Sites and Sounds
6:30 PM18:30

Sites and Sounds

November 10, 6:30-9:30pm
aboard the 1890 side-wheel steamboat ferry Eureka
at historic Hyde St Pier in San Francisco Maritime National Park

We Players' composer and music director Charlie Gurke brings together an ensemble of his favorite musical collaborators to perform arrangements and interpretations of music from the past seven (!) years of We Players productions. We’ll take trips back to Ithaka and Illyria, to Denmark and Scotland and Verona - with selections ranging from Hamlet on Alcatraz (2010) to Romeo & Juliet (2016), and everything in between.

Join us on the dance floor as we float under the stars in celebration of a year of fabulous collaborations and adventures in site-integrated theatre! Just $25 for this one-of-a-kind concert, dancing, drinks, savory bites, and sweet treats. Don't miss the boat! Get your ticket today!

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Mother Lear
to Nov 5

Mother Lear

We Players - Mother Lear 2017 v2 - 750px.jpg

Featuring  Courtney Walsh as ‘Lear’ and Artistic Director Ava Roy as ‘Cordelia’. 

September 30 - November 4, 2017

Mother Lear Program Guide

Mother Lear is a tight 50 minutes of fiercely original theatre. A moving production about a middle-aged woman who navigates dementia with the help of her daughter - communicating only through the language of Shakespeare's King Lear

Cordelia and her irascible mother, a former Shakespeare scholar and proud matriarch, confront dementia, loss, and fraught family dynamics armed only with humor, compassion, and the poetry of Shakespeare's words. This potent new two-character play is immediately followed by a facilitated discussion led by special guests who work in the field of compassionate care. This "Act Two" conversation will explore themes of aging, dementia, caregiving, and end of life. 

Presented in multiple unique venues, Mother Lear wanders the land this fall. A park, a home, a garden... where will you find her? VERY LIMITED engagement for this intimate performance. 

Preview audiences are saying:

"eloquent, stirring, and darkly funny"

"deeply touching and surprisingly funny"

JCC East Bay, Berkeley
Sunday, October 8, 5pm
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The Jewish Center of the East Bay, Berkeley
The JCC East Bay is a welcoming, inspiring home for people of all ages and life stages. Our mission is to create healthy communities inspired by Jewish values, culture and tradition. The JCC serves and reflects the diverse residents of the East Bay, offering physical gathering spaces for the Jewish and broader community.


Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga
Thursday - Sunday, October 12, 14 & 15, 5:30pm
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Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga
Located on 175 acres in Silicon Valley's Saratoga Hills, Montalvo Arts Center is a member-supported non-profit institution whose mission is to engage the public in the creative process. Acting as a catalyst for exploring the arts, unleashing creativity, and advancing different cross-cultural perspectives, Montalvo serves nearly a quarter million patrons every year with vibrant, relevant, and accessible arts and education programs. For more information, visit

Saturday and Sunday, October 28 & 29, 4pm
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McLaren Park, San Francisco

Discover San Francisco’s second-largest park ! In addition to playgrounds, picnic areas and game courts, you’ll find the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, a golf course, McNab Lake and the newly renovated Coffman Pool. This immense Natural Area of scenic meadows, grassland and wetland habitat includes more than 7 miles of walking trails meander through its 312 acres, replete with native plants and wildlife. Established in 1927, the park is named for John McLaren, the "grandfather of Golden Gate Park."

At stunning private homes:

A Private Residence, San Francisco
Saturday, September 30, 5:30pm
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Enjoy an autumn evening on the rooftop deck of this beautifully converted warehouse in San Francisco's SOMA district. Savory bites will be paired with wine from Rasmussen Winery.

A Private Residence, San Anselmo
Saturday & Sunday, October 1 & 7, 4pm
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This sleek modern villa is a bridge spanning a seasonal creek, with acres of protected lands stretching into the hills beyond. A short, steep hike up through classic golden California landscape will bring you to a magical grove of live oaks where the performance will take place.

A Private Residence, San Francisco
Friday, November 3, 7pm
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Join We Players for Mother Lear in an historic San Francisco "Painted Lady", alongside Alamo Square Park. Built in 1892, the home’s 2015 renovation by hosts Charlene Li and Come Lague integrates modern luxury while preserving the historic beauty. Witness our newest performance by the light of gas chandeliers as the sun sets through original stained glass. Enjoy a selection of sumptuous hors d'oeuvres and delicious wines from our hosts' Amador County vineyard. This unique and exclusive performance experience is not to be missed!

A Private Residence, Tiburon
Saturday, November 4, 3pm
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A short trip north of San Francisco takes you to this elegant Tiburon home. Nosh on afternoon tea and cookies as you take in the stunning vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge over the bay.

Additional dates and venues are still being added! 

Join our community mailing list to get early access to tickets!

