Rehearsals have started for Life Is a Dream!

Life Is a Dream castmates Sean San José, Tristan Cunningham, Amir Abdullah, and Sarah Nina Hayon get ready to rehearse.

Last week rehearsals started for the second production of our season, Life Is a Dream. The cast and creative team mingled with staff, producers and crew in the Cal Shakes rehearsal hall for a quick meet and greet before diving right into a read through of Pulitzer Prize-winner Nilo Cruz’s adaptation and translation of the Spanish Golden Age classic by Pedro Calderón de la Barca.

The play follows Prince Segismundo, whose father, King Basilio, locked him up in a tower when he was born, after receiving a chilling prophecy about the prince’s future. When his son is a young man, Basilio has a change of heart and decides to release him in hope that he could in fact become king, but having been treated like a prisoner his entire life, he turns into the monster his father feared. He is then drugged and locked back up in the tower. When he wakes up he is told the experience was just a dream, but when a rebel army forms to join him in the fight to restore his rightful place on the throne, he is given a final opportunity to be a better man. Segismundo’s tale, made more accessible and modern by Cruz, raises questions about what we as humans can control, and what we can’t—what is free will, and what is left up to fate.

To interpret this rarely produced, but beautiful work, director Loretta Greco—the current artistic director of the Magic Theatre—has gathered an exciting ensemble that is a blend of familiar faces and ones that like Greco, are making their Cal Shakes debut. Sean San José, who was last seen at the Bruns as the title character in 2013’s American Night: The Ballad of Juan José will take on the role of Segismundo. Breakfast at Mugabe’s Adrian Roberts will play his father Basilio, and Drama Desk-nominee Sarah Nina Hayon is Segismundo’s unlikely ally Rosaura. In an interwoven plot line, Rosaura stumbles across Segismundo’s chamber when she and her servant Clarin (the very funny Jomar Tagatac) are on a quest for revenge on Rosaura’s ex, Astolfo (Amir Abdullah), who also happens to be Basilio’s nephew, and next in line for the throne. Tristan Cunningham, whose Cal Shakes credits include last season’s The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, plays Estrella, Basilio’s niece and Astolfo’s latest conquest, and Cal Shakes veteran Julian López-Morillas is Segismundo’s tutor, Clotaldo.

Click here for tickets and follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for more candid shots of this handsome cast!


Frequently Asked Questions About ALLELUIA, THE ROAD

Alleluia Creative Collaborators

Photos of Alleluia creative collaborators by Joan Osato.

We hope you’re planning on experiencing Luis Alfaro’s Alleluia, The Road at Intersection for the Arts, co-produced by Cal Shakes, Campo Santo, and Intersection. Come ready to take in a new and exciting production in an intimate, immersive environment, with visual arts surrounding you and players performing right next to you.

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions, devised to enhance your visit to Alelluia.

Where do the performances take place? Performances of Alleluia, The Road take place at Intersection for the Arts, not at Cal Shakes’ Bruns Amphitheater.

Where is Intersection for the Arts located? Intersection is located inside the San Francisco Chronicle building at 925 Mission Street, Suite 109, between Fifth and Sixth Streets in downtown San Francisco. The ZIP code is 94103, should you be using a futuristic device to navigate your passage.

How do I get there by car? From the freeway, take the Fifth Street/Downtown exit; turn left onto Harrison; take the first right onto Sixth Street; then, make a right onto Mission.

Is there parking nearby? Some street parking is available in surrounding alleys, but by far the easiest option is the parking garage at Fifth and Mission, directly across from the Chronicle building.

How do I get there by public transportation? Intersection is conveniently located one-and-a-half blocks from the Powell Street BART station (use the BART Trip Planner to ensure a timely arrival!) and numerous MUNI lines, including the 14 Mission.

Exactly which door in the Chronicle building do I enter through, and how is it marked? Intersection is located at the 925 entrance of the Chronicle building, which is up Mission Street, heading toward Sixth Street, and is not to be confused with the 901 entrance that is closer to the Fifth Street corner.

How do I get into the event space? The door to 925 will be unlocked, and signage and/or staff will direct you to the gallery. The box office is located in the gallery, where you will collect your ticket and program before moving on to experience the first part of the Califas visual arts installation before being directed to the show from there.

Is there assigned seating? Nope, this venue features general admission seating.

I know I already bought tickets, but if I want to buy more when I get there, how much will they cost? $30.

How long is the show with intermission? The show is approximately two hours long, plus a 15-minute intermission.

