Avery Monsen as Clov and David Sinaiko as Hamm in Endgame

by Samuel Beckett
directed by Rob Melrose
February 22 – March 16
Thursdays – Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 5pm
Traveling Jewish Theatre
470 Florida Street (between 17th and Mariposa) (Click for Map)

Beckett fans and Beckett himself consider Endgame to be his best play. Even sharper and more satirical than Waiting for Godot, Endgame takes place in a little room at the end of civilization. Based on the last moves of a chess game, the play follows the attacks and parries of its four remaining inhabitants as they cut each other with wickedly funny and withering insults. Two of these inhabitants are in garbage cans. Yes, this is the play that inspired Oscar the Grouch.

Our production features David Sinaiko and Avery Monsen as the comedic pair Hamm and Clov. Last seen in Cutting Ball’s production of The Taming of the Shrew in the master / servant relationship of Petruchio and Grumio, David and Avery are looking forward to bringing the commedia work they developed with Shakespeare and applying it to Beckett.

Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

The Cutting Ball’s production of Endgame is made possible in part by grants from Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Mental Insight Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Maureen Coyne (Nell) played the Mother in Cutting Ball’s reading of Infestation for Risk is This…The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival. Recent shows include Hedda Gabler, True West and Strindberg's A Dream Play with the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, and Morning's at Seven, at the Altarena Playhouse in Alameda.

Paul Gerrior (Nagg) has appeared in Cutting Ball’s productions of Roberto Zucco and As You Like It as well as the workshop production of Trevor Allen’s Chain Reactions for Risk is This…The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival.  Other credits include Othello with Guerrilla Shakes and Chain Reactions with C.A.F.E.  His film credits include The Seagull Project and Saloon Song. Originally from Boston, Paul moved to the Bay Area thirty years ago. 

Avery Monsen (Clov) played Grumio in Cutting Ball’s production of The Taming of the Shrew. He has also been in Artistic Director Rob Melrose’s productions of The Love of Three Oranges and As You Like It. He recently graduated from Oberlin College where he received his B.A. with high honors in theater.  Favorite roles there include Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, Baz in A Bright Room Called Day and Woody in Six Degrees of Separation. He has also trained at the Moscow Art Theater and with the Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles.

David Sinaiko (Hamm) has appeared in Cutting Ball’s productions of The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, The Sandalwood Box, Ajax, for instance,Macbeth, 365 Plays/365 Days, Woyzeck, The Hidden Classics Reading Series and Chain Reactions, part ofRisk is This . . . The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival. He was a founding member of Chicago's New Crime Productions where credits include The Balcony, Heart of a Dog, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Methusalem, and Alagazam!. He was seen in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Goodman Theater, The Big Show with The Actor's Gang, and recently in the one-man production of David Sedaris‚ SantaLand Diaries. Film and television credits include The Grifters, Bob Roberts and The Untouchables. David is an alumnus of NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing and the Stella Adler Conservatory.

Carlos Aguilar (Props & Assistant Set & Costume Designer) is excited to be working on his third production with Cutting Ball having previously worked on The Taming of the Shrew and Woyzeck. In December, he created conceptual designs for all three plays in Risk is This…The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival. Other credits include work with the Magic Theatre and Pullover Productions. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a degree in Set Design.

Heather Basarab (Lighting Designer) designed lights for Cutting Ball’s production of The Taming of the Shrew and The Maids. Other recent Bay Area designs include The Forest War with Shotgun Players; We Are Not These Hands, One Big Lie, and Maid with Crowded Fire; Birdhouse Factory and Highwater Radio with the Pickle Circus; Philip Kan Gotanda’s Floating Weeds and Fist of Roses, both with Campo Santo; and the scenic design for Shotgun Players’ Cabaret. Heather’s work has also been seen with Project Bandaloop, the Dorsch Gallery in Miami, LACMA, Thick Description, The Magic Theatre and the Joe Goode Performance Group, with whom she received an Isadora Duncan Award for the production design of Drowsy.

