Saturday, January 10, 2009

Theatre Rhinoceros Plays 'Three On a Party'

pPosted online 4/10/09

THEATRE RHINOCEROS and WORD FOR WORD present Three On a Party, opening on Saturday May 16 at 8 PM (press night), on Theatre Rhinoceros, Mainstage in San Francisco (previews May 13-15). Three On a Party features three stories by some of the most important queer writers of the twentieth century, Two On a Party by Tennessee Williams, Miss Furr and Miss Skeene by Gertrude Stein, and Suddenly Home by the Bay Area's very own Armistead Maupin.

Three on a Party charts both a history of queerdom in the twentieth century and the slow coming out of this thing called “same-sex marriage.” Directed by Delia MacDougall (Miss Furr and Miss Skeene) and John Fisher (Two on a Party and Suddenly Home) the Three On a Party cast includes Brendan Godfrey, and Ryan Tasker; with Sheila Balter, and JoAnne Winter both Charter Members of Word for Word; JoAnne is founding member and Artistic Director of Word for Word (member of Actors Equity Association).

Armistead Maupin has called Stein and Williams “the king and the queen” of LGBT writing, but he is unarguably the third of America’s great queer literary royal family. On Sunday May 17, 7 PM join the company for An Evening with Armistead Maupin in conversation with the audience and Theatre Rhinoceros Artistic Director John Fisher following the performance. (Tickets $30-50). On Friday May 22 following the performance there will be a post show discussion with Gertrude Stein expert and collector Hans Gallas.

From Stein’s Dadaesque tale of two lesbians in 1910, to Williams’ richly written fantasy of unbridled sex in the straight laced fifties, to the hilarious shenanigans of Maupin’s very San Francisco extended family in the 1990s, Three on a Party takes a literary journey across time and genre as it amuses, titillates and lays bare the passions of gay men and women. Gertrude Stein’s “Miss Furr and Miss Skeene” is set in 1910 America and Paris. Stein's subtle, experimental word portrait is the saga of two women’s lives, exploring their entry into the Bohemian world and the change between them as lovers and as devotees of life outside artistic and sexual convention. In Tennessee Williams' short story "Two on a Party" a very unlikely couple takes a sexual road trip in this startling picture of the sexual mores of the 1950’s. When Cora meets Billy they are just a couple of hungry predators on a couple of New York bar stools. But soon, they find a bond in their ravenous lust for men. A heartbreaking tale of companionship, and certainly one the funniest and fun filled stories Williams ever set to paper, conveying all the heat, whimsy and aching desire of the Master’s great plays, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire.

In the wake of Harvey Milk and liberation comes a story of responsibility and commitment, Armistead Maupin's "Suddenly Home" which tells the story of Tess, a woman doubting her romantic relationship. She looks for guidance from her brother and his boyfriend and sees in their relationship the true meaning of love. America’s master narrator of “the gay life” turns his pen to a tale of same-sex marriage. Laced with all his familiar wit, compassion and love of San Francisco, Maupin’s tale captures Baghdad by the Bay at a time of dramatic change, the late 1980’s. Maupin’s little family struggles to find answers to life’s confusing propositions.

Director Delia MacDougall (Miss Furr and Miss Skeene) is an actor and director working mainly in San Francisco for the past twenty years. Delia is a founding member of three San Francisco theater companies. Delia has been a part of the Intersection’s resident theater company, Campo Santo, since its beginnings directing their second production, the world premiere of Erin Cressida Wilson’s Hurricane . Most recently she directed the world premiere of Denis Johnson’s Purvis at the Intersection for the Arts.. Other world premieres with Campo Santo include Naomi Iizuka’s 17 Reasons (Why) and The Language of Angels, (nomination: Critics Circle Award best production). She also directed the West Coast premiere of Naomi’s Polaroid Stories (Winner: Backstage West: Best Director/Ensemble) and for the Harbor Theater the west coast premiere of Jose Rivera’s Sonnets for and Old Century. Delia has directed over ten productions for Word for Word and the Z Space studio since 1996. Original Word for Word productions with premieres at the Magic Theater in San Francisco include: Immortal Heart,(Winner: Critics Circle Award: Production/ Director /Ensemble) Oil! The Ride, Winesburgh Ohio,(Winner: Critics Circle Award: Production /Director) Mrs. Dalloway’s Party and The Confessions of Madame Psyche.

