Recent Press & Accolades
The We Players Bring Theater to State and National Parks
"We Players... has taken the tradition of alfresco theater in a new and ambitious direction by using national and state parks as the stage itself. The theater group's productions transform park settings into scenes, creating theatergoing experiences that blend art, history, and landscape... and sometimes a good bit of hiking. "
We Players One of Seven Companies Producing Groundbreaking Immersive Theater
"The brainchild of artistic director Ava Roy, We Players was founded in 2000 out of Stanford University. This Bay Area-based company produces classical works in site-specific settings, drawing on the energy of the natural environment to break down barriers between language and audience. Drawing on the fundamental philosophies of “place,” “choice” (each audience member determines his own vantage point), “movement” (the audience follows the action throughout the space) and “community,” We Players sheds innovative light on very old works."
We Players featured in American Theatre Magazine’s July 2013 cover story on immersive theatre
"Though the experience was carefully curated, with viewers herded from scene to scene, individual vantage points made for experiential differences. “Even though you’re moving as a group, the spaces we chose were multidimensional,” Roy notes. “I’m staging things way off in the distance, on a cliff above your head. We’re challenging audiences to expand their awareness and perspectives and look above and behind them, below them, off in the distance. People can choose their perspectives, whether they get close to the actor or move farther back.”
10 Immersive Theater Companies To Discover
"Immersive theater has been proliferating throughout the contemporary performance and theater fields in the last 10 years. Discover 10 immersive theater companies working today."
We Players included in Marin's best theatre of 2017
"Created by performers Ava Roy and Courtney Walsh, this heartbreaking two-person play depicts a harried daughter trying to take care of her dementia-plagued mother, who now only speaks in reshuffled lines from “King Lear.” The only way she can reach her mom, even for a moment, is to play along. Performed in various parks, homes and community centers, the piece was followed by intense discussions about the difficult feelings, memories and fears it evoked in the audience."
TBA AWARDS RECOMMENDED PRODUCTION
In addition to annual recognition, the TBA Awards provides a means for alerting the theatre community and the public to outstanding achievement while a production is still running. We Players' production of Mother Lear was recognized as a Recommended Production in October of 2017.
Best Immersive Street Theater Experience - 2015
"Presenting site-integrated plays all around the city, We Players actors take their performance art out of stuffy theaters and put it right back onto the streets, reclaiming local landmarks for public discourse and civic celebration through art. Whether it’s Twelfth Night, or What You Will at Hyde Street Pier, Macbeth at Fort Point, or Hamlet on Alcatraz, We Players actors have the ability to draw power out of their surroundings, channeling it into spectacular, immersive experiences for audience members unlike anything you’ll see on Broadway. "
AVA ROY: SHAKESPEARE ON ALCATRAZ - Interview
"Imagine standing next to Hamlet as he delivers the famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy … beside the rusted bars of an Alcatraz prison cell. Or imagine breaking bread at a table next to the murderous Macbeth. These are the kind of immersive experiences that theater director Ava Roy believes will awaken your senses, and make the Bard’s words relevant in a new way."
SF Weekly interview with Artistic Director Ava Roy
"Audiences are suddenly turned into part of the action, as they follow the play through Sutro Baths and Sutro Heights Park. And the intimacy that goes along with such an interactive show is a tremendously tricky task."
We Players’ Macbeth at Fort Point listed in the top 10 Bay Area theatre events of 2014
“I wrote, “Some theatre experiences are remembered for a lifetime: “Macbeth At Fort Point” is likely to be one of those. Those fortunate enough to attend this extraordinary event (it is more than a play) will be revisiting the memories for years to come.” Six months later, I haven’t changed my mind.” – Charles Kruger
We Players Best of the Bay, San Francisco Magazine
"We Players [has] been turning public spaces into impromptu playhouses for more than a decade (last year was Hamlet on Alcatraz), but in May, the group presented its most audacious performance yet: a five-hour roving rendition of The Odyssey on Angel Island, wherein the audience is conscripted into the story to cavort with mythical monsters against the backdrop of the San Francisco skyline. With a piece of theater that could leave you grass-stained, sunburned, and in the market for a bronze chest plate, We Players didn’t just break the fourth wall, it toppled the whole playhouse.”
