Tag Archives: Shotgun Players

Not to be missed: Shotgun Players’ ‘The Coast of Utopia’

The Coast of Utopia: Salvage
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Sir Tom Stoppard’s famous, award-winning trilogy, The Coast of Utopia (2002), centers on a group of Russian philosophers, radicals, anarchists and socialists in pre-revolutionary Russia (1833-1866). If the subject matter doesn’t sound enthralling, rest assured that one of Stoppard’s gifts is exploring arcane subject matters and infusing them with excitement, humanity and heart.

Shotgun Players produced the first two fascinating productions, Voyage and Shipwreck in 2012 and 2013. This year, the final and best, Salvage, as well as the first two plays, can be seen in repertory now at the Ashby Stage. Led by Artistic Director Patrick Dooley, Shotgun has taken a very complex series of plays, with difficult language, numerous characters and copious scene changes, and succeeded in presenting intriguing and beguiling dramas … all with fine acting.  … Continue reading »

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‘A Maze’ in Berkeley: A provocative evening of theater

Oksana (Sarah Moser) and Paul (Harold Pierce). Photo: Jay Yamada
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Shotgun’s mission is to present provocative and relevant theatre at an affordable price. It does so with its own productions, as well as by inviting other theater companies to perform on the Ashby Stage.

A Maze is a creative and complex two-act play written by Rob Handel which debuted in New York in 2011, and was staged by Just Theater last summer. The play impressed Shotgun, which is delighted to remount it and present it to the larger audience it deserves.

Directed by Molly Aaronson-Gelb, the play is comprised of three separate plot lines that, in the first act, appear disconnected and unrelated. We imagine that all these stories must have a thematic connection, and they do. But the way they intersect in the second act is unexpected, amusing and a bit troubling. … Continue reading »

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Shotgun’s ‘By And By’ wrestles with cloning, relationships

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A growing number of playwrights grapple with the ethical issues of science and technology. Tom Stoppard was a pioneer, and Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen was a memorable exploration of nuclear physics and the responsibilities of scientists. In the Bay Area, Stanford’s Carl Djerassi, one of the inventors of the Pill, has a minor sideline as a playwright writing about science.

By And By, which debuted at Shotgun Players last week, wrestles with the dilemmas posed by full human cloning. But the compelling twist in Lauren Gunderson’s play is that it focuses on human emotions in a very recognizable world, rather than confecting some science fiction fantasy of the material.  … Continue reading »

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Shotgun’s Shipwreck: You say you want a revolution?

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Tom Stoppard’s Shipwreck, the second of the Coast of Utopia trilogy, makes clear where his allegiance lies among the Russian intelligentsia. It isn’t the compelling Michael Bakunin, the focus of Voyage, the first of the plays, or critic Vissarion Belinsky or youthful author Ivan Turgenev. No, it’s the thoughtful, upright Alexander Herzen who urges moderation, rejects grand dreams, and focuses on achievable goals.  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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The Coast of Utopia: ShipwreckMARATHON THEATER  Shotgun Players, “the biggest little theater company in town,” secured the rights last year to put on Tom Stoppard’s Coast of Utopia trilogy. This season Shotgun is producing Part Two: Shipwreck, along with some repeat performances of Part One: Voyage.” In Voyage, we met our young heroes in the first blushes of revolutionary thought and love. Now, with Shipwreck, we find them in their 30s. “The optimism of their early years has hit the rocks of marital infidelity, social anarchy, and a tsar who has no intention of stepping down. The stakes go up dramatically in this next great duel between the heart and mind.” The plays are directed by Shotgun’s artistic director Patrick Dooley. Through April 21 at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Avenue. … Continue reading »

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For Valentine’s Day: Berkeley love blooms at the theater

Patrick and Kimberly Dooley on their wedding day.
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By Elisabeth Woody

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Berkeleyside is celebrating love in by looking at how one Berkeley couple met and fell in love.

Kimberly and Patrick Dooley are prominent figures in the Berkeley theater world — she is a director at Berkeley Playhouse and he is the founding artistic director at Shotgun Players. Their life and love are grounded in Berkeley. They shared their first kiss on the benches of what was then Ozzie’s Soda Fountain in the Elmwood. Patrick wooed Kimberly with cherry cornbread scones from the Cheese Board, and their favorite dates include long walks around their neighborhood and up in the Berkeley hills.

Kimberly and Patrick first met in 2000, when both were working at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts on College Avenue. Each had come to Berkeley in their early 20s in search of a vibrant, tight-knit theater community. After brief stints in larger theater cities (she in L.A., he in New York), they quickly realized that Berkeley was the perfect fit. … Continue reading »

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Arts

Darkly humorous “Assassins” provokes in election season

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It’s eerie watching Shotgun Player’s new production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins in the middle of a presidential race. You can’t help but wonder about the daily rallies with President Obama in front of masses of supporters. Assassins suggests that the discontented who might seek a single “historic” act are just too common in our society.

