time, and very grateful to the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation for providing major support for Strindberg Cycle.

After Cutting Ball’s successes with Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano and Victims of Duty, I am eager to present our new translation of The Chairs. Annie Elias, who did such marvelous work with Tenderloin, will direct this production, and I can’t wait to see what she does with this masterful play. Likewise, we are excited to present the World Premiere of Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night by Andrew Saito, one of the most imaginative writers I have ever met; Krispy Kritters, which was the hit of the 2011 RISK IS THIS…The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival, is an extraordinary new work from this local playwright.

Cutting Ball continues to make new translations and adaptations an important part of RISK IS THIS… and has commissioned a new version of the Čapek’s Insect Play by Bennett Fisher; we are also starting a collaboration with Russian Director Yury Urnov, who will direct my translation of Ubu Roi, published by
the EXIT Press earlier this season. I am thrilled to start this collaboration with Yury, and to start the
groundwork towards a major production of this seminal avant garde play. We are also developing a new
play by Campo Santo’s Sean San José about the rise of crack in the 1980s, as well as new plays by recent
graduates of the Yale School of Drama and the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. As part of our Hidden
Classics Reading Series, we not only continue our exploration of the work of August Strindberg, but also honor recently deceased playwright and president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel. This promises to be an extraordinary season, by far our most ambitious season yet.

Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep
October 12 – November 18
Part 1: The Ghost Sonata Press Opening – October 18 7:30PM
Part 2: Pelican and The Black Glove Press Opening – October 27 8PM
Part 3: Storm and Burned House Press Opening – November 3 8PM

The Ghost Sonata
The Ghost Sonata tells the story of a strange encounter between a student and an old man and begins the morning after a terrible fire. A “ghost supper” is shared in a round room, secrets are divulged, plots are foiled, illusions are shattered, and the true haunting nature of things is revealed. The most well known of Strindberg’s Chamber Plays, The Ghost Sonata serves as the centerpiece of Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep.

The Pelican and The Black Glove
Based on the belief that a Pelican sheds its own blood to feed its young, The Pelican presents a family where the opposite is true. The widow Elise plots with her lover to steal her children’s inheritance while they starve in their own home. When the children discover the truth, the revelation sparks a small revolution.

In The Black Glove, it is the day before Christmas Eve in a five-story apartment building. An old man and a caretaker find a black glove in the entryway, precipitating a strange chain of events involving a young wife, two maids, two spirits, a missing ring, and a child.

Storm and Burned House
In Storm, an elderly gentleman’s peace is shattered when the new neighbors, the young wife and child he left years ago, and her new husband, plan to turn their home into a private casino. In Burned House, Arvid, the prodigal son, returns to find that a fire has destroyed his childhood home. He sifts through the ashes to uncover the dark secrets hidden by his family and the town.

In Burned House, prodigal son Arvid arrives in his hometown of Stockholm after decades of living in the United States only to find that his childhood home burned down the night before. While detectives search through the rubble for clues about the cause of the fire, Arvid sifts through the ashes to uncover the dark secrets hidden by his family and the town. As more secrets are revealed, Arvid finds the tools he needs to exact revenge on his brother for crimes committed long, long ago.

The Chairs
by Eugene Ionesco
translated by Rob Melrose
directed by Annie Elias
March 1 – March 31
Press Opening March 7
Gala Opening March 8
Thursdays at 7:30PM, Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays 2PM & 8PM, Sundays at 5PM

This tragic farce, in the tradition of Cutting Ball’s productions of Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano (2010) and Victims of Duty (2008), is as comedic as it is heartbreaking. An elderly couple living in a lighthouse 1000 years after an apocalypse decides to host a final party. They invite and introduce all of their friends as they enter, but although the room fills with chairs, all of the guests are imaginary. Melrose’s new translation will hold up a mirror to contemporary social networks, and offer a fresh take on this absurdist classic. Director Annie Elias returns to Cutting Ball following her 2012 hit Tenderloin.

Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night
by Andrew Saito
directed by Rob Melrose
May 17 – June 16
May 23 Press Opening
May 24 Gala Opening Night
Thursdays at 7:30PM, Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays 2PM & 8PM, Sundays at 5PM

Cutting Ball presents the world premiere of local San Francisco playwright Andrew Saito’s poetic portrayal of the heart of the city in the spirit of Alan Ginsburg’s Howl, William S. Burroughs’ novels, and the plays of Suzan-Lori Parks. Surreal language and images permeate this play about love and longing in the neglected neighborhoods of a fictional city. At its center is Scarlett, a woman who takes care of her grandmother by pulling wild animals out of her ears and letting them loose in her backyard menagerie. She makes her living the best she can off the dreams and desires of married men who are willing to sacrifice everything for her. Drumhead, a lowly morgue worker with a wild imagination, comes across a carnival poster boasting of the wonders of Scarlett and can’t get her out of his mind. He too has a relative to care for: his Navy veteran father who lost his legs in a war and now enacts great battles in the bathtub. The lonely Drumhead regales the corpses he attends with his hopes and dreams, arias of his imagination. Krispy Kritters follows these seeming misfits on their journey to find each other.

RISK IS THIS… The Cutting Ball New Experimental Play Festival

January 11- February 9
Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM

RISK IS THIS… The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival is one of the only play festivals in America solely dedicated to experimental works for the stage. This year’s festival features three new works and two new “Risk Translations” in staged readings that push the boundaries of what theater can be.

