2014 Reflections

“We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have.
Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
 – Henry James



A quick recap: we rallied after the effects of the 2013 Government Shut Down and re-activated our stunning Macbeth at Fort Point, we brought the joyous Canciones del Mar back to the tall ship Balclutha and the provocative and entrancing Vessels for Improvisation back to the ferry boat Eureka (both vessels at Hyde Street Pier); we experimented with roving site-based performance with King Fool, our two-person distillation of King Lear, and we spent five fruitful weeks immersed in rehearsal for our sailing production of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Shortly before the expected opening performance of Rime on Halloween, we confronted the challenge of discerning between radically compromising the vision and honoring the core artistic integrity of the piece. We chose the latter. We trust this will lead us to a resplendent fully realized production in due time.

In just a few short months we launch our fabulous annual dinner theatre gala (February 28, save the date!) and then dive into rehearsals for our newest site-integrated colossus: a sprawling and gorgeous Ondine at Sutro. Meanwhile, as the days curl with surprising quickness into cozy darkness, and the crisper chill of autumn air carries us into cave of winter, we embrace this seasonal shift as an opportunity for reflection and envisioning what dreams may come…

In truth, this task of self-reflection is an ongoing and ever-present part of our practice within We Players. Though sometimes confusing and always challenging, to me, these questions are essential, like bread and water.

* Why make art? * What’s the core purpose? * Who is it for? * What’s the intention of a work? * Why does it matter? * What do I have to share that is truly of value? * What do I want to see more of in the world? * How can I contribute to that? * How do we achieve maximum and meaningful impact with our work? * How does our art support the expansion and elevation of the human spirit? *


This fall, as I engage with these impossible and crucial questions, I find myself peering back into the mists of spring 2000 when We Players was born, and still more questions bubble up.

* Why did I form We Players? What were my questions then? What were my intentions then?

What were the foundational inspirations and principles guiding the work then? Which are still true now? Which have changed? What have I forgotten that is still essential and must be remembered? Why site-specific work? Why participatory? Why Shakespeare? What’s the role of ritual in making theatre? Why We Players?

Through these questions we continually stretch and strengthen our established practice (our methodologies, intentions, aesthetic and purpose), which enlivens public place, challenges the intellect, stretches the capacity for feeling and empathy, and elevates the spirit.

2015 is just around the bend! In addition to Ondine at Sutro in the spring, we’ll be opening the first of several visual art exhibitions at the SF Maritime Museum in February, sharing a series of dynamic presentations at the newly opened Officer’s Club in the Presidio throughout the year, and announcing a still-secret smaller scale work at a surprise location in the fall.

I look forward to sharing with you thrilling performances, rich with moments of shocking beauty, charged with vital questions and bright with both expansive natural vistas and the radiance of the human spirit. 


Ava Roy

Artistic Director, We Players

Fair Winds

Dear Friends,

Since you are here reading this post, THANK YOU for visiting We Players’ new website. I’m excited to provide more regular updates about our work and play, and to invite your participation with this new web-interface.

On this occasion, I’d like to tell you a little story. Okay? It’s short, but have a cup of tea and sit with me for a few. In November of 2008 I visited Alcatraz for the first time. Now, nearly three years later, I feel like pieces of the island are embedded in me, and I know we have left our own quiet trails throughout the island’s disparate terrain. Prior to the big adventure on Alcatraz – I went to sea. First crewing on a 36′ Tartan sloop, the “Wild Rose” with a wonderful female captain, and somewhere in southern Mexico switched ships to a 38′ Yorktown called “Fandango”. The captain, myself and Fandango crossed 3400 nautical miles to reach the verdant green shores of Hilo, Hawaii. There I bathed in fresh, sweet water for the first time in weeks and feasted on fruit after the extended lapse sans fresh food. Astounding really, how absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, but more appreciative and able to taste and savor familiar things as completely new. Something to consider in my art making I believe – how to keep the work alive, breathing, fresh, constantly growing and changing. Not to settle into patterns or old tricks, but continually find new flavors and hues. Upon returning to California, I found that the sea had helped me drop into a deep space of quiet and focus, which has supported me through these challenging two years on Alcatraz.


Up until this island, this Rock, this series of performances and outreach projects, We Players has been somewhat sporadic. Well, that’s not quite it. But the company has had to trail in the wake of a gypsy wandering leader. Each of my adventure travels has served the work in some way – providing inspiration for an upcoming project, or just quieting my soul so that I could rise to the task of creating monumental productions with very little resources. Still, 2010 marked both the 10 year celebration of being on this path and was also something of a test for me. Does the world want this work? Shall I continue striving to create these productions? Will I be able to better support myself and my collaborators through the work? Will we become financially more solvent? Do people want to play with We Players? Shall I take not only the next step…but a flying leap into a new decade?

The response to Hamlet on Alcatraz, and the personal progress I felt throughout the creation of that show, gave me a resounding YES. And so – welcome to We Players second decade. There are no bounds – only the expansive, ever extending horizon where the sea’s lips kiss the sky’s cheek.

Thank you for sailing along with WE.


Oh, and postscript: None of this would exist if it were not for ALL of WE. All of you who come to experience the work and boldly join us on the performance journey. All of you who have worked with me, have given so much of your time, your talent, your spirits to manifest each collosal creation. Donald, Elissa, and Brandon, who I will unabashedly admit are my bedrock and my heart’s greatest loves. And Lauren Dietrich Chavez, without whom WE would not be rising on such strong and peaceful wings. I am honored to hold your hand and walk with you, Lauren.