King Fool's Treasure

As part of our King Fool events, we gathered with our audiences for conversations after each performance.  King Fool’s content sparked discussions about many related topics: elders and dying, caring for people as they move towards death, and how our culture is beginning to incorporate ways to make it a healthier process for everyone. We came away with a number of resources that we are pleased to be able to share with our community.  But this is an incomplete list! Please use the comment feature on this post to add additional resources you’d like to share.
Thank you! -Lauren
 

Hospice of the East Bay Pleasant Hill, CA
Hospice of the East Bay is committed to providing the hospice and palliative care services that support and comfort people and their loved ones through the final stages of life.

Hospice of the East Bay provides compassionate end-of-life care to terminally ill patients, while offering emotional, spiritual, and grief support for the entire family. As a not-for-profit organization, we accept all medically qualified patients, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. We also offer free bereavement services to the entire community. Since 1977, we have served over 20,000 patients and their families.

A Yelp reviewer says:  “I couldn’t imagine a better place for my father-in-law’s final days. It is located in a converted home that completely melds into the rest of a beautiful quiet neighborhood. My father-in-law had his own large room. Staff were attentive, caring, and respectful.

Most of all the beautiful gardens in the back complete with memory stones is so tranquil and peaceful. It still brings me comfort two years later to remember our own memory stone my son and I left for grandpa in that beautiful place.”

Sobonfu Somé, Dagara grieving ritual
Destined from birth to teach the ancient wisdom, ritual and practices of her ancestors to those in the West, Sobonfu, whose name means “keeper of the rituals” travels the world on a healing mission sharing the rich spiritual life and culture of her native land Burkina Faso, which ranks as one of the world’s poorest countries yet one of the richest in spiritual life and custom.

Dagara rituals involve healing and preparing the mind, body, spirit and soul to receive the spirituality that is all around us. “It is always challenging to bring the spiritual into the material world, but it is one of the only ways we can put people back in touch with the earth and their inner values.”

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

Frank Ostaseski and the Metta Institute Sausalito, CA
Metta Institute® was established to provide education on spirituality in dying. Inspired by the Buddhist tradition, we encourage the integration of the spiritual dimensions of living, dying and transformation, through professional training, educational programs and materials.

Our Institute was formed in 2004 as an outgrowth of the Zen Hospice Project (ZHP), nationally recognized as a pioneering model in the movement to improve end-of life care. Our Director, Frank Ostaseski, helped form ZHP in 1987, and guided the program for 17 years.

Currently, the Metta Institute’s primary program is the End-of-Life Practitioner Program. The goal of the innovative training is to establish a national network of educators, advocates and guides for those facing life-threatening illness and the individuals and systems that serve them.

Judith Redwing Keyssar
Judith is the Director of the Palliative Care Program at Seniors at Home, a program of the Jewish Family and Children’s Service in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties. Her book, Last Acts of Kindness (2010), is a collection of her experiences being a self-described “midwife to the dying”—working in both palliative care and end-of-life care and supporting people through their personal dying processes.

Healthy San Francisco
A low-cost health care option for San Franciscans, with elder care protections recently restored via the work of faith groups in the Mission striving for a Covenant of Care

Improv for Alzheimers
Karen Stobbe offers workshops on how to use the tools of improv with people who have dementia.

On NPR's This American Life, Producer Chana Joffe-Walt talks to a woman named Karen Stobbe and her husband Mondy about a plan they’ve recently enacted in their family. Karen’s mother lives with them and she has dementia. Karen and Mondy are actors and they stumbled upon a skill they have that is incredibly useful in communicating with Karen’s mother – improv. You can listen to the story here.  

Advanced Health Care Directives
An “advance health care directive” lets your physician, family and friends know your health care preferences, including the types of special treatment you want or don’t want at the end of life, your desire for diagnostic testing, surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ donation.

By considering your options early, you can ensure the quality of life that is important to you and avoid having your family “guess” your wishes or having to make critical medical care decisions for you under stress or in emotional turmoil. This site by the California Office of the Attorney General offers a helpful checklist and additional resources for assembling your own AHCD.

The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California
The CCCC promotes high-quality, compassionate care for all Californians who are seriously ill or approaching the end of life.

We provide our expertise, tools and resources to families, patients, policy makers and healthcare providers to help ensure that all Californians receive high-quality palliative and end-of-life care. We also lead efforts to train healthcare professionals about Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), as well as cultural diversity and end-of-life care in California. The CCCC helps them develop the skills they need to talk with seriously-ill patients and families facing decisions about goals of care. We work with and support local coalitions throughout the state that provide support and education to healthcare providers and those facing treatment and care decisions.

We bring together people with a passion for increasing access to palliative care to spark growth of community-based palliative care throughout California.

King Fool and Night Walk this Friday

We Players invites our community to join us in a Night Walk through the Mission in advance of our final San Francisco showing of King Fool, this Friday. Our 9/26 event – including performance, conversation and festive closing reception, will begin at 8pm, in a private warehouse just south of Mission Bay. The address will be revealed upon placing your reservation.

