2 weekends of BEOWULF remain - catch it while you can!

-John S

Photo by Lauren Matley

Photo by Lauren Matley

Think for a minute about what it would be like to have no light, only total darkness.
What a candle would mean to you…

We expect this work to challenge... it is unlike any other We Players' production to date. We invite you to journey into strange new territory and to release expectation of the usual.

"The performers labour and labour for the audience; every welling of laughter and emotion in me felt wrought from determined and sacrificing humans." - Colin S

It is a fever-dream of memory and forgetting, a ritual that will both include your participation and leave you suspended in the shadows...

"Charlie Gurke, Jon Raskin, Larry Ochs, Bruce Ackley, and Steve Adams clothed in their own versions of early Middle Ages furs, hides, and rough robes become an integral part of the storytelling, offering a musical score like none any of us has likely ever heard nor will long forget." -Theatre Eddys

BEOWULF has only 2 weekends remaining.
Join us before it’s too late!

The journey begins at sunset
at the SF Maritime Museum.
Only through April 16. 

Wrestle with humanity and monstrosity under the stunning expanse of the sky and in the warm embrace of our mead hall. 

BEOWULF Cast Spotlight: Larry Ochs

A killer saxophonist and all around great guy, Larry is another of Rova's founding members. We love collaborating with him; when you see his answers, we think you'll understand why!


Have there been any specific challenges or funny/interesting stories working outside and in the chapel for BEOWULF?


  • Never have played before with a flagpole sticking to my back and the bay winds whipping around the flag on that pole, which is kind of knocking me to the left or right or backwards as I’m trying to focus on playing the music. 
  • One of the greatest perks of all time; walking in costume down towards the stairs to the bay and enjoying the view west to Golden Gate Bridge just before each show starts
  • Very much enjoying the exchange of sound between the two conch players, as there is what seems to be a long delay between Jon’s conch sound on land and the reply from Albert out in the bay.
  • Also digging the symphony of ambient sounds wafting around us as we perform outside. There is the challenge of hearing our cue at The Battery event to come wailing out of hiding. Ava plays this bell -  slowly- until the time we are to rise up; then quickly; that’s the cue.. But yesterday there was an off-shore bell that sounded exactly like our own, and discerning between the two amongst the recorded music from one direction and the fog horn from another, and the wind… yeah; a challenge but all of it in fun...
  • Except yesterday maybe, when some guy threw a bottle over the wall that i am hiding behind and playing. It smashed a good distance from me, but did make me a bit paranoid as he and his cohorts were just a bit inebriated, and thus seemed capable of sending more projectiles over the wall. Did not happen… all’s well that ends well.
  • The weather!  This we expected to be our big challenge, even renting an entire set of saxophones for the outdoor portion of the piece; obtaining ponchos to cover ourselves and the saxophones; having an entire set of alternate capes created for the outdoor shows in the rain which we could discard upon arrival at the chapel for the longer more intimate and intense  indoor part of the show. But somehow through all that rain in February we never got wet. And now the weather seems turned completely beautiful; spring is here... Knock wood!

Beowulf in four words?


Share a favorite artistic experience- how did it impact you and affect your life and work afterwards?

Larry: There are so many...

