North Coast Journal banner

June 16, 2005
Behind the Stage Door

The cutting edge


IN YET ANOTHER feather for Dell'Arte's well decorated headdress, the company has just received the 7th annual Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theatre along with two other companies, one from New York City and the other from France.

[Joan Schirle on stage]The Otto comes at an opportune time, because over the next fortnight Dell'Arte hosts the first ever Ensemble Theatre Festival, a project of the Network of Ensemble Theaters, bringing together 14 touring companies from across the U.S. for a spectacular series of performances running Tuesday, June 21 to Sunday, June 26, with shows at Dell'Arte in Blue Lake and at Humboldt State University.

"This is the kind of cutting edge theater that people would go all the way to New York to see, and here it is in Humboldt County," said Dell'Arte's producing artistic director, Michael Fields.

The festival begins next Tuesday, June 21, with a sold out performance of Dell'Arte's sexy homegrown comedy, The Golden State. Playwright Lauren Wilson reworked the classic Molière farce about a miser and his tortured children, casting the company's founding artistic director, Joan Schirle, as a miserly widow surrounded by the products of her obsession. [photo at right] Local audiences have the privilege of attending a pre-fest run this weekend, Friday through Sunday, June 17-19 at the Carlo Theatre in Blue Lake. Reservations are strongly recommended for the three shows; showtime is at 8 p.m.

The festival also includes the world premier of a new piece by the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Based on John Perkins' best-selling book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Doing Good is a political comedy exploring American influence in global affairs and the apparent contradiction that the more we try to do for them the more they hate us. Learn why through the hysterically twisted mirror of this internationally acclaimed theater company which, contrary to some expectations, talks, sings and wails. Doing Good runs twice at Dell'Arte's Rooney Amphitheatre: Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 25 at 3:30 p.m.

Another San Francisco-based company, Campo Santo, offers Fist of Roses, a play using music, dance and human beat-boxing to examine the roots of domestic violence. Performances are on Wednesday and Thursday, June 22 and 23, at 9 p.m. in Dell'Arte's Carlo Theatre.

All the way from Manhattan, SITI Company presents Death and the Ploughman, written in 1401 by Johannes Von Saaz. Having lost his cherished wife, a bereaved husband challenges Death for an explanation. The age of the piece vanishes because people face the same issues, sorrows and pains every day in the modern world. The play is described as haunting, physical, humorous and precise by other reviewers. See for yourself at HSU's Van Duzer Theatre on Wednesday, June 22, at 7 p.m.

From Theatre Grottesco and Sideshow Physical Theatre comes Dream Inside Another, a merger of dance and theater with Latin American magic realism based on stories by Isabel Allende, running Thursday, June 23 at 3:45 p.m. in the Van Duzer.

From Austin, Texas, comes Rude Mechanicals and their piece, Cherrywood. Described as "so wild, it's feral," the frenetic mystery involves a werewolf recruitment party, Jello shots, karaoke, gunplay and a glass of milk. That's Friday, June 24 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m. at the Carlo Theatre.

Representing Southern California at this diverse festival, Los Angeles-based About Productions presents the story of Mexican-American men in the early part of the 20th Century. By the Hand of the Father features original music by Alejandro Escovedo at the Van Duzer on Friday, June 24 at 7 p.m.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece is a hip hop musical from the Universes theater company. Called Slanguage, it's described as a Brooklyn to Bronx subway ride. Join the American dream as a cross-section of New York City shares the urban landscape in gospel, rap, blues, poetry, song and dance. Reviewers, including one from the New York Times, have high praise for the piece describing it as "a work of heart and soul that distills the essence of the city." See it at the Van Duzer Saturday, June 25, at 9 p.m.

Fields pointed out that in addition to Humboldt theater lovers, "There are more than 200 people coming from outside this region, including actors, heads of most of the major arts foundation and national performing arts presenters. As a result, at press time the other shows in the festival are sold out and advance tickets are advised for all performances. For more information call 668-5663 or visit or



Monday, June 20 to Saturday, July 16 Ferndale Repertory Theatre's Young Actors Workshop, call 786-LIVE or visit for details.

Thursday, June 23 to Saturday, July 16, Redwood Curtain Theater presents the comedy, Wonder of the World.

See or call 443-7688 for more information.



Comments? Write a letter!

North Coast Journal banner

© Copyright 2005, North Coast Journal, Inc.