Cliff Caruthers (Sound Designer) has designed and composed for several Cutting Ball productions including The Taming of the Shrew, Woyzeck, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, AvantGardARAMA!, Macbeth, No Exit, and The Vomit Talk of Ghosts.  Other credits include ACT's Brainpeople, San Jose Stage Company's Tenders in the Fog, Crowded Fire's Anna Bella Eema, and The Clean House, Baby Taj, Arcadia, and M. Butterfly for TheatreWorks where he is Resident Sound Designer. Mr. Caruthers' electronic music has been featured at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Deep Wireless, Quiet American's Field Effects series, and the San Francisco Tape Music Festival.  His design for Cutting Ball Theater's Fighter Airplanes was part of the interactive design exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial 2007.

Brad Chequer(Dramaturg) wrote Lighthouse, which was one of three plays featured in last December’s Risk is This…The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival. His play, Ghost Trio, premiered at the San Francisco Bay Area One Acts Festival and was then produced by Teatro del Navile in Bologna, Italy, in an Italian translation. Shoshannah,Melos, Words for a Play without Words and Le Jeune Peintre are his best known works. Brad’s one-act play, The Interview, was recently published by Evergreen Press.

Shay Henley (Stage Manager & Assistant Technical Director) is working on her first production at The Cutting Ball after relocating from Ashland, Oregon where she stage managed, managed proprieties and ran lights and sound for the Oregon Stage Works productions of Orphans and On Golden Pond as well as filling the role of Assistant Stage Manager for there production of Scroogical.

Fred Kinney (Set & Costume Designer) designed sets for Cutting Ball’s production of The Taming of the Shrew and has recently worked at Cats Talk Back & Sub-Urban Stories (NYC Fringe Festival); Intimate Apparel (San Diego Rep) W.E.T. (Moxie Theatre) On Golden Pond, Bus Stop, Proof, Angel Street (Triad Stage); Ghosts, The Fastest Woman Alive, Dragons, Six Hands & The Night Watchman (Luna Stage); The Good Daughter, The Adjustment, Color of Flesh and Winterizing a Summer House (New Jersey Repertory Theatre); Fully Committed, Stones in His Pockets (What Exit? Theatre); The Grouch (The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); Underneath the Lintel (Beowulf Alley). Additional credits include Peter Pan and Wendy at Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia and Serious Money at Yale Repertory Theatre. He is a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Designers and holds an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama and a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Rob Melrose (Director) is the artistic director and co-founder of The Cutting Ball Theater where he has directed The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Hamletmachine, As You Like It, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, Mayakovsky: A Tragedy, My Head Was a Sledgehammer, Roberto Zucco, The Vomit Talk of Ghosts (world premiere), The Sandalwood Box, Pickling, Ajax for example, Helen of Troy (world premiere) and Drowning Room (world premiere) and has translated No Exit, Woyzeck and Ubu Roi. He has directed at The Guthrie Theater: Pen; The California Shakespeare Theater: Villains, Fools, and Lovers; Actors’ Collective: Hedda Gabler; Alias Stage: Creditors; Crowded Fire: The Train Play; C.A.F.E.: Chain Reactions; Perishable Theatre: All Spoken by a Shining Creature (world premiere); Yale Summer Cabaret: Endgame, The Shawl; Princeton Summer Theater: Twelfth Night. As assistant director he has worked at Berkeley Repertory Theatre: The Pillowman (Les Waters, director) American Conservatory Theatre: Indian Ink (Carey Perloff, director); The Guthrie Theater: Othello (Joe Dowling, director) Yale Repertory Theatre: Twelfth Night (Mark Rucker, director) and currently at The Public Theater: Hamlet (Oskar Eustis, director). Rob is a recent recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors. He has an M.F.A. in directing from the Yale School of Drama and graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University.

Paige Rogers(Associate Artistic Director) co-founded The Cutting Ball Theater in 1999 and has appeared in their productions of My Head Was a Sledgehammer, As You Like It, The Vomit Talk of Ghosts, Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew.   As a director her work with Cutting Ball includes Life is a Dream for The Hidden Classics Reading Series, 1000 South Kelly and Learning English as part of Suzan-Lori Parks’ 365 plays/ 365 days and Lighthouse forRisk is This…The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival. In 2009 she will direct Mud by Maria Irene Fornes.

Why Beckett?