Written and directed by Sean San José
January 11-12, 2013
Defiant, passionate, and bursting with poetic energy, Sean San Jose’s Superheroes tells the story of a journalist working to separate fact from fiction she investigates the sordid history of the crack-cocaine epidemic. Partially inspired by Gary Webb’s groundbreaking investigative journalism into the relationship between the CIA and Nicaraguan drug traffickers, the play traces a lyrical labyrinth through churches, courthouse, and street corners in pursuit of a shocking truth.

Ubu Roi
By Alfred Jarry
In a new translation by Rob Melrose
Directed by Yuri Urnov
January 18-19, 2013
When Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi premiered in Paris on December 10, 1896 the audience broke into a riot at the utterance of its first word. Jarry’s irreverent parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth defiles theatrical tradition through its scatological language and disregard for audience expectations. The play replaces Shakespeare’s tragic hero with a greedy, sadistic, mean-spirited, and obscene ogre who becomes the king of Poland simply by force and through the debasement of his people. Cutting Ball will explore Ubu Roi as a reflection on the fall from grace of many a contemporary political leader corrupted by power on the international stage.

Insect Play
By Josef and Karl Čapek
In a new version by Bennett Fisher
Directed by Rob Melrose
January 25-26, 2013
In Karel and Josef’s masterpiece The Insect Play, a vagrant, disgusted and disillusioned by the hypocrisy and cruelty of men, wanders into the forest to live in isolation. As night falls, he experiences fantastic visions of anthropomorphic insects and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. The Insect Play takes the audience on a surreal odyssey through the world of social butterflies, industrious beetles, and warring ants in a powerful allegory about what it means to be human.

By Dipika Guha
February 1-2, 2013
On an unnamed colonized island, an ill suited English couple are engaged in a desperate attempt to make their marriage work. But soon after the loss of their baby, a young girl indigenous to the island enters their home, shattering both the course of their lives and history forever. Viewed through the frame of an art exhibition, Passing examines how we construct historical narratives through our museums, our theatres, and in our hearts.

By Basil Kreimendahl
February 8-9, 2013
Sidewinders owes as much to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot as it does to SF Pride. In this absurdist-western romp through gender queerness, Dakota and Bailey find themselves lost, possibly upside down, in a strange world with even stranger characters. Their journey to getting right side up provokes questions of sex anatomy, transgenderism, and who we really are aside from what’s between our thighs.

RISKY Plays: RISK IS THIS… 2013 Finalists

  1. Christopher Chen’s Lu Shen The Mad
  2. Andrew Saito’s Semilla
  3. Jen Silverman’s Pheobe in Winter
  4. Kevin Artigue’s Salvage
  5. Chiori Miyagawa’s A Winter’s Captive
  6. Garret Groeveld’s Hummingbirds
  7. Robert Johnson’s The Othello Papers
  8. Paul Matthew Olmos’ The Death of the Slow Dying Scuba Diver
  9. Nancy Cooper Frank’s Daniil Kharms
  10. Adrienne Dawes’ Am I White
  11. Adam Kraar’s Empire of the Trees
  12. Guy Zimmerman’s The Inside Job
  13. Susan Soo He Stanton’s The Things are Against Us
  14. Lauren Yee’s In a Word
  15. Elizabeth Creely’s Roe

Hidden Classics Reading Series

This FREE Sunday afternoon readings series used to be the best kept secret in town. Member reservations are strongly encouraged. All readings at 1PM at The Cutting Ball Theater, in residence at EXIT on Taylor 277 Taylor Street

The Father
by August Strindberg
Discussion: “Strindberg and Women”
August 19
One of Strindberg’s best known plays, The Father, like Miss Julie, is an intense look at the power struggles between men and women. The Captain is a former military hero, who in a patriarchal society seems to have all of the power. In a struggle over how to raise their daughter, The Captain’s wife Laura raises doubts in the Captain’s mind as to whether or not he really is the father of his child. Whatever power the Captain has, he is totally at the mercy of his wife’s faithfulness or unfaithfulness.

The Increased Difficulty of Concentration
by Václav Havel
December 9
To honor Havel’s life a celebrated playwright, political dissident, and later president of the Czech Republic, Cutting Ball is proud to present a reading of one of his most challenging and delightful plays. Social Scientist Eduard Huml is busy conducting experiments, coming up with theories, trying to keep his wife happy as well as his mistress. The complexity of his life is accentuated by Havel’s playing of the scenes of his life in “out-of-time” order. Watching this hilarious play is a dizzying and exhilarating experience.

by Sophocles
January 27
Electra’s father Agamemnon has been murdered by her mother Clytemnestra. Her brother Orestes has been missing for years and is thought to be dead. In order to revenge her father, she must do the unthinkable, kill her mother. This important play is in many ways the female version of Oedipus Rex and Hamlet. While they explore the darker side of father / son relationships, this play explores the complexities of the mother / daughter relationships. It is from this play that we get the “Electra Complex.”

The Merry Wives of Windsor
by William Shakespeare
March 24
The fat, fun-loving character of Falstaff is considered by many to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest inventions. Perhaps the biggest fan was Queen Elizabeth who insisted that Shakespeare write a play that featured Falstaff after he killed him off in Henry V. The Merry Wives of Windsor is the result of that request. While in the history plays, we see Falstaff’s antics in war, here we see the ridiculousness of Falstaff in love.

June 9
We have a couple of projects brewing for our final Hidden Classics and hope to announce it soon!

The Cutting Ball Theater’s 2015-16 season is made possible in part by Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Fleishhacker Foundation, Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mental Insight Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The RHE Charitable Foundation, The San Francisco Arts Commission, The San Francisco Foundation, and The Zellerbach Family Foundation, and Season Producers John and Paula Gambs, Ken Melrose, and Velia Melrose.