Performer Spotlight: Ava Roy

“My sea-gown scarf'd about me”

-Hamlet

Ava Roy


We caught up with our Artistic Director, Ava Roy, to talk about memories of past work and about Undiscovered Country!

What was your first show with We?
My first show with We Players was Romeo and Juliet in spring 2000. I was a freshman in college and had just turned 20. The performance blasted off in the student union/ cafeteria at high noon with the Montague and Capulet brawl. The audience doubled in size over the course of the performance, as passersby joined the procession and became audience members. We traveled through the campus, using archways, corridors, and other impressive architectural features of the Stanford campus as our backdrop. 
Romeo and Juliet were married in the center of "The Quad" and ultimately were bound to the Burghers of Calais Rodin sculptures with red ribbons as their tomb. I played Juliet. And directed. And made all the costumes. And so on. This was the beginning of We Players and the earliest stages of development of our company philosophy, methodology, and aesthetic!

Four words to describe working with We?
Visceral, demanding, sensational, surprising

Describe a favorite memory working with We.
A favorite memory?! There are too many! 
Here are a few...waiting backstage as Viola at the top of 12th Night. My backstage was a little rowboat, tied up to the schooner Alma. I'd drink tea and huddle in blankets while Captain Tom waited for the walkie-talkie to cue us to row to shore. One day my dad was on the boat with me. That was especially precious. Or maybe waiting backstage as Ondine on the edge of the cliff at Land's End and observing two baby seagulls hatch and fledge over the course of the run. Or perhaps climbing to the top of Angel Island with my brother and listening to the sounds of The Odyssey waft up from around the island and watching the audience procession wind along the perimeter road. Or maybe all the many times and places I've spied on the audience from hidden locations on Alcatraz, and from the tall grasses on the Albany Bulb, or lying on my belly on the balconies at Montalvo or... every site has its secret nooks and unique vantages.

What is your favorite thing about working on Undiscovered Country
My favorite thing about working on Undiscovered Country thus far has been the celerity and ease with which the script has emerged. I am writing it, but it feels more like it is writing itself and I am playing a supporting role. It has felt very organic and surprising from the first draft to the current (fifth ?) draft. My #1 favorite thing is working with this group of collaborators - thoughtful, dedicated, kind, communicative, sincere, and very talented artists one and all.

What has been surprising about the process?
How much I am appreciating the anomaly of walls, electricity, and plumbing! 
Most We Players' performance venues are physically demanding and intense. This is part of the power of these sites, that they ask performers and audience alike to lean into the difficulty of wind and weather, to navigate hills and uneven terrain, and awaken their senses and enjoy heightened awareness. So it's come as a surprise how lovely it is for this rare bird of a show to occur indoors (albeit in a beautiful historic building with its own character and unique qualities), with heat, electricity and a bathroom less than a half mile hike away! Who knew how nice that could be?!



Don’t miss Ava in Undiscovered Country. Only three chances left! 

Photo by Lauren Matley

Performer Spotlight: Chris Steele

“Heart with strings of steel”

-King Claudius, Hamlet

An interview with Undiscovered Country's Chris Steele

We caught up with Chris Steele, who plays Horace in our upcoming production of Undiscovered Country. Here's what they shared about the rehearsal process and about working with We Players.

What was your first show with We?
I played Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet at Petaluma Adobe and Villa Montalvo. I've been enamored with We ever since.

How would you describe working with We in 4 words?
Visceral, Thrilling, Rewarding, Dionysian!

Describe your favorite We Players memory.
During Midsummer of Love, as my co-Puck Britt and I were speaking about summoning the darkness, this MASSIVE bank of fog rolls over the hilltop out of nowhere and plunges down upon us all. I'm still not convinced that we didn't actually cast a fairy spell.

What is your favorite thing about working on Undiscovered Country?
The intimacy of the immersion is unlike anything else I have done with We. It is going to be a treat to be so immediately involved with the audience both in terms of proximity and size. This show is really a special chance to feel like you are spitting distance from real and vital theatre.

What has surprised you during the building of this production?
Honestly, this show has felt magically effortless in its creation in a way no other show has. Ava, Nick, and Hunter are such generous and supportive collaborators so we all keep bouncing ideas off each other and so many of them seem to stick. That kind of synergy is rare!

Don't miss Chris in Undiscovered Country opening next week at San Francisco's Sunnyside Conservatory! Enjoy special low prices on tickets for our Preview performances April 18th & 19th!

Spotlight on: Emily Petrice Stone

 
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It's our great pleasure to introduce you to Emily Petrice Stone! Roman Women is Emily's first production with us and we are so glad to have her! We caught up with Emily to ask her a few questions about the piece and its process. Here's what she had to say:

Q: What's been your favorite aspect of working on Roman Women?

A: Working in the Palace after dark, when the stars come out and the lights come on! Or rehearsing while facing out onto the lake and witnessing a swan or night heron doing its thing, grooming itself and bobbing out on the water.

Q: What's been the most surprising part of the process?

A: How much the space itself influences the development of the piece. This is the first full-length devised piece I’ve been a part of, and it’s also a site-specific piece. The Palace of Fine Arts shapes the production in fascinating and unexpected ways.

Q: Do you have a funny or amusing memory of the process?

A: All of the women in our ensemble are hilarious. They make me laugh every day. So much raunchy humor.

Q: Why should people attend Roman Women?

A: You can bask in the majesty of a landmark of San Francisco, while experiencing a unique and thoughtful piece of theater that strives to do the space justice!

Q: What makes Roman Women relevant?

A: The female experience in the last 2,000 years has changed and certainly improved, but we are still grappling with many of the same questions, the same demons, the same barriers. Roman Women follows the thread that unites women of today with women of the Roman Republic.

Don't miss Emily in Roman Women running through May 28th only! http://www.weplayers.org/roman-women-2018

Photo by Lauren Matley
Costumes by Brooke Jennings

BEOWULF Cast Spotlight: Steve Adams

We Players fans may remember Steve of Rova Saxophone Quartet from our 2015 production of HEROMONSTER. He's one of five musicians in our current production and we think he's just great! We caught up with Steve and asked him a few questions about the process. 

Check back to learn more about our other collaborators and see Steve live in our upcoming production of BEOWULF March 18-April 16

Photo: Lauren Matley

Photo: Lauren Matley

Describe your experience of  BEOWULF's collaborative process. How is it similar or different from past projects/ experiences?

Steve: Rova's last experience of being part of a theatrical production was for A.C.T.'s 1992 production of Antigone, directed by Carey Perloff and starring Elizabeth Peña and a young Wendell Pierce. The music was composed by David Lang of Bang on a Can. We were placed in black boxes at the two ends of the balcony, completely out of sight of the audience. So the experience was extremely different from Beowulf, where we are fully participating, onstage members of the production and co-creators of the music. This is a much more gratifying way to be part of the process, having (and receiving) creative input on all aspects of the play.

Share a favorite artistic experience: Why/ how did it impact you, affect your life, your work afterwards?

Steve: When I was in high school, my parents took me to several seasons of varied culture events, which included a production of Samuel Beckett's play Krapp's Last Tape. It was so far outside of my experience of, well, anything, that I think it made me aware of the possibilities of art that goes beyond the boundaries of what has come before, and that has been with me ever since then.

You can catch Steve (plus four other saxophone players!) in BEOWULF
Tickets on sale now! http://www.weplayers.org/beowulf-2017

Photo: Lauren Matley