2014 Run of Rime of the Ancient Mariner CANCELED

Dear Patron,

We are deeply disappointed, and have had to make a very difficult decision to cancel all performances of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner on Alma. All tickets and fees will be refunded this week.

We were saving this for a surprise, but our production of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner on historic schooner Alma was built on the central image of an aerial performer as the Albatross, flying high above the deck, descending her apparatus in a painfully beautiful dance after being shot by the Mariner’s crossbow, all while sailing the San Francisco Bay.

Unfortunately, due to safety concerns related to the aerial performance that we and our partners at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park were unable to overcome, we are unable to proceed with the project at this time.

Alma's wake - sailing the Bay

Over the past several weeks of rehearsal we’ve made great strides in our development of the poem for performance. We have discovered rhythmic and imagistic gems while plumbing the currents of the text, we’ve written songs, we’ve stocked up on salty lingo, and are prepared to get wet. This has been valuable work, and we intend to make use of our investment. We set our sights on a new horizon and trust that we’ll find the time and the place that will best serve our vision for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

We sincerely apologize for this situation and the disappointment it may cause. We truly value you, our audience, and your support of and participation in our work. We don’t exist without you.

Thank you for your understanding and for staying the course with us.

Onward,

Ava Roy and Lauren D. Chavez

Charles De Gaulle’s Egg

Alma mast and rigging

I was more than a little pleased to learn during the high summer that the We Players were to bring forth a production of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and deliver the work from the deck and rigging of the scow schooner Alma, an historic ship sailed by crew of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

This pleasure with the advent of the Ancient Mariner to our park derives from my own private albatross and my own urge to prophesy:

Like Coleridge’s ancient mariner, I attend a good many weddings, often as an uninvited guest, often with words well-woven for unwanting ears.

Usually I stand unnoticed by flurries of wedding-guests passing in hopeful finery up the stairways and onto the breezy verandas of San Francisco’s Aquatic Park Bathhouse.  Occasionally I am noticed.  Occasionally, chance allows me to let fall a yarning of history.

The wedding guests rarely ask about the Bathhouse architecture or the murals.  When a guest hesitates in front of an exhibit or an element of the lobby murals, I sense the opening.  Often, too, there is the wedding guest who asks, “why is this place empty?  What are you planning to do with it?”  I point out that the building, artistically speaking, is far from empty and proceed to offer up a story that starts with a strange recurring dream I have.

In this dream it is September 1939, the year the Aquatic Park Bathhouse opens; the year the European phase of World War Two begins.   The dream is in French.  I am sitting in a dark wood-paneled study, a globe nearby; a green shaded desk lamp cast suffused light across a table-top dressed in leather and vermilion felt.  It must be midnight or nearly so.  I sit across from a young Charles De Gaulle, whom I inwardly dislike but toward whom I am being superficially polite.  He offers me a snifter of Armagnac ; I want something from Jerez in my glass; he has none.  He smokes; I do not.  He sits dressed as a Colonel of the Third Republic; I stand in the rumpled tweeds of a washed-out intellectual.  The meeting is not going well.

De Gaulle stabs his cigarette stub into a brass ashtray mounted on a small Gingham patterned bean bag cushion.  The ashtray is too English to be in the room and I wonder where it came from.  De Gaulle rings a bell, stands, and a valet presents the Colonel with an egg and a needle.  Over a garbage can, the future leader of the Free French de-yolks the egg and sets the now hollow and fragile alabaster-white eggshell on the desk before us.  He signals me and we sit.  De Gaulle leans over to me and says:

“It is hollow, Monsieur, but it is not empty.”

I fail to follow his line of thought and De Gaulle really does not care.  Colonel De Gaulle gets to his point quickly.  “I have a mission for you,” he begins, “you are to change into a tuxedo, take this eggshell, and parachute into Warsaw.  You are to carry this eggshell throughout the capitols of Europe while the war rages taking care that it does not break.  Perhaps find a spot where you can keep the eggshell and its contents safe for posterity.  After the war we will have another drink.  Remember the eggshell is hollow but it is not empty.  I will not wish you luck Monsieur; a man should know what kind of luck he has by your age.”

De Gaulle stands, presents me with the eggshell, a tuxedo, and a parachute.  Then he leaves. Then I leave. I enter some kind of anteroom flooded with harsh light.  I am conscious of a clock on the mantel ledge ticking.  On an impulse I hold the eggshell up to a light and peer into the hole in the bottom; my eyes and senses are dazzled by scales of color harmony and dancing patterns of the French Avant Guarde.  Along the interior surface of the shell are Hilaire Hiler’s Parisian murals; the egg is hollow, but it is not empty.

It sometimes takes the wedding-guest a moment, or perhaps long moments, to grasp the idea; the alabaster-white color of the Streamline Moderne building of the Bathhouse, the hollowness of the interior, the richness of the art that Europe lost but San Francisco preserves, in spite of itself, in the murals and mosaics that adorn the walls: rarely does an Ancient Mariner and a wedding-guest start out seeing things eye-to-eye.  Oftentimes the art and act of an Ancient Mariner is to turn apparent reality inside out, and unlock deeper meanings and histories.  In the story I related in the dream of De Gaulle’s Egg, I set the narrative in a past most listeners would understand, the Second World War, and used the metaphor of an egg that was hollow but not empty to demonstrate the value of an often overlooked piece of art and architecture.

“The mark of a civilization is the care and thought it devotes to the next generation.  I have a strong instinct to save ships for people I will never meet.” (Karl Kortum,1987).


We Players’ Rime of the Ancient Mariner begins October 31st and runs Fridays and weekends through November 16th.

 

KING FOOL – Artist Statement

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Every one of us will die, and we will all witness the death of loved ones. We lose things; we lose friends and opportunities all our lives. How we approach loss–and death is the ultimate loss–can make the difference between fear and acceptance.

This is an Everyman Lear. In our play, Cordelia finds her father, Lear, who has wandered off to a remote place. In his disjointed state, he mostly doesn’t recognize her; he imagines all the others around him. They go through the old hurts one more time, fighting, cursing, scheming, then giving in, weeping and laughing. He is the king of his story, as we all are. His caretaker daughter is his fool and a host of other voices, but at last he recognizes her fully as she conducts him to his last breath.

This two-person, one-hour distillation of King Lear is designed to invite conversations about the meaning and experience of death. Each performance will be followed by a conversation with the artists, special guests –  including those whose life’s work involves the dying, and audience members who wish to participate.

– Ava Roy & John Hadden

Limited tickets available. For tickets to KING FOOL, We Players’ newest site-integrated production, CLICK HERE.

Al Blank: The Adventure of King Fool at Battery Wallace

The view from Battery Wallace in the Marin Headlands.

The view from Battery Wallace in the Marin Headlands.

First, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome We Players to the Marin Headlands. Having had the opportunity of working with this great group of actors during their performance of Hamlet on Alcatraz (in 2010), I can say without any hesitation, that the Marin Headlands is in for some very special and unique performances.

During the month of September, We Players will be presenting King Fool at Battery Wallace located in the Marin Headlands. The concept is unique as is the location.

Battery Wallace first constructed during the first World War and reconstructed as the United States entered World War II, stands as part of America’s determination to defend the coast of this country…in other words, to defend life!

We look at the term ‘death’. We talk about it as someone we know passes on. We see death in performances in the theatre, television and movies. We read about it in books. Death is final. What is unique in this process is that We Players is staging a story about death in a place that was created to preserve life: Battery Wallace! What makes this entire location more unique is that across the road from where this production will take place is a deactivated Nike Missile Site. This site was the epitome of attempting to stay alive when nuclear missiles were set to fire at Soviet planes during the Cold War. This history of life and death and how we deal with it is well served by having We Players perform their site-integrated production of King Fool in our park, this time at Battery Wallace.

We Players brings to all of us a new concept in art. A concept that allows us to become a part of living theatre and create a unique interpretive connection to the site in which they integrate their theatre. I am looking forward to the adventure!!

Al Blank started working for the NPS about about 13 years ago. Since then, he has worked on Alcatraz Island, at Fort Mason, Muir Woods National Monument and at the Marin Headlands. Originally from New York City, Al has spent most of his life working and traveling internationally. Al is collaborating with We Players on our site-integrated production of King Fool at Battery Wallace. 

