Risk Is This…

RISK IS THIS… The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival

Risk Is This Logo

May 13 – June 25, 2011
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor.

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 five staged readings of new plays that push the boundaries of what theater can be.

All performances are FREE and open to the public.  Seats are reserved by $20 donation; or donate $50 for a five-play reserved seating festival pass.

SEASON MEMBERS and FESTIVAL PASS HOLDERS: email boxoffice@cuttingball.com to reserve your seats.

Risk Is What?

Our motto and the name of our new plays festival comes from a story my high school French teacher told me, which is probably apocryphal but has fascinated me for years all the same. When we were complaining about our grades, she explained to us that in France, the grading system is infinitely harsher than in the United States. She told us about the French baccalauréat, also known as le bac, and how it is graded on a scale from 0 to 20 and that 16 is considered an excellent grade and that students only rarely get an 18 or 19 and never a 20.

After high school, French students can opt to take le bac which requires an entire year of study. This test determines where they pursue their higher education. The most famously difficult test is philosophy, where students are asked to take a theme such as “beauty” or “love” and to go through the history of the concept from the Ancient Greek philosophers to the present. This is meant to take the entire four hours allotted for the test.

One year, so the story goes, the test in philosophy consisted of one question, “What is Risk?” While all the other students across France toiled away tracing the development of the concept of risk through the history of philosophy, one daring student simply wrote, “Risk is this…” and turned in his test. The graders were said to have agonized for days about what grade to give this student, some opting for a zero, others for a twenty. Ultimately, they saw the genius of his answer, that his act was in fact demonstrating the concept, and awarded him an unprecedented 20.

Cutting Ball named our experimental festival Risk is This… in celebration of this risk-taking spirit.

-Artistic Director Rob Melrose

Risk is This …The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival is part of The Cutting Ball Theater’s New Experimental Plays Initiative, which
is generously supported by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

TONTLAWALD

TontlavaldCutting Ball Commission
By Eugenie Chan
Directed by Paige Rogers
May 13 & 14, 2011
Friday and Saturday at 8pm at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor.

Tontlawald is an original ensemble-based piece that weaves evocative a capella harmonies and visceral movement into a multilayered retelling of an ancient Estonian tale. Part concert, part dance, part fairy tale, and inspired by the work of Poland’s famed Teatr ZAR, Tontlawald follows a mistreated girl who flees her tormentors and unexpectedly finds a safe home in the mysterious, forbidden Tontlawald – the ghost forest. Written by Cutting Ball’s resident playwright Eugenie Chan and directed by Associate Artistic Director Paige Rogers, Tontlawald is slated to receive its fully staged World Premiere as part of the company’s 2011-2012 season.

All performances are FREE and open to the public.  Seats are reserved by $20 donation; or donate $50 for a five-play reserved seating festival pass.

SEASON MEMBERS and FESTIVAL PASS HOLDERS: email boxoffice@cuttingball.com to reserve your seats.

KRISPY KRITTERS IN THE SCARLETT NIGHT

KrispyKrittersBy Andrew Saito
Directed by Rob Melrose
May 20 & 21, 2011
Friday and Saturday at 8pm at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor.

Drumhead speaks to a guinea pig Jesus, hanging on his wall.  His friends are dead mice and hamsters, housed in cereal boxes, and the cadavers he pretties up at the morgue.  In a world seeping with death, Drumhead finally feels a flicker of life when he meets Scarlett, who shows disillusioned men a night of heaven, in exchange for their life savings, and wedding rings.  The problem is, Drumhead isn’t married, and has to improvise to find his way into Scarlett’s boudoir, while navigating relationships with a teethchattering prostitute, his legless veteran father, and a denizen of the sewers who steals Drumhead’s shoes.  With Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night, playwright Andrew Saito dazzles with sublime, surreal language and imagery fit for a Dalí painting.

All performances are FREE and open to the public.  Seats are reserved by $20 donation; or donate $50 for a five-play reserved seating festival pass.

SEASON MEMBERS and FESTIVAL PASS HOLDERS: email boxoffice@cuttingball.com to reserve your seats.

MADAME HO

By Eugenie Chan
Directed by Rob Melrose
May 27 & 28, 2011
Friday and Saturday at 8pm at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor.

Did you see Madame HoClick here to talk to Eugenie about it on the play’s Facebook page.

Madame Ho tells the story of a formidable woman in the Wild West, a real-life 19th century brothel hostess, single mother, Chinese immigrant, great-great grandmother, and ghost.

All performances are FREE and open to the public. Seats are reserved by $20 donation; or donate $50 for a five-play reserved seating festival pass.

SEASON MEMBERS and FESTIVAL PASS HOLDERS: email boxoffice@cuttingball.com to reserve your seats.

