Four Shows: The Tosca Project, Vow, Huckleberry Hostel, and 1001

1. Standing in the BART station, waiting to transfer to the Richmond line, I look across the tracks to a poster of our upcoming production, The Tosca Project.

“Love. Betrayal. Hope. And another round, please.”

That used to say, “another beer, please.”

Then I had my way with it. Much better this way. “Another beer, please” is a selfish, lonely act. But “another round”: this is about the community. This is about generosity and friendship. And, of course, “round” can be a dance word—which is appropriate for this, a theater-dance piece; “beer,” to my knowledge, is not a part of the dancing lexicon.

It is strange how much satisfaction a single word can bring you.

2. That said, words are usually pretty dependable little buggers. I wrote a “play” that was all about words when I was living in Chicago. Vow was written for New Leaf Theatre’s benefit staged-reading honoring their Mid-North Neighborhood home. We three playwrights were instructed to write short plays “that never would go beyond being a staged reading.” We all sought out the strengths of this non-active form, I remember. One playwright wrote a play that switched very fast between three (four?) sets of couples, too fast to make blocking necessary or desirable. The other wrote the most beautifully absurd and impossible stage directions ever conceived, to be read, of course, not seen. At one point, I believe an anti-gravity button is pushed. I wrote a piece in which both characters spoke simultaneously to different factions of the audience. How is language sound and rhythm? How do we receive stories differently from different storytellers? A friend and colleague got a hold of it recently and decided that Vow would, in fact, go beyond being a staged reading: it has two mini-performances this weekend.
3. And also opening this weekend: The Adventures of HUCKLEBERRY HOSTEL! An update on this shortly.

4. And opening last weekend—Monday to be exact—Just Theatre’s smart and sharp and remarkable production of Jason Grote’s 1001. I wholeheartedly and highly recommend this fascinating ride through the twists and turns of timeless storytelling, playing in the intimate Berkeley City Club so you won’t miss a moment of the super strong performances by local actors.

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