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?

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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.

 

 

 

 

November. Not my favorite month. Until now.

If you have come to this page looking for information or rights to perform Medusa’s Tale, Persephone Underground, The Minotaur, Options, And tomorrow and tomorrow … or Clay–please visit  https://www.youthplays.com/

If you are looking for information or rights to any of my other plays, please email me directly: <clashof@gmail.com>

When I was growing up in Chicago, the lengthening darkness at this time of year brought to mind Emily Dickinson’s:

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

I was warned to be home by dark.  I can’t recall when the danger of sexual assault was specifically named, but the fear of rape hemmed me in throughout my adolescence, and my fear heightened as the days shortened.  So I did not like November.  But this November promises to be my favorite month of the year, because productions of my work are busting out all over:

  • In San Francisco, as part of the SF Olympians Festival Nov. 13, 8 pm at the Exit Theater:The Girl with Sparkling Eyes and A Goddess in her Grief (short plays about love in a time of human trafficking)  https://www.facebook.com/events/688412094520116/
  • In Washington, DC, presented by Tasty Monster Productions November 19, 7 pm at The Corner Store Arts Center: Just Deserts (full-length comedy about getting what you deserve, or not)  https://www.facebook.com/events/298054237003964/
  • At the University of Arizona and the University of Guam, student productions of Medusa’s Tale (one-act play about the rape and transformation of Medusa)
  • In Bisbee, Arizona as part of the Bisbee Community Chorus’ production “A Miner’s Life”: We Live in Mud, a song with words by Carol Lashof & music by James McCarthy, from 17 Days by James McCarthy http://www.jamesmccarthy.co.uk/17-days.html

Perhaps it is no coincidence that fear of darkness and monsters feature prominently in these pieces.  One is set in hell, another in a collapsed mine … Happy Halloween.

Sonnet inspired by the Copiapó mine accident, August 5, 2010
by Carol S. Lashof, December 2010

We live in mud, we breathe hot dirt, we cry
like babies when we think no one can hear
us crying.  We say we’re not afraid to die.
Aloud I say that help will come, but fear,
like dust, comes in with every breath, and I—
I am so afraid of losing you, my dear.
I never should have left the calm and bright
soft warmth of you.  What am I doing here,
so far from you and living without light,
two thousand feet below the earth, so near
to hell, so far from you.  Will you be all right?
We live in mud, we breathe hot dirt, we fear
to starve in the dark, far from the ones we love,
trapped here below while life goes on above.

Summer events: from felines to Furies

From felines to Furies, from the flatlands of Berkeley to the heights of Mount Olympus and the Adirondacks,  I’ve got a lot going on this summer theatrically speaking.  It’s all fun and affordable, so come out and enjoy!  I’ll try to be brief.  Follow the links for more information.  Thanks!
  • What I’m writing now:  two short plays for the fourth annual San Francisco Olympians Festival, collectively titled “Who’s Your Daddy?” or “When Briseis Met Chryseis.”  Twenty-nine other Bay Area playwrights are also in the process of writing their plays for this year’s festival on the theme of the Trojan War, and we are in the midst of waging a fundraising campaign to pay the rent on the theatre and a modest (well, tiny) stipend to the 100+ artists involved.  It’s a really, really good cause and we have less than two weeks to meet our goal, so please contribute what you can: $1, $5, $50 … it all helps. Thank you! Donate here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/san-francisco-olympians-festival-iv-trojan-requiem [The festival itself will take place in San Francisco November 6-23.  Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.]
  • The cats are back!  If you missed Women in Solodarity: Cat Ladies in April because EVERY SHOW WAS SOLD OUT, now is your (last) chance to enjoy this hilarious evening of monologues and solo performances on the theme of … yes, Cat Ladies. My contribution to the evening is a monologue called “The Metamorphosis” about a strange thing that happens to a teenage girl in the middle of her English class one Monday morning.  Two encore performances on June 10 & 11 in Central Berkeley.    Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/390190
  • I will be participating in a 36-Hour Play Festival at the Live Oak Theatre in North Berkeley on Monday, June 24 to raise money for a women’s Safe House in San Francisco.  I can’t tell you what I’ll be writing about because I don’t know yet.  Here’s how it works:  on Sunday morning, the playwrights, six of us, meet our actors and director and are assigned a topic; we have until Sunday at 9 pm to write a 10-minute play; the plays are rehearsed on Monday during the day, and then on Monday night, they are performed.  It’s kind of like reality TV–but better. Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/389206
  • My newest full-length play, Just Deserts, a comedy about getting what you deserve–or not, runs from July 11 to September 1 at Forever Wild Theatre in upstate New York.  Performances will take place Thursdays-Sundays at Lake George Battlefield Park in the Adirondack mountains. Information (and pretty pictures of the mountains) here: http://foreverwildtheatre.org/
To summarize:
 
NOW until June 7: You can do it from anywhere: Support the San Francisco Olympians Festival IV: Trojan Requiem indiegogo campaign:
June 10-11, Berkeley: Women in Solodarity: Cat Ladies:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/390190

June 24, Berkeley: UWAC’s “Empowering Women,” a 36-Hour Play Festival (benefit for San Francisco Safe House)
July 11-September 1, Lake George, New York, Just Deserts at Forever Wild Theatre Collective

 

Something strange happens to Georgia in the middle of Monday morning: “The Metamorphosis,” a monologue

THE METAMORPHOSIS

a monologue

by Carol S. Lashof

(GEORGIA appears to be an ordinary fourteen or fifteen-year-old girl.  She is sitting on a chair, talking to someone standing in front of her.  She often looks away from her listener, down at her hands and her body. She is wearing jeans and a loose-fitting jacket with long sleeves that she pulls down over her hands.)