 

Tickets are now on sale for King Fool. To purchase tickets to King Fool at Battery Wallace click here. For tickets to all other ticketed locations, click here.

We Players Grows and Bids Farewell to Valued Staff Member

Since November 2013, We Players has been fortunate to have Claire Slattery on staff in the role of Operations & Communications Manager. During this time, we launched a new website, increased multimedia presence and impact, and learned a great deal about how we will grow our organizational capacity as we continue to offer year-round site-integrated performances, events, and parties in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Claire Slattery.

After working on We Players’ staff for 9 months, Claire Slattery will be leaving her post on August 31st, 2014. Claire, who first joined the We Players community as an actor in The Odyssey on Angel Island State Park, will be moving to Los Angeles this fall to further pursue her acting career. We Players wishes her all the best as she takes this next step as a performer!

In order to build upon the excellent progress the staff has made in this past year, we are hiring a new Office Manager (we will introduce her in another post soon)! As We Players continues to grow the scale and scope of our site-integrated creative programming, our Office Manager will maintain and improve baseline administrative and communication functions of the non-profit organization. This support will enable the Managing Director and Artistic Director to respond to the increasing demand for We Players’ work towards our mission of connecting people with place through site-integrated theatre.

Exciting stuff!

We Players One of Seven Companies Producing Groundbreaking Immersive Theater

We Players is thrilled to announce that it has been named as one of seven companies around the world creating groundbreaking immersive theatre

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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.  – KC Wright

A Reflection: The (mis)fortunes of Lady Macbeth

Backstage one more time, hovering in my special scorpions bedchamber, in my black gown sitting on the edge of the bed listening to the waves crash and the musical pre-show banter and soon the conch will blow and we’ll be in it one more time…

goodnight lady macbeth
enjoy the ride
this time you really get to die, not to be reborn to do it again tomorrow
tonight you go to bed
get some sleepe.

MAcbeth_Jcl#2 13

Every show leaves it’s own particular imprint on psyche and soul. With a role like Lady Macbeth, it’s imperative for me to establish a ritual, or protocol, for getting in and out of that emotional and psychological territory. Taking care to leave her at the Fort, and not to take her home with me.

The opportunity to revisit this role, particularly in such short order and alongside my closest artistic collaborator, allowed me to access a much deeper, more nuanced and specific expression in our 2014 production. The aftermath of cleansing my body of her presence is both immediate and slow. Initially, the surge of catching up with everything that’s been languishing on the back burner distracts. But there are the more subtle layers to deal with. I crave fat for weeks. Milk, cream, butter, oil – bring it! I want coconut and olive oil everywhere, on everything – on my skin, in my hair and lots in my food. Replenishing. I eat like a lumberjack for a few days.

There is an extreme physical toll in working in an environment as exposing and raw as Fort Point – with severe winds, piercing cold and penetrating dampness. And there was the series of small accidents… The shocking impact of a dagger hilt to the cheekbone mid tech rehearsal. Keep on working, now with an ice pack strapped to my face. My comrades offer their blood and flesh and bone to the work as well. Carmen, one of the nefarious murderers, gave herself a deep bruise literally the size of her hand…from smashing the baby’s head too damn hard in the Macduff family scene one night.

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(By the way, the baby’s head was a rutabaga. We have experimented with a variety of vegetables seeking the optimal head cracking sound. Onions have a nice thud and squish, but they stink like…well onions. Undeniably and unavoidably so. Acorn squash and butternut squash are nice, but none of the squash family come close to the horrible satisfaction of the rutabaga. Rutabaga, I don’t know who eats you. But you are a wonderful prop for stage violence.)

Then of course, the adventure of John, our Macbeth, losing his front tooth, mid-performance. This not only required his commitment to staying totally in the flow, despite the obvious shock and dismay, but in addition, a more refined attention to pronunciation – for obvious reasons. On the – ahem – second episode of flying teeth, the piercing gaze of our Maria, the attentive little witch that she is, tracked the flight of Macbeth’s tooth from her perch in the window above, scurried down into the audience, and found it.

johntooth

These misfortunes seem to pile up into a great mountain when I begin enumerating…
But they can’t touch the quiet joys of moments alone in the fortress, under the full moon, or under the sunset soaked sky. The precious moments when a perfect shaft of light streams in through a thin window in a casemate otherwise submerged in perpetual darkness. The glory of private views onto the slice of solitary beach just below the fort to the west, a strip of sand untouched by human footprints. The practical and pleasurable act of steadying myself as Lady Macbeth after the torment that is the banquet scene, with a few moments in the thick shadows of a tucked away arch that is covered in sand for some reason (did it blow in through the window? why is it here on the third floor?). I press my hands into the sand canvas and remind myself I have a body.

ava2013

Lady Macbeth is unraveling from the beginning, the madness doesn’t come suddenly, it’s there all along. Like a hard boiled egg that’s been cracked, but not yet peeled. The shell just holding together, despite it’s apparent wholeness. The confining leather corset and tight waisted skirts, the making of her face, the need for some physical contact with the fort walls at all times…all efforts to keep. it. together. A sense of vertigo rushes in when Lady Macbeth loses contact with the brick and veers into open space. From there she tumbles headlong into the “out damn spot” sequence. A fragile object hurtling through space, fatal impact inevitable…

avaos

After one performance, I asked a friend her impressions of the egg drop at the onset of the play. This particular audience member does not identify as a theatregoer or even as much of an art enthusiast (and is certainly not an active Shakespeare fan). I find her responses entirely authentic, not glossed with a desire to please. Among other pleasing things she describes about that cold windy night at the Fort with We Players…
“The egg drop? Oh, I don’t know what it was supposed to mean. But I guess it seemed like…”
a pause
“…an exclamation point and a question mark.”

egg

I’d like all beginnings and endings to come close to this…

!

?

–Ava Roy
Founding Artistic Director, We Players

Encountering the Trio

Saturday July 26, 2014
at THREE o’clock
on the beach at Aquatic Park
(directly in front of the Maritime Museum building)
FREE!

You’re invited! To the first public sharing of The Trio’s practice. The women who wielded elemental powers as the Weyard Sisters in We Players recent Macbeth at Fort Point, continue their exploration of other mythical trios. Join us for a picnic on the beach at Aquatic Park and encounter The Trio between the sand and the sea.

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WHERE: Find the Maritime Museum building. Find the clock on the museum facade. Face the water. The Trio is somewhere on the the beach. Meet at the red We Players flag in the sand. They’ll come to you when it’s time.

The Maritime Museum is located at the far end of Beach Street, next to Ghiradelli Square in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood of San Francisco.

WHEN: 3-5pm, Saturday July 26, 2014

WHAT TO BRING/HOW TO PREPARE:
This event is free! But please do:
- Bring a picnic! We’ll have some snacks to share, please bring your own as well.
- Bring a beach towel or blanket, sunscreen and warm layers.
- Prepare to kick your shoes off! This party is in a sandbox.

WHAT ELSE:
The sharing will be immediately followed by a conversation with The Trio. We are eagerly seeking your experience! Your responses will directly inform the next iteration of our work.

Soy Tu Mar (I Am Your Sea)

Canciones del Mar: Songs of the Sea

I have played all sorts of concerts in all kinds of venues but “Canciones del Mar; Songs of the Sea” (curated by Charlie Gurke from We Players) is a very unique and fun concert because our performance will happen aboard a beautiful historic ship, the Balclutha, in the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

For an hour and a half Jose Roberto Hernandez (guitar, vocals), Charlie Gurke (saxophone), David Pinto (bass) and Edgardo Cambón (percussion, vocals) and I will take you to a world of sea and love with stories and song.

I’m particularly excited about this year’s performance as I will be sharing one of my original songs, “Soy Tu Mar” (I Am Your Sea), a song that speaks about the sea, or better said, the sea speaks about itself, about its memories, about its joys and fear…through me.

I am very honored to be playing with such broad and talented musicians. We all come from different musical backgrounds so I will be playing and singing songs that, at times, may take me out of my comfort zone which I find to be very exciting as playing and singing styles of music different from mine takes my musicianship to another level. Really looking forward to this beautiful collaboration!

