Dennis Chowenhill Interviews Carol Lashof

Works by Women San Francisco

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Dennis Chowenhill, Resident Dramaturg at the Virago Theatre Company, shares the transcript of this illuminating interview of librettist, playwright, and educator Carol Lashof.

DC:  How did you get into playwriting?

Lashof:  I probably should credit my 4th Grade teacher.  I was at the Laboratory Schools in Chicago, a pre-K through high school, run by the University of Chicago in association with their Ed. School. There were a lot of “faculty brats” there. It’s the school the Obama kids went to when they were living in Chicago.  My 4th Grade teacher, Louise Pliss, had us write and produce a play, as a class. Actually, there were two teachers, Faye Abrams and Louise Pliss, who shared their classrooms.  Miss Pliss, who was also a children’s book writer, taught English, and that is where I was also introduced to Greek mythology. I can still remember the opening lines of…

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Suppose you are a Fury …

Suppose you are a Fury: You’ve dedicated your immortal life to the ancient, honorable principle of a slit throat for a slit throat. Now the gods want you to take pity on a mother-killer …  Come to the World Premiere of of my full-length comedy Just Deserts and decide what you would do under the circumstances.

Reservations: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/736340

Just Deserts retells the Greek myth of the first-ever trial by jury from the point of view of the avenging Furies.  As editor Lily Janiak says in the July/August issue of Theatre Bay Area Magazine: “Lashof ingeniously channels what many treasure about Greek tragedy–its pitting of evenly matched foes in debates that dig deeper and deeper as combatants seem to be going in circles–while also skewering its misogyny.”

Here are the basics:

Where, When & Who
Those Women Productions
presents
JUST DESERTS
by Carol S Lashof
directed by Elizabeth Vega

Performances at the Metal Shop Theater, 2425 Stuart St. Berkeley, CA 94705 (entrance on Regent St., one block east of Telegraph Avenue)

Friday, Aug. 29, 8pm (Preview)
Saturday, Aug. 30, 8pm (Opening)
Sunday, Aug. 31, 2pm;  Friday, Sept. 5, 8pm; Saturday, Sept. 6, 8pm; Sunday, Sept. 7, 2pm

Suggested donation: $30 (Preview-$20). Reservations at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/736340

Featuring: Sofia Ahmad* (ALECTO); Rebecca Castelli* (MEGAERA); Louise Chegwidden* (TISIPHONE); and Davern Wright (ORESTES).
Wing Mistress: Juliette Capra; Fight Choreographer: Megan Messinger; Stage Manager: Bert van Aalsburg*

*Member Actors’ Equity Association-an Equity approved project

Those Women practice Radical Hospitality: Everyone is welcome, regardless of ability to pay.

FAQ’s:

  • Is that a misspelling in the title of your play? No. It’s “deserts” as in what is deserved, not “desserts” as in what you should eat first because life is short. (However, this kind of “desert” is pronounced the same way as the kind you should eat first.)
  • I don’t know much about mythology … Will I need to look up a bunch of stuff on wikipedia to understand your play? No!  No previous knowledge of Greek mythology or classical literature is needed to be thoroughly entertained by this funny and thought-provoking story.
  • What’s a “Wing Mistress”? She’s the person who is designing the bat-style wings for our awesomely fearsome Furies. Because they are scary women.
  • I’m a struggling artist: when you say “suggested” donation, do you mean it? We do!
  • I’m a starving student: do you really mean it? Yes, we really do!
  • How can you afford to let people come to your show without paying? We can afford to practice radical hospitality because of the generosity of our donors-past, present, and future. If you are already one of them, THANK YOU!
  • I’d like to help you keep making great theatre. How can I become a donor too? Thanks for asking! When you reserve your seats for the show at , you may designate any amount as the “price” of the ticket–the entire donation comes directly to Those Women Productions to sustain our work. If you are interested in becoming a member of our Producer’s Circle, email us at ThoseWomenProductions[at]gmail.com and we’ll tell you more. You may also contribute via cash or check (payable to “Those Women Productions”) at the door.
  • What’s The Metal Shop Theater? It is a 90-seat theater in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley and the home of The Willard Middle School Metal Shop Players. Those Women have access to this comfortable, professionally-equipped theater thanks to the extraordinary kindness of Willard Drama teacher George Rose and the Willard community.
  • Who are Those Women? We are Berkeley-based playwright Carol S Lashof and Oakland-based director Elizabeth Vega. On International Women’s Day 2014, we created Those Women Productions to give the stage to hidden truths of gender and power and to the unheard voices of women. Just Deserts is our inaugural production.

