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

Crew Spotlight: JD Durst

“glass of fashion and the mould of form”

-Ophelia, Hamlet

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We’re so thrilled to spotlight our amazing JD Durst. JD has been doing incredible work for us for years! You saw his leather work in the belts and holsters in Romeo and Juliet, his prop artistry in Caesar’s cart, and now his weapons and leather expertise in Undiscovered Country. Working with someone who has such expansive knowledge and such artistry is a joy. Hear what JD has to say about working with We!

What was your first show with We?
2010’s Hamlet on Alcatraz

How would you describe working with We in 4 words?
Fresh, empowering, rewarding, intriguing

Describe your favorite We Players memory. 
The exploration of Grendel’s plight in BEOWULF.

What is your favorite thing about working on Undiscovered Country?
The fact Bingo (the dog) gets to visit the set.

What has been surprising about this process? 
It comes as no surprise that everything is met with a welcoming warmth and acceptance.

Don’t miss JD’s beautiful work in Undiscovered Country!
Only 4 performances left! 

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Crew Spotlight: Brooke Jennings

“By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon”

-Ophelia, Hamlet

Spotlight on our resident costume designer and frequent collaborator, Brooke Jennings!

The costumes in a show are not only an integral part of the audience’s experience but also of the actors. They shape the character from the inside out! Hear from Brooke about her experience working with We and check out her note in the Undiscovered Country program about the special We Players paisley!

Brooke Jennings

What was your first show with We?

Ondine at Sutro, in 2015

How would you describe working with We in 4 words?

Expansive, Detailed, Grounded

Describe your favorite We Players memory.

Sharing the We experience with a new audience member always leads to my most cherished moments. So in that vein, I’ll share an extra special moment with you all.

My partner, Cole, and I first started dating during Romeo and Juliet at Petaluma Adobe. He had yet to see a We Players Show at this point (I know!), so naturally he was my date on opening night. The show begins in the usual We flurry; gun shots, leather clad rancheros, and the audience looking on with our canteens of wine and napsacks of cheese and crackers. The bells ring in the distance and it’s time for the Ball! We are all given black lace masks; I help Cole tie his and he helps me with mine. To the sound of trumpets, we dance in the middle of the courtyard in the beautiful hills of Petaluma with the actors, staff, fellow audience members, and each other. We laughed, fumbled, and sealed our small moment with a kiss just before Romeo and Juliet lock eyes for the first time.

What is your favorite thing about working on Undiscovered Country?

The expansive quality of We shows usually requires my work to draw and hold audiences attention against roaring cliff sides, sweltering trails, and dense forests. No easy feat given the stunning natural beauty of our performance sites! And while I am deeply grateful for the gift of nature in our shows, this production feels much more distilled. It is a concentrated version of We shows, allowing me to explore detail and precision in the work.

What has been surprising about this process?

The Paisley Research! It’s so satisfying when you stumble onto a treasure chest like this one. The history and story fits so well into our aesthetic for this piece and I learned so much delicious information about a subject I hadn’t really considered before. [Read more about the paisleys in the Undiscovered Country program guide]

Also, pocket soup! Look up a recipe, it’s a real cowboy treat!

Don’t miss Brooke’s costumes in Undiscovered Country- the final four performances are here, so get your ticket today!



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!

Step right up and behold!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! 

Caesar returns home from battle and the villagers are flocking to the Concourse Maximus to celebrate her victory. News spreads fast in Rome and the streets are on fire with all the local celebrities gathering for the feast of Lupercal. Don't miss their amazing feats of strength and seduction! 

Our glorious leader Julius Caesar has won another stunning victory against the enemies of Rome! It all began when former ally Pompey the Great objected to Caesar’s new title of Dictator-For-Life. Pompey, a Senator, put together a striking team of wealthy and stylish Romans, including the hometown favorite Marcus Brutus. But Pompey never had a chance against the greatest general in the known world. Caesar is merciful, and after the ferocious pounding, she forgave her beloved Brutus! Caesar may be getting that crown after all. You heard it here! Happy endings really do happen.

In other news, Cinna the Poet has been spotted singing outside Caesar’s window at all hours of the night. “Caesar loves me well” the well known street singer admitted to yours truly, “I have a new song coming soon, O Cesare!” Caesar’s wife Calpurnia declined to comment at this time, although she did have good words for the patent medicine she’s been popping: “keeps the organs youthful!” affirms the soon-to-be Empress of Rome.

Are the rumors true? Does domestic disharmony dwell in the Brutus household? Gossips whisper that Rome’s favorite senator has been keeping to himself, taking long walks late into the night. What does his little lady Portia get up to when the noble Roman is not around?

Speaking of Noble Romans, the well given Caius Cassius has pledged a thousand drachmas to repair the defaced statue of Pompey at the Capitol. A risky move from the normally cautious gentleman. Sources have spotted him behind pillars having shadowy conversations with Rome’s elite. What could the senator be up to?

Rome’s most eligible Bachelor Marc Antony has announced he will lead the festivities at the Feast of the Lupercal. “This will be a traditional Lupercalia” insists Antony.  Know for his lavish parties, the carrouser continued, “But we’ll also have some fun!” Antony has climbed the ladder of Roman Politics with ease, recently named Master of the Horse. That’s second in line to Caesar!