– Diana Gameros, Vocals & Guitar
Canciones del Mar

Meet the Musicians of Canciones del Mar

Read below to learn about the incredibly talented ensemble of musicians who will present
Canciones del Mar: Songs of the Sea
on Saturday, July 19th at 6pm aboard the tall ship, Balclutha.

 

I think of the musicians of Canciones as an all-star ensemble, but when putting this group together, I wasn’t looking for the flashy, virtuoso kind of ‘all-star’. Each member of this ensemble is a virtuoso musician and composer in their own right, but I chose each one more for their interpretive sensitivity than their ‘chops’. I wanted to be sure that the themes we’re expressing, the variety of metaphor that the sea provokes, would be artfully expressed.

I’ve had the pleasure of performing with Edgardo Cambon’s large and small ensembles, Candela and Latido, for the past several years. Originally from Montevideo, Uruguay, Edgardo is a master percussionist and vocalist with a breadth of knowledge and experience performing the music of Latin America, from Argentinian tango to the salsa of El Barrio. Edgardo is especially fluent in the popular and folkloric music of Cuba, and opens each Canciones performance with a chant to Yemaya, the Afro-Cuban deity of the sea.

Originally from Juarez, Mexico, Diana Gameros is known to most of her fans for her original songs of ‘love, longing, and hope’, performed in a diverse style that blends elements of latin music with rock, world music, and jazz. I knew Diana would be a perfect fit for the Canciones ensemble when I heard her perform solo, playing very original and personal arrangements of classic boleros and rancheros from the latin american tradition.

I came to know Jose Roberto Hernandez when we spent the better part of a year bringing the music of Latin America to elementary school kids across San Francisco through a program with the SF Symphony. Jose Roberto is not only a master guitarist and vocalist with a wealth of knowledge of the bolero and nueva trova traditions, but is also skilled in folk instruments from around Latin America, including his native Tabasco, Mexico.

David Pinto is one of the many musical treasures we are lucky to have here in the Bay Area. A native of Peru, David is best known for his work as music director, arranger, and bassist for Susana Baca. In addition to his particular expertise in Afro-Peruvian music, David performs with the bay’s best salsa, folkloric, and latin jazz ensembles.

– Charlie Gurke
We Players Music Director

For more information and tickets to Canciones del MarCLICK HERE.

The Sound and The Fury

There are only two more weeks to join for what audiences and critics are calling

“an experience of a lifetime you will never forget!”

Have you seen a performance, but want to revisit the unforgettable images and sounds of Fort Point?

Have you bought your tickets for an upcoming performance, but can’t wait another minute to get into Fort Point?

Enjoy this 3-min video of Macbeth at Fort Point – story & site highlights! (video by Tracy Martin)

Macbeth at Fort Point from Tracy Martin on Vimeo.

We Players presents Macbeth at Fort Point in San Francisco
May 30 – June 29
www.weplayers.org

Film & Editing
Tracy Martin
www.tracymartinphotography.com

See what audiences and critics are saying about We Players’ site-integrated production:

“Entertaining, unnerving, powerful to experience…”
“Amazing and completely engrossing…”
“Those fortunate enough to attend this extraordinary event (it is more than a play) will be revisiting the memories for years to come.”
“The production itself was magnificent!”
“Find a way to go see We Players’ production of Macbeth at Fort Point. Scratch that – drop everything and run, run, run over and do not miss this show. The most delightful use of performance space you’ll ever experience… I ended up having more fun watching this production than I have in many, many years.”
“An experience of a lifetime you will never forget. The power of location is made clear by these performances of Macbeth at Fort Point. Don’t miss this opportunity!”

Macbeth Plot Summary

Excited to see Macbeth at Fort Point, but want to brush up on the story before you see it? Look no further!

Read on for a plot summary of Shakespeare’s tragedy brought to you by our co-directors, Ava and John.

 

Ancient Scotland: Macbeth, a small-time thane (chieftain), is instrumental in defeating a very powerful rebellion against the aging King Duncan. On the trek home from battle with his comrade-in-arms Banquo, three “Weird Sisters” appear and prophecy that Macbeth will be king and that Banquo will father a long line of kings. Next, Duncan promotes Macbeth for his part in the war and names his son Malcome heir to the throne. The king and his retinue will stay with the Macbeths that night on their way home from the front.

Macbeth returns to his castle ahead of the others and confides in his wife, who persuades him to kill the king. Lady Macbeth hosts a party, drugging all the guests, thus laying the groundwork for the murder. Macbeth, weary still from battle and rattled by inner turmoil, does the deed. Macduff, a powerful thane who has not spent the night, arrives in the morning to find the king dead. Macbeth, pretending vengeance, kills the king’s two bodyguards, and Malcome flees to England.

Macbeth is crowned King, but, still unable to sleep and afraid of the sisters’ prophecy, he hires two servants to kill his friend Banquo and Banquo’s son Fleance. During the muddled assassination, Fleance escapes. At another banquet, Macbeth confronts Banquo’s bloody ghost, much to the confusion of the thanes loyal to Macbeth, whose numbers are beginning to dwindle. By now, Lady Macbeth is losing her grip on sanity.

Macbeth returns to the Weird Sisters who present him with two consoling riddles: His power is safe until the forest approaches his castle and no man “born of woman” will ever threaten his life. However, Banquo’s line of kings will “stretch out to the crack of doom.” The Thane of Ross appears on the empty heath with news that Macduff has fled to England to join forces with Malcome. Macbeth, “stepped in blood so far,” orders the utter destruction of Macduff’s entire clan.

In England, Macduff pledges his support to Malcome and learns from Ross that his wife and children have been slaughtered. Aligned against the tyrant and with the support of the English forces, Macduff and Malcome lead the charge towards Dunsinane.

As overwhelming forces approach Macbeth’s castle, the crazed Lady Macbeth dies. The attacking soldiers disguise their numbers by carrying branches hacked from the forest, breach the walls and fight Macbeth’s remaining soldiers. Macduff meets Macbeth who prevails in the ensuing duel until he learns that his adversary was not “born of woman” but was “from his mother’s womb untimely ripp’d!” Macbeth loses his head and young Malcome is crowned the new King of Scotland.

– Ava Roy & John Hadden, Co-Directors of Macbeth at Fort Point 2014

The Weyard Sisters Trio

The Trio - or simply, Sisters as they call each other - is comprised of Caroline Parsons, Maria Leigh and Julie Douglas. Photo by Jamie Lyons.

The Trio – or simply, Sisters as they call each other – is comprised of Caroline Parsons, Maria Leigh and Julie Douglas. Photo by Jamie Lyons.

An inside look at We Players’, The Trio, three women who have worked together for over a year and a half developing their dynamic.

The result:

A bewitching, mesmerizing portrayal of the Weyard Sisters in 

Macbeth at Fort Point 2014

When Ava gathered a small group of actors to brew work in the off season – that’s the time when We Players is not working to put on a full production – Maria, Julie and I showed up. Ava brought in the concept of working with Classical trios of women to fit our trio of actors. We went away and researched furiously and then came back to share the sordid details of these mythical women, salivating with the same rapturous delight that many people experience watching an episode of Game of Thrones. The Furies, who sprung from a drop of blood, avenge crimes against nature by causing tormenting madness or illness, their wrath placated only by ritual atonement and purification. When the Furies are not angered, they are known as the Fates, a Maiden, Mother and crone who sit together spinning, weaving and cutting under the trees of life. Their yarn is not of ordinary material: it is the measure of one individual life, and when they have cut it… your time is up. These are just two of the trios that we explored, putting them in our bodies, using various materials for them to play with, and wondering how they exist today. And one day, Ava had the revelation: “You three are the Witches for Macbeth!” The foundation was already laid to work with the Weyard Sisters who are the interpreters of the natural forces, who deliver the fateful message to Macbeth about his future success, and who let him know when he has gone against the natural order. We had already done half the work for the three sisters by trying on the many archetypal aspects of their trio! Layered in to the Witches that you see in Macbeth are many other powerful and time worn women. Time to get out the book of classical mythology? Or take a gander on Google? I hope you take the time to enjoy some of these stories, and come see one incarnation in our production of Macbeth at Fort Point in June 2014.
-Caroline Parsons

Wart covered and haggish stirring the steaming cauldron. Cartoons of female power. This is not what we saw, we sisters, we Weyard Sisters. Connected as kin, as different as individuals. We’ve become sisters through expeditions in myth, archetype, stereotype, connection, polarities, the natural, the supernatural, trust, tension, locomotion, stillness, power, and vulnerability. Drawn into the tornado that is Macbeth to find these sisters, these forces of nature that truth-tell, witness and cycle as seasons. Creation is messy, imperfect and filled with sweet dissatisfaction that drives. As we weave our web gets stronger, more intricate, more layered. We return to what we’ve learned and search for the unknown. Spinning back into these Weyard Sisters once again to follow the trail of their complexity and simplicity. The history of all our sister trios at our back awakening us to the promise of what’s to come.
-Julie Douglas

Our work in Macbeth is so deeply informed by our trio work that to try to follow the thread of creation back to its beginning is virtually impossible. So, I’m offering some fibers that seem meaningful to me:

TIME: We have gotten to know one another as artists and a people over the course of years and hundreds of hours of rehearsals. We have lived together, eaten together, laughed and cried together. We have had the luxury of being able to build and refine our ideas over time and they have had time to sink from the surface into our very bones.