GEORGIA

            Hi, how are you?

Me?  I’m not sure.  I feel okay now—but something weird happened to me in school today. Like nothing that’s ever happened to me before …

I don’t know if you can help me.  Um.

(Pause. Fidgets. Then in a rush.)

But maybe I should explain first about the book we’ve been reading in English—it’s this weird story about a guy who turns into some kind of a gross bug thing.  Like a cockroach?  Or, or, a dung beetle.  Which is a bug that eats shi—I mean, crap. But you probably knew that already, huh?  I mean, even if you don’t learn about insects in vet school—or do you?

But, still, you’re probably, like, an expert on all kinds of animals, right?  Not only regular dogs and cats, but other weird creatures.

Oh.  Oh, no.  I’m not here about a pet tarantula or whatever.  And I know I didn’t have an appointment, and I haven’t seen you since last summer—when my cat got cancer and you had to put him to sleep.  And you were so nice.  And probably this is your lunch hour or something, so … what I mean is, thank you.  For making time for me.

Anyway.  I was saying.  We’ve been reading this story about this guy Gregor who turns into a bug.  And the bug he turns into is huge and ugly and definitely not something you’d want crawling around your bedroom.

Well, I wouldn’t, anyway.

Then.  This morning. The teacher pairs everybody up with a partner to make lists of questions to talk about in class discussion.  And I’m hella pumped because I’m paired with this guy Robert who I’ve liked forever.

Now, Robert is something you would want crawling around your bedroom.

Well, if you were a teenage girl, you would.

So I’m trying to sound smart to impress Robert but not like stuck up or anything?  You know what I mean?  And I say, “In the story, when Gregor’s father throws an apple at him—do you think it’s significant that it’s an apple?”  I’m thinking, you know, about the garden of Eden and everything.  And Robert, he for sure sees what I’m getting at because he says, “If you offered me an apple, I would totally bite it.”

And I’m thinking, yeah!  He likes me!  And I’m also thinking, I bet he thinks that’s a pretty smart question.  Because he’s a good student too, like me.  And then he says, “You know what I think?” And I say “What?”

And he says, “I think tight sweaters were invented for girls like you.”

(Pause.)

And that kinda stops my train of thought about the insect-guy right there.  Like, dead in its tracks.  I mean, I want to be thinking about good discussion questions—because that’s the kind of student I am. Usually. The kind teachers count on to do the work, even when everybody else is goofing off.  Do you know what I mean?

But what I’m actually thinking is about how good I look in that sweater, and how it’s soft like cats’ fur, so it kinda makes people wanna touch me when I’m wearing it—Hey, is it true that cats are so silky because they eat raw meat? I read that somewhere.

Really?  It is. That’s so gross.  I’m not sure I wanted to know that.

And I was totally not sure I wanted Robert to know I knew how hot I looked in the sweater I was wearing. And I definitely didn’t want him to think I was wearing it because of him, even though, yeah, I guess I was.

And so I’m chasing these thoughts around and around in my head like a cat chasing a mouse, and—

Meowwrr!

(GEORGIA covers her mouth.)

I’m sorry!

(GEORGIA’S voice is taking on a feline quality in spite of her efforts to speak like a person.)

Ummmm.  Errrr.  Anyhowwlll— Anyhow.  I’m trrrying to think of what’s the rrright thing to say to Rrrroberrt.  Robert.  When ssssuddenly he ssstarrrts sstaring at me really hard.  Sstrraight at the middle of my face.  I think CRAP!  I must have some humongous zit on my nose or something.  The way he’s looking at me.  Horrified.         Meowr!

(GEORGIA makes a terrific effort to control her voice.)

So I reach up automatically to cover my face, to hide what I think must be the grossest, ugliest, hugest zit ever, and I feel … whiskers.  Long stiff cat whiskers.  And I’m thinking—what if this isn’t going to stop with whiskers?  What if I’m turrrning into a for rrrreeall cat, with furrr and claws and a tail and everrrrrything, rright in the middle of the classrrrroom—meow—in the middle of Monday—meow—morning?

(Regaining control)

And I couldn’t stay in the classroom turning into a cat, could I? So I grabbed my jacket off the back of my chair and pulled it on and ran out of the room.

And then I stood in the hallway, just breathing for a minute, and pretty soon, I started to feel a little bit better, a little bit more like myself, you know?  But still pretty weird.  So I thought about going to see the school nurse, but I didn’t think she’d know how to deal, you know?  And then I thought of you.

So can you help me?

Help me … be me, I guess.

END OF MONOLOGUE

 

When a young man walks into hell seeking help to kill his mother, the order of the universe hangs in the balance.

Symmetry Theatre Company in Berkeley presents a stage reading of Just Deserts by Carol S. Lashof directed by Chloe Bronzan on Sunday, April 21 at 7 pm in the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. Berkeley CA. http://www.symmetrytheatre.com/

featuring: Louise Chegwidden,* Louel Senores, Megan Kilian Uttam,* and Valerie Weak*

 * Member AEA.  Equity approved project.

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–he has killed his mother to avenge his father’s death–and 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 of the mother.  I continue to be disturbed by our culture’s denial of mothers as moral agents even while we elevate 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.  As I imagine it, the turning point comes when Orestes seeks the help of The Furies to kill his mother …