KPBS AIRDATE: September 08, 2006
There’s a dramatic fall harvest you might not know about in San Diego – fresh, new theater groups are springing up, and new plays are being cultivated. 6th @ Penn Theatre and downtown’s newest venue, New World Stage, have a busy schedule hosting fledgling companies and premiering new works. Reconnoiter Theater just made an impressive debut at 6th @ Penn, with the enigmatic and demanding Harold Pinter play, “The Dumb Waiter,” a “comedy of menace” about two killers. And continuing through the weekend, there’s Tonic Productions’ excellent local premiere of “Little Eyolf,” by the great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen — another of his biting portraits of a toxic marriage.
This Saturday, 6th @ Penn hosts a free reading of a new play, “Frost,” by local writer William Roetzheim; it’s about Robert Frost, his wife, his mistress and the road less traveled. The playwright will be on hand to solicit audience comments and reactions. And every Saturday afternoon, you can experience “A Visit with Clarence Darrow,” a one-man show that San Diego actor Joe Nesnow has been performing for 20 years, channeling the early 20th century attorney and orator. Darrow, legendary defender of the underdog, was best known for his articulate presentations at the Scopes Monkey Trial that pitted Darwinism against creationism, now a hot-potato topic all over again. For a visit with a whole other kind of historical figure, head to New World Stage for a modern, multi-media take on Christopher Marlowe’s classic, “Edward II.” The Collective, a multi-ethnic group headed by SDSU theater professor Peter James Cirino, retells this harrowing tale of love, lust and betrayal in the court of England’s openly gay King, who was reviled for refusing to abandon his obsession with a commoner.
Now, if you like to get an early glimpse of innovative works and upcoming playwrights, you won’t want to miss the Fritz Blitz of New Plays by California Writers. This is the 13th annual festival – you might call it a Blitz Mitzvah. The plays are always fun or provocative, or both. Last year, I gave a special Patté, the McDonald Playwriting Award, to a Blitz premiere. So far, this year’s offerings have been well written, and extremely well presented. But you’ve gotta be on your toes; the festival only runs for two more weekends, each featuring a different program of plays. This week’s trio of productions includes an epistolary love story, a daughter’s confrontation with her Filipino family, and a sexy, funny look at “Hypocrites and Strippers.”
If you’re willing to take a chance, there are lots of dramatic opportunities around town. So, start the new school year off right, with a little edification and entertainment, theater-style.
©2006 Patté Productions Inc.