SPUNK Makes Bay Area Top Ten Lists for 2012

Patricia McGregor by Matt Holliday

Patricia McGregor by Matt Holliday

So far, so good: Patricia McGregor’s 2012 Cal Shakes production of Spunk is number four on Chad Jones’ Theater Dogs top ten, and also made Sam Hurwitt’s Idiolect 2012 round-up. In addition, Jones named Cal Shakes Associate Artist Stacy Ross his MVP of the year, giving a shot-out to her fellow AA James Carpenter along the way.

Stay tuned: We’re certain to have more to list as the lists keep coming!


Ask Philippa: SPUNK Edition

Philippa Kelly, resident dramaturg for Cal Shakes and production dramaturg for Spunk, shares her thoughts on the current production, and invites your questions. Spunk runs July 4–29, 2012.

Spunk Inside Scoop by Jay Yamada

Philippa Kelly, Margo Hall, Patricia McGregor, and L. Peter Callender at the Inside Scoop event for SPUNK; photo by Jay Yamada.

To honor …  and adapt … Black southern dialect forms the living heartbeat of this musical theater piece, lovingly made by George C. Wolfe in 1982, in which the Broadway genius—already a significant star by the age of 35—adapted three of Zora Neale Hurston’s short stories to create Spunk. An anthropologist as well as an artist, Hurston used the language of her southern people—not the language of Dickens or Shakespeare or even of Richard Wright—to represent the world she came from. She saw oral culture as the key to the selves that slip down through the family tree: the spirits of parents and grandparents that live on in tongues, not texts.

Are you going to see our  production of  Spunk? Do you have questions or comments about the production’s music, cast, themes, creative choices, or anything else? Please leave them in the comments, and I’ll be sure to respond.


Original Music from SPUNK

SPUNK costume sketches by designer Callie FloorHere are a couple of original musical compositions by Anthony Michael Peterson, a.k.a. Tru, who plays Guitar Man in our upcoming production of Spunk. These tracks, recorded by Will McCandless, are similar to the original music Tru is adding to Chic Street Man’s already smokin’ score.

Tru’s ukulele ditty
Tru’s acoustic number
Tru on slide guitar 



Spunk Cocktail Contest

Spunk will grace the Bruns stage with joyous poetic language, powerful movement, and the wailing sounds of the blues this July. What similarly flavorful and fulfilling cocktail would you wish to sip while soaking up the Spunk experience?

Invent a bourbon-based drink, name it, and tell us about it no later than Friday, July 6 one of these ways:

  • Email marketing@calshakes.org with the subject header “Spunk cocktail contest.”
  • Post your recipe on Twitter with the hashtag #zoracocktail.
  • Share on our Facebook wall.

The creator of the winning cocktail will be rewarded with their choice of a Spunk T-shirt or free entry to our July 12 pre-performance Cal Shakers party at the Bruns. 

Click here for more information about the party.


Spunk Song Contest: The journey is the reward

Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington rehearsing onstage at the Savoy, 1948; photo © Wayne Miller / Magnum Photos.

What song helped you along your personal journey? The dynamic characters in Spunk, stories by Zora Neale Hurston, adapted by George C. Wolfe, embody the all-too-human experience of struggle, love, loss, and—perhaps most of all—finding a place to call home.

Submit songs that have inspired and fueled your journey—literally or metaphorically—no later than June 11 to marketingintern@calshakes.org, tweet it with the hashtag #spunkjourney, or post it on our Facebook wall. We’ll include a list of the most popular and our other favorites in the Spunk program, play them at our opening night post-performance party, and post the playlist online! Spunk’s characters “git to the git with some pain n’ some spit n’ some spunk.” What songs git you to the git?

Here are some songs submitted by the Cal Shakes staff to get you thinking:

Mumford & Sons “After the Storm
Simon and Garfunkel “Homeward Bound”
Cole Porter “Don’t Fence Me In”
Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney “Far Away Places”
Jolie Holland “Goodbye, California”
Genesis, “Follow You, Follow Me”
The Beatles “Blackbird”
James Taylor “Carolina In My Mind”
Pulp “Weeds”
Journey “When the Lights Go Down in the City”
Green Day “Christie”
The Goo Goo Dolls “Broadway”
The D.I.’s “Mohawk vs. D.A.”
Rusted Root “Send Me on My Way”
Coldplay ”Fix You”
Tom Petty “Learning to Fly”
Jack Penate “Pull My Heart Away”







Ask Philippa: Off-season Edition!

Philippa Kelly, Resident Dramaturg for Cal Shakes, shares her thoughts and answers your questions on our upcoming 2012 season programming and about productions past.

Philippa Kelly by Jay Yamada

Photo by Jay Yamada.

Throughout his 20-year writing career, Shakespeare was fascinated with metaphors of rehearsing and scripting: the very things we do in life to re-make the past and to predict and forestall the future. No matter how we might wish it, there is no rehearsal that can prepare us for, or insulate us against, the vagaries of life itself; and there are limitless possibilities for misspeaking our intentions and mishearing what we ought to understand. This is the stuff of comedy as well as tragedy, history as well as romance.

What was Shakespeare doing in the “lost years”, the period immediately prior to 1592? What were his preoccupations when the 35-year-old author wrote Hamlet, at the end of the 16th century? Why was The Tempest one of his very last plays, even though up to that time he was in still in the full vigor of his life and production schedule? Thoughts, questions, opinions about Shakespeare or about any of his plays (they need not just concern Hamlet and The Tempest), are welcome in the “comments” section below. Also welcome are questions about George C. Wolfe and Zora Neale Hurston, whose Spunk we’ll be doing next season, as well as Noël Coward, whose Blithe Spirit is third in the Main Stage line-up.