+ FAQ - click to expand

How long is the event?
Approximately 2 hours.

The first half of the performance is a little over an hour. After a short intermission, the audience reconvenes along with the performers and special guests for a community conversation about the project themes of death, dying, grief, loss and healing. Restrooms are accessible before the show begins and during intermission.

How accessible is this production?
Mobility needs can be accommodated and will be addressed on a case by case basis, please contact We Players at to request assistance.

My budget is very limited, how can I get discounted tickets?
You can join the Mother Lear Rush Ticket Mailing List for a chance at last-minute half-price tickets if they become available.

This project looks really interesting! Can I volunteer with We Players?
Absolutely! Please contact us at and we can get the conversation started!

How do I get there? Where do I park?
After purchasing tickets, see your Event Reminder email for the full details. This will be sent a few days before the performance.

What is the recommended age for children attending this production?
Intergenerational sharing is an important part of Mother Lear, and youth are welcome to attend. Parents and guardians, please be aware that the performance and its post-performance discussion deal with many topics related to death and dying.

What if my question is not answered here?
For questions about the production and performance, please contact We Players at

+ The Cast

Courtney Walsh: Lear
Ava Roy: Cordelia

Courtney Walsh appears in this production courtesy of Actors' Equity Association

+ About the performance

Ava Roy, the founder of We Players, and actress Courtney Walsh have created a two-woman theatrical piece about an aging mother and her caretaker daughter, constructed solely from language of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Based on an earlier distillation of the Lear story (King Fool), Roy and Walsh have plumbed the depths of Shakespeare’s language to explore the themes of family, aging, pride, control, and mortality.

In Mother Lear, a formerly brilliant Shakespeare scholar, descending into dementia, can communicate only through the remembered text of King Lear. “Lear” (Walsh) is determined to end her life on her own terms, as her grip on reality succumbs to her imagined identity as King Lear. Discovering her mother surrounded by treasured possessions and an ominous bottle of pills, “Cordelia” (Roy), must try to reach her mother through the only language she recognizes. Donning a variety of personas from Shakespeare’s play, from the loyal friend Kent, to the manipulative daughter Goneril, to the irreverent Fool, Cordelia engages her mother in the difficult conversations they had never managed to negotiate prior to her illness. Through this artificial construct, they achieve authentic communication.

Audiences will re-discover the magic of the bard’s gift for expression, as two relatable modern characters find that Shakespeare’s words exceed their own in exploring difficult subjects like regret and death. At the same time, affection and intimacy blossom with Shakespeare’s humor and lyricism. These are the conversations we all must have, and the audience is invited to join in conversation following every performance.

+ About the Facilitators

Nader received his Doctorate from Stanford University, is a licensed psychotherapist, and is cofounder of AgeSong. His multicultural background has fueled his passion for becoming an advocate for marginalized groups and for creating programs with the purpose of caring more comprehensively for elders. As CEO, Nader ensures that the company’s vision drives its decisions and plans for elder care services. In 1992, Nader also founded the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit organization that defines its mission as one of helping elders live meaningful lives. Nader is a frequent guest lecturer, including presenting at international conferences focusing on aging, counseling, and dementia. In 2003 he authored Faces of Aging, a book challenging stereotypical views of the aging process and of growing old. In 2008 he co-authored Deeper Into the Soul, a book aimed at de-stigmatizing and broadening our understanding of dementia. In 2009 he co-authored Conversations With Ed, a book challenging readers to look at dementia in different ways. In 2011 he published Elders Today, a photo and text book that cherishes aging and old age as a most desirable phase of our lives. Celebrating the intergenerational dialogue between young and old, Nader edited and published Encounters of the Real Kind in 2012. This book is a collection of stories and anecdotes that pay tribute to the deep and life-changing encounters between elders and those learning to become elders.

Shoshana got her start as a writer for a magazine called Bikini (no jokes) for whom she interviewed Jeff Buckley and Allen Ginsburg. That led to writing for the New York Times, SPIN, WIRED, and a stint as the editorial director (more like “cool-hunter”) for Young & Rubicam. With little more than a fuzzy idea and a boil in the blood, she went on to found ReadyMade, a national do-it-yourself design magazine. The venture was funded by 10 credit cards. (Her credit rating is excellent). ReadyMade was a finalist for National Magazine Awards in 2005 and 2006. After co-authoring the book ReadyMade: How to Make Almost Everything (Clarkson Potter), she sold the business to the Meredith Corp., publisher of Better Homes & Gardens. Shoshana then joined WIRED as director of special projects in 2011, and launched a new website, WIRED Design. She landed at IDEO in 2013 as editorial director and hasn't looked back.

Alisa is currently the executive director of Gordon Manor, a memory care and assisted living community in Redwood City. She has been working with people living with dementia and their families for over 20 years. Alisa holds degrees in both Human Biology and Medical Anthropology.

