What choices would you make to take back your power?

Those Women Productions presents

IN PLAIN SIGHTStories you never knew you never knew

What choices would you make to take back your power?

The legendary characters of In Plain Sight will risk almost anything.

Inspired by classic tales such as Medea, Cinderella, and the Iliad, five Bay Area playwrights explore beyond the margins of our favorite stories, revealing hidden truths of gender and power. By turns harrowing and hilarious, this anthology of short plays ranges in tone from whimsical comedy to Southern Gothic.

IN PLAIN SIGHT plays weekends through September 20

The Metal Shop Theater

2425 Stuart St, Berkeley (1 block east of Telegraph)

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm.

Tickets available online via Brown Paper Tickets http://thosewomen.brownpapertickets.com/

& at the door beginning a half hour before show time.

Suggested donation: $0-$30

 

Those Women Productions practices Radical Hospitality.

We invite everyone to join our audience regardless of ability to pay.

The Plays

Mississippi Medea by Lee Brady

Pankhadi and the Prince by Patricia Reynoso

Palace Watch by Kat Meads

After the Prologue by Carol S. Lashof

When Briseis Met Chryseis by Carol S. Lashof

My Name Is Mother by Mimu Tsujimura

Directed by: Norman Johnson, Christine Keating, and Libby Vega

Ensemble cast includes: Alicia Bales, Ed Berkeley, Sharon Huff*, Alexandra Lee, Ria Meer, Louel Senores, and Suzanne Vito.
*Member, Actors Equity Association; IN PLAIN SIGHT is an Equity-approved project.

Please note that plays contain dark themes and disturbing imagery – not suited for children under 12.

IPS, postcard front

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Invite to a fight … PianoFight!

 A statue comes to life! It’s a miracle, for sure. But it’s also a major problem for Gail, an emerging artist on the verge of a breakthrough. She’s been commissioned to create a statue of a handsome young tennis player, not the real thing. If she fails to deliver, what will become of her career?
I’m thrilled to report: my short play Gail and Peter is part of PianoFight’s ShortLived comedy festival. The festival runs March 5th to April 18th at San Francisco’s “newest landmark entertainment venue” at 144 Taylor Street. Gail and Peter will mount the stage in Round 3, March 19-21, along with five other short comedies by fellow Bay Area theater artists. The complete line-up for Round Three is:
“Out of Tune” by Wylie Herman
“Tipsy Turtle Fourth Dimension” by Spencer Bainbridge
“The Chasm” by Earl T. Roske
“Gail and Peter” by Carol Lashof
“Baby Baby, Jesus” by Taste Better Wit
“J & J” by Handsome Daughter
Tickets for Round Three of ShortLived can be purchased here:  http://www.eventbrite.com/e/shortlived-round-3-tickets-15752261438
 
 What’s ShortLived? Here’s a message from PianoFight about the event:

TO ALL AUDIENCE MEMBERS EVERYWHERE
Have you lost faith in theater? Are you tired of large donors deciding what’s good, what’s bad, and what gets made? Then welcome to ShortLived, the largest audience-judged theater competition in the nation. 30 playwrights will battle for your love, affection, attention and votes. Who stays? Who goes? Who gets $5,000 and a month long run produced free of charge at SF’s newest landmark entertainment venue? Only you can decide.

And what’s PianoFight? Below is their self-description. I went Thursday night for the first time to check it out, and I can vouch that it’s true:

PianoFight is a full service restaurant and bar with a cabaret stage and two intimate theaters. We present New Work by New Artists, most of which is local. Shows run the gamut from world premiere plays to inventive sketch comedy, choose-your-own-adventure plays to audience-judged theater competitions, improv to variety shows, dance, live podcasts, film screenings and more. Plus we usually have a live band playing on our cabaret stage before and after shows. The beer is cold, the food is delicious and it’s all affordable. PianoFight – no drink minimums, no ticket fees, no bullshit.

http://www.pianofight.com/

Tickets for ShortLived can be purchased here:  http://www.eventbrite.com/e/shortlived-round-3-tickets-15752261438
Shows in Round 3 are March 19 and 20 at 8 pm, March 21 at 5 pm and 8 pm.  General admission is $20. Groups of 6 or more are only $12, so gather your friends and make it a party.  Hang out in the cabaret before the show, enjoy some great music and bar snacks, bring your drinks into the theater and have an amazing time.
Coming from the East Bay? I recommend taking BART. The theater is only two blocks from Powell Street Station.

Old Stories, New News

December 9, 2014

On ancient stories and current events:

This Friday, students at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas www.obu.edu will be performing my one-act play Medusa’s Tale. I’m thrilled of course. I’m thrilled anytime anybody anywhere performs any of my plays. And naturally I take it as a compliment to my skills as a playwright that since its 1991 publication in Plays in One Act, Medusa’s Tale has been performed all over the world. In 2014 it’s been produced at high schools in Oskaloosa, Indiana and Fountain, Colorado as well as at the San Diego Fringe Festival and the University of Tulsa. Previously, it has served as the subject for a senior thesis written by a Classics student at Monash University in Australia and has been performed by students in the English Drama Society at Peking University in Beijing (in English with Mandarin side titles). It has also been performed in London, Manhattan, San Francisco, Tokyo, Brussels, Guam, Fairbanks, Barstow, Kalamazoo … and so on. Mostly by high school and college students. It’s my most-produced play by far, and I doubt that its appeal comes entirely from the quality of my writing.

Medusa’s Tale is about rape. It’s about “justice” serving the needs of those in power. It’s about turning the victim into a scary thing so that instead of eliciting empathy, the monster can become fair game for the hero. In other words, it’s relevant to current events. But the story is a very old one. The plot comes straight from Ovid’s Metamorphosis: the god Poseidon rapes the girl Medusa in the goddess Athena’s temple. Athena gets angry. So she punishes Medusa by turning her into a monster with snakes for hair and the power to turn men to stone by looking at them. Later, with the help of Athena, a young man shows up to slay the monster, become a hero, and marry the princess. In my rendition of these events, Medusa tells her story to the hero Perseus. He is moved but kills her anyway, because he is as much doomed by circumstances to be a hero as she is to be a monster.

Evidently, young men and women from very many different cultures connect to the themes of this story. But suppose I had given the play a contemporary setting – let’s say a frat house at a large public university or the streets of a racially-segregated American city. Suppose I had written directly about date rape and slut-shaming. Or about police brutality and a racist legal system. Would that play be staged at a university whose most famous graduate is Mike Huckabee? Maybe. Probably not.

I’ve drawn on Greek mythology for the plots of several of my plays. My aim in donning classical clothing is not to sneak wolfish ideas past conservative sheep herders. Not exactly. It’s to avoid easy categorizations and judgments coming from any pre-established perspective. If you come to the theatre to see a play about a subject in the headlines, you will most likely arrive already knowing what you think. But if you come to see a play about Medusa, or the Furies, or Persephone, you may not anticipate your own reactions. You may unexpectedly find yourself in sympathy with the monster. Or maybe, to your even greater surprise, with the hero.

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