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TBA Online: News & Features: January 2014

Editor’s Note January/February 2014: You May Find Yourself

Monday, January 6, 2014  
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By Sam Hurwitt



I love the January/February issue. Sure, I love every issue of the magazine, just like a parent loves all of his or her children equally. Still, this issue holds a special place in my heart, because this is the one in which I get to share with our readers the full text of a wonderful play by a Bay Area playwright. Theatre Bay Area has been publishing plays in the magazine since 2005, but at first that was limited to each year’s winner of the Glickman Award for best play to premiere in the Bay Area. Since 2011, however, we’ve been publishing two plays a year: the Glickman winner in July/August and a recent play by a Bay Area playwright in January/February.



No se llama Cristina. Photo: "Llama” by Shane Bennett on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license. 

There’s some overlap between the two categories, but the Glickman play need not be by a local author; it just needs to have had its world premiere in the Bay Area in the preceding year. The play we publish in this issue does have to be by a Bay Area local, but it need not have premiered here and doesn’t necessarily have to have been in the last year. As it happens, the last two plays we published—Christopher Chen’s Glickman winner The Hundred Flowers Project and Josh Costello’s Little Brother—fit both descriptions and would have been eligible for either slot, as is the case with the play in this issue: Se Llama Cristina, by the great local playwright Octavio Solis.
I saw Se Llama Cristina back when Magic Theatre premiered it in January 2013, but it was a revelation for me to come back and read it all these months later. I liked the play a lot the first time around, but there were some parts that didn’t quite come together for me as a viewer, particularly in the segues in and out of flashbacks. But reading it on the page (in a slightly revised version), I experienced no such dissonance. Instead I fell in love anew with Solis’s lushly poetic language and the humor and heartbreak captured as two lost people rediscover their thorny personal histories.

A man and a woman wake up in a room with no idea how they got there, who they are or how (or if) they know each other. In the room are traces of drug use and a crib with only a fried chicken leg in it. The history these two share opens up to them only in unreliable flashbacks, and their best guesses about their own names change over the course of the play as their understanding of their own back stories deepens.

It’s also fascinating to read the play now because so much of it is about the fear and uncertainty of new parenthood, and it comes out at a time that many local thespians are having babies, including several cases in which both new parents are theatre workers. In fact, one of the actors in Se Llama Cristina is one of those new parents. This play isn’t anybody’s idea of a childrearing guide, but it’s a fascinating look at all the anxieties that can go into the biggest production most of us will ever undertake. 

There’s plenty more in the January/February issue besides the script, mind you. I interview Solis about the play, and associate editor Laura Brueckner talks to Leslie Martinson, longtime casting director and newly appointed associate artistic director of TheatreWorks, for our Encore Q&A. Laura also contributes an in-depth examination of how theatres go about audience engagement and how it can be illuminated by the discipline of experience design. If you don’t know what the heck I just said, turn to page 14 and let Laura explain it all for you.

Next issue you get two special issues for the price of one! Not only will the March/April issue contain our spring season preview, as usual, but we’ve also moved our annual youth listings of summer camps and year-round classes for kids into that issue (from the May/June issue, where it’s been in recent years) to give parents more time to make summer plans for their theatrical little ones. It’s always good to know where your children are, and where they’re going.

Sam Hurwitt is editor-in-chief for Theatre Bay Area. He is also the author of The Idiolect, a blog about theatre, movies, comics, media and the decline and fall of Western civilization. E-mail