Playwright Eugenie Chan says:

Madame Ho was inspired by my great-great grandmother, Leong Shee, who my family knows little about, and her daughter Gong Saam.  Family lore and documents, such as Gong Saam’s immigration coaching notes for her son’s re-entry to the U.S., tell us that Leong Shee lived in Portland and had three sons in addition to her daughter.  They moved to SF with my great-great grandfather in 1867.  Leong Shee and her husband were the first in my family to immigrate to this country.I learned from my family that Gong Saam ran a brothel, owned a jewelry store, had shares in a restaurant and possibly a Chinese opera theater, loaned money, and bought property.  Gong Saam had four children, who she supported, along with their families.  Her earnings in the 1910’s enabled one of her sons, my grandfather, to attend Stanford, which was rare for a Chinese-American, and raise his kids while he was in college and grad school.

How Gong Saam was able to do this all, how her mother Leong Shee was able to be a Chinese working woman and mother in San Francisco and Portland during the fever of the Gold Rush were the questions that drove the creation of Madame Ho. -Eugenie Chan

OZMA OF OZ: A TRIP-HOP MUSICAL

Cutting Ball Commission
Adapted from the novel by L. Frank Baum
Rob Melrose (book and lyrics)
Z.O.N.K. (music)
Directed by Rob Melrose
June 10-11, 2011
Friday and Saturday at 8pm at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor.

Cutting Ball Artistic director Rob Melrose collaborates with the San Francisco-based electro-rock group Z.O.N.K. to create Cutting Ball’s first musical, a trip-hop fantasy that captures L. Frank Baum’s American breed of surrealism with a hint of the post-modern. In Ozma of Oz, Dorothy is transported to the land of Ev with a talking chicken named Billina. Together, they plot to overthrow the evil Nome King, but they cannot succeed with out the help of a mysterious princess. This reading will feature live musical performances by Z.O.N.K. and the cast.

All performances are FREE and open to the public. Seats are reserved by $20 donation; or donate $50 for a five-play reserved seating festival pass.

SEASON MEMBERS and FESTIVAL PASS HOLDERS: email boxoffice@cuttingball.com to reserve your seats.

About This Trip To Oz…

The third book in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, Ozma of Oz, takes place mostly outside of the land of Oz. Complete with lunch pails growing on trees, farm animals that talk, obnoxious creatures that have wheels instead of hands and feet, a mechanical man, a head-exchanging princess, and a Nome king who lives underground, Ozma of Oz is vintage Baum.

Inspired by the rock musicals of the experimental theater visionary Robert Wilson, our presentation of this amazing story brings audiences a high-energy score and delightfully phantasmagoric images. With music touted by the SF Examiner as “a quirky, beat-driven blend of turntable, laptop, live guitar, bass and harmonica,” Z.O.N.K bandleader David Levison and Cutting Ball’s Artistic Director Rob Melrose, (both fathers themselves), seek to pave the way for introducing younger audiences to experimental theater while celebrating the early American proto-surrealism of Baum’s vivid imagination.

TENDERLOIN

TenderLoinCutting Ball Commission
By Annie Elias
Directed by Annie Elias
June 24 & 25, 2011
Friday and Saturday at 8pm at The Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor.

Annie Elias brings her years of experience in documentary theater to the Tenderloin, creating an unforgettable piece about the people and places in Cutting Ball’s neighborhood.

All performances are FREE and open to the public. Seats are reserved by $20 donation; or donate $50 for a five-play reserved seating festival pass.

SEASON MEMBERS and FESTIVAL PASS HOLDERS: email boxoffice@cuttingball.com to reserve your seats.

Director and playwright Annie Elias writes:

Tenderloin’s form is modeled after artists and theater groups such as Anna Deveare Smith, Culture Clash, Tectonic Theater Project, and Dan Hoyle, who use transcripts of interviews, conducted by actors, as the basis for the text of the play. Tenderloin’s actors will portray the subjects they interview, creating living portraits from which a portrait of the neighborhood itself will emerge. Confirmed interviewees and those
under consideration include the District’s Supervisor, a Chinese diner owner, a couple who own a local bar, a long-time St. Anthony’s worker, a former prostitute, several long-time residents of SROs (single room occupancy hotels), Rev. Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial Church, the two young women who founded “The Tenderblog,” an elderly Vietnamese immigrant, a Hilton Hotel worker, and longtime area resident and artist
Mark Ellinger.

Documentary theater often begins with a pre-existing idea of its subject, yet it is really only after all of the interviews are completed and the writer is mid-way through editing and crafting the texts into a script that the true subject of the piece reveals itself. Having created three productions using this form, I know there is great depth in the stories of everyday people, as well as something compelling and moving in the form itself—in the practice of empathy that takes place when an actor steps into the shoes, words, and physical behavior of a stranger. I have also observed the effect of the form on the interview subjects themselves, when they bring their friends and family to the theater to hear their stories told publicly and witness the sympathetic response of the audience, laughing, clapping, and crying, or listening in silence. It is a powerful and confirming experience for the members of the community.

-Annie Elias

The Cutting Ball Theater’s 2013-2014 Season is made possible in part by Grants for the Arts / San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Mental Insight Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, RHE Foundation, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, The San Francisco Arts Commission, The San Francisco Foundation and The Zellerbach Family Foundation and by our many individual donors.