“This is the source of inner cleansing, the life force nevertheless, in Beckett's pessimism. It houses a love of mankind that grows in understanding as it plumbs further into the depths of abhorrence, a despair that has to reach the utmost bounds of suffering to discover that compassion has no bounds.”
-Karl Ragnar Glerow, of the Swedish Academy, presenting Beckett the Nobel Prize for Literature

“A play should give you something to think about. When I see a play and understand it the first time, then I know it can't be much good.”
-T.S. Eliot

David Sinaiko as Hamm and Avery Monsen as Clov in The Cutting Ball Theater’s production of Endgame February 22 – March 16

From Artistic Director Rob Melrose:

Talking about Beckett’s work is difficult. Beckett himself found it difficult. But why? It is because Beckett took great pains to make his plays first and foremost an experience. It is something that can be looked at from many angles and each audience member is invited to have his or her own personal reaction to it. There is no message. There is nothing to “get.” His work is mysterious and paradoxical by design. This is why Beckett was evasive with his critics who wanted to have his plays explained to them. He didn’t want his plays reduced to one thing, but rather to be many things, as varied as life itself. Beckett said it best when defending Finnegans Wake, the masterwork of his mentor James Joyce, “His writing is not about something, it is that something itself.”

It is in this spirit that I invite you to see The Cutting Ball Theater’s production of the play Beckett valued most in his oeuvre, Endgame. As you embark of this adventure, you may want to go solo or you may prefer to have a guide.

I hope to see you at the theater!

-Rob Melrose, Artistic Director and director of Endgame

Our production: Making the Strange Familiar

Last Spring Joe Dowling, artistic director of the Guthrie Theater, talked with me about directing Beckett’s Happy Days at the Guthrie.  This prompted me to re-read all of Beckett’s plays and to read his novels and biography for the first time.  I directed Endgame in 1994 when I was the artistic director of the Yale Summer Cabaret.  Back then I was in love with surrealism and immediately latched onto the absurdist aspects of Endgame. In the end, I created a very abstract production of the play.  My recent reading of Beckett’s novels, with their rich detail and poignant situations, completely changed the way I saw Endgame.  After reading his biography I found that Beckett once worked in a mental institution which later became the basis for his novel, Murphy. This information made me realize that all of Beckett’s work, absurd as it can be, is rooted in actual human experience.

Thirteen years ago, I felt like my job was to take Beckett’s absurd writing and give it an absurd production. Now, I feel my goal is to root Beckett’s language in a reality as solid as the ones that exist in his novels.  Brecht said, “the artist’s job is to either make the familiar strange or the strange familiar.”  Taking up this mantle, my goal with this production is to make the strange familiar.

Set and Costume Designer Fred Kinney and I are working hard to be faithful to the very letter of Beckett’s stage directions. The play will take place in “a bare interior” as Beckett specifies and not a subway station, a forest or on the moon. Our bare interior, however, will be an interior that is familiar, an interior our audience has seen before. Fred and I toured San Francisco in December and looked at old, run down Victorian houses for our research. Similarly the characters will be people from our world, maybe people we pass by everyday on the street.

The more I get to know Beckett, the more I lose the stereotype of this cold, ancient avant-garde author and gain the sense of this empathic, kind, and deeply human man. He had a deep admiration and sympathy for mankind despite its troubling predicament of life on earth.

What is Endgame about? It is the thing itself!

In Endgame like its predecessor Waiting for Godot, there are two couples. There is an older couple Nell and Nagg who seem to cooperate and a younger couple Hamm and Clov who have more of a master servant relationship. In all, there are three generations represented: first: Nagg and Nell; second: Hamm; and third: Clov. Clov can walk, Hamm is confined to a wheelchair and Nagg and Nell are confined to garbage cans.

But who are Hamm and Clov? Is Hamm the hammer and are the others all nails: Clov (from the French: clou), Nagg (from the German: Nagel), and Nell (from the English: nail)? Is Hamm a ham actor? Is he an older Hamlet or perhaps a King Lear with his fool? Are Hamm and Clov master and servant? Father and son? Is Hamm a roast ham with a clove stuck to him? How did Clov get here? Hamm tells a story about a man taking a small boy into his service. Is this boy Clov? Later on another small boy is seen out the window. Is this a new boy to take Clov’s place? Or is this boy represent a fourth generation and he will become Clov’s servant when Clov himself takes Hamm’s place in the wheelchair? These are all ambiguities that resonate throughout the play and have intrigued audiences for half a century.