Thomas has spent years in hospice work and has been with numerous people during the dying process. Thomas has served as a Hospice Aide, Chaplain, Bodyworker and Psychotherapist.

Alanna wanted to be an actress when she grew up. While this dream never quite manifested, and she found herself studying cognitive science in college and then found her way into world of marketing and advertising, she remains fascinated by the theater. Today, she is the San Francisco Producer of Re:Imagine | End-of-Life - a community-driven, city-wide festival exploring death and celebrating life. It features an emergent network of artists, storytellers, healthcare professionals, religious communities, and innovators, banding together to amplify the end-of-life conversation. Having experienced significant loss in recent years (to put it lightly, her family went extinct), Alanna's understanding and empathy enable her to connect deeply with others on this difficult topic.

Brad uses insights from the fields of positive psychology, business, and sociology to design meaningful cultural experiences and spark innovation within organizations and communities. In partnership with IDEO, he recently launched a new brand called Re:Imagine, which works with cities to hold meaningful conversations around taboo topics. Be on the lookout next April in San Francisco for the Re:Imagine | End of Life festival, exploring death and celebrating life via art, experiences, and conversation. Brad's background in palliative care stems from his role as founder of the Sunbeam Foundation, a 501(c)3 that identifies and supports cutting edge research for rare and underfunded pediatric cancers, which he founded in memory of his friend Sara. Brad graduated with an M.A. in Organizational Behavior from Stanford University and received his M.B.A. from Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, where he has served as coach/lecturer on the topics of design and innovation. He is a contributing writer on positive organizational psychology for the Greater Good Science Center and is the author of the young adult award-winner, Breakfast on Mars (Macmillan, 2014).

Elizabeth is a facilitator and former business strategist who is now pursuing a life-long call to interfaith ministry with a focus on chaplaincy. She has her own consultancy and used to lead sales and marketing teams for big tech companies like Lucent and Salesforce and ran non-profits like the Professional BusinessWomen of California and the East Bay chapter of the Women Presidents’ Organization. Elizabeth lives in Piedmont. She has led adventure travel programs to Machu Picchu for the past 10 years, and is a published poet and memoirist. She is a mom of teenagers - one who is applying to colleges now. Her very active world-traveling father, who lives independently in Philadelphia, will be 94 next week.

+ Resources - Inspiring People and Organizations

We have been meeting so many incredible people and discovering a plethora of resources through our Mother Lear research and outreach. While the following list is partial, we are excited to introduce you to some of the inspiring people and organizations that we have encountered thus far.

Aging With Dignity's "Five Wishes"
An advance healthcare directive, also known as a living will, personal directive, advance directive, medical directive or advance decision, is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity. In the U.S. it has a legal status in itself, whereas in some countries it is legally persuasive without being a legal document. Aging With Dignity is a private, non-profit organization with a mission to safeguard the human dignity of people as they age or face serious illness.

Right to Die initiatives
The right to die is a concept based on the belief that a human being is entitled to end their own life or to undergo voluntary euthanasia. Possession of this right is often understood to mean that a person with a terminal illness should be allowed to end their own life or to use assisted suicide or to decline life-prolonging treatment. The question of who, if anyone, should be empowered to make this decision is often central to debate.

AgeSong is the leading eldercare lifestyle provider in the San Francisco Bay Area. AgeSong enables residents to customize their lifestyle based on personal preference, religious affiliation, and medical needs. Care choices range from short-term rehabilitation to permanent residence.

AgeSong’s fundamental belief is that through providing elders with the opportunity to live a balanced lifestyle, elders can be who they truly are. In paying attention to the needs of the individual and of the community, AgeSong offers complete lifestyle options including balanced nutritional selections, mental health and physical fitness programs, engagement activities, and continued learning and teaching opportunities.

The Palliative Care Program at UCSF
UCSF Medical Center's Palliative Care Program is dedicated to relieving pain and suffering and providing compassionate care and comfort for seriously ill patients and their families. Palliative care can be helpful for people at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided concurrently with curative medical treatment. The goal of palliative care is to maximize a patient's comfort, by providing expert pain and symptom management, offering guidance with treatment decisions so that treatment aligns with a patient's goals for care, and helping families cope with serious illness.

Palliative care is commonly seen as a way to improve the quality of a person's last phase of life. At UCSF Medical Center, the service is available to others, when appropriate, at any stage of serious illness such as cancer, chronic liver disease, emphysema, heart failure, kidney failure and stroke. All patients can ask their doctor or nurse for a consultation with the Palliative Care Program.

Zen Hospice Project
The mission of the Zen Hospice Project is to help change the experience of dying. We create a space for living that offers the opportunity for individuals, their loved ones and caregivers to find comfort, connection, and healing in this shared human experience. Through our pioneering model of care, we inspire each other to live fully.