SISTERHOOD: We experience the best of this relationship and some of its challenges. Sometimes we are impenetrably unified and sometimes we struggle to be seen and heard as individuals. We love and support one another fiercely but we also disagree and find compromise. And we usually know what the others are thinking without anyone having to say a word.

THE NATURAL WORLD: We have spend at least a portion of every gathering exploring an element of the natural world, whether it be experiencing, engaging with and relating to a field trip location, or working with collected plants, wool, or food. Connecting with these natural elements connects us both to our past through following in the footsteps of ancestors who have used these elements and to what might be as we find imaginative ways to interact with these elements and forge our own personal connections that we will carry with us through Macbeth and beyond.
-Maria Leigh

Click here to read more about The Trio, their work together, and their upcoming public happenings.

Click here to purchase tickets to Macbeth at Fort Point.

More Than Blood & Gore

Working the final showdown between Macbeth and Macduff last night at the Popells, my wonderful hosts (and We Players supporters–Andy is Board President): Their son Isaac meets us with his own nerf swords and shows us a thing or two in an impromptu hackfest. It’s a good thing our thanes don’t have Isaac to contend with! As we go to work in the evening light, Isaac sets himself up with popcorn and blankets and a big comfy chair behind a plate glass window to watch us work outside in the courtyard.

We begin with swords made of pvc and foam pipe insulation, light and relatively harmless, going through each move, each impulse, very slowly, stopping to fix anything that feels uncertain or unmotivated, and speed it up by degrees, eventually switching over to the broadswords made of steel.

My father loved the phrase “Lay on, Macduff!” It was one of a small collection of phrases (Life’s Like That; Goddamn Bastards; That’ll Tighten His Sphincter; Bongo, Bongo, Bongo and so on) that could serve almost any occasion. My son Reilly, who did Shakespeare with Ava Roy when they were teenagers, was a member of a Very Young Company (they ranged in age from 4-7 when it began) that played every year to hundreds of amazed adults after the mainstage show, outdoors at the Mount, the home of the young Shakespeare & Co–and the only scene they never missed was the beheading of Macbeth.

“Turn, Hellhound, Turn!”

Violence is great for getting audiences. Every action film producer knows this, as did the King’s Players in 1600. But Shakespeare always wants to know what’s under the surface. What led to this? How can we find out more about a character from the way he or she dies? Shakespeare knows that when the audience is at their most focused it is a good time to throw some curve balls about the riddle of the human psyche–and the moment of death is one last chance to find out after all what is going on here!

In Shakespeare, death and violence are marked and felt. Ava is really good at underscoring this in her work with the Weyard Sisters, for instance, who are always super aware of each death and always mark it in some ritualized way.

Our colleague, Jamie Lyons, was watching us work on the scene in which, to convince her husband against his will to kill the King, for whom she seems to feel some terrible ancient hatred, Lady Macbeth enacts the killing of her own innocent baby. She is very specific in these few lines:

“I have given suck and know
How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me-
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums
And dash’d the brains out had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.”

She knows what she is talking about; she’s nursed a male baby. Her own, presumably. It’s one of the mysteries of the play. In our version, she enacts the sequence physically, giving suck, plucking him away from her breast and smashing his invisible head against the stone courtyard floor. She hits a nerve; the next thing we know, Macbeth is “settled” to do the terrible deed.

When the murderers kill Lady Macduff and her fine, intelligent child, we have them also smashing her baby in the same way that we have seen Lady Macbeth mime the act in the earlier scene.

Jamie suggested that one of the Weyard Sisters could come and somehow sanctify the spot on the ground where the invisible baby is killed, after the scene’s end. And so it goes, bit by bit, we all participate in stringing these moments, images, experiences into a fabric that, if we’re diligent and lucky, hang together and give us more than blood and gore.

– John Hadden
Associate Artist and Co-director of Macbeth at Fort Point, 2014

We Players and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
It’s a mouthful of a name, for a very special place on the northern waterfront of San Francisco. And it is very much an artistic home for We Players, thanks to a robust Cooperative Agreement that spans 2012-2017. We recently had a meeting with SAFR (the NPS code for that 15 syllable name) where our agreement was referenced, and I took the opportunity to revisit the language in our “Statement of Work” -

“We Players will produce various site-specific traveling theatre productions and other art and community engagement programs at various sites throughout San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. In the course of the programs, park visitors will be encouraged to explore multiple park areas. Programs will be presented both during the day and evening, daytime programs will be accessible to all park visitors at no charge. Programs will generally be ticketed (some offered free of charge) and open to the public. ‘We Players may offer focus group workshops, i.e., art workshops open to the public.’”

In our planning meeting and again as I re-read this, I am reminded how much the staff at the Park respect Ava and I, admire the quality of our work, and appreciate our professionalism. I understand that trust today, having created two full-scale site-integrated theatre productions, presented several music concerts, and hosted multiple workshops and parties at the Park in recent years. What’s amazing to me is that San Francisco Maritime went out on a limb to establish We Players as a cooperating agency in 2012 – just a year after being established as a formal organization, and only a few months after we received our non-profit status. Just as (then site-supervisor) Amy Brees’ invitation to a three-year creative residency on Alcatraz Island, 2009-11 helped us shape our programming and design our organization to truly address our mission, San Francisco Maritime’s partnership is helping We Players deepen our practice and further our mission of connecting people with place.

Deliberately shaping We Players’ lasting creative contributions to the Park is what’s most interesting to me as we continue working with the lovely staff and volunteers aboard the historic ships, on Hyde Street Pier and in the Maritime Museum. As site-integrated performing artists, we excel at creating ephemeral beauty, captivating audiences with full sensory experience, and provoking thought on the shared themes embedded in a story and site. And, we are very interested in sharing the fruit and scattering the seeds of our practice, which we find central to a creative and fulfilling life in healthy relationship with people and place. I look forward to developing and sharing our programming at San Francisco Maritime this fall, and working with our artists and Park staff to create new interpretation programs that will hopefully live on long after 2017.

- Lauren D. Chavez, We Players Managing Director

Macbeth at Fort Point 2014: The First Rehearsal

I awoke the morning of Friday, April 25th to rain. Sheets of late, overdue rain which our earth and reservoirs are sorely thirsting for. This is also the day of our first full cast rehearsal on-site at Fort Point. And so, in addition to packing the regular warm layers – hat, scarf and gloves necessary for a day at the Fort – I grabbed my waterproof boots and rain jacket as well. We Players embraces the unpredictable power of the elements, and work with equal vigor in the easeful sunshine or in the rain and cold.

Our group gathers just before the rangers open the gates to the fortress at 10am. We file in and mount the three flights of stairs to our green room, where we circle and check-in with each other, reviewing basic rules of working at an NPS site, as well as where props and costumes live, where We Players famous snack bin will be kept, and who among us are trained as first responders. Physical safety is a serious consideration for us, as we work in potentially hazardous environments and our work is athletic and physically embedded into the space. At Fort Point our main concerns are the slippery stairs and stones, which are very nearly always wet, thanks to the fog that condenses there daily, as well as the unlit corridors and shadowy corners we must navigate, sometimes while moving quite quickly.