While respecting these ambiguities, our production seeks to explore the nature of this relationship. This summer, director Robert Woodruff spoke at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival about his work. He showed a scene from his stunning production of Medea and said that when one asks real questions of myths, that’s when the work starts to get interesting. Looking at Medea as a real woman who makes the painful choice to kill her children is infinitely more compelling than simply acting out an ancient myth. With our production of Endgame, I took a page from Robert’s playbook and stopped seeing Hamm and Clov as abstract absurdist characters and started to explore them as real people in a real relationship. And indeed, that’s when the work got interesting…

Beginning to End – Ending to Begin –
or, Some Brilliance and Bullshit on Samuel Beckett
by Brad Chequer

To get ourselves oriented:

The first line of Beckett’s essay on Finnegans Wake [Dante …. Bruno.Vico..Joyce] is this: "The danger is in the neatness of the identifications." To show how easily even a genius can drive an open metaphor into a closed allegory by a too neat identification, Joseph Campbell reports on seeing Godot that Pozzo represented the Catholic church as oppressor and Lucky the Irish peasantry as oppressed. The last line of Beckett’s last play, What Where, is this: "Make sense who may. I switch off."

Beckett, in a letter to Alan Schneider: "I feel that the only line is to refuse to be involved in exegesis of any kind. And to insist on the extreme simplicity of dramatic situation and issue. If that’s not enough for them, and it obviously isn’t, it’s plenty for us, and we have no elucidations to offer of mysteries that are all of their own making. My work is a matter of fundamental sounds (no joke intended) made as fully as possible, and I accept responsibility for nothing else. If people want to have headaches among the overtones, let them, and provide their own aspirin."

"Bad faith begins when the artist tries to give meaning, a sort of immanent finality, to his troubles and persuades himself that they are there so that he can talk about them." Jean Paul Sartre – We Write for Our Own Time

Beckett in Watt: "No symbols where none intended."

Here is Harold Pinter on Beckett:
"The farther [Beckett] goes the more good it does me. I don’t want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, ways out, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the shit the more I am grateful to him. He’s not fucking me about, he’s not leading me up any garden path, he’s not slipping me a wink, he’s not flogging me a remedy or a path or a revelation or a basinful of breadcrumbs, he’s not selling me anything I don’t want to buy – he doesn’t give a bollock whether I buy or not – he hasn’t got his hand over his heart. Well, I’ll buy his goods, hook, line and sinker, because he leaves no stone unturned and no maggot lonely. He brings forth a body of beauty. His work is beautiful."

And that, ladies and germs, is what love looks like.

Here is Richard Ellman (biographer of Joyce, Yeats, and Wilde) on Beckett:
"Samuel Beckett is sui generis…He has given a voice to the decrepit and maimed and inarticulate, men and women at the end of their tether, past pose or pretense, past claim of meaningful existence. He seems to say that only there and then, as metabolism lowers, amid God’s paucity, not his plenty, can the core of the human condition be approached… Yet his musical cadences, his wrought and precise sentences, cannot help but stave off the void… Like salamanders we survive in his fire." (From Ellman’s Four Dubliners.)

So much for the brilliance; the bullshit follows:

Hamm in his second line addresses the handkerchief that covers his face as "old stancher." The cloth and trash can lids in the play are stanchers, stoppers of the flow of blood, or of words. Hamm repeats that in his second to last line – to follow it with the last line of the play: "You remain." The actors have made the mistake of asking me what this means; I have made the worse mistake of trying to answer them.

Following Yeats, Beckett opens Endgame with Clov’s pulling away the cloths that cover Hamm, Nagg, and Nell. W.B. Yeats opens and closes his plays At the Hawk’s Well, The Dreaming of the Bones, and Calvary with the folding and unfolding of cloths. Worth noting maybe that the English words "text" and "textile" come from the Latin root "textilis," from "textus," meaning "woven thing;" woven from words or from fiber, one opens and closes the other. As cloth opens the mouth opens, breathing begins, the senses become sensitive, words begin, talk begins, the play begins. Beckett reworks this pattern constantly, and in different forms in Play, Breath, and Not I, and, obviously, in Endgame and Godot. Uncovered, Hamm can talk – and play – covered he is silenced. Covered in their trash bins, "bottled," to use Hamm’s word, Nagg and Nell are silenced. Hamm himself wants to be covered, to be silenced ("Cover me with the sheet"), but Clov ignores the command, and Hamm seems satisfied to have his command ignored. "No? Good." Uncovered his words, and his breath, continue. The cycle begins again.