Re:Imagine is co-created by a loose network of interested artists, storytellers, healthcare professionals, innovators, designers, organizations and individuals, banding together to amplify the end-of-life conversation. Re:Imagine was created in collaboration with IDEO, where it was inspired by OpenIDEO’s End of Life Challenge. The End of Life Challenge reached thousands of online and offline participants around the world, helping remove the taboo around death and dying to create a global and solutions-oriented conversation. Re:Imagine builds on that experience, bringing forward optimism and innovation and providing a platform for many outstanding organizations and individuals working to elevate this topic.

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Canciones del Mar 2017
6:30 PM18:30

Canciones del Mar 2017

Ahoy! Set your course for Saturday, September 23rd, 6:30pm! Join us for our 5th annual concert of sea-inspired music from Latin America, curated by We Players' Music Director, Charlie Gurke. Featuring classic songs and original tunes by Maria Jose Montijo, Jose Roberto Hernandez, and Edgardo Cambon. Join us for this annual favorite on Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

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Midsummer of Love
to Jul 30

Midsummer of Love

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love with We Players!


Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Ava Roy

An erotic comedy of consent, cruelty, and control...

Journey into a forest full of fairies and lovers with We Players’ six-person adaptation of Shakespeare's steamy, summer, all time favorite. A dark and hilarious exploration of the complexities of love, our complicated human relationships, and the boundaries between reality and imagination. Lush, effusive, bursting at the seams - like nature in the middle of summer.

Double the magic with performances in two fantastical forests...
We Players is thrilled to work with the San Francisco department of Recreation and Parks for the first time, offering a dozen performances in Golden Gate Park. We're breaking ground in the East Bay as well, offering four performances in Kennedy Grove, part of the East Bay Regional Park District.  

Strawberry Hill
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

A moderate climb.  Bring water and plenty of warm layers - when the fog rolls in, it will get COLD and damp!  Bring a scarf, hat, gloves, and winter coat. As always with We Players productions, please wear comfortable close-toed walking shoes. Strawberry Hill is not a fully accessible site. If you have mobility concerns, please contact to explain your needs and we will do our very best to accommodate you.

6:30PM, Thursday - Sunday
June 22-25
July 6 - 9  
6PM, Thursday - Sunday
July 27 - 30 

Kennedy Grove
El Sobrante, East Bay

One of the East Bay's hidden gems, this wild park is just 20 minutes from Berkeley.  Choose this site if you are up for a rigorous 20+ minute hike up hill through a beautiful forest that emerges to an sunny vista before tucking back into a cool grove of live oaks.  It will be HOT!  Bring water, sunscreen, sun hat, layers - and of course, comfortable close-toed walking shoes.  We are unable to accommodate guests with mobility needs at this site due to the steep incline, narrow trails, and uneven terrain. 

6PM, Saturday and Sunday
July 15 & 16
July 22 & 23

(Performances at Kennedy Grove are now past)

+ FAQ - click to expand

How long is the performance?
Approximately 2 hours, and there is no intermission. Restrooms are accessible before the show begins, but not during the performance.

How accessible is this production?
Strawberry Hill is not a fully accessible site. If you have mobility concerns, please contact to explain your needs and we will do our very best to accommodate you. Folding stools will be provided for the audience.

My budget is very limited, how can I get discounted tickets?
You can join the "Midsummer of Love" Rush Ticket mailing list for a chance at last-minute half-price tickets if they become available.

This project looks really interesting! Can I volunteer with We Players?
Absolutely! Join us in bringing magic to the glade! Click here to learn more and sign up.

How do I get there? Where do I park?
Strawberry Hill, Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Please arrange to carpool with friends or travel by bus if possible, as parking is limited.
Some parking can be found at the Stow Lake boat house and all along Stow Lake drive.
If you are a Midsummer of Love at Strawberry Hill attendee and you have not received your How to Prepare email, please click here to view a copy.

Is this production suitable for children?
The short version: Midsummer of Love is rated PG-13 for overt themes of sexuality and is not recommended for children.
The long version: A Midsummer Night's Dream is Shakespeare's most erotic play, and our production of Midsummer of Love explores the intense sexuality of the language and celebrates the freedom of expression in the counter-culture of "flower children" throughout the ages. Parents should be advised that although there is no full nudity, the production includes sexual content and situations.

What should I wear?
Comfortable close-toed walking shoes are a good foundation for any We Players experience. Veterans of our performances know that light and warm clothing layers help one avoid over- or under-heating during the journey --- add or remove them as needed. Top your layers off with a knitted hat, gloves, and a wind- and water-proof shell jacket, and you're ready for almost anything the sky chooses to share with us.

To help you carry the items you're not wearing, a small pack is handy, plus you can stash snacks and a water bottle.

Please plan to turn your cell phone completely off. Photos and video are not permitted during the performance. Besides, we're making a trip into another realm - immerse yourself completely and leave the distractions behind...