Thanks! See you at The Metal Shop.

And in the meantime, join the conversation about justice, revenge, and blood in the bath water at: https://www.facebook.com/JustDesertsByThoseWomen

Ready to start a revolution?

Reservations now available: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/736340

Escape our shallow, unjust reality and sink your teeth into …

JUST DESERTS 

by Carol S Lashof

directed by Elizabeth Vega

a project of THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS

Watch this space for an announcement of our cast, coming very soon.*

*An Equity Approved Project

Reservations now available for JUST DESERTS playing August 29-September 7 at the Metal Shop Theater in Berkeley, 2425 Stuart Street (at Willard Middle School, enter on Regent St).

Only six performances in Berkeley, so click on over to Brown Paper Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/736340 to reserve your seats.  The first ten people to reserve  for each performance will be guaranteed VIP seating.

Over the last week or so, director Elizabeth Vega and I have been immersed in auditions, callbacks, and very challenging casting decisions–challenging because there are so many remarkable actors in our community, many more than we can work with on our current project.  We were sincerely humbled by the talent in the room.

I hope to see you at the theater.  In the meantime, join the conversation about justice, empathy, revenge, and blood in the bathwater at:

https://www.facebook.com/JustDesertsByThoseWomen

 

THOSE WOMEN produce JUST DESERTS

THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS  of Berkeley, California presents Just Deserts by Carol S. Lashof, directed by Elizabeth L. Vega, opening on Friday, August 29  2014 (preview) and running through  Sunday, September 7 2014 at The Metal Shop Theater at 2425 Stuart Street in Berkeley (entrance on Regent).  Performances at 8 PM on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 PM on Sundays.  Additional performances at St. Mary’s College of California on September 8 & 9 at 5 & 8 PM. 

This production is an Equity-approved project.

PLAYWRIGHT’S NOTES:  Why this story?  Why now?

In Just Deserts, I am seeking to remake the foundation myth of the western justice system. My play retells the ancient story of cultural transformation from the point of view of The Furies—immortal beings dedicated to the age-old principle of a slit throat for a slit throat.  In the climax to the traditional myth, the young Orestes, son of King Agamemnon and his wife Clytemnestra, stands accused of blood murder. His action is only the latest in a series of revenge killings–Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon to avenge his killing of their daughter Iphigenia, and now Orestes has killed his mother to avenge his father’s death.   Athena decides that the cycle of vengeance should end.  So she stages the first-ever trial-by-jury to determine Orestes’ guilt or innocence.  The god Apollo defends Orestes on the grounds that the father is a child’s only true parent, the mother merely a vessel. The jury of twelve is split, but Athena, the goddess of justice, casts the tie-breaking ballot in favor of innocence, explaining that because she was born fully armed from Zeus’ brow, she owes no allegiance to mothers.  Although the Furies resist the verdict at first, Athena bribes and bullies them into compliance, and they finally accept a new role as “The Eumenides,” benevolent guardians of hearth and home.

Since I first encountered the Oresteia (when teaching a required course on the “Great Books” to freshmen at Saint Mary’s College of California), I have been disturbed by how this myth denies the agency and relevance of the mother.  I continue to be disturbed by our culture’s denial of mothers as moral agents–even as full persons–while elevating maternity in the abstract to a mythological status. I am writing Just Deserts to discover an alternative vision of how a culture could transform from a retributive to a compassionate justice system. What might a system look like based on radical empathy?

Introducing THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS

Director Elizabeth Vega and I have become a producing team: We are THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS, and we make theatre for people who like questions more than answers.

Our first production will be Just Deserts, a comedy about justice and revenge, opening August 29 at the Metal Shop Theatre in Berkeley.  Here’s a little more about us:

MISSION

Those Women make theatre for people who love great stories and want to explore big questions.  Our plays are rooted in the stories that have made us who we are—the myths, tales and legends of western culture.  We approach these tales from new angles, giving the stage to hidden truths of gender and power and to the unheard voices of women.  We practice radical hospitality—everybody is welcome regardless of their ability to pay.  We only ask that our audiences come to the theatre curious; we promise to leave them more curious still.