When Hamm folds his cloth, his stancher, at the end, he closes it, closes his mouth, he wants to shut down his words and his play. When Hamm folds his stancher he is completing the circle he began when he first started talking, dying to be reborn. This is hardly original. In his play The Herne’s Egg, W.B. Yeats draws a parallel between the egg and the urn. In Finnegans Wake Joyce puns on "womb" and "tomb" to similar effect. (Joyce dictated parts of the Wake to Beckett; Beckett translated the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter of the Wake into French.)

As with Joyce, so with Beckett; every word carries multilayered meanings. (Check out Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis on this.) To stanch as everyone knows is to stop the flow of blood from a wound, and so the stancher is the handkerchief Hamm uses to stanch his wound. Think of a stancher as a bung hole stopper; then remember Hamm on his throne. As Hamm’s wound is internal he bleeds out of his mouth; as Beckett’s words bleed out the end of his pen, Hamm endlessly talks, he has his pee, so Beckett called his work "wordshit;" what Hamm’s mouth and Beckett’s pen bleed is the words of the play. This too is hardly original. Draco, as Beckett knew, is reputed to have written his laws in blood. Nor this: In our time, in this place, words tend bleed out of an internal wound. A reading of what three sentences you like of Kafka or of Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain should prove the point.

Here’s the set Yeats’s play Purgatory: "A ruined house and a bare tree in the background." Take away the house and you’re in Godot. The persons in the play: A boy and an old man – precursors of Hamm and Clov, Pozzo and Lucky. And the story: The old man kills the boy because "he would have struck a woman’s fancy, begot, and passed the pollution on[;]" only to find that the souls of the dead return to life anyway, as frightened probably of our world as we are of theirs. Hamm will not let Clov forget that he "pollute[s] the air," and would if he had the power destroy anyone or anything, except his words, to prevent procreation and its double, pollution.

Hamm wants to end the world, to end all possibility of life, to kill the flea in Clov’s pants (speaking of multilayered meaning, and of Beckett’s sardonic comedy, how’s that for a double entendre?) and to be assured that the boy outside is dead, or will soon die, to stop them from reproducing, but he can’t stop the flow of words, nor the flow of blood, though he’s slowing down, and bleeding "less," as Clov is having his visions "less"; and since Hamm can’t end the flow of words, or the flow of blood, he can’t end the world. No accident this; St. John tells us: "In the beginning was the word." The words that bleed out the end of pen betray a wound, but they impregnate the page; and more words are given us to follow the words on the page. You’re reading some of them. Before long you will speak more of them. And we will find, maybe, that the wound, which is after all our own wound in our own time, gives us a little less pain.

If Hamm manages to stop the flow of words, he himself will become the "stancher." While Hamm wants to end words to end the world, to end suffering ("I put him before his responsibilities" – "and speak no more about it"), and maybe bring on a kind of nirvana, he becomes a stancher. To be a stancher is on one hand his way of healing the world by taking humanity out of it, but on the other, to send Clov out into it, whether to live or die no one knows; that Clov may not go only deepens the irony. The words which Hamm would use to destroy (his refusal to give mother Peg oil for her lamp or the father corn for his son, his command that Clov bottle Nell and toss the trash bins containing Nagg and Nell into the sea) take on in spite of himself a creative power. No accident that the Hindus made Shiva the god of both destruction and creation – that which dies is reborn – no matter how many times Hamm kills them off, the dead return anyway. As Yeats reminds us, women and men attract each other, and pass the pollution on; as neither Yeats nor Beckett should need to remind us, out of that pollution beauty may come. There is in Cantonese an old saying: "Chut wu lai yi but yim;" out of the foulest muck grows the purest lotus.