We return to the Parade Ground to begin our walk-through of the performance route. Along the way, we identify our hidden storage locations, the pathways actors may take secretly during performance and primarily, mark the route the audience takes through the journey of the play. We gather again in the dark northwest corner of the third floor, a shaft of light filters in through the narrow window speckled with red lichen. We move through a series of exercises intended to help us awaken our senses (particularly beyond the dominant sense of sight), and to connect physically and energetically with the fortress. We move slowly at first, and without words. Eventually, character personalities begin to emerge, as do dissected lines of text. We explore, still mostly without words, how we interact with each other, with the multitude of sharp right angles, and with the negative spaces.

We take particular note of the lack of feminine energy in the structure itself – the cold, the thick, the sharp, the angular, the imposing, the powerful fortress of brick and stone lines. And yet, Nature persists. She creeps in through the cracks and pours into the open mouth of the fortress from above. The rain pools in the corners of the Parade Ground and the wind describes subtle and softly shifting patterns on the surface of these pools. The intensely bright green, orange and silver lichens grow profusely on the brick walls and form soft clusters of gentle but tenacious life.

We emerge dusted with red powder from the brick and share what we collected. In a way, this kind of sense work is very simple. But by taking the time to engage in this way, not driven by intellect or idea (or worse, concept), we begin to discover our characters. A process more of rooting, tracking and revealing that deciding and inventing.

“And with the upward rise, and with the vastness grow…”

-Ava Roy, Co-director of Macbeth at Fort Point 2014

Spotlight on Company Training

Back in the days on the Stanford campus, in addition to the few dancers and actors among us, our ranks included those on paths to become doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers, and engineers. To my thinking, this wide array of sensibilities and skill sets profoundly enriches the work we make. After all, We Players fundamental practice is centered around expanding perception, learning to see from new and unexpected angles. A team of folks whose training encourages distinct viewpoints naturally provides this kind of perceptive diversity.

In recent years, our core crew of performers has become increasingly rich with trained performers, people who are dedicating their lives to their artistic practice and cultivation of their craft. Among us there are clowns, acrobats, yogis, dancers, and accomplished musicians. Of course, in any theatre company you might find such an array of talents. Indeed, in any group, there is a veritable treasure trove of the number one human resource – imagination. We do well to eagerly embrace and invite these invisible powers forth.

When I’m directing, though it’s crucial that I maintain connection with the guiding light, or vision for a given production, I strive to step out of the way of my performers and invite their genius to shine. I appreciate the Greek conception of “genius” tremendously. It is not something reserved exclusively for those few chosen and touched by the gods – though thank the gods for the Shakespeares and Beethovens given to earth now and again! But the ancients offer a richer idea of genius as something that we each possess and that can be awakened within us. In this moment, I’m getting the image of a genie in a bottle. If rubbed the right way, and invited forth, it can erupt with incredible potency and efficacy.

In recent months, we’ve begun to schedule “company training sessions” with some of We Players core collaborators. These sessions serve to shine the magic lamp and invite the powers within each of the participants to emerge and grow stronger through activation. A small band of invited artists gather – between rehearsals for other projects, teaching, running companies, raising families – to share our skills and deepen our relationships as collaborators. We work indoors and outdoors, in backyards and studios, for three or four hours at a time to develop our shared vocabulary and stretch into new territory.

In our latest company training sessions we’ve worked with psychological gesture, improvisation games and etudes, chorus, the vast expanse of clown work, and a wide assortment of physical and vocal exercises (including material from familiar pedigrees such as Laban, Viewpoints, Alexander and Linklater, as well as our own invented and exploratory exercises). We work on relaxation techniques, ways of preparing the physical instrument for character work and emotional accessibility. Through these practices we activate our imaginations and cultivate flexibility and dexterity as performers and creative partners.

With focus on voice and physicality, we strive to notice habits, our patterns of tension and how to release and expand our expressive capacity. We work and play intensively without the pressures of a specific production – the unforgiving schedule of preparing a piece for an impending performance date. I admit that I thrive under the exquisite pressure of a performance clock, but these training sessions provide a different kind of energetic space. A generous environment to gather and share our knowledge and unique skill sets, to tune our instruments. Like any instrument which needs to be played and practiced, an actor must constantly attend to hers – body and voice, psyche and soul, indeed the actor’s whole being must be exercised through…play.

This work is a powerful support to We Players artistic growth. You can’t cheat time spent. So we spend time together. We play.

- Ava Roy, We Players’ Founding Artistic Director

A Gala to Remember

Thanks to all who attended We Players 5th Annual Gala! We had a fantastic Saturday evening, celebrating our mission of connecting people with place through site-integrated theatre.

Sharing delicious, local food is at the heart of connecting with people and place. (That’s why we have food incorporated into most of our theatre projects!) Each year for our gala, we prepare a multi-course feast – most of which is sourced from area farmers yielding succulent seasonal, local and organic dishes. Of course we also share performance highlights from the past and ticklers of what’s to come, and shape characters specifically for this special evening.

We rely almost exclusively on volunteer support to pull this event off each year, and every bit of the proceeds goes directly to funding We Players site-integrated programming in the year ahead. The gala is a fixture of our annual fundraising efforts, without which we would be unable to realize many of our wildly ambitious projects.

The feast and festivities were fantastic! We’ve received many reports of 2014 being the best gala yet. Unfortunately, we did not meet our fundraising goal, and are just beginning to process what that means for how we use our time in this final month of our fundraising season, as well as potential impacts on our 2014 program schedule. Some years we are more successful than others. This is the life we have shaped for ourselves, forging ahead creating what we believe in, relying on community support amidst a society that largely undervalues art and the environment.

Yes, We persevere! And remain inspired.

In fact, we had such a great time at the gala, and so thoroughly enjoy looking around the room at all the bright and beaming faces of our guests, that we’re excited about starting a new We Players’ tradition – an End of Year party! Let’s gather just as the fall is settling and shifting into winter, to acknowledge the challenges we’ve faced and all the hard work throughout the year, and to celebrate our unique site-integrated theatre practices and captivating storytelling. We’ll share a toast and of course, a bite to eat. More details soon!

– Ava Roy and Lauren D. Chavez

Adventure Design Group Event – April 18th

The Adventure Design Group Presents

A Presentation and Conversation with We Players

Friday, April 18, 2014 at 6:30 PM
avagogames

This April, the Adventure Design Group will present an interactive presentation with Artistic Director Ava Roy. Ava will discuss We Players unique site-integrated theatre practices, ardent exploration of our local landscape, and historic relationship with the National Park Service. There will be an interactive element and time allotted for questions and conversation.

Want to go to this event? Join and RSVP here. 

Since 2000, We Players has presented site-integrated performance events that use the finest works of classical theatre to transform public spaces into realms of participatory theater. Extending the transformative powers of performance beyond the stage into the notable public spaces of the Bay Area, they invite their collaborators and audience to engage fully with the spectacular world around us.

Tickets for We Players’ Macbeth at Fort Point are on sale now, as are seats at their spectacular 2014 gala dinner on April 5.

Friday, April 18, 2014
6:30 PM – 9:30PM

Location:
Go Game HQ
400 Treat Ave, Suite F, between 17th and 18th streets (map)

Schedule:
- 6:30-7:15pm: Doors open. Socialize!
Drinks provided by The Go Game, and food on-site.
- 7:15-8pm: Presentation by Ava Roy
- 8-8:30pm: Q&A
- 8:30-9:30pm: Mingle!
- 9:30pm….: Drinks to follow at a nearby bar.

See you there!

Working with the Parks

Hamlet 23

Hamlet on Alcatraz. Autumn, 2010.

We Players has been creating art in public spaces since 2000, and in partnership with the National Park Service and California State Parks since 2008. Last year we coined the term “site-integrated” to describe our keystone, outdoor, traveling theatre productions to differentiate our creative practice from the many (and ever-increasing) site-specific performance groups and artists in the Bay Area and beyond. Rather than simply choosing a dramatic or inexpensive backdrop for a performance, we very much create our art in direct relationship with the many layers of history, ecology, and community that we encounter within our treasured parklands.

