Thursday, January 17, 2008

Poets Theater 08 begins this Friday the 18th!

Small Press Traffic Poets Theater Festival
January 18, 2008
Timken Lecture Hall, California College of the Arts (directions)

Poetry — the practice of making things happen with language — has always had an affinity with the stage, whether it is in the performance of the “reading” or in the attention paid to the clash and clamor of words, feelings, and ideas as they “act” themselves out in the music of language-play. In San Francisco, the tradition of Poets Theater has long pushed that affinity further, as the Bay Area’s avant-garde literary communities continue to test the limits of both poetry and conventional drama. Challenging expectations of theater, of plot and character, of “proper” dramatic performances, Poets Theater also forges new spaces for writers and performers to collaborate on new terms, to take poetry off the page and onto the stage, where bodies and props can flop and body-pop, tangling themselves in the tumble of play-language and language-play. Indeed, what we will see tonight and next week are not so much the polished “results” of some mad experiments as much as the experiments themselves, in process, as the players articulate these new terms in the readings and enactments of scripts often designed to be “blendered” more than rendered. Working with no budgets, limited materials and rehearsal times, non-professional performers and so-called “curators,” Poets Theater demonstrates what alternative forms of aesthetic engagement can produce within the broader context of a mainstream culture conditioned to convention and predictability.

This year, we at Small Press Traffic are excited to present world premieres of several new works, along with new stagings of important Poets Theater works from the 70s and 80s (which we hope you’ll come to next Friday night, the 25th.) As with any artistic “tradition,” the links from past through the present need to be continually revisited and tested, so as to avoid any easy nostalgia or museumification of always-evolving forms and innovations. The play’s the thing, to be sure, but we hope instead to continue to present events in which directors, performers, artists and archivists work with (and against) the writers to keep these traditions alive in the most activated, of-the-moment, and playful way: the thing’s the play.

David Buuck, Cynthia Sailers & Stephanie Young
Small Press Traffic Poets Theater 08 Curators


written by CA Conrad, directed by Christian Nagler
Sometimes the world is so stressful, just watching the way people destroy one another for a little bit of money, or land, or power. Some days I feel hopeful that it will come to an end, this greed. I think IT’S GOT TO END! IT HAS TO! But what if it doesn’t? What if it just continues? What if there is a way this murderous world can manage to keep itself a functional killer?” Yes, Clifford Conrad is stressed out and he goes back to Mother, literally goes back to Mother for some rest. See THE OBITUARY SHOW, you’ll see what we mean!

Jen Smith: Freya
Mitche Manitou: Mother

Chris Gullo: Clifford Conrad
CAConrad: Cameraman’s voice
Jen Hess: original music
Ish Klein & Scott Johnston: film crew

Video recorded at WOODSHOP FILMS in Philadelphia, with generous assistance from the studio owners Marc Brodzick and Andrew Gellers.

UP IN ARMS: a scene at tense borders
written and directed by Mary Diaz
A translator tells the story of two warmongers who ceaselessly battle each other with words and weapons at the border of their suffering countries. When a weary cartographer happens upon their plight and attempts to help them resolve their conflict, his poignant message gets lost in translation.

Mary Diaz: Warmonger 1
Lula Chapman: Warmonger 2
Kevin Killian: The Translator/Hunch, the lost cartographer

written by Dana Ward, directed by Brandon Brown
Aging poet/radical Yoda is forced to confront his pomposity after a whimsical encounter with a creative young man.

Mary Diaz: Yoda
Cedar Sigo: Poet

RJ ROMEO AND JULIET (from The Code Poems)
written by Hannah Weiner, directed by Suzanne Stein
The poems and performance pieces from The Code Poems are from the INTERNATIONAL CODE OF SIGNALS, to be used by merchant and naval vessels to communicate important messages about the state of a vessel and the intent of its master or commander when there are language barriers. Signals can be sent by signal flag, blinker light, flag semaphore, Morse code, or by radio. Sample messages:

AC: I am abandoning my vessel.
AN: I need a doctor.
IT: I am on fire.

Wendy Taylor: Romeo
Tammy Fortin: Juliet
Alli Warren: Mike

written and directed by Arnold J. Kemp
“Dreaming would not free them from this endless reconstruction of self. The machine would not stop reconstructing their image.” Adapted for this staged reading from “Olive Oil from the Notebooks — a radio film”, INARMS uses readymade material, overheard speech, and observed gesture. Three voices speak out of impossible living and loving situations in an attempt to shift the perception of everyday reality from ignorance and unease to one of presence. INARMS is part of an ongoing production of works from the studio of artist Arnold J. Kemp, principal of Invisible Inc. and Black Arts Index.

Staged reading by:
Antonio Iannarone
Arnold J. Kemp
Kristin Lucas

Montage and mise-en-scene by Arnold J. Kemp and Antonio Iannarone

written and directed by sara m. larsen
Interspersed with collaged text from Shakespeare, Mallarme, and Dylan Thomas, in addition to the imagination of the author, A FIERCE VEXATION OF A DREAM is very loosely based on A Midsummer Nights Dream.

David Brazil: the duchess
David Larsen: pyramus the moon / the poet
sara m. larsen: hermia
Erika Staiti: larkspur
Chana Morgenstern: double cherry
Andrea Brooks: double cherry