In Plain Sight

IN PLAIN SIGHT: Stories you never knew you never knew

In September 2015, THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS presented In Plain Sight for a fully-staged three-week run at The Metal Shop Theater in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood. In Plain Sight is an anthology of original short plays offering fresh perspectives on classic stories. As much fun as it was for playwright-residence Carol Lashof and producing artistic director Libby Vega to work together on Carol’s play Just Deserts in 2014, they wanted to expand their circle of collaborators. They invited directors Norman Johnson and Christine Keating to join the team and put out a call for scripts to Bay Area playwrights. The company was delighted by the number, the quality, and the diversity of the submissions, though it meant they had to make difficult choices.

The result: THOSE WOMEN staged two vastly different versions of the Cinderella story: the whimsical comedy “Palace Watch” by Kat Meads and the darkly realistic “Pankhadi and the Prince” by Patricia Reynoso. The line-up also includes two contrasting portrayals of notorious mothers: Lee Brady’s tragicomic “Mississippi Medea,” in which a modern Medea appears on her favorite TV talk show, and Mimu Tsujimura’s lyrical drama “My Name Is Mother,” based on the legend of La Llorona. Two short plays by Carol Lashof will round out the evening. They are “When Briseis Met Chryseis,” a romance set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, and “After the Prologue,” in which the Wife of Bath tells you what women really want.

“Cinderella, Medea, and the weeping spirit La Llorona are among the opinionated female characters who…challenge the traditional power structure.” – East Bay Express

“…a provocative mix of voices and perspectives on these classic tales that may inspire the viewer to look back at the originals with new eyes.” – San Jose Mercury News 

Synopses

Mississippi Medea by Lee Brady

Lee Brady’s one-act re-imagines this classic myth in the American south, as a modern-day Medea tells her story on her favorite talk show. “Mississippi Medea” incorporates elements of the gothic, infusing dark humor into the story while preserving its tragic moral center.

Pankhadi and the Prince by Patricia Reynoso

“Cinderella” is given a grim yet realistic update in Patricia Reynoso’s play, which is set in contemporary India. Though the thirteen-year-old Amukta dreams of life as a princess, once she is sold into marriage with a much older man, she realizes her life will be anything but a fairytale.

Palace Watch by Kat Meads 

In this humorous short play, Kat Meads imagines “Cinderella” from the perspective of two birds stationed outside the palace. With lighthearted wit, these sentries speculate on the real relationship between the “cinder-ash girl” and the prince.

After the Prologue by Carol Lashof

“After the Prologue” is a lively retelling of Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath’s Tale,” remaining faithful to the original text while offering fresh insight for a modern audience. In Carol Lashof’s play, the Wife of Bath tells her story in her own words, ending with a valuable lesson about consent and romance.

When Briseis Met Chriseis, by Carol Lashof

“When Briseis Met Chriseis” tells the story of two women during the Trojan War, taken captive by Greek soldiers and forced into sexual slavery. Though their stories were overlooked in The Illiad, Carol Lashof creates a vivid tale of the bond between Briseis and Criseis, which allowed them to survive a dark reality of violence and abuse.

My Name is Mother, by Mimu Tsujimura

Tsujimura’s dream-like interpretation of the Mexican “La Llorona” myth tells the story of a young woman who, out of desperation, takes her children’s lives. Haunted by what she has done, she is joined by animal spirits who question her actions.

The Cast

Alicia Bales—otherwise known as ‘that woman’–is thrilled to team up with Those Women Productions! Trained as an actor, lately her primary theatre work has been behind the scenes as a voice and dialect coach. It’s a rare treat for her to take to the stage once again as a performer. Alicia has a private voice and speech practice in San Francisco, and teaches spoken voice in the Theatre Arts Department at Mendocino College. She holds an MA in Voice and Speech Studies from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and a BA in Theatre and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley. www.abalesvoice.com.

Ed Berkeley is a Bay Area theatre rookie (not for long). He moved out here back in September to get started on what he hopes will be a long and prosperous acting career. So far so good. You might have seen him in NCTC’s west coast premiere of “From White Plains” where he played Gregory. He was also in an exclusive performance of Measure for Measure and King Lear at the Metropolitan club, where he played the “fantastic” Lucio, and Cornwall. Ed is very excited to get started on In Plain Sight and work with what he already can see will be an amazing ensemble of writers, actors, and directors. You do not want to miss this!

Sharon Huff is very excited to be working with Those Women Productions, since she prides herself on being one of those women.  Her most recent roles were Mother Theresa and Henrietta Iscariot in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot for Aluminous Collective, and Langwedire/Scarecrow in Cutting Ball’s/Playwright’s Foundation’s workshop of Ozma of Oz. She also teaches, directs and does voiceover work, and is a resident artist with San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.

Alexandra Lee has been acting professionally for the past five years. Her credits include American Conservatory Theater’s A Christmas Carol from 2009-2011. She played Geina in American Conservatory theater’s Korzack’s Children and Bianca in After Juliet. She played Gloria in Circle of Life Theaters debut show Wait Until Dark. She is currently in the touring show of In and Out of Shadows with San Francisco Youth Theatre. Lee is represented by NYLO talent agency. She is fifteen years old and is a current sophomore at the Urban School of San Francisco.

Ria Meer is thrilled to return to the theater after several years being passionately engulfed in academia and social work — having studied Gender and Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and diving right into working with homeless female-identified folx at a local non-profit after. She is returning to her first love, performance, eager to explore and share untold stories with Those Women. Some favorite past roles include: Hay Fever (Sorel Bliss), Into the Woods (The Witch) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia). Thanks to her partner, R, for being so cool and fabulously quirky.

Louel Señores has spent the first half of 2015 battling through a temporary ileostomy and its corresponding ileostomy-reversal surgery… but if you’re reading this, then that means all of that is past now and he’s back doing theater (…and probably buried under medical bills)! Hooray! When he’s not acting, Louel can be found house managing at the Aurora Theatre or The Marsh, writing Berkeley Interactive Theater diversity-training scripts on campus somewhere, stage managing something, working at the cutest little frozen yogurt shop ever, West Coast Swing dancing, or hitting people with padded foam weapons while talking in a British accent. No, but really though. For more information , visit LouelSenores.com

Suzanne Vito is delighted to make her Bay Area stage debut with Those Women Productions, after participating in staged readings for early drafts of Carol Lashof’s plays Disclosure and Just Deserts. She has worked with Baltimore’s Spotlight Theater and Young Victorian Theatre Company, with Shakespeare in Santa Fe, and many others. Suzanne is also a freelance writer, currently hard at work on her first mystery novel. She recently fulfilled a long-time ambition to compete as a contestant on Jeopardy!

The Writers

Lee Brady is a San Francisco playwright whose work has been produced in various theaters across the country and across several oceans.  She has won San Francisco awards for her musical, “Southern Lights,” and for her regional comedy, “Home for the Wedding.”  Brady is an adjunct professor at Monterey Peninsula College, an actor as well as a playwright, and a long time drama critic for the Pacific Sun Newspaper.  Brady is also Co-Founder and Resident playwright for 3Girls Theatre (www.3girlstheatre.org), an organization that puts “women’s work onstage where it belongs.” Writing plays, however, will always be her first love, and seeing them produced her biggest thrill.  She is delighted to have her work seen by audiences of Those Women Productions.

Carol S. Lashof is Cofounder and Playwright-in-Residence at Those Women Productions. Her plays have been broadcast on BET and NPR and staged on