What about food and drinks?
We Players' productions are intended to engage ALL of the senses. Succulent summer fruits will become a part of your Midsummer of Love experience. Please plan to bring your own water bottle.

What if my question is not answered here?
For questions about the production and performance, please contact We Players at

+ The Buzz


"...the funniest Midsummer I’ve ever seen"
SF Examiner: We Players get right down to sex in ‘Midsummer of Love’, June 28, 2017

"Audiences willing to gamely brave the elements and relax into fantasy will enjoy this romp in faerie land, in the hands of a sexy and capable company of actors..."
Theatrestorm: Review: ‘Midsummer of Love’ (an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’) from We Players, July 21, 2017

Ava discussed Midsummer of Love on KPOO's Let Me Touch Your Mind on June 12- you can listen to the interview on our Radio page.

Ava on KDFC's The state of the Arts, two minutes about creating Midsummer of Love and site-integrated theatre.

We Players forges a new era of art in the parks, Lily Janiak, San Francisco Chronicle, June 23, 2017.


"surpassingly transcendent acting and staging"

"Bottom's turn as the ass was beautifully realized"

"I was totally blown away..."

"...utterly original and hilarious..."


+ The Cast

Nathaniel Justiniano: Bottom/ Lysander (June 22-25)
Nick Medina: Bottom/ Lysander (July 6-30)
Amy Nowak: Snug/ Hermia
Nick Dickson: Flute/ Demetrius
Ava Roy: Quince/ Helena
John Steele: Puck: Titania
Britt Lauer: Puck: Oberon

+ The Production Team

Adapted and Directed by Ava Roy

Nathaniel Justiniano: Assistant Director

Charlie Gurke: Music Director & Composer
Anne Kelly: Production Stage Manager
Brooke Jennings: Costume Designer
John Steele Jr: Makeup Design
Lauren "Loe" Matley: House Manager, Photographer
Ting Na Wang: Props Artisan
Briana Schwartz: Production Intern
Katori Knight: Production Assistant, Strawberry Hill
Nicholas Sherwin: Production Assistant, Kennedy Grove

+ The Play

The Dream like you’ve never seen before! Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love; our Midsummer is an erotic comedy of consent, cruelty, and control. Conceived by We Players’ Artistic Director Ava Roy, this six person adaptation is a dark and hilarious exploration of the complexities of love, our complicated human relationships, and the boundaries between reality and imagination. Lush, effusive, bursting at the seams - like nature in the middle of summer.

Staged in both Golden Gate Park and Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Center, we leave the coastline that is present in so many of our productions and head into the verdant, lush, and luxurious forest. This faeryland is one of wonders both luminous and darkly twisted, a world containing both whimsy and frightening displays of power. At first, you’ll meet the four mechanicals - Bottom, Quince, Snug, and Flute - following them into the forest where they plan to rehearse their play, “Pyramus and Thisbe”. But once in the woods, a pair of wickedly mischievous pucks begin to work their magic, transforming the mechanicals into the lovers and back again, taking on roles of royalty themselves, and delighting in the chaos of unexpected love pairings - all while working out their own terrific and terrible fantasies. In the forest, anything can happen.

In classic We Players style, we invite our audiences to engage with all of their senses. Get your blood pumping as you hike uphill, then rest in the shade of trees and feel the moss underfoot, tune in to the gorgeous original musical score as well as quacking and splashing ducks from nearby Stow Lake or the hawks screeching overhead in Kennedy Grove, and savor luscious, juicy summer fruits provided by the devilishly seductive pucks.

View Event →
to Apr 18


  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

"Grendel and I are called together, and I've come."


Directed by Ava Roy
Co-Director by Shinichi Iova-Koga

Created and performed by We Players, Rova Saxophone Quartet, and inkBoat Physical Theatre and Dance

The journey begins at sunset
Thursday - Sunday, March 11 - April 16, 2017
At San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

+ Click here for Performance Schedule

Saturday, March 11
5:15 - 7:15PM
Sunday, March 12
6:15 - 8:15PM

Opening Weekend:
Saturday, March 18
6:20 - 8:20PM
Sunday, March 19
6:20 - 8:20PM

Second Weekend:
Thursday, March 23
6:30 - 8:30PM
Friday, March 24
6:30 - 8:30PM
Saturday, March 25
6:30 - 8:30PM
Sunday, March 26
6:30 - 8:30PM

Third Weekend:
Thursday, March 30
6:30 - 8:30PM
Friday, March 31
6:30 - 8:30PM
Saturday, April 1
6:30 - 8:30PM
Sunday, April 2
6:30 - 8:30PM

Fourth Weekend:
Thursday, April 6
6:40 - 8:40PM
Friday, April 7
6:40 - 8:40PM
Saturday, April 8
6:40 - 8:40PM
Sunday, April 9
6:40 - 8:40PM

Closing Weekend:
Saturday, April 15
6:45 - 8:45PM
Sunday, April 16
6:45 - 8:45PM

Travel on foot through lands real and imagined during this world premiere performance inspired by the ancient epic, BEOWULF. Presented by acclaimed site-specific theater company We Players, in collaboration with Rova saxophone quartet and inkBoat Physical Theatre and Dance, and produced in partnership with Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.   

