BEOWULF
Mar
11
Apr 16

BEOWULF

  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

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

AN EXPLORATION OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT, POWER AND CONQUEST, MONSTROSITY AND HEROISM - PERFORMED THROUGH STARTLING IMAGERY, RICH SOUNDSCAPE, AND FERVENT PHYSICALITY. 


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

Previews:
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.


+ FAQ

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 511.org 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 reservations@weplayers.org 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 info@weplayers.org.
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

Audiences:

"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

Co-Creators:
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

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Jun
22
Jul 23

A Midsummer Night's Dream

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

Journey into a forest full of fairies and lovers with We Players! Artistic Director Ava Roy’s new six-person adaptation of this Shakespeare favorite is a dark and hilarious exploration of the complexities of love, our complicated human relationships, and the boundaries between reality and imagination.

We Players is thrilled to work with the San Francisco department of Recreation and Parks for the first time. 

Performances in June and July.

Details to be announced soon!

Join our community mailing list to get early ticket access!

KING FOOL
Oct
5
Nov 5

KING FOOL

Autumn 2017

First premiered in autumn 2014, this new take on our distilled two-person King Lear features powerful female performers in a fraught mother-daughter relationship.

The mother is the monarch of her story and her imagination chooses the most epic death (Lear’s) to emulate in her final hour; her caretaker daughter becomes Cordelia, Fool and a host of other voices, conducting her mother to her last breath. Their story, one of the familiar and familial struggles of age, pride, regret, power, forgiveness and love, is played out through the incomparable text of Shakespeare’s Lear. The piece invites us to explore our own relationship to mortality, death and loss - and how we might move from fear to acceptance.

Featuring  Courtney Walsh (Mercutio in We Players’ 2016 Romeo & Juliet) as ‘Lear’ and Artistic Director Ava Roy as ‘Cordelia’. 

Dates TBD,  Join our community mailing list to get early access to tickets!


2017 Season Launch Party
Feb
9
7:00 pm19:00

2017 Season Launch Party

  • General's Residence

JOIN US IN CELEBRATING THE LAUNCH OF OUR 2017 SEASON AND SUPPORTING FULL-SENSORY, IMMERSIVE THEATRE

"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%!
$80

General Ticket
Standard admission to the event, drinks, food, all admission perks.
$100

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.
$250

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.
$50
Romeo & Juliet at Villa Montalvo
Oct
6
Oct 16

Romeo & Juliet at Villa Montalvo

  • Montalvo Arts Center

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.

Free! Festival of the Sea at Hyde St Pier
Aug
20
9:30 am09:30

Free! Festival of the Sea at Hyde St Pier

  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Environmental explorations and improvisations of sound, movement and story-in-space continue at Hyde Street Pier, thanks to the collaboration between We Players, Rova Saxophone Quartet and inkBoat. 

Romeo & Juliet at Petaluma Adobe
Aug
12
Sep 25

Romeo & Juliet at Petaluma Adobe

  • Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park

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.

Canciones del Mar: Songs of the Sea
Jun
25
7:00 pm19:00

Canciones del Mar: Songs of the Sea

  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Five highly-acclaimed Bay Area latin musicians will share songs about the sea, boats, love, and life, drawn from the folkloric and popular music traditions of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Capulet Ball at Castello di Amorosa
Jun
18
6:30 pm18:30

The Capulet Ball at Castello di Amorosa

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cross the drawbridge to this real Tuscan-inspired castle for an elegant wine reception and a seated dinner. Dance amidst the stunning frescoes of the Great Hall and witness the lovers profess their bliss in the covered loggia.

The Capulet Ball at Impact Hub Oakland
Jun
4
8:00 pm20:00

The Capulet Ball at Impact Hub Oakland

  • Impact Hub Oakland

Our most urban venue for this thrilling masquerade! Hop on BART and jaunt a few blocks up bustling Broadway in vital Uptown Oakland to the spacious dance floor at Impact Hub.