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Director John Fisher (“Two on a Party” and “Suddenly Home”) is now in his seventh year as the Executive Director of The GLAAD Media Award Winning Theatre Rhinoceros. He is also a nationally produced playwright and director. His plays include The Joy of Gay Sex, which was performed in New York City, and Medea: The Musical which was produced on HBO. Recent projects include Ishi: The Last of the Yahi at Theatre Rhino and Red Scare on Sunset at ACT. John is the only two-time winner of the Will Glickman Playwright Award, and a recipient of the NEA Grant, a GLAAD Media Award, two L.A. Weekly Awards, a Garland Award, two Cable Car Awards, a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award, and ten Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Awards. John holds a Ph.D. in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Berkeley, but you don’t have to call him Doctor, and he has taught at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and, for the past two years, at the Yale School of Drama. He makes his home in the Haight-Ashbury District with his life-partner Michael. He met Michael in his college dorm in 1982.

Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City Series, The Night Listener) was one of the first of a new breed of openly gay authors; his appeal has always resided in his inclusiveness as a storyteller. For over thirty years his beloved characters from 28 Barbary Lane in the Tales of the City series have cut an unprecedented path through popular culture-from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to six internationally best-selling novels to a Peabody Award-winning miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam. Maupin worked briefly as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. The climate of freedom and tolerance he found in his adopted city inspired him to come out publicly as homosexual in 1974. Two years later he launched his "Tales of the City" serial in the San Francisco Chronicle, the first fiction to appear in an American daily for decades.

Maupin is the author of nine novels, including the six-volume Tales of the City series, Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener and, in 2007 he revisited one of his most beloved Tales characters in Michael Tolliver. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first three novels in the Tales series. The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette. Lives, a musical adaptation of Tales of the City is in the works from Jeff Whitty and Jason Moore (creators of the Tony award-winning hit Avenue Q), set to bow on Broadway in 2009. He is currently working on his next novel, Mary Ann in Autumn. Maupin lives in San Francisco with his husband, Christopher Turner.

Theatre Rhinoceros (John Fisher, Artistic Director), America’s longest running (29 years) professional queer theatre, remains committed to founder Allan Estes’ original vision of developing and producing works of theatre that enlighten, enrich, and explore both the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of our queer community.

Word for Word Performing Arts Company is an ensemble whose mission is to tell great stories with elegant theatricality, staging performances of classic and contemporary fiction. Founded in 1993 by Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter, Word for Word believes in the power of the short story to provide solace, compassion, and insight into our daily lives. We bring stories from diverse cultures to our diverse communities, and develop future audiences' love for the printed and spoken word. Word for Word is a program of the Z Space Studio.

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Z SPACE STUDIO strives to fuel the development of American theater on a national level by nurturing new voices, new works, and new opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area. We fulfill the function by supporting a culturally and aesthetically diverse community of theater artists working together to develop Bay Area Theater and theater audiences. Led by Executive Director Lisa Steindler, the Z Space Studio has become one of the nation's leading laboratories for the development of new voices, new works and new directions in American theater.

The Z Space Studio employs hundreds of artists each year in the process of developing new works through its three principle programs: Word for Word, Z Plays, and Youth Arts. Since the founding of the Z Space Studio in 1993, the Studio and the Bay Area artists served have racked up an impressive list of awards and other notable achievements, including the Helen Hayes Award, the Kesselring Prize, the MacArthur Award, and two Pulitzer nominations. In 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2008, Z-produced projects have landed in the San Francisco Chronicle's "10 Best Theater Events of the Year" list. --

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