In keeping with We Players’ signature performance events, this production of BEOWULF will move throughout an historic landscape as the story unfolds. This sweeping site-integrated production will commence at the historic Maritime Museum and Aquatic Park. Audiences will travel along the northern waterfront, encountering a nearly forgotten past filled with ceremony, honor and violence, warriors and shape-shifters - at the intersection of ancient and present time. Together the tribe will seek shelter and safety at the ancestral mead hall, where all are invited to break bread together as the experience unfolds. Danger lurks in the shadows without and within, an unknown terror is always just out of view. 

BEOWULF explores darkness and light, power and conquest, monsters and humans, through startling imagery, rich soundscape and fervent physicality. 

Beowulf will celebrate the culmination of We Players’ unprecedented 5 year cooperative agreement with SF Maritime National Historical Park, the first of its kind in the nation. The production will be created in collaboration with Rova saxophone quartet, preeminent musicians in the avant-garde jazz and improvisational music scene for nearly 4 decades, and the dance theatre company inkBoat led by artistic director Shinichi Iova-Koga. Iova-Koga and We Players’ Artistic Director Ava Roy co-direct this ensemble-devised production, which is loosely based on the ancient anglo-saxon poem.

This production of BEOWULF radically departs from that most ancient poem of the same name. When we peel back the layers of story and character, what reveals itself? What dreams emerge? As we tell tales of legendary heroes and monsters, we also reflect on our current times. Join us to discover the weapons of word, body and sound created by We Players, inkBoat and Rova Saxophone Quartet in this epic battle to discover, in the end, our humanity through the lens of monstrosity. 

We recommend reading this
 summary of Beowulf to ground you in this dreamscape.

Please note that a strobe-like effect and smoke effects will be used during the indoor portion of this event.


How long is the performance?
Approximately 2 hours, and there is no intermission. Restrooms are accessible before the show begins, but not during the performance.

How do I get there?
Our journey begins at the San Francisco Maritime Museum at 900 Beach St. (Polk dead ends onto Beach and the entrance to the museum). Look for a red We Players' flag marking the entrance! Several Muni lines serve the area - visit to plan your transit ride.

Where do I park?
There is parking available throughout Upper Fort Mason near the chapel. You may also find parking on Bay Street or Van Ness. Additionally, there is extensive parking just down the hill at Lower Fort Mason. The Ghiradelli Square parking lot is located very close to the Maritime Museum at 900 North Point St.

What about food and drinks?
Nourishing broth and fresh bread will be served during the performance. You are welcome to bring a water bottle on the journey.

How accessible is this production?
Mobility needs can be accommodated and will be addressed on a case by case basis, please contact We Players at to request assistance.

What is the recommended age for youths attending this production?
We suggest that youths attending BEOWULF be age 12 and up, though the show may remain appropriate down to age 10 for especially mature individuals.

My budget is very limited, how can I get discounted tickets?
You can join the BEOWULF Rush Ticket mailing list for a chance at last-minute half-price tickets if they become available.

What should I wear?
We are in mourning. We ask you to wear ALL BLACK - or as much black clothing as possible - when you join us.

Please wear comfortable close-toed shoes and warm layers. Our journey begins outside and you will be moving across uneven terrain and up stairs. Our ritual will continue rain or shine, so be sure to wear rain gear and bring umbrellas if the skies threaten and showers are forecast. You will be warmed once you reach the Mead Hall.

This project looks really interesting! Can I volunteer with We Players?
Absolutely! Volunteers can help us with food prep, and with audience and community wrangling. A good sense of hospitality is a plus! Click here to learn more.

What if my question is not answered here?
For questions about the production and performance, please contact We Players at
For questions about new or existing reservations, please contact the box office at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture at 415-345-7575.

