Thru Mar. 18
A playwright, a director and an actor walk into a bar. This may sound like the beginning of a theatre joke, but it’s actually the beginning of the collaborative process known as the Central Works method (minus the bar. . .maybe). Under the method of creating new work, a playwright, a director and an actor (or two) come together to develop possible material. The playwright then goes away to set pen to paper, or hand to laptop. In the case of “Mesmeric Revelation,” Aaron Henne is both the playwright and the director, and Theo Black and Joe Jordan are the players. Henne directed Black and Jordan in a previous Central Works creation last year, “A Man’s Home. . .”, an ode to Kafka’s “Castle.” “Revelation” takes its inspiration from an equally dark literary figure, Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote a short story called “Mesmeric Revelation.” The play does not follow the events of Poe’s story, but rather concerns the battle between the “father of modern chemistry,” Antoine Lavoisier, and the “wizard of Vienna,” Dr. Anton Mesmer, from whose name we get the word “mesmerize.”
African-American Shakespeare Company
Mar. 10–Apr. 1
When Shakespeare wrote “Julius Caesar,” Elizabethan society was facing a similar situation to the one depicted in the play: Queen Elizabeth, a leader strong enough to govern a deeply polarized kingdom, was aging and had no successor. The threat of civil war hung in the air, as it had in Rome over a millennium before. Now, more than two millennia later, the African-American Shakespeare Company explores another contemporary society threatened by civil war: West Africa. Michael Gene Sullivan of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, known for its ongoing engagement with the current political climate, directs.
The Right Thing
3Girls Theatre Company
Mar. 8–Apr. 1
A CEO is accused of sexual harassment and fired. You’ve heard this news story many times, most recently involving Hewlett-Packard’s former CEO, Mark Hurd. Except in this version, the CEO is a woman—and she’s fighting back in a high-stakes legal mediation amid corporate and personal politics. This legal whodunit is a world premiere by 3Girls Theatre Company resident playwright and managing director AJ Baker, who also practices law on the side. The cast features some Bay Area notables, including Catherine Castellanos, John Flanagan, Lol Levy, Louis Parnell, Helen Shumaker and Karina Wolfe.
The Waiting Period
Thru Mar. 24
It is a surprising but true irony that some comedians are among the saddest people on earth. Brian Copeland’s new play takes on this topic through the lens of his own experience and those of people he interviewed. Named for the mandatory period that someone buying a gun must wait before being allowed to have the weapon, his new play deals with his lifelong struggle with depression. Throughout the 10-day waiting period, he struggles with his will to live, but his sense of humor at the absurdity of life persists. “The Waiting Period” is Copeland’s follow-up to “Not a Genuine Black Man,” his hit solo show that recently ended a seven-year run.
Caroline Anderson is Theatre Bay Area's listings editor.
Joe Jordan in Mesmeric Revelation.
Photo: J. West
Caroline Anderson's Editor's Picks: March/April 2012 by / Caroline AndersonPublished 2012-03-08
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