The last line: "You remain." Simply the fact that Hamm is left, alone if Clov departs, and if, as it seems, Nagg as well as Nell has died. Less obviously, if Bishop Berkeley’s esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived) is correct, Hamm’s existence, hence his ability to remain, or to do anything else, depends on his being perceived, whether by Clov or someone else, i.e., his audience, meaning us. Less obvious still, Hamm represents the secret violence Lucretius spoke of. To quote Lucretius (I’ll spare you the Latin because I forgot it): "Nothing appears as it should in a world where nothing is certain. The only thing certain is the existence in the world of a secret violence that makes everything uncertain." Hamm’s violence drives Clov’s action, and dominates the action of the play. But I think that what interested Beckett was the invisible violence about which nothing can be said that drives Hamm, and makes him bleed words out his mouth as Beckett bleeds words out his pen – in both senses – the words of the play and the words which in spite of Hamm’s best efforts, revitalize the world he’d like to erase.

The creative/destructive force Hamm embodies remains and does its work whether he likes it or not, whether he participates in it or not. He remains because the "secret violence" Lucretius spoke of remains, whether in form of a creative eros that I hope drove the first word into the world or in the secret police in their burrows. (For a view of their technique, see Beckett’s Catastrophe and What Where, or for less subtle versions, Pinter’s One for the Road and Press Conference.)

One fine night while Joyce was in Zurich (to avoid the Nazis, like everyone else), he was standing on a balcony looking at the night stars; a priest came up to him (knowing that before he lost faith Joyce himself had got within about 3 millimeters of becoming a Jesuit priest) and pointed out to him the order and beauty of the stars – "all that order – all that beauty" – and offered it as proof of god’s existence, god’s love, god’s wisdom, and the order and beauty (not to mention ashes and ash bins) that god had created. To which Joyce responded: "A pity that it’s all based on mutual inter-destruction." That which destroys is that which creates; Hamm, like Beckett, is constantly trying to end, only to find himself beginning again, remaining in spite of his desire not to remain, going on in spite of his desire no longer to go on. Beckett famously ends his novel The Unnameable with the line: "I can’t go on. I’ll go on."

The creative force that drives the world can't be stopped; not even Hamm can stop it, not even in his own play. It’s true of course that none of us on earth can guarantee that we will be alive in the next 3/10ths of a second – and that nothing is certain – ("There’s no cure for that") which is as we all agree frightening; but this also allows for the possibility of change and that with some work and, what’s infinitely more difficult, insight (more insight than work if you want my opinion), we could make the world slightly less horrible over time than it is now. A rhetorical question from R.D. Laing: "Who are we to say that it is hopeless?"

Hamm will go on making words, creating, in spite of the impossibility of creating or making words, in spite of his desire to end – and in spite of the impossible pile of individual grains that make a heap, the impossible heap of words that make a play – or a world. And this is why far better readers of Beckett than I call him one of the most optimistic writers we have.

Brad Chequer, 2-22-08.

David Sinaiko and Avery Monsen talk about playing Hamm and Clov


Paul Gerrior and Maureen Coyne talk about playing Nell and Nagg


“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness”
February 22-March 16, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (January 31, 2008) San Francisco’s critically acclaimed, cutting-edge Cutting Ball Theater continues its 2008 season with Samuel Beckett’s ENDGAME. Rob Melrose, Cutting Ball’s co-founding Artistic Director, directs this modern take on one of Beckett’s most important works. Starring David Sinaiko ( Taming of the ShrewWoyzeck, Macbeth, As You Like It), Avery Monsen (Taming of the Shrew), Paul Gerrior (As You Like It, Roberto Zucco), and Maureen Coyne (Risk is This), ENDGAME runs February 22 through March 16 (press opening: February 28) at Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida St. (between 17 th and Mariposa) in San Francisco. For tickets ($15-30) and more information, the public may visit cuttingball.com or call 800-838-3006

With a uniquely San Franciscan bent (all of the action takes place in a run-down Victorian house), Cutting Ball’s production of ENDGAME follows the attacks and parries of the world’s last four remaining inhabitants, two of whom dwell in trash cans. A profound, introspective look at the game that man constantly plays and in which he is always checkmated, t his absurdist masterpiece examines civilization as it is about to end, and explores what can happen when there are very few people left.

“My goal with this production is to make the strange familiar, to root Beckett’s language in a reality as solid as the realities that exist in his novels,” said Cutting Ball Artistic Director Rob Melrose. “We are being absolutely faithful to Beckett’s text. At the same time, the look of our production is modern and familiar allowing audiences to enter the world of ENDGAME as a contemporary situation as opposed to a period piece.” In addition to Cutting Ball’s production of ENDGAME, Melrose will also direct a production of Beckett’s Happy Days at the Guthrie Theater next year.