In addition to regular visits to a project site and protracted, full sensory observation, frequent interaction with various partners in the park services and affiliated non-profit cooperating agencies is a major part of our process. At the start of a new project, we get to explore the troves of information and artifacts housed in the many libraries, archival storage sites, and memories of staff. Wanting to be around the site as much as possible, we volunteer where we can and use our craft to honor park anniversaries. And as we create art in a park, the staff who have worked (and sometimes lived) in our project sites for years or decades tip us off to hidden gems, provide suggestions and feedback, and help us problem solve. It’s a mutually beneficial exchange. We all appreciate the place and want to support visitors in experiencing the park in a profound way.

Our park partners understand the value of our work and acknowledge the potential for creative engagement to transform park visitors into park stewards. I am proud that We Players projects make up half of the past projects listed by the newly-formed Art in the Parks Program. And I’m glad that the Golden Gate National Recreation Area has a well-delineated process for inviting more artists to explore the parks and deepen their relationship with place through art-making.

I’m very curious about the changes in perspective and behavior that occur when one goes from a non-committal, unattached visitor to an invested lover of place. When we truly care for our public places we take time to be present there. We listen. And as we listen, we learn more and more about the environment, from traffic patterns to animal behaviors to the patterns of the wind. I’ve had the blessing to witness this transformation occur in many of our collaborators over the years.

-Lauren D. Chavez
Managing Director, We Players

‘The Bold Italic’ Interview

Local journalist and writer, Daniel Hirsch, interviews Artistic Director, Ava Roy, about We Players’ upcoming production of Macbeth at Fort Point 2014. Read below or click here for the article on The Bold Italic.

The Next Experimental Performance to Sell Out ASAP

by Daniel Hirsch, The Bold Italic

Dark clouds gathered over theater company We Players 2013 production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth — and that was perfect. The company specializes in “site-integrated” performances in which they stage classical productions in outdoor landmarks and historical sites. Since 2009, We Players has partnered with the National Parks Service to produce Hamlet on Alcatraz and an adaption of the Odyssey on Angel Island, among other productions. To mount its version of Macbeth, We Players selected Civil War-era fortress Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge. For a tale of power struggles and dark forces that take place in the tumultuous, rainy Scottish highlands, the foreboding weather was icing on a cake already rich with atmospherics.

But metaphoric dark clouds were also brewing—in Washington, DC. Midway through We Player’s sold-out run, the government shutdown forced the company to cancel several of its performances because Fort Point was suddenly inaccessible to the public. This June, We Players is remounting its successful production to both make up for the lost performances (over 1,000 ticket-holders were turned away) and to rethink Shakespeare’s dark masterpiece. It promises to take audience members all over the fort, offering chills of the emotional and physical variety.

As the company begins preparing its return to Fort Point, I interviewed Ava Roy, We Players’ artistic director who also plays Lady Macbeth, about the dark magic of this famous play, San Francisco landmarks worth loving, and government incompetency.

Macbeth is famous for being a cursed … Theaters that presented it have burned down and actors involved in it have seen their careers ruined. Do you believe in the curse? Do you think the government shutdown was a manifestation of that curse?

[Laughs] I’m not that superstitious. The play is definitely dealing with some intense themes and energies, and I try to respect them. The government shutdown was one of the motivating factors and an initial impetus to do it again, but it [also] provides us a chance to explore the text in new ways and go deeper into the material. For example, in 2013, we cast all the warriors as very young men, exploring the theme of how boys become men as warriors. Now, we’ve cast much older actors, in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. It really changes the fundamental power structure, and political relationships in the play.

Did having to deal with the government shutdown affect the way you thought about this play at all?

It didn’t change my thinking about the play itself, but it definitely felt grossly appropriate. As much as it was painful and upsetting, it also felt like: oh my God, the government is perfectly modeling what this play is about. A lot of my goal in doing Shakespeare is about how do we make people see relevance in our present moment. I couldn’t ask for anything more perfect to demonstrate how power corrupts. People in Washington were making —or rather, not making – choices and not seeming to see or care that their actions were affecting individuals, small organizations, and communities.

Why did you choose Fort Point for Macbeth?

Physically, the space is perfect. It’s this big, brick, damp, cold fortress. In terms of thematic connection, it was built during Civil War, but it was pretty much obsolete by the time it was completed. It speaks to the futility of protection. Everything Macbeth does to protect himself is basically futile. Sonically, as well as environmentally, there’s this constant buzz and throbbing noise from the sound of cars on the bridge above, the waves outside, the wind, you can’t get away from it … from the very beginning, you get this sense you’re shot out of a gun, the play really accelerates, and you can’t escape.

What’s your relationship been like with the National Parks Service?

Since we started working with the Parks Service, they are now developing protocol for more artists to use their spaces. It’s been really great to feel like part of movement. We have a shared mission of increasing attention and relevancy to these sites … A lot of what we do attracts more local visitors to parks. After we did Hamlet at Alcatraz, a lot of longtime local audience members told me that was the first time they’d visited …When you have a powerful emotional experience in a place, it changes your relationship to the place. The larger benefit is how we can change our world and our relationship to it.

If you could stage a performance of any play at any famous landmark, natural or man-made, what would it be and why?

The truth is every where I go, I’m making a list. I’ve been cultivating this way of thinking for a long time. I’m pretty interested in Greece and Grecian ruins. The first place I’d go outside of the States would be some semi-rubble and ruin in Crete or somewhere.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Dress warmly if you come to Fort Point. It is really cold out there.

**We Players’ 2014 production of Macbeth opens June 5th-29th at Fort Point. Tickets just went on sale and tend to sell out, so grab yours quickly if you want to go. Prices range from $30 for previews to $75 for Saturday nights with post-performance receptions.**

Befriending King Lear

Edmund slices through the air with his double headed axe and the disguised Edgar parries with his spear. The old wooden floor of this 1878 opera house creaks under the combatants’ feet and our fight captain carefully adjusts the choreography for safety and precision. I’m observing fight call prior to our evening rehearsal of King Lear, a production for which I am serving as co-director as well as playing the roles of Cordelia and the Fool.

Photo Credit: John Sutton.

Photo Credit: John Sutton

This project at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, New York, is a very different artistic adventure for me. A few differences:

It’s my first time working in an indoor theatre space in over a decade.

I met the actors for the first time at our opening read through just weeks ago! Since founding We Players in 2000, I’ve had the privilege of hand selecting the actors I work with. Those actors have either worked with me previously, experienced my work as an audience member or participated in We Players’ intensive workshop style audition process.

We’re working in “the round”, with audience on all sides of us, and they are seated in chairs, quite unlike the on-your-feet, physical adventure of attending a We Players site-integrated production.

All of this is challenging me to stretch my practice, to adapt my sensibilities to the needs of this space, this group of people.

It’s also an opportunity to deepen my collaboration with long time friend and creative confidant, John Hadden. For the past several years we’ve brought John to California to join We Players, and he’ll be joining us again this spring for our remount of Macbeth at Fort Point. John and I have a collection of new and experimental projects cooking on the back burner. Projects that live in the shadowy territory of the imagination. One of these visions is a two person production of King Lear. In our “King Fool”, the King and his fool wander through time and space, telling old stories, playing all the parts, reliving their miseries and seeking humor in the face of horror.

For me, this King Lear at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge NY is the beginning of a long term relationship with the play. We are beginning to unpack the text and discover the characters – their relationships, their fears, their loves and losses. As a director, I often feel so lucky that I am present at each rehearsal and can share in the discoveries at every step along the way. The days are long. Before and after 10+ hour rehearsals at Hubbard Hall, I play the role of Artistic Director for We Players from afar, keeping operations smooth and continuing to further our mission.

The exhaustion is well worth it. This King Lear is allowing me to stretch myself as a director, to deepen my work with John, and to shed light into the labyrinthine corridors of Shakespeare’s massive epic. The play is becoming my friend and I look forward to finding it’s home in California, where I may someday soon bring a full-scale site-integrated King Lear to the Bay with We Players.

For the moment, the King and the Fool are packing their bags with new insights and wonder…

Photo credit: John Sutton.

Photo credit: John Sutton.

-Ava Roy


King Lear

The Theater Company at Hubbard Hall presents King Lear by William Shakespeare, directed by John Hadden.

Shakespeare’s universal epic. A dying king, chaos in nature and among the people, family blood feuds, madness and the heroic will to love and understand.