Shutdown may mean 'Macbeth's' last hour upon the stage
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers – for he today that shares this play with me will be my brother,” she said. “And gentlemen in Congress now abed, will think themselves accursed and hold their manhoods cheap!” It was a fitting introduction to the start of a fifth week of “Macbeth” performances by the city’s We Players, who hadn’t planned to be in the Presidio. The power struggles and ruthless ambition they often depict played out in real life this week when the federal government shutdown closed the National Park Service’s Fort Point – the interactive stage at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge where they had rehearsed and charted out each scene for nearly a year. In just a few days, the cast and crew had to find a new location, while reshuffling an elaborate presentation in which the audience had followed the ranging actors around the fort. Their partners in the Park Service helped them finagle a new setting at the Main Post, which is operated by the Presidio Trust and still open during the shutdown.
We Players 2015 Season: TBA Finalists for seven Awards
The TBA Awards are designed to honor excellence in professionally oriented theatre through a peer-based, Bay Area-wide adjudication process.
• OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A PLAY
(Ondine at Sutro)
• OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A PRINCIPAL ROLE IN A PLAY
(Ava Roy for Ondine at Sutro)
• OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
(Jennie Brick for Ondine at Sutro at We Players)
• OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A MALE ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY
(Nathaniel Justiniano for Ondine at Sutro
and Nick Medina for Ondine at Sutro)
• OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY THE ENSEMBLE OF A PLAY
(Ondine at Sutro)
• OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
(Brooke Jennings for Ondine at Sutro at We Players)
SF Bay Guardian’s BEST OF THE BAY 2011 Editor's Pick
We Players named Best Site-Specific Classicists
(a category invented specifically for WE!)
“This year marks the end of We Players’ three-year collaboration with the National Parks Service on Alcatraz Island. The project showcased the island’s scenic isolation in a number of artistic and community-building endeavors. The stage company’s 2010 marathon production of Hamlet was a tour de force of site-specificity, taking actors and audiences all over the island, including areas normally off-limits to the public. In their imaginative stagings of Macbeth, Hamlet, and Iphigenia, as well as their ongoing art exhibitions for, by, and about incarcerated juveniles and adults, the Players highlight themes of isolation, incarceration, justice, and redemption. They wield their art as a catalyst rather than as nostalgic revival. Their Alcatraz residency ends in the fall. In 2012, it partners with the California Parks Service to stage The Odyssey on Angel Island.”
All the prison's a stage
"The ghost—Hamlet's father—gets a workout on Alcatraz, appearing in five locations, but even scarier than he is a scene set in the prison hospital, with its creaky metal beds, caned wheelchair and ominous medical instruments. You can't escape the theme of melancholy in the words, the lone lightbulb, the stains on the ceiling and rotten wood under the moldy plaster—all contrasting sharply with the shimmering vision of San Francisco 1.4 miles away."
This just might be the future of theatre
“The dynamism of this production was unmatched by anything I’ve experienced before. The audience mimicked the momentum of the action, scrambling to the next dramatic moment. There was a giddiness among us, a truly engaged charge….This just might be the future of theatre.”
Alcatraz’s Newest Star, the Melancholy Dane
“Ms. Roy was invited to be the first artist-in-residence on the island in November 2008 after Amy Brees, the National Park Service’s Alcatraz site supervisor, saw her production of Macbeth at Fort Point, the Civil War-era brick-and stone structure tucked under the Golden Gate Bridge. That Macbeth, with its closing sword fight on the roof, bridge footlights casting stark shadows and a full moon in the distance, was “the most amazing theater I had ever been to in my life,” Ms. Brees said. “The Park Service is interested in provoking people to think about these places and their meanings,” she said. “At Alcatraz, those themes are justice, punishment, crime, redemption.”