Artistic Director and co-founder of Cutting Ball Theater, Rob Melrose has directed several productions for the company, including Suzan Lori-Parks’ The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World; My Head Was a Sledgehammer; Mayakovsky: A Tragedy; Drowning Room; As You Like It; Macbeth; and The Taming of the Shrew, among others. Additional directing credits include David Marshall Grant’s Pen at The Guthrie Theater, Liz Duffy Adams’ The Train Play at Crowded Fire Theater, and assistant directing credits for Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink, (directed by Carey Perloff at ACT), as well as Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman (directed by Les Waters at Berkeley Rep).

Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish dramatist, novelist and poet. He is considered by many to be one of the last modernists. As an inspiration to many later writers, he is thought to be one of the first postmodernists. Considered to be one of the key writers in the “Theatre of the Absurd,” his works were minimalistic and, according to some interpretations, deeply pessimistic about the human condition. Beckett’s perceived pessimism (mitigated by an often wicked sense of humor) was not so much for the human condition, but for that of established cultural and societal structures. In addition to prose, poetry, teleplays, and pieces written for the radio, Beckett’s body of works for the stage include Waiting for Godot (1952); Act Without Words I (1956); Act Without Words II (1956); ENDGAME (1957); Krapp’s Last Tape (1958); Rough for Theatre I (late 1950s); Rough for Theatre II (late 1950s); Happy Days (1960); Play (1963); Come and Go (1965); Breath (1969); Not I (1972); That Time (1975); Footfalls (1975); A Piece of Monologue (1980); Rockaby (1981); Ohio Impromptu (1981); Catastrophe (1982); and What Where (1983). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969.

Following ENDGAME, Cutting Ball Theater continues its theatrical season for 2008 with Avant GardARAMA, an evening of short, experimental plays, July 18 – August 16 at EXIT on Taylor. In October, Mud by Maria Irene Fornes, begins Cutting Ball’s residency at the EXIT on Taylor , playing October 24 – November 23, followed by the company’s Risk is This . . . The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival, December 5 – 20.

Co-founded in 1999 by husband and wife team Rob Melrose and Paige Rogers, Cutting Ball Theater presents avant-garde works of the past, present, and future by re-envisioning classics, exploring seminal avant-garde texts, and developing new experimental plays. Cutting Ball Theater has partnered with Playwrights Foundation, Magic Theatre, and Z Space New Plays Initiative to commission new experimental works, including Bone to Pick by Eugenie Chan, which will be featured as part of this season’s Avant GardARAMA! The company has produced a number of World Premieres and West Coast Premieres, and re-imagined various classics. Cutting Ball Theater earned the Best of SF Award in 2006 for Theater from SF Weekly, and was selected by San Francisco Magazine as Best Classic Theater in 2007.


WHAT: San Francisco’s cutting-edge Cutting Ball Theater continues its 2008 season of critically acclaimed stage-work in the Bay Area with Samuel Beckett’s ENDGAME. Rob Melrose, Cutting Ball’s co-founding Artistic Director, helms this modern take on one of Beckett’s most important works, starring David Sinaiko ( Taming of the ShrewWoyzeck, Macbeth, As You Like It), Avery Monsen (Taming of the Shrew), Paul Gerrior (As You Like It, Roberto Zucco), and Maureen Coyne (Risk is This). This absurdist masterpiece follows the attacks and parries of the world’s last four remaining inhabitants, two of whom dwell in trash cans. This absurdist masterpiece examines civilization as it is about to end, and explores what can happen when there are very few people left.

SCHEDULE: February 22 – March 16, 2008

Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 5pm

Press opening: Thursday, February 28, 8pm

WHERE: Traveling Jewish Theatre
470 Florida St. (between 17 th and Mariposa)

TICKETS: For tickets ($15-30) and more information, the public
may visit cuttingball.com or call 800-838-3006

PHOTOS: High-resolution digital art for ENDGAME is available by visiting http://www.cuttingball.com/press.php

Endgame is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

The Cutting Ball’s production of Endgame is made possible in part by grants from Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Mental Insight Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.