  • Stumbling out of a Fugs’ concert in the East Village in summer 1966, rounding the corner and seeing a sign for John Coltrane at the Village Gate. walking in for the 2nd set and listening with an audience of maybe 2 dozen. Quite likely less. Never had experienced anything that intense in such a small space.
  • Stumbling out of my tent on Monday morning, early, to find with my ears that someone was still playing music, even though the festival- Woodstock- should have ended about midnight; some 7 hours before that. It was Hendrix, whom I had seen live before. But what he was doing that morning, the part I saw, was off the charts.
  • Art Ensemble of Chicago in Berkeley in 1973 or 74. By this time I was committed to the avant garde, and this concert confirmed that the direction I was headed was the right one for me. 
  • Diamanda Galas at Moers Jazz Festival 1981. Her debut in Europe. 5000- as in ‘five thousand’- wet audience members... it had been raining all weekend at this outdoor festival, but more and more people showed up each day anyway. You know: well known avant garde jazz groups played this festival. But on this Saturday afternoon, safe to say that almost no one familiar with Diamanda’s music was out there in the audience. She’s there to sing solo; no support onstage. And she has complicated tech; and it’s 1981, and she can’t explain how it works technically; her normal tech person was not flown in. The festival engineer comes up to me almost crying…”can you help? I don’t know what she wants, but whatever that is,  it’s not working.”
  • Diamanda standing resolutely behind her microphone in a raincoat adamantly shaking her head;  the concert does not start- for about an hour- and by then the audience is yelling at her to start; the engineer is throwing up his hands from the control booth situated out in the audience; and I know she’s about to ‘play’ something quite unlike the normal fare delivered… And yet, when she finally gets what she needs onstage,  she walks offstage, to more boos, and returns without the raincoat and DELIVERS. Solo, no help, for an hour. Completely wins over this hostile, miserably-wet crowd. A tour-de-force of performance power. Taught me some things I’ve never forgotten.
  • Hearing John Cage and David Tudor et al, creating music for the Merce Cunningham Dance Troupe. That first time stands out in a huge crowd of major concerts that set my mind off and helps me solve my own creative problems..

a HEROMONSTER reflection

An audience member and new volunteer with We Players took time to share some impressions from her HEROMONSTER experience with us. We think this is so thoughtfully composed, that you might like to read it too! Thanks, Geneva!

Photo by Lauren Matley

Photo by Lauren Matley

HEROMONSTER’s only two actors opened the doors to the mead hall in the interior of the Chapel at Fort Mason and welcomed the audience into the space. We Players’ mead hall had food and real mead and ale on offer. The show itself was a mix of battles and fellowship, disjointed attacks and assists. During the show, the actors played both friend and foe, both ally and enemy to the other. With tenderness, brutality, and extreme physicality – framed in the Chapel with its beautiful stained glass windows and the chilly autumn air outside – HEROMONSTER brought forth difficult questions about the practice of kindness and severity in the distant past and the tangible present. Dressed in rags and meeting each eye, the performers laid these questions before every audience member to face if they could. Each moment was either warm or cold or frightening, and no member of the audience was free to leave without the challenge and discomfort of witnessing both loving and abusive intimacy between strangers.

HEROMONSTER pulled the epic Beowulf out of the shadows of space and time and introduced a modern perspective that has the power to change what we understand to be “heroic” or “monstrous.” Heroism as defined by old texts often describes strength and ruthlessness in a time when you would die without them. With the intimacy of the action and the continuity of the setting, We Players makes the epic relatable while still deconstructing the traditional understanding of its meaning.

The rustic mead hall setting, simple costumes, and haunting accompaniment helped revive the sense of wildness and danger beyond the walls of the mead hall, feelings we relate to less in our modern world but that help to remind us of the base moments in which these concepts of “hero” and “monster” were born and given life via story as a means to prepare for and survive in the harsh northern world. With that world as a seamless part of our own HEROMONSTER experience, the advent of heroism and monstrosity are pulled apart from the confusion many of us found in Beowulf. HEROMONSTER asked relevant questions about what our understanding of heroism and monstrosity are today, how each can exist and operate unnoticed by many people. HEROMONSTER came up into my face and asked me, “Have our definitions after all these centuries remained so much the same that we no longer recognize true heroism and monstrosity?”

Photo by Lauren Matley

Photo by Lauren Matley

While HEROMONSTER was indeed a divergence from We Players’ usual large-scale, outdoor performance, it was a show still fully committed to exploring new boundaries for the company and its audience. We Players delivered a grand experience in which the actors participated in exactly what the show asks of their audience: willingness to try something new even when it is uncomfortable, something that values thorough examination of the self and how we choose to behave and treat each other as fellow humans.

– Geneva Redmond