One of the things that has come up in our post-performance conversations is the truth that we cannot know when we will die.

Many of us hope that we will be blessed with a full life and well cared for by those we most love as we age and approach death. In our adaptation, Lear is blessed in this way, and yet his story is still heartbreaking.

It is a far greater tragedy for young people to die from violent crime.

The faith communities in the Mission – with whom we shared our opening performance of King Fool, have been making a positive impact in their neighborhood by being present and peaceful.

Our creative team is inspired to connect the timeless themes of death and relationship with current realities and join these communities for this Friday’s Night Walk.

We welcome your participation.

More info below.


For over a year now, several faith communities have been regularly walking some of the more violent streets of the Mission with a simple three-fold message:

 We care
 Stop the violence
 What do you need?

At this next Night Walk we will also celebrate the re-emergence of an important street-intervention organization in our neighborhood. This organization, called CALLES (meaning “Streets”), has been one of the Mission’s most effective organizations reaching high-risk youth. It has been dormant for the last few years, but makes its comeback as part of our next Night Walk.

When: Friday, September 26, 6-7:30pm

Where: Starting with a short ceremony at Instituto Familiar De La Raza (IFR) // 2919 Mission St, SF, CA 94110 and walking to Centro del Pueblo // 474 Valencia St

King Fool Site Notes: San Anselmo

While our gracious site hosts don’t know much about the history of their land specifically, here is some interesting information they shared about the land now known as Sleepy Hollow:

The first recorded history of the Hollow is from 1839. A Mexican land grant was given to Domingo Sais, a soldier at the Presidio is San Francisco. His land consisted of 6,659 acres, including part of San Anselmo, Fairfax, and Sleepy Hollow. Domingo Sais died in 1853 leaving his land to his widow and six children. Sleepy Hollow went to his oldest son Pedro.  

Anson P. Hotaling bought the land in 1887. A wealthy San Franciscan, his son Richard developed a beautiful estate and called it Sleepy Hollow. He built a mansion at the end of Butterfield Road, which reflected his love for the theater. The living room had a stage complete with a Romeo and Juliet balcony. Many plays and Bohemian parties were held there.

It wasn’t always parties in the Hollow, however, in 1939 the golf course closed due to lack of water. For a time during World War II, the U.S. Army occupied part of the Hollow as a secret ammunition storage depot.  Barracks housed 30 men. There were two batteries composed of four-inch antiaircraft cannon manned by five soldiers on a 24 hour basis. One battery was on Stuyvesant Drive and the other on Oak Springs Hill. At war’s end, the Army departed.

Our land was undeveloped before we built our home.  The hills had been used as ranch land, but now lie open with oaks, coyote brush and wild flowers running up to Open Space maintained by Marin County.  The paths around the property were set by the deer.  The coyotes keep our deer population in check.  The turkey vultures clean up the remains.  Leaving us the stage upon which We Players sets King Fool.

Synopsis of Shakespeare's King Lear

The story opens in ancient Britain, where the elderly King Lear is dividing his realm amongst his three daughters: Cordelia, Regan and Goneril. Lear plans to give the largest piece to his favorite, Cordelia, and has devised a public ceremony to assure the loyalty of the various factions. Of the three, Cordelia refuses to engage in Lear’s game. Enraged, Lear disowns Cordelia completely and banishes his dear friend Kent when he intercedes on her behalf. The loyal Kent then disguises himself and returns as a servant who will follow Lear to the end.

Cordelia leaves the court to marry the King of France. Lear and his hundred knights, his beloved fool, and the disguised Kent, go to live with Goneril. This proves disastrous and in a rage Lear abandons Goneril and goes to Regan’s house. Meanwhile, Regan and her husband Cornwall have gone to stay with Gloucester to avoid hosting Lear. It is not long before the two sisters begin plotting to kill their father. Gloucester discovers the cruel plan and rushes to find the King and send him to Dover for protection. Gloucester’s kindness discovered, Regan and Cornwall gouge out Gloucester’s eyes in revenge, then throw him out of his own house to wander blind in the wilderness. Edgar, Gloucester’s son, now disguised as “poor mad Tom”, finds his father and protects him.

Meanwhile, Cordelia has raised an army of French troops to avenge her father and has landed at Dover. Regan and Goneril ready their troops and a battle ensues. Cordelia loses and she and the King are captured. They are sent to jail, but Edmund, Gloucester’s bastard son, has privately sent an order that they be murdered.

Goneril and Regan are both in love with the conniving Edmund. Ferociously jealous, Goneril poisons Regan. But when Goneril discovers that Edmund has been fatally wounded by Edgar, she kills herself as well. As Edmund takes his last breath he repents and the order to execute Cordelia is reversed. But the reversal comes too late and Cordelia is hanged. Lear appears, carrying the body of Cordelia in his arms. Lear’s great suffering is finally relieved, as he too takes his final breath. Kent declares that he will follow his master into the afterlife and Edgar reluctantly receives the crown and the weight of rule.

King Fool Artist Statement

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

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 by John Sutton

Photo by 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.

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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…

-Ava Roy

Photo by John Sutton

Photo by John Sutton

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.