 

HISTORY

When we were as yet too young for other sorts of debauchery to hold much appeal, we fell in love with great stories.  Mostly these were stories by Dead White Guys.  Homer and Chaucer, Shakespeare and Sophocles, myths and folklore of every variety, we loved them all.  To this day, we are subject to their power—they make our heads spin and our pulses race.  But we also recognize that in these classic tales, the voices of women are often silenced and their lives relegated to the margins.  That’s a sobering fact.  And we’d rather stay giddy with the joy of tales worth telling.  So, on International Women’s Day 2014 we formed THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS to explore classic stories from new angles.

 

~ Carol S. Lashof & Elizabeth L. Vega

April 21, 2014

 

 

Auditions for JUST DESERTS, June 29-30

A call from THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS to Bay Area actors:

 

Auditions upcoming June 29-30 for the premiere of

JUST DESERTS

a new play by Carol S. Lashof

directed by Elizabeth L. Vega

The Furies are dedicated to the principle of a slit throat for a slit throat … until empathy gets in the way.

 

The details:

Roles available: 1M (18-30); 2F. All races & ethnicities encouraged. AEA & non AEA. Prep sides.

Performance dates: 8/29 (Preview), 8/30, 8/31, 9/5, 9/6, 9/7, 9/8, 9/9

Performance location  The Metal Shop Theater, Berkeley (8/29-9/7) and LeFevre Theater, Moraga (9/8-9/9)

Rehearsal dates  8/3-8/28 (All rehearsals in Central Berkeley, near BART)

Audition dates and times: June 29, 1-5 pm and June 30, 7-9 pm

Audition location:  The Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland

Pay: $1225 (AEA) $875 (non-AEA) full run.

For further information or to request an audition appointment (send headshot and resume), email Elizabeth Vega ElizabethLVega@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

A Theater Connection Born on the Sidelines of the Soccer Field …

… brings the Minotaur to Berkeley.

To the Princess Ariadne of Crete, The Minotaur is a beloved brother whom she has promised to protect. But how will she keep her promise when Theseus comes to slay him? Can she save the monster and the hero from each other?

WHAT: The Berkeley School stages: 

The Minotaur, a play by Carol S. Lashof

directed by Norman Johnson

 WHEN: Thursday, March 20 and Friday, March 21 at 7 pm

WHERE: Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley

The details: The Minotaur is a production of the middle school drama program at The Berkeley School.  Ticket availability for the general public is limited.  Contact the school office for more information: (510) 665-8800.   The play is ideally suited for audiences 8 and up; there is nothing in it to offend younger children but be warned that it is a tragedy.

The soccer mom connection: Director Norman Johnson and I met when our daughters were playing soccer together on a club team in Berkeley.  Through years of screaming ourselves hoarse on the sidelines (Go, Mavericks!), we also found time to chat about our mutual love for theater, literature, teaching, and writing. And I began pushing scripts to him. I am thrilled that Norman is now directing this play with his students.

Reaching further back in the annals of parenting as networking:  The Minotaur was originally written for and performed by the Young People’s Theatre of Ann Arbor, Michigan in a production directed by Kate Mendeloff.  Having worked with me in the context of adult professional theater, Kate invited me to write something that she could direct for the youth ensemble at YPT.  Collaborations followed on Persephone Underground and then The Minotaur.  But before we worked together as theater artists, we hung out with our babies together in the neighborhood—introduced by mutual friends on the grounds that we both had newborn daughters.

 Persephone Underground and The Minotaur are published and licensed by YouthPLAYS  <www.youthplays.com>

Thank you to the daughters, who are now all wonderful young adults: Erica, Midori, Elisabeth, and Nora.

[If you have come to this page looking for information or rights to perform Persephone Underground, The Minotaur, Options, or Clay–please visit  http://youthplays.com/

If you are looking for information or rights to Medusa’s Tale, Gap, Just Deserts, Disclosure or any of my other plays, please email me directly: <clashof@gmail.com>]