February 27, Pay-what-you-will Open Rehearsal at 8:00pm
Opening Night Dinner – Friday, February 28
Fridays at 8pm: February 28, March 7, 14, 21
Saturdays at 8pm: March 1, 8, 15, 22
Sundays at 2pm: March 2, 9, 16, 23
Hubbard Hall Mainstage

Tickets: $25 general admission / $22 members / $15 students / $0 subscribers
To purchase tickets and to learn more about this production, click here.

Growing our Aesthetic Education Program

Some of my most fulfilling work with We Players has been running programs with youth. In the early years of our organization, Ava and I both offered education programs rooted in We Players’ practice of connecting with our sensing bodies, communicating honestly and creatively, and fostering healthy relationships with one another and place.

My experience with the youth at the San Francisco Juvenile Justice Center during our residency on Alcatraz was quite profound, and it planted seeds for someday growing an education program that would seamlessly integrate with each of our major site-integrated theatre productions.

In developing our Aesthetic Education Program, we chose to first target teenagers for a few reasons: our park partners have some amazing education programs, but there are few opportunities for teens to creatively engage with these public resources; people are generally introduced to Shakespeare and other classics (central to our work) during their teen years; and, while I know many in our culture struggle to understand and communicate with them, the formative teen years are full of vitality and deep questioning and I personally find sharing time with teenagers incredibly enlivening and meaningful.

In my five years of experience running nature awareness and primitive skills classes and performance workshops, I’ve learned how important it is for teens to have a driving purpose and I’ve seen how brilliant, dedicated, and truly helpful our youth can be when their vision is clear.

We Players is taking our site-integrated artistic practice in a new direction to craft Aesthetic Education Programs with the express purpose of training the creative problem solvers of tomorrow.

We acknowledge the fact that our planet is facing major legacy issues, and our AEP is designed to prepare our youth for the tasks at hand. We empower young people by stretching their imaginations and offering skills for coming together to solve new-paradigm problems across social barriers. By inspiring curiosity to explore the delicacies and intricacies of the environment and to remember the tremendous capacity of the sensing body, our programs organically encourage stewardship of both natural and urban environments.

Our introductory workshops offer a taste of our practice on school grounds. As we expand our programs in 2014-15, I look forward to bringing a core of dedicated teenagers to our project sites to take their (and our) work to the next level. Our timely project themes are water, the mysteries in the deep, and our tenuous human relationship with the natural world… there’s so much to explore!

-Lauren D. Chavez
Managing Director, We Players

Why Macbeth?

In October 2013, the dark clouds of the US government shutdown hovered over our production of Macbeth at Fort Point, forcing us to cancel numerous performances and disappoint over 1000 ticket holders. In the midst of the drama, the idea flashed through that perhaps we should simply allow this particularly alchemical relationship between play and place a continued life. After all, we had invested well over a year developing the production and it is very carefully built into the specific contours, energy, and stones of the Civil War era fortress beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Fort Point itself is a central character, the other director, and our creative inspiration. A renewed life will allow us to share this powerful and unique performance with a wider audience, and hopefully reach some of those who were turned away last fall.

But every “remount” must be a re-development. The work must be allowed to change and therefore, to grow and deepen.

To this end, we are thrilled to announce a new cast that will include a host of We Players’ alumni and will feature John Hadden, my close collaborator and We Players’ Associate Artist, in the title role. In our 2013 rendition, John and I (co-directors on the production) were particularly interested in the story of young warriors. Boys who become men on the battlefield; their vigor, physical prowess and the dynamics of such hot blooded youth under the mantle of an older and wiser king, and a romantic match of a younger Macbeth to an older Lady Macbeth. We are deeply grateful for the excellent work done by our 2013 cast.

This year, in our upcoming 2014 production, we shift the perspective.

We will explore these dynamics of power and relationships through the lens of the “old guard”. Warriors who have engaged in battle for decades, who are older than their young wives, who are the same age as their King – and we believe this will provide us with new insights into the story. It is honor to welcome several seasoned and experienced actors to help us unpack the meanings of the text in yet new ways. Scott Phillips (our Claudius in Hamlet on Alcatraz) will play Macduff, Jack Halton (our Polonius in Hamlet on Alcatraz) will play Banquo, Steve Boss will return as both Duncan and the porter, and John Hadden will once again co-direct the production alongside me, as well as play Macbeth to my Lady Macbeth. We are also thrilled to welcome Nathaniel Justinianio (the unforgettable Zeus from our Odyssey on Angel Island) as the cruel and slippery Ross. Caroline Parsons, Julie Douglas and Maria Leigh will continue their work as the three weird sisters. These women truly act as the nucleus of our production. The trio began working nearly 8 months in advance of our 2013 rehearsal process; developing a profound sense of unity, deft abilities with non-verbal communication, as well as curious explorations of different energetic “states” and of ritual. These “weird sisters” have already begun to revisit their early source work to both reinvigorate their connection and to deepen their work in the 2014 production of Macbeth at Fort Point. We Players’ large-scale productions tend to be so complex that a incredible amount of time is spent negotiating the pathways through the space – both those of the audience (or multiple audience routes as the case may be), and that of each actor maneuvering through the site. The logistics of working in large sites and with the federal government, as well as the impact of severe weather conditions (it is extremely cold, windy and wet with fog at the Fort) is intense. With the route and overall design of the production already developed, we are curious what new dimensions we may be able to expand into.

We are eager to dive even deeper into the richness of the text, the subtleties of the relationships between characters, and to search for further nuance in the language and in our connection with the very stones of the fortress.

-Ava Roy Artistic Director, We Players Director, Macbeth at Fort Point

We’s Early Years

oldschool

In the early years of We Players, wandering around the gorgeous grounds of Stanford University, WE developed the foundations of this practice and the hallmarks of our performance style.  These were some fun and fancy-free years.  Many thanks to everyone who played with WE when springtime rolled around.

Hard to believe, but these shows occurred in the days before digital cameras were commonplace, carry-everywhere, by everyone… WE don’t have many images from these early shows.  If you have any photos, please contact us and let us know!

A New Hunger: John on Shakespeare Intensive 2014

John_Feste

John Hadden, We Players Associate Artist, on current 2014 Shakespeare Intensive Workshops

I’ve been here four days and so far we’ve explored some beautiful and auspicious landscapes for future plays, held auditions for about 60 new actors, worked with WE friends on the complex matter of teaching, read scenes and scholarly essays out loud while making our way through traffic from one end of town to another–and of course, dreamed our way through a dozen magnificent ideas while sifting through nuts and bolts…
And the workshops! I’ve been very privileged to teach lately in a number of classrooms and professional settings and it feels like actors across the age and experience spectrum are ready for digging deeper than usual to make the Quixotic attempt to speak the impossible truth. Why is this? Is there a new hunger in the Zeitgeist? I like to think so, and I like to think it can draw us all together. Not just us oddball theater nerds, but lots of people with all kinds of interests and backgrounds.

Two things I’ve found while seeing people work this week:

1.  Submission is sometimes more powerful, more theatrically potent, than being in charge; listening with a full visceral attention is sometimes more potent than speaking. We must insist on more from ourselves as theater makers. A scene is useless unless something actually happens between the actors. We’ve become too accustomed to faithful renderings of the text. The theater exists only as a medium of transformation–and how can we expect perception shifts in our audience if we don’t open ourselves to that possibility ourselves?

2.  Of course, speaking is important too. Two nights ago, while working with an actor on the purely formal aspects of the language and verse structure in “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…”, I absolutely fell in love with his last go at it. I lost the strength in my knees, my feeling was so complete. What happened was that the beauty of his rendering balanced the despair of his realization–and for one moment, Macbeth was a fully human being who saw the possibilities of love and laughter that exist only in the immediate presence of the moment–and he invited us into that moment as well.

All it takes is one good moment.

Click here for more information about the current Shakespeare Intensive.