If this year’s Feast of the Lupercal is anything like last year’s, all of Rome will be in their best attire, some of them will climb on rooftops, and a small fringe may turn violent and burn several buildings. Remember to vote Caesar in the next election! 

 

From the Editor's Desk: Caesar Maximus is infused with 19th century popular entertainments of circus and opera, and the glitz and glitter of modern Imperialism echoes it's ancestry in ancient Rome. Is it any wonder? The wheel of fortune spins, time comes round...


CAESAR MAXIMUS at The Music Concourse

Thursdays-Sundays now through September 30

Step right up and get your ticket to a show you'll never forget!

"Time has come round" - CAESAR MAXIMUS previews begin tomorrow!

CAESAR MAXIMUS: A show not to be missed, folks!

Experience Julius Caesar as you never have before, at The Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park, surrounded by iconic San Francisco landmarks.

Don’t take our word for it, get a taste of our Rome in this sneak preview!

Get your tickets before they’re gone!
http://weplayers.org/caesar-maximus-2018

Be our hero - help GUARD ROME

"LET LUCIUS AND TITINIUS GUARD OUR DOOR"

-Brutus, Julius Caesar

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We Players is seeking security warrior/ stuff guardians for CAESAR MAXIMUS.

The job is simple but VITAL! We've had some valuable production elements stolen in some recent break-ins and need a volunteer to stand watch (or sit watch, up to you) for us during the performance. 

Bring a book and snacks and chill while vigilantly watching our production vehicle and storage container (they have fun names like Animo and Momoco)! Your post will be in the parking lot behind the bandshell in the Music Concourse at Golden Gate Park. The lot is safe for people, but not so much for props. It's lit and night will only just be falling as the show ends. There is foot and vehicle traffic as well. 

We just want to communicate to potential thieves that we are watching. Your mere presence will prevent crime! 

Work as many or as few shifts as you like, we're happy to have your help! You'll receive a complimentary ticket to the show for every shift you work, plus you'll totally have our undying gratitude!

We so appreciate your enthusiasm to support our work.  Thank you! 

-We Players

CAESAR MAXIMUS takes place at The Music Concourse,
Thursdays- Sundays August 16 - September 30. 

Spotlight on: Micael Bogar

 
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We are proud to introduce Micael Bogar! Roman Women is Micael's debut with We Players, and we are so happy to have her wit, depth, and collaborative spirit.

Here's what Micael had to say about the process:

Q: What's been the most profound aspect of working on Roman Women?
A: Feminist theatre so often goes into what's wrong with society and how women are unequal in so many ways. While this play certainly has a lens to that, this play also stands on its own two feet as a piece of bad ass theatre. The physicality, language, relationships, musicality, and space make it a damn good piece of theatre that was created by women and is performed by women. What's more feminist than that?

Q: What's been the most surprising part of the process?
A: The wind. It's so windy and cold. If you're coming, dress for the arctic. It's cold outside at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Q: Do you have a funny memory of the process?
A: There's been a lot of laughter and some tears too, throughout the process. The funniest memory was when we were exploring bird bodies in a studio space and we turned into a pack of vultures and descended onto a bathroom. We shredded this handful of paper towels. It was intense. Wasteful to the environment, but seriously intense. I guess you had to be there.

Q: Why should people attend Roman Women?
A: Getting to spend two hours (if dressed appropriately) at the Palace of Fine Arts is reason enough, its a beautiful beautiful venue. That coupled with the music in the show is even more of a plus. And then when it comes to the actual show, there's a lot to explore in terms of the power of ritual, the power of women's voices, the power of seeing and being seen. There's orgasms, there's blood, there's a birth canal. I mean...ya....

Q: What makes Roman Women relevant?
A: We've taken the text of an old well-known Shakespeare play and turned it on its head. We've shaken it and seen what's left standing. We've done this with a feminist lens and our hope is that you will never experience the roles of women in Shakespeare plays the same way again.

Don't miss Micael in Roman Women, extended by popular demand through June 3rd. Get your tickets now!
http://www.weplayers.org/roman-women-2018

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

2018 Has Launched!

Thank you for helping to ring in our 2018 season in style! We are grateful for your presence and participation, your warmth and whimsy. Together we reached our fundraising goal; we truly couldn’t do it without your incredible generosity. Check out these fun shots from the party and our Photo Booth of the Republic. You all looked stunning!

Save the Date - the We Players 2018 Season Launch Party is coming

Party Like it's 44 BC!

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Join We Players on the Ides of March
 at The General's Residence to celebrate the launch of our upcoming season.
Get the first taste of 2018...

Come out in celebration of art and community and meet some of the Roman Women who will inhabit The Palace of Fine Arts this spring! 

Help us imagine new worlds and transform precious public places into inspired landscapes where tales of antiquity marry our own cultural reality. 