Assassins is a darkly humorous musical revue, with each of nine assassins taking their turn on stage. The father of them all is John Wilkes Booth (played by Galen Murphy-Hoffman), who opens the evening with his assassination of Lincoln offstage. Most of the other assassins and would-be assassins are far less well known. Charles Guiteau, played in a wonderful comic performance by Steven Hess, assassinated James Garfield in 1881 (then again, how many people remember Garfield, either?). Leon Czolgosz (played by a morose Dan Saski), who assassinated William McKinley in 1901, is another trivia answer, rather than a historic figure.  … Continue reading »

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Events

Truffaldino Says No: Zany mishmash of desire and defiance

Ally Johnson as Isabella in the Shotgun Players/Playground premiere of Truffaldino Says No. Photo: Jessica Palopoli
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Truffaldino Says No, presented by Shotgun Players in a joint production with PlayGround, a Berkeley Rep playwriting laboratory, barrels into the story of a young man’s expedition with terrific velocity and grand intentions. Combining aspects of Commedia dell’Arte and 1980’s sitcom sensibilities, the journey from Venice to Venice Beach is rife with clever humor and reaches for depth beyond the laughter.

Playwright Ken Slattery’s Truffaldino (William Thomas Hodgson) is a son, predestined to become a carbon copy of his father. Arlecchino, (Stephen Buescher), slaves in the Old World of servants under masters and expects his child will follow suit. Unfortunately, as a younger generation is want to do, Truffaldino has ideas of his own.

Hilariously and surreptitiously called all manner of variations on his name (Truffalpipi, Truffaldingdong, Truffal–whatever) by the woman he both serves and loves, a fluffy, vacuous Isabella (Ally Johnson), the young rebel participates in his doomed-to-follow fate until announcing, expectedly, “No!” … Continue reading »

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The Great Divide: Fighting Big Energy, now and then

The Great Divide
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The process of Hydraulic Fracturing, or “fracking” — extracting gas or petroleum from rock layers by boring deeply underground and pumping water, sand and other chemicals into fissures — is making news headlines. It also forms the vortex of ‘The Great Divide” an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” produced by Berkeley’s Shotgun Players. Below, Lou Fancher reviews the play, and Adam Tolbert interviews the play’s playwright, Adam Chanzit.

Playwright Henrik Ibsen’s Dr. Thomas Stockmann was an “enemy of the people”, a medical man who in 1882 discovered tainted water in his small Norwegian village’s popular medicinal baths. Transposed to the 21st century by playwright Adam Chanzit, a female doctor, hellbent on revealing water contamination in her Colorado town, bears the same mantle in Shotgun Players’ production of Chanzit’s “The Great Divide”, where truth’s bony finger is pointed at the energy industry.

Doctor Katherine Stockmann, played with impressive command by Heather Robison, is a medical vigilante. Prone to protect and protest in support of disadvantaged populations across the globe, she has mired herself and her family in trouble. Escape comes in the form of a fragile homecoming. … Continue reading »

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Video: The man who gives Shotgun its visual punch

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If you’ve driven down Ashby Avenue and come to a stop at the lights on the intersection of Martin Luther King, you won’t fail to have noticed the work of R. Black, staff member and resident artist at Shotgun Players, the theater group which calls Ashby Stage home.

Black is the creative force behind all the marketing material, programs and literature produced by Shotgun. Most notably, perhaps, it is Black who paints the entire wall of the theater … Continue reading »

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Josh Kornbluth: Good for Andy Warhol’s Jews?

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It would be tough to find a funnier guy in Berkeley than Josh Kornbluth.

I’ve been a fan of the moon-faced, wide-eyed, hair-challenged monologist, who has perfected the art of the raised eyebrow for maximum comic effect, since his early days at The Marsh in San Francisco. (An aside: This ex-citysider is so glad The Marsh had no problem crossing the bridge, unlike some people she knows.)

Kornbluth has made a career out of chronicling much of his life on the stage in his frequently hilarious and often thought-provoking solo shows. We first meet him during his childhood in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, where he is raised by Marxist, atheists (Red Diaper Baby). Then it’s on to college (The Mathematics of Change), temp work (Haiku Tunnel) and a stint as an editor (Pumping Copy), a personal favorite. Berkeleysiders familiar with his work may recall that the city features prominently in the recent Citizen Josh.

Now, Kornbluth is in the middle of a run of his latest production Andy Warhol: Good For The Jews? His first commissioned show, The Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco asked him to ruminate on the series of portraits depicting the likes of Einstein, Kafka, and the Marx Brothers by the iconic artist.

It’s his fourth collaboration with director David Dower, who joined forces with the writer-comedian on Ben Franklin: Unplugged, Love & Taxes, and Citizen Josh. The two have also worked on film versions of Haiku Tunnel and Red Diaper Baby. … Continue reading »

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Arts

In ‘Of The Earth’, Odysseus begins his journey home

If you were fortunate enough to see the Shotgun Players’ production of “In The Wound” earlier this year at John Hinkel Park, you’ll be looking forward to the second part of what the Berkeley theater group calls The Salt Plays. “Of The Earth”, which opens this week on December 2, continues the chronicle of Odysseus, “the most famous war story ever told”.

As Shotgun puts it: “Now this soldier’s journey home begins. Demons stand between him and his family, monsters of the past, present and future. Finishing the percussive story that began earlier in the season, this second piece tears apart man’s concept of himself, and offers a journey of the traumatized mind through to the brilliance and beauty of destiny.”

Watch the video above for a taste of the production, which is written and directed by Jon Tracy, and will be performed at The Ashby Stage through January 16.

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Local business

Shotgun throwing costume sale

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The Shotgun Players are giving up their costume shop space in Berkeley  “after years of luxurious accumulation”, as they put it, and they are throwing a sale when many of the costumes you will have seen on stage in their recent productions will be up for grabs.

The “everything must go” sale will include women’s and men’s clothes, hats, bags, accessories and shoes. Prices start as low as $1.00.

The sale will take place on Saturday January 23, … Continue reading »

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