+ The BUZZ

"Beautiful, poetic, and haunting..."
Buzz Goldberg, Theatrius, “BEOWULF” BY THE BAY BREAKS NEW GROUND, March 24, 2017

Lily Janiak, SFGate, We Players adapts ‘Beowulf’ for the great outdoors , March 15, 2017

Theatre Eddys, BEOWULF, March 19, 2017


"I really felt like we were collectively mourning for our country, mourning for our fallen humanity that has departed from nature, from instinct, from listening. The dynamic shifts that broke the meditative, ritualistic rhythms were like waking up from a dream, but into another dream --almost the nightmare of reality." -Adriana

"I keep thinking of the ending procession image; the final preparation before facing the unknown." -Sabrina

"Beowulf is sensational. I have never experienced anything like it... We Players know how to offer a play experience like no other. Way beyond play. Beyond Albert Ayler. Beyond Shakespeare. Beyond anything." -David

"Beowulf is stunning. Looking forward to seeing it again!" -Kathleen

+ The Cast

Rova Saxophone Quartet: Bruce Ackley, Steve Adams, Larry Ochs, Jon Raskin (saxophones and creative collaboration)
inkBoat: Shinichi Iova-Koga, Dana Iova-Koga
We Players: Ava Roy, Charlie Gurke, Nathaniel Justiniano

+ The Production Team

Moira McGovern: Production Stage Manager
Hamilton Guillen: Technical Director
Albert Kong: Assistant Technical Director
Maria Chenut: Costume Designer
Allen Wilner: Lighting Designer
Yoshinori Asai:: Properities Master
Rachel Bergquist: Set Construction
Zahra Jangbar: Costume Intern
Gabi Linde: Production Assistant
Ellen Boener: Directors' Assistant
Liam Collier: Directors' Assistant

+ The Poem

Beowulf the poem is the source material for We Players' spring 2017 premiere by the same title, and will be devised through a collaborative, ensemble-based process. There will be recognizable elements of the story, as well as abstractions inspired by the more fundamental thematic exploration of heroes and monsters and how they live among and within us all. For reference to our source material, please explore the following resources.

This ancient Anglo-Saxon poem may very well be the oldest surviving epic poem written in Old English. While scholars debate the composition date, estimates place it between 975 and 1025CE. The original manuscript survived fire and neglect, and was rescued from oblivion. Its academic value has long been appreciated, but it was JRR Tolkien in his lecture and essay Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics who helped the world appreciate it as a work of art, independent of its value as an historic artifact.

There are many, many (many) translations of Beowulf . Our favorites include: Burton Raffel's 1963 Edition and Seamus Heaney's 1999 dual language version . Other notable translations include JRR Tolkien's 1926 edition and Howell D Chickering's 1977 dual-language edition .

For further reading, we highly recommend John Gardner's 1971 novel Grendel which explores the epic from the monster's perspective (and oh so much more...)

Get your young people (or yourself) caught up with the story with this short 1998 animated version narrated by Derek Jacobi .

There are many audio versions of the poem, and our favorite is narrated by George Guidall .

+ Beowulf: A Summary

The poem tells the story of the hero Beowulf, who travels across the sea from his native Geatland to Denmark, where King Hrothgar and his people have long been suffering the torments of the monster Grendel, who hunts only at night and who no one has seen. Many of Hrothgar’s greatest warriors have been slaughtered as they slept in the great mead hall, a majestic building called Herot. Beowulf and his 12 companions arrive to Denmark and offer their services to the Danish King. Beowulf swears to rid the land of the beast that plagues the Danes, and to prove his unparalleled strength and courage by killing the monster with his bare hands.

That very night, after much feasting and drinking and telling of tales, when all have gone to sleep, Beowulf stays awake and watchful. Lo! Grendel approaches, knocks down the door of Herot and immediately snatches one of Beowulf’s men and devours him. Beowulf springs into action, seizing Grendel’s arm with his mighty hands - which are said to contain the strength of 30 men. A great battle ensues, the two locked together as they crash against the walls of the mead hall. At last, Beowulf tears off Grendel’s arm and the monster flees.

In the morning, the people are in awe of the enormous arm and claw and they celebrate their freedom from the beast. Queen Wealthow and King Hrothgar bestow abundant treasure on Beowulf and a tremendous celebration - full of feasting, drinking, songs and stories - continues long into the night. At last, once the last man has fallen asleep, a new monster rises from the depths of the foul lake at the edge of the forest. Grendel’s mother emerges from her swampy lair to retrieve the severed arm of her son and to feast upon one of the sleeping thanes.

In the morning, Beowulf and his men follow the monster’s tracks to the edge of the lake - no ordinary lake mind you - a boiling, bloody lake full of fire-snakes and ferocious creatures. In full armor, Beowulf dives in and sinks to the bottom where he encounters the massive female monster. The battle is savage and Beowulf is nearly conquered, but at last, seizing a magic sword from the wall of the she-wolf’s cave, Beowulf slays her and triumphs. He then severs the head of the dead Grendel, lying lifeless in the cave, and swims to the surface with the massive head. It takes four men to carry Grendel’s head back to Herot, where the people stare in awe and terror at the incredible sight. Queen Wealthow and King Hrothgar shower Beowulf with lavish treasure and there is much feasting and celebrating.

