CUTTING BALL THEATER NEWSLETTER
November 19, 2010 Volume 7, Issue 5
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The Tempest runs through November 28
"Every piece of this show is thought-provoking."
"San Francisco's Cutting Ball Theater pushes "The Tempest," Shakespeare's final romance, to the edge....With such a small cast, it was absolutely imperative that the acting be phenomenal. In this regard, the production more than measures up - the powerful lines in the play, though placed in this new context, ring truer than ever... From a visual standpoint, this play is amazing. The set is a piece of brilliance, leaving the small EXIT on Taylor Theater utterly transformed."
-Arielle Little, The Daily Californian
"In Melrose's alluring vision, characters morph in ways that feel organic and in sync with the island's magical properties, casting new light on the various and ambivalent relationships...Thus the gifted, golden-voiced Caitlyn Louchard plays not only a wide-eyed, vulnerable Miranda but also an effervescent Ariel, who leaps and dangles precariously from the ladders that frame Michael Locher's set; plus a kindly, bespectacled Gonzalo; the goofy jester Trinculo; and Sebastian, Alonso's brother."
-Jean Schiffman, The San Francisco Examiner
"Michael Locher's handsome set looks like a psychiatrist's office at the bottom of a swimming pool because there's therapy afoot. Melrose is really putting Prospero on that couch. (So, why a pool? There's a lot of water imagery on Shakespeare's enchanted island, reflected in Cliff Caruthers' videos and liquid score. And the pool ladders come in handy when the airy spirit Ariel takes flight.) It's a perfect setup for Melrose's three-person "Tempest," which opened Thursday at Cutting Ball's home at Exit on Taylor. The adventurous director, who did a six-person "Macbeth" five years ago, takes on Shakespeare's last great play as a Freudian or Jungian (both are referenced in the program notes) look at a father coming to terms with his daughter's maturity. David Sinaiko's soft-spoken, measured Prospero is the very model of a modern psychotherapist, if an unusually controlling one. Caitlyn Louchard shines as his superego, in the forms of the sweet, sexually awakening Miranda and lithe, ethereal Ariel. The muscular, handsome Donell Hill is the id of the earthy Caliban and the young prince Ferdinand, Miranda's instantaneous love interest. It's a neat triangle, as far as it goes. Melrose's stagings are unfailingly attractive and at times arresting, as in his use of trap doors or when first Miranda, then Ariel stare at a photograph with meaningfully distinct intensity."
-Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
"In Cutting Ball's latest foray into Shakespearean realms, three entangled subplots and eleven characters are enacted by just three actors, in order to explore the relationships between the principle characters by representing their internal characteristics through the actions of the more minor roles. Set on an enchanted island (or, in Cutting Ball's interpretation, at the bottom of a swimming pool) The Tempest begins with stormy weather, but quickly grows into a full-blown hurricane of shipwrecked nobles, nymphs, and drunks, plus the turbulent awakenings of a teenage daughter's libido, and the rumblings of her over-protective papa."
-Nicole Gluckstern, San Francisco Bay Guardian
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Rob Melrose
The Cutting Ball Theater in Residence at EXIT on Taylor
277 Taylor Street, San Francisco
November 5 - 28, 2010
Click Here for Tickets!
One of Shakespeare's most magical plays, The Tempest tells the story of the Duke of Milan, who uses sorcery to cause a shipwreck to bring his treacherous brother to the enchanted isle where he has lived in exile with his daughter for twelve years. Magic, monsters, romance, and drunken foolery spin their world into surreal chaos before the brothers meet and order is restored. In the tradition of Cutting Ball's uniquely San Franciscan The Taming of the Shrew and expressionistic Macbeth, this three-person chamber version of The Tempest promises to give an up close and personal look at the monsters lurking inside all of us.
Performances are Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 5pm. There will be no performance on Thanksgiving Day, November 25.
The Tempest runs two and a half hours, including a fifteen-minute intermission.
Why Mess with Shakespeare?
Notes on The Tempest from director Rob Melrose
Welcome to The Cutting Ball Theater's production of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Just a quick look at our set - a psychiatrist's office at the bottom of a swimming pool - probably gives you a clue that we are up to something here. Some of you may be saying, "Oh great, another wild Cutting Ball journey." Others may ask, "Why do directors have to DO something with Shakespeare's work rather than producing the plays as he intended?" This is a good question.
People who live in the Bay Area are in the enviable position of having a number of excellent Shakespeare companies nearby that do solid, full-cast productions of his plays with a primary focus on telling the story. It is an enviable position for Cutting Ball as well, because it allows us to do something different. Our goal is to create productions that focus on particular themes or obsessions within the play that an audience member might miss in a more conventional production. For example, our 2004 production of Macbeth focused on the loss of the Macbeths' child and all the images of children that occur in the play. Our 2007 production of The Taming of the Shrew used the often-cut preliminary scenes and set them in San Francisco to bring out the many instances of gender-bending, disguises and role playing in the text. Likewise our three-person Tempest hopes to illuminate the many connections between the characters, encouraging a reading of the play similar to Freud's reading of fairy tales, where some characters are treated as aspects of other characters.
Shortly after I graduated from the Yale School of Drama, I received a grant from the Fox Foundation to spend a year in Europe observing rehearsals and productions of Shakespeare in translation. What I found was that in the process of translating Shakespeare again and again, the Europeans are continually re-discovering Shakespeare and re-inventing him. This process allows them to take more risks with Shakespeare's texts and in the words of Polish theater critic Jan Kott, "find Shakespeare our contemporary."
It is in this spirit that we approach The Tempest. These past two months, the actors and designers and I have been imagining a contemporary production of the play that is in conversation with Freud, Jung and the dream-like dramaturgy pioneered by August Strindberg, now found in the films of David Lynch (Lost Highway, Mullholland Drive), Tarsem Singh (The Fall, The Cell), and Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento) as well as the novels of Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle) and the video installations of Bill Viola.
For ten years, Cutting Ball has been re-envisioning classic works. We feel very fortunate to have found an audience who has been willing to go on these risky explorations with us. Thank you for coming with us on the journey. And now fasten your seat-belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride...