Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hundred Flowers Blooms Great Reviews

The reviews for Christopher Chen's The Hundred Flowers Project [co-produced by Crowded Fire and Playwrights Foundation] are just sweeping in. As the show is in it's opening weekend at the Thick House and you're ordering your tickets, check out these great reviews from Chad Jones of Theater Dogs and Robert Hurwitt of the SF Chronicle.

From Chad Jones at theaterdogs.net

Christopher Chen's The Hundred Flowers Project
Photo by Pak Han

If Apple or some other high-tech giant was really smart, really forward thinking, they’d head down to the Thick House and check out the West Coast premiere of Christopher Chen’s The Hundred Flowers Project, a play that not only has a lot to say about our instantly archived society and its millions of digital histories but also utilizes technology in a fascinating way.
There’s something utterly primal about the premise of this Crowded Fire/Playwrights Foundation co-production: members of a San Francisco theater collective gather to create, in the most organic, zeitgeist-melding way, a dazzling piece of theater about the life and rule of Mao Tse Tung that has deep metaphorical connection to our own times. These theater folk are pretentious – the words “zeitgeist” and “congealing” are used so often they may cause indigestion – but they’re also real artists trying to create something new and interesting and meaningful.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Music Monday: Hundred Flowers

The Hundred Flowers Project
Photo by Pak Han
Today's Music Monday is a little special. Today we look at The Hundred Flowers Project by Christopher Chen. It's a play that has been in our lives at Playwrights Foundation for a while. But really it goes back to this summer when it was one of the great plays being read at the 35th Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Co-Produced with Crowded Fire Theatre Company, Chris' great work was a great play to see develop and now it is finally in full production over at the Thick House (get tickets here) playing now until November 17th.

To really get an insight to the play's development, make sure to check out the blog Chris wrote for us during the BAPF this summer. Titled "Meta-Blog", Chris describes in funny and insightful detail about the challenges and fun of writing play that has come to be labeled the popular "meta-theatre" brand.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music Monday: Whole Lotta Lauren Gunderson

Here's how it goes. When I have send a music monday request to a playwright I ask for 15 songs or so, that way if a song is not on Spotify then there should be enough song options to put on a good size playlist.

When it came time to ask Lauren Gunderson for a Music Monday playlist, I asked her for 15 songs. When I get to putting together her playlist, the first song is: "The song 'Love Letter' by Clairy Browne that's in that Heineken commercial. Good song. Thanks, Heineken". So I look on Spotify and of course it's not on and I start thinking, this might be a small playlist if the first song is not on there. But I go on...

The Commercial

The Full Song

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Looking for a Better Play

By Dominic Orlando

Reparations Rough Reading Oct. 22 & 23
In preparation for the next Rough Reading, which features Reparations by Dominic Orlando, we asked him to speak about his play, it's history, and what it all means.  

This play began when I was participating in a theatre festival a few years ago (not in California).  I was watching one of the other plays-- it was a disfunctional family drama, fairly well-written--for the first third of the piece we heard a lot about the crazy sister.  She was unbalanced, she was dangerous--it was a real build-up.  But when she finally appeared, the character seemed a little muted and hemmed in.  Now, when I say this character then spoke to me I don't mean I had some kind of psychotic break and heard her voice aloud, but as close to a psychotic break as you can have without it actually happening, this character of the sister spoke to me, and basically asked if I could write a play for her in which she didn't have to feel trapped by the writer's fears and agenda.  Where she could just be her screwed up and frightening self.  She had things to say and she wanted me to provide a forum in which she could say them freely.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Music Monday: Dominic Orlando

Oct. 22 & 23 Rough Reading 
Oh, Dominic. Dominic Orlando is a favorite around Playwrights Foundation. From the classes he teaches to the plays he brings us. The man is so, so busy. From working with Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor on his new musical The Barbary Coast to bringing us his new play Reparations for our Rough Reading series he has also managed to write two blogs for us (one up already) and provide us with a playlist.

Now, in the confusion of multiple emails asking him to write these things for us I did ask him if he could provide us with a playlist that was related to his play Reparations, coming Oct. 22&23, and he gave me a list of songs with the short message: "here are the songs. They fit both into Reparations and songs to write by".

As far as which songs fall into the Reparations category and which ones falls into the 'songs to write by' category you'll have to come check out Reparations in our Rough Reading Series to make that judgement yourself. Either way, listening to his playlist, their all good for creative inspiration.

P.S. Yes, he included a full album in his playlist.
To find out how to see the Rough Reading of Dominic's Reparations, click here

Monday, October 8, 2012

PNG: Paradise of Mixed Delights

By Andrew Saito, PF Resident Playwright abroad in Papua New Guinea

I write these words through the haze of an anonymous tropical disease.  My appetite is reduced, and fatigue sets in early and often.  The upside is that my frequent lack of hunger is shaving off the double chin I acquired a couple of months ago in East New Britain and Bougainville, two large islands off the eastern coast of Papua New Guinea’s mainland, where my diet often consisted of generous portions of rice, crackers, and little else.  PNG, as locals call it, is a far cry from the Bay Area.  I cannot count the number of times while on bumpy, unpaved roads through remote jungle highlands that I’ve pined for a cone of salted caramel from BiRite Creamery, dim sum from the Inner Richmond, or even just a cheese slice from Arinell’s on Valencia  Street.  The good news is San Francisco will still be around, and certainly with new culinary, and theatrical, treasures to savor when I get back next March.  Until then, I’ll content myself with endless portions of sweet potato and greens, canned tuna and carrots.  I can’t bring myself to sample the Ox & Palm tinned corned beef ever again.  Although, if I find myself in the middle of the jungle, with no options other than the good ole’ O & P, I suppose I’ll give in.  After all, that greasy, grey slop is considered a luxury among Papua New Guineans.  When in Rome, they say…

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Adventures in Music-Theatre

At Playwrights Foundation, playwright and teacher Dominic Orlando is a real favorite. He will be featured in our Rough Reading Series and he's getting ready to teach a class for our New Play Institute, a Musical Bootcamp for those who want to really learn how to write a musical. Dominic is currently working on the book of lyrics of for The Barbary Coast for Berkeley Rep. Here's that journey so far.

July, 2012:  My composer Brian Carpenter and I in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre’sGround Floor development program, at their new facility on Harrison Street. 

I wish I had some juicy dirt to impart, but actually TGF was a collaborator’s paradise.  Brian had a studio on end of the facility, complete with several keyboards and his laptop (the essential musical instrument of the 21st Century).  On the other end of the space, I had my little grotto for hammering out the words.  In between our offices, were the common areas, and—most importantly—the kitchen, from which a delicious dinner would (to our minds) magically appear at the end of the work-day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Music Monday: The Road Till Now

Welcome to another Music Monday. This is usually where I would hand it off to this week's playwright, but today we're doing it a little bit differently. Today, I'll take control of the blog. Hopefully it goes just as well as last time I took over. A little look back and a playlist that includes 10 songs chosen by yours truly and nine of my favorites from our nine past Music Mondays.

How did this start? Well, it was during the 35th Bay Area Playwrights Festival this last summer that Magan, the structural glue that holds most things together at the office, came to me with an idea. A way to produce content for our blog that was simple and easy.

Ask playwrights for a playlist of songs they are listening to and post them up.