At last, Beowulf and his men return home to Geatland. After some time, Beowulf becomes king. During his long rule no neighboring tribes dare to attack the Geats, so famous is Beowulf’s prowess. Beowulf reigns for 50 years, during which time he neither marries, nor sires an heir. One day, somewhere in the Geatish kingdom, a slave escapes his master. During this slave’s desperate flight, he stumbles into a dragon's cave unawares. Discovering the sleeping beast, he panics and runs away, grabbing a golden cup from the immense pile of treasure as he flees. The dragon awakes and ferociously attacks the people, burning down homes and ravaging the landscape. Beowulf is summoned to slaughter the dragon, which he insists he will do alone. As Beowulf enters the dragon’s lair, the young warrior Wiglaf incites his comrades to help their king, as it becomes clear that Beowulf, now an old man, is unequipped to tackle the dragon alone. No one rises to the call, and Wiglaf alone follows his king into the dragon’s lair. At last, Beowulf kills the dragon, but the dragon in turn takes his life. Beowulf dies in Wiglaf’s arms. News spreads quickly of the great king’s death.

The poem ends with a fearful prophecy of dark days to come...

“A gnarled old woman, hair wound
Tight and gray on her head, groaned
A song of misery, of infinite sadness
And days of mourning, of fear and sorrow
To come, slaughter and terror and captivity.
And Heaven swallowed the billowing smoke.”
Raffel, line 3150-3155

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2017 Season Launch Party
7:00 PM19:00

2017 Season Launch Party


"Get your apparel together,
good strings to your beards, 
new ribbons to your pumps; 

meet presently at the palace; 
every man look o'er his part;
for the short and the long is,
our play is preferred."

- A Midsummer Night's Dream

General's Residence
Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture
7-10pm, February 9, 2017

We Players' 2017 Season Launch Party is a fundraiser and community celebration with our extended network of friends, fans, collaborators, and supporters. Join us in celebrating and supporting full-sensory, immersive, place-based performance. Together, we'll raise a glass and the creative ceiling!

Photos by Jim Norrena of ACT OUT Photography

Photos by Jim Norrena of ACT OUT Photography

Enjoy live music, savory and sweet delights, fine wines from Rasmussen Winery and Castello di Amorosa and favorite beers from Lagunitas and Speakeasy. We’ll also feature a signature cocktail crafted by our in-house mixologist and inspired by Beowulf. Explore the historic General’s Residence, enjoy a unique vista of Aquatic Park from expansive windows. Meet the collaborators for our upcoming site-integrated production of BEOWULF, and and gain insights into the unique creative process that will unite five saxophones, two dancers and two actors in a thrilling re-imagining of this ancient epic. Experience live improvisation, win fabulous raffle prizes, and share in an insiders-only ceremony of darkness and light.   

PLUS - be among the first to learn details about our plans for a new adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream in local wild spaces, a renewed exploration of King Fool starring Courtney Walsh as Lear, an expanded Music Concert Series beginning in June, and updates on our future plans for a visit to the National Parks of New York Harbor

Special discount codes and perks offered exclusively to party attendees! 

About the BEOWULF Collaborators:
BEOWULF is a totally new adventure for We Players - with five saxophones, two dancers and two actors. Meet Nathaniel Justiniano of Naked Empire Bouffon, who brings his searing intellect and humor; Shinichi and Dana Iova-Koga of inkBoat dance theatre, and witness their astounding physical precision and improvisational prowess; and tune in to the profound sounds of avant-garde saxophone quartet Rova, a team of musicians truly enviable for their deep listening skills developed over nearly four decades of collaboration. Artistic Director Ava Roy returns to the stage after a hiatus in 2016, and our resident composer and Music Director, Charlie Gurke, joins sonic forces with Rova. 

Ticket Types

Early-bird ticket
Limited quantities of discounted tickets available through January 15th - save 20%!

General Ticket
Standard admission to the event, drinks, food, all admission perks.

VIP ticket
Personal concierge service for you and your guests along with reserved seating, fine wine from the cellars of Castello di Amorosa, and special recognition.

Sponsor An Artist Add-on
Support our extended community of fellow creatives - sponsor an artist at the discounted rate of $50 per ticket! With your generosity, we'll invite a inspiring musician, dancer, poet, painter or actor to come out and play.
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Romeo & Juliet at Villa Montalvo
to Oct 16

Romeo & Juliet at Villa Montalvo

Thursdays - Sundays, October 6 - 16th, 2016

Hear the clash of steel as sword fights fly, join the Capulets in their spicy family circle dance, participate in the rituals of marriage and death, and let Romeo & Juliet break your heart and fill you with joy all at once.

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Romeo & Juliet at Petaluma Adobe
to Sep 25

Romeo & Juliet at Petaluma Adobe

  • Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Friday - Sunday, August 12 - September 25, 2016

Walk in the footsteps of the most famous lovers of all time, following the story as it unfolds throughout majestic California landscapes. Enter a 360 degree sphere of performance – immerse yourself in the action as We Players blurs the boundary between audience and actors, history and the present moment.

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