Getting the Conversation Started: Ava on General Auditions

We’re getting quite excited for We Players annual general auditions, coming up this Saturday and Sunday night! John Hadden, my close collaborator and co-director for 2014 projects, is flying in from the east coast today. We have over 50 new actors planning to attend the upcoming sessions. And thanks to the wonderful folks at the Circus Center of San Francisco, we have a spacious, high-ceilinged room to stretch out and play in. All the ingredients are ripe. We Players’ auditions take place as an immersive 3 hour workshop. The actor/ director relationship is fundamentally a collaboration. So it seems to me that the best way to begin this conversation is through working together. Really working. It’s hard to learn all that much about an actor through their presentation of a 2 minute monologue. Perhaps how well they audition. But I don’t learn much about the more important stuff…how they work, how they play with others. Are they generous with their fellow performers? Do they breathe? Do they make eye contact? Or do they speak to the wall beyond my head? Do they take risks? What are their impulses like? Are they showing me their stuff, or able to release into the reality of the moment? And the actors should have a chance to sense the vibe of the company, of working with me. Is it a fit? It’s a conversation between us, not one-sided. Or at least, that’s a primary goal of a healthy actor/ director relationship I think. So committing to even just a few hours together allows us the opportunity to learn something about each other’s work and process. We get warmed up, we begin a conversation. Where will it take us? And if it really works, then everyone leaves feeling lit up, activated, and like their time has been well spent – they’ve made a discovery of some kind, large or small. Perhaps they forgot they were even at an ‘audition’, and are stimulated by the good work of playing.

We’ll see… Off we go!

Click here for more information about these upcoming 2014 General Auditions. Or email us at we@weplayers.org.

Audition for We 2014

Auditions

Be sure to familiarize yourself with our artistic practice before responding. Our site-integrated work is very unique and unlike traditional theatre experiences. Projects take place in a wide range of Bay Area settings, usually outdoors and in direct relationship with the elements. Our work is for the hardy of spirit and body, it is intense and immersive.

All auditions with We Players are extended workshop format, which allows us the opportunity to learn something about each other’s work and process. More information about our 2014 projects will be announced to our mailing list early in January.

ACTORS
Announcing 2014 Company Generals!

DATES
Saturday January 11 & Sunday January 12, 7-10pm  
(please arrive between 6:30 (no earlier) and 6:50pm, work begins promptly at 7pm)

LOCATION
SF Circus Center: 755 Frederick St., San Francisco

REQUIRED
Send resume and headshot to we@weplayers.org. Please include a brief personal statement and note why you are interested in working with We Players and/or engaging in site-integrated performance. Prepare a 1-2 minute classical monologue.  Bring a hard copy of your resume and photo. Indicate special skills: physical theater, dance, acrobatics, clown, music/singing/instruments, etc. 

PLEASE NOTE
You may not called for the whole time, however, please budget the full three hours. This audition will be workshop format. Be prepared for both physical and vocal group work. Wear comfortable clothes you can move in.

CALLBACKS for specific 2014 projects will be held Friday-Sunday, January 17-19, 2014

* We Players produce primarily classical work, so some experience or significant interest in Shakespeare and/or Greek mythology is a plus.

DANCERS
Information specific to dancers/ movers will be shared at the audition. Basic schedule outline for rehearsal and performance extends from mid-July 2014 through September 2014. 

AUDITION DATES
Saturday, January 25, 1-4pm

*call backs will be Sunday, January 26, 1:30-4:30pm - details will be provided to those selected

LOCATION
Sutro Baths, SF.  
Meet on the east side of the new Land’s End Visitors Center and look for a red We Players flag.

REQUIRED
Send resume and headshot to we@weplayers.org. Please include a brief personal statement and note why you are interested in working with We Players and/or engaging in site-integrated performance. Indicate any special skills: physical theater, types of dance training, swimming, yoga, qi gong, naturalist training, acrobatics, clown, music/singing/instruments, etc.

PLEASE NOTE
You may not called for the whole time, however, please plan to attend the full three hours. Please also hold your schedule open for Sunday, 1/26, 1:30-4:30pm. This movement audition will be workshop format. Wear comfortable clothes and close-toed shoes in which you can move freely. Please dress for the weather! We recommend layers, hats, gloves and windbreakers.

Production Staff Interviews for We 2014

If you like how We Players transforms public space, builds community, and engages timeless themes and current social issues, one of the most fulfilling ways to deepen this practice and expand your own awareness is to get involved!

Design

WE are looking to expand our community of qualified production staff including: Costume Designers (preference for applicants w/ apparel design & garment making experience); Lighting Designers; Production Managers; Stage Managers; Properties Masters; Carpenters; and Go-get-em all-purpose production team members! We are hosting two days of production staff “speed-dating” as an opportunity for company directors to meet with a wide range of skilled and experienced theatre designers and technicians. Sessions are 20 minutes each, scheduled on the half hour. By appointment only.

DATES & LOCATIONS: 

Wednesday 1/8/14 12-3pm, East Bay location near Bart (TBA)

This “speed dating” is akin to an informational interview. Extended interviews with candidates for 2014 projects will be scheduled by invitation.

REQUIRED:  Send resume to we@weplayers.org. Please include a brief personal statement and note why you are interested in working with We Players and/or engaging in site-specific performance.  Please list all your available times in order of preference and we will do our best to accommodate. Please explore our website and familiarize yourself with our artistic practice before responding. Our site-integrated work is very unique and unlike traditional theatre experiences. Projects take place in a wide range of Bay Area settings, usually outdoors and in direct relationship with the elements. Our work is for the hardy of spirit and body, it is intense and immersive.

We Players featured in American Theatre Magazine’s July 2013 cover story on immersive theatre

American-Theatre-magazine

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.”

We 2012 Update

odymisc

2012 was an exciting year! We  received our 501(c)3 status, and produced two full-scale shows in two dramatic Bay Area locations. We Players is currently exploring myths and researching histories of the San Francisco Bay as we begin to develop a new work, in partnership with San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park.  And we are also pulling out our notes, starting to engage our creative team, and otherwise bubbling our cauldron for our first remount – Macbeth at Fort Point, which will be performed in September – October 2013. We have exciting staff, volunteer and intern opportunities for all projects and company operations.

Announcing WE’s Collaboration with playwright Daniel Heath

Daniel Heath

We are excited to collaborate with local playwright Daniel Heath, in the creation of a NEW work, designed and built specifically for this site! (premiere date TBD) 

Through historical research, ensemble based practices, interviews with people living in close relationship to the sea, and of course – intimate engagement with the site, We Players produces thought-provoking, site-integrated theatre productions on the dynamic floating stages at Hyde Street Pier and along the local waterfront.

Our connection to the past can be felt in the wood planks of the ships, heard in the clang of the buoy bells, visualized in the lines twisted into coils on the docks. We spin yarns alongside the boat shop, while present day shipwrights employ traditional techniques. Nearby, fishing boats line up to deliver their catch and ferries await their passengers, still traveling the waters of the bay. Because of our deep commitment to partnership and strong working relationship with the park site stewards, our performances not only utilize the spectacular site, but also highlight the rich history and current programming of the park.

Myths of the Mariner and the Muse

Myth

We Players’ MYTHS of the MARINER and the MUSE is an ongoing project taking a variety of performance forms on the historic ships located at Hyde Street Pier, the lagoon, and the surrounding environs of Aquatic Park.  We Players is proud to partner with San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in the first cooperative agreement of it’s kind between an arts non-profit and a National Park Service site.  This five year agreement officially began in August 2012 and will continue through 2017.

To date, projects at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park include a sailing production of The Odyssey (inspired by Homer’s ancient epic), aboard the scow schooner Alma (2011); Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, while cavorting along the pier and aboard both the full-rigged ship Balclutha and the steam-powered ferry boat Eureka (2012); and intimate sea-inspired story sharing aboard Eureka (2012).

In 2013 we will produce a series of music concerts, under the music direction of Charlie Gurke.

We Players Partners with SF Maritime National Historical Park

SFMNPA_logo

We Players is proud to partner with San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in the first cooperative agreement of it’s kind between an arts non-profit and a National Park Service site.  This five year agreement officially began in August 2012 and will continue through 2017.  Our MYTHS of the MARINER and the MUSE will continue in a variety of performance forms on the historic ships located at Hyde Street Pier, the lagoon, and the surrounding environs of Aquatic Park. 

To date, projects at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park include a sailing production of The Odyssey (inspired by Homer’s ancient epic), aboard the scow schooner Alma (2011); Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, while cavorting along the pier and aboard both the full-rigged ship Balclutha and the steam-powered ferry boat Eureka (2012); and intimate sea-inspired story sharing aboard Eureka (2012).