It is time to commit. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for a little over two years—one year in a gross basement apartment in San Francisco, one year in a gorgeous tree-house-of-an-apartment in Berkeley. Part of me always thought it was temporary, partly because of a “this place is too good to be true” feeling, but also because there will always be a longing in me to return to Chicago, my first theater home. Also because it’s so freaking expensive that you would have to be crazy to want to make a life here. But yesterday, I was drinking with colleague/friends, and enough alcohol had been imbibed for them to reveal their ages, ages that did not correspond with how I think of them. They are so much younger than they are, both in body and spirit. “That’s it,” I say. “I’m never leaving.” It is a Mary Ann Singleton moment: the Tales of the City heroine visits for a week and calls her mother from a pay phone to tell her that she will not be returning to Cleveland. This is nothing so dramatic. But maybe Chicago deserves a phone call.
My Friday assertion was just the culmination of a days-worth of such thinking. Tuesday morning I finally checked back in with this blog to find an invitation from a local theater company I had never heard of, Sleepwalkers Theatre. They had commented back in July, just days before my wedding (It was amazing! Thanks for asking!), recommending their production of This World is Good by J. C. Lee, a playwright I am familiar with from the Playwrights Foundation: “We’re about to launch a huge trilogy of plays about the end of the world that will make up our entire next season. As a member of the bay area theatre community and a huage comic book geek I’ve been pretty intrigued by your blog for a while. The plays we’re about to launch are all written by playwrite J.C. Lee. He’s also a comic book geek; in fact there’s a lot of super hero stuff in the trilogy.” Free tickets to a play about the end of the world by a comic-book loving playwright? I’m there.
So on Thursday I walk to the Phoenix Theatre, literally a half-a-block away from A.C.T.’s theater, on the six floor of a building that holds Ruby Skye, a popular club that I (less surprisingly) also hadn’t heard of. I take the janky elevator to the 6th floor, took my ticket from a man who was at once the house manager, stagehand, director, and production artistic director, enter the tiny theater with its aging seats, and immediately felt at home. There are few things I love more than poor theater, where ingenuity is king and every actor has to be an psychological daredevil.
I think what I love most about being a 28-year-old theater practitioner: playwrights of my generation are, right now, finding their voices and finding their audiences. This World is Good is a play for people who have had long, dark philosophical arguments about Watchmen, and take solace in video games when they lose said arguments. It is for a generation that values Mario as a culture icon and thinks that anyone who does not know about Star Wars is culturally illiterate. It is also a play for a generation of closet nihilists who—without the concreteness of world war or nuclear holocaust—find nebulous threats of global destruction in the confusion of the Middle East, the unpredictability of terrorism, the mysteries of climate change, and the realities of financial implosion. It is also a play for the Third Millennium, the millennium of the dork.
Needless to say, I loved it. I want some of its monologues tattooed on my arm. It is only playing for one more week, so my first act as a writer for a Bay Area theater blog (look: it’s in the masthead!) is recommend you see it. And when you leave, don’t take the elevator: walk down the steps. Because the bumping club music overflowing from Ruby Skye seriously adds to the experience.