Fall is traditionally the opening of new seasons of theatre, opera, and other performing arts. This fall in San Antonio is also a productive time for local playwrights, whose scripts are being seen all over town, and indeed, all over the country.
Jump-Start theatre, whose works are always originals by company members, opens I’ll Remember For You by company member Lisa Suarez next weekend.
I’ll Remember For You (Yo Me Acuerdo Por Ti) is a new bilingual theater production depicting a Mexican-American woman’s experiences, feelings and thoughts surrounding her mother’s dementia and memory loss. In this courageous, deeply personal and unsentimental look at the role of the caregiver in this growing epidemic, Suarez brings her own life with her aging mother to the stage. She writes about – and portrays – her mother with humor and respect, love and frustration, fear, sadness and celebration. Laurie Dietrich directs.
Performance dates are September 17 – 26, 2010, Friday & Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 students and seniors, $10 for groups of 10 or more.
Sunday, September 19, 2010, performance will be followed by a post-show community conversation about aging, caregiving & the growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s.
Rancho Pancho, by local playwright Gregg Barrios, is a delightfully decadent love story about Tennessee Williams’ turbulent love affair with Pancho Rodriguez, that also got its first full production at Jump-Start.
The script was born and nurtured in San Antonio, and now is getting productions around the country. Commissioned with a Ford Foundation Grant, the first act of the play was read at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in 2005. In 2006 I produced a reading of a completed script at The Church Theatre in King William.
After re-writing and tweaking, we took the Church Theatre cast to the New Orleans Tennessee Williams Festival in 2007 in a semi-staged reading at the French Quarter’s Le Petit Theatre. From that reading, the show was invited to participate in the 2008 Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown, Mass, provided it was a staged play and not a reading. Barrios did more re-writing, I did more directing to create a fully-staged production, and with a new cast we opened Rancho Pancho at Jump-Start Performance Co in September, 2008, to a sold-out house. As a co-production of Jump-Start and our newly formed Classic Theatre of San Antonio, we took the show to Provincetown, where it received both critical and popular success.
The script of Rancho Pancho, as presented in P-town, was subsequently published by Hansen Publishing of New Jersey and is available on Amazon.com.
Rancho Pancho will open in Phoenix in the Metropolitan Arts Theatre, 1700 N. 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85007-1760, Oct 2, and plays Oct 8-16, 7:30 p.m. Produced by Teatro Bravo, the play is directed by Fernando Teson.
My first association with playwright Gregg Barrios was directing one of his original one-acts in Theatre ASAP, San Antonio’s annual 24-hour 10-minute play festival. This year’s Theatre ASAP was held Sept 11, 2010, with playwrights Laurie Dietrich, Lee Hurtado, Sheila Rinear, Richard Rosen, Ben Tremillo and James Venhaus.. A complete review of this year’s event is on San Antonio Express-News writer Deborah Martin’s blog.
One of this year’s Theatre ASAP playwrights is Sheila Lynch Rinear, who recently had a reading of her full-length work, The Cries That Bind, at The Playwrights’ Center in New York. A production of another major work, Deities, is scheduled at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, next year. Her full-length play Women of Letters was produced by Firelights Players in 2001, and her shorter works have been produced locally by Theatre ASAP, Luminaria and SAT Playwrights for several years.
In addition to hosting the annual SAT Playwrights Festival of new plays in March, The San Pedro Playhouse Cellar Theatre is featuring the original work, Homegrown Tomatoes, winner of the Texas Nonprofit Theatres national playwriting competition for 2010. The play is by Micah McCoy, an expatriated Texan, currently living in a hippie community in the South Valley of Albuquerque, NM. Homegrown Tomatoes is his first full-length play.
In business since late 2006, the Overtime Theater is dedicated to providing innovative and accessible entertainment at an affordable price. The shows are all new, original works, or new, unconventional adaptations of old classics. The Overtime Theater specializes in world premieres of works never before seen on stage!
In just three years, the Overtime has produced almost 30 new shows, including three original musicals: Sheer Bloody Lunacy!, Pirates Vs. Ninjas, and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die: A New Musical. Other notable productions have included The Good Samaritan, Poet Faustus, Sob! Choke…LOVE!, What Will Happen, and most recently, the world premieres of Buddha Swings, Action Philosophers!, The Hard Bargain, The Happy Couple, and The Life and Death of the Amazing Captain Piledriver The latest in this list of original works by local playwrights is Broken Record by James Venhaus, a full-length work that has been expanded from a 10-minute play created for a past Theatre ASAP. Broken Record continues at the Overtime Theatre through September 18.
Originals at San Antonio’s new The Rose Theatre include ongoing sketch comedy and original plays by company founders Jessie Rose and Chris Manley. Currently, DVC vs. DVC jr.! plays through September 18. The folks over at Magik Theatre have been creating new works and adaptations for children for years. Improv is alive and well as late-night fare at several theatres. Dave Cortez is creating new murder mysteries over at Spaghetti Warehouse.
For new playwrights, the path from page to stage is more often than not rocky. For San Antonio playwrights, at any rate, the rocks seem to be surmountable. And for San Antonio audiences, the results are a veritable feast of original offerings at many of our local theatres. The writers are writing; the theatres are producing. Will the San Antonio theatre audience embrace and support new work?