What’s happening at intermission? Will there be anything I can spend my money on? At intermission we invite you to spend more time with the Califas visual arts installations in both the performance space and the gallery. And there will be both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages for sale.

Will the gallery be open during intermission? See above.

What if I have more questions? Feel free to contact the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510.548.9666 or between the hours of 10am–12pm or 1–5pm, Monday–Friday.


The Triangle Lab: What’s in a Name?

A report on the naming of our partnership with Intersection, courtesy of Partnership Project Director Rebecca Novick.

Rebecca NovickLast August, I was invited by Jonathan Moscone and Deborah Cullinan (executive director of Intersection for the Arts) to help develop the partnership they had formed. After a successful collaboration some years ago on Hamlet: Blood in the Brain, Cal Shakes and Intersection wanted to work together on something larger than creating one new play;  with a generous grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation in-hand, the staff from both organizations had been meeting for some time to determine what this partnership would look like. They had some goals and projects in mind but it was proving harder than they had expected to get started: The two organizations worked in very different ways, both staffs were tremendously busy with their regular work, and little things like different calendar systems and big things like different approaches to season planning were all adding up to insurmountable.

With so much conviction from the leaders of both organizations, and so much talent on the two staffs, I knew it wouldn’t take much to unlock the potential of this partnership, but one thing was puzzling me: I didn’t know what to call the project. What started out as a minor administrative question—what should I write on my file folder? What should I name the folder in my computer?—quickly emerged as a key issue we needed to address. As Shakespeare can tell you, the names of things matter very much, and if you can’t name something, you may not know yet what it is.

Many meetings later, while deep in discussion of the kind of community relationships we wanted to create, I found myself drawing a triangle, showing the connections between a theater, artists, and community members. “That’s it!,”  Jonathan exclaimed. “That’s the name!”  Thus was born the Triangle Lab. A lab (because we’re experimenting) and a triangle because we are examining the triangular relationship between artists, institutions, and communities. We want to find ways to strengthen each side of the triangle and to make sure we are putting equal value on each of the corners. This name proposes that we always consider the community that a play might engage as much as we consider what artists we’re working with, and that we carefully work to connect artists to communities at every stage of the process.

The goal of the Triangle Lab—now a program run jointly by Cal Shakes and Intersection for the Arts—is to learn how to “make new plays together,” that is to say, how to make new plays with theater institutions, artists, and community members working in close collaboration, as equal partners. We’re aiming to expand who participates in theater-making and how they participate.

Our first experiments will invite people, in many different ways, to tell the stories of their places (their homes, the places they come from, the journeys that have brought them to the place they now call home). These experiments will surround and enrich two productions of work by artists who deeply explore place. Spunk (the second show in Cal Shakes’ 2012 season) showcases Zora Neale Hurston’s intricate stories of African-American life during the Harlem Renaissance while Allelulia (to be produced at Intersection in 2013 with Jonathan Moscone directing), by distinguished playwright Luis Alfaro, traces a journey up Highway 99 from Disneyland to San Francisco. Though these plays are stories by renowned artists, in the Triangle Lab we believe that everyone is a storyteller—we want to invite as many people as we can to tell stories about their places. Stay tuned for more information on how you can participate in this exploration.


New Works/New Communities play goes to Edinburgh Fringe

This weekend, Oaklanders will get another chance to see Hamlet: Blood in the Brain as Oakland Technical High School’s award-winning drama department presents the play for three nights. Naomi Iizuka’s reimagining of the Shakespeare tragedy transports the scandalous classic to the drug-ravaged streets of mid-1980s Oakland; as American High School Theatre Festival winners, Oakland Tech will tour the production around the Bay Area this spring—including a Feb 24 performance at Stanford and an excerpt performance at Oakland’s popular street festival. Art Murmur, on March 5—before traveling all the way to Scotland to present Blood in the Brain at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival!

Back in 2003, Cal Shakes partnered with renowned playwright Iizuka and San Francisco’s Campo Santo—the resident theater company at Intersection for the Arts—to launch this first New Works/New Communities project. The play was developed over the course of three years of grassroots community engagement that included community conversations and public readings, and culminated in a sold-out eight-week run at Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco. (Pictured above, Sean San José and Ryan Nicole Peters perform at Intersection; photo by Dave Nowakowski.)

We are so pleased that Oakland Tech is performing this play, and we congratulate them on their AHSTF win. Break a leg!

Click here for more info on the Oakland Tech performances.
Click here for more info on New Works/New Communities, or get regular updates on our new play and community development efforts by signing up for our email list and clicking the box for New Works/New Communities.