Join us at
We Players' 2018 Season Launch Party
March 15, 7pm-10pm
at the General's Residence,
Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture,
San Francisco

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A Look Back at 2017

We in your Words

With Mother Lear, you told us that you experienced:

“A powerful sense of Love.”
“The universality of the loss of control in the face of aging, death, and grief.”
“A passion in the text that I never knew was there.”
Loss, grief, fear, life, humor, family
“Beautiful, tiny moments of familial love.”
“Immediate and visceral humanity”

 
And you shared personal discoveries:
“I feel like I could talk about this for 20 hours.”
“It’s not one conversation, you talk about this your whole life.”
“I felt everyone stop and be still like the trees around us.”
“You don’t have to be suffering from Alzheimer’s to be speaking your own language and not be understood.”



Earlier this year, you couldn’t get enough of our very sexy and silly romp in the woods!

You told us that Midsummer of Love made you feel:
          "Amused, intrigued, alive"
                 "Delighted, transported, charmed, enchanted, amused, and amazed"
                                                             "Excited, curious and enthralled"
                                       “Transported”
          “Uplifted"
                           "Grateful for such talented and innovative theater.”
             “Amazed, invigorated.”
                                                 “Reaffirmed my love of my favorite play”


Our collaboration with Rova quartet and ink Boat in BEOWULF inspired lyrical and poetic reactions:

  “Hauntingly well-hewn. Led me... into the chilling folds of my subconscious fears and our collective monstrosities.”  

“At the end of the work I was born from the darkness of the Mead Hall into the crisp night with newfound caution for our times, empathy for our monsters, and a sense of belonging in the ancient cycle of forgetting, fearing, fighting, mourning, and forgetting again.” 

                       “The haunting sounds enveloped my innards at their core, leaving me wanting for more.”

“I felt like we were collectively mourning for our country, mourning for our fallen humanity that has departed from nature, from instinct, from listening.”

                                 “A musical score like none any of us has likely ever heard nor will long forget.”


Thanks for your enthusiastic words and for your support of our work in 2017! Can’t wait to see you in 2018!

Our 5th annual Canciones del Mar concert was a dream!

"THE SACRED RADIANCE OF THE SUN"

- King Lear

Our 5th annual Canciones del Mar concert was a dream. Thank you dancers, listeners, and stellar musicians! 

Photos: ACT OUT Photography, Jim Norrena

Photos: ACT OUT Photography, Jim Norrena

A standing ovation for the jaw-dropping sunset streaking resplendent colors across the sky, melting everything into liquid gold, and slipping off into violet clouds. 

Big thanks to our friends at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and to the warm wooden embrace of ferryboatEureka. We'll be back! 

Meantime, the songs of el pulpo (the octopus) y el calamar (the squid), of sailboats and canoes and the teasing love affair of the waves against the sand, murmur in our memories...

Photo: Lauren Matley

Photo: Lauren Matley


Mother Lear starts this weekend with private home performances in SF and San Anselmo!

On opening weekend you can find mama Lear on the roof of a dramatic SOMA warehouse, surrounded by the urban jungle, as well as amongst live oaks upon a golden hilltop. 

Be sure to catch We Players' trademark exterior open space performances of Mother Lear in the South Bay at Montalvo Arts Center, and in San Francisco at the beautifully expansiveMcLaren Park. Find unique intimate performances under The Sukkah at The Jewish Community Center East Bay, and at other spectacular private residences around the Bay Area.

Nick Medina: nominated for Outstanding Male Actor in a featured role

The 2017 Theatre Bay Area Awards ceremony arrives on October 30th and We Players is nominated for eight (eight!) awards for our recent productions of Romeo & Juliet, BEOWULF, and Midsummer of Love.

For Midsummer of Love, Nick Medina was nominated for Outstanding Male Actor in a featured role. This is especially impressive given that Nick gallantly stepped in with three days of rehearsal! Congratulations, Nick, and thank you. And a big shout out to Nathaniel Justiniano, who originated the role!



Photos by Lauren Matley

We Players lands 8 Theatre Bay Area Awards nominations

The 2017 Theatre Bay Area Awards ceremony arrives on October 30th and We Players is nominated for eight (eight!) awards for our recent productions of Romeo & Juliet, BEOWULF, and Midsummer of Love.

For BEOWULF, Yoshi Asai is nominated for Outstanding Properties Design, Allen Willner for his Outstanding Lighting Design, and Maria Chenut for her Outstanding Costume Design! Congratulations!

Photos: Lauren Matley

HEAR THE SONGS OF THE SEA

Canciones del Mar pulls into port in just ten days!
Saturday, 9/23, 6:30pm

We Players' Music Director, Charlie Gurke

We Players' Music Director, Charlie Gurke

Come celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at Canciones del Mar, aboard Eureka, the 1890 side-wheel paddle steamboat at Hyde Street Pier.

Have a listen to La Piragua, from Canciones del Mar!

Join our "Captain's Club"! 
Any donation to We Players made between now and 9/23 in the amount of just $10 or more puts you in the Captain's Club!

We're delighted to offer complimentary  Canciones del Mar drinks to our Captain's Club members.

Please note: We can not accept any donations on-site at the event and drinks will not be available for purchase.

So wet your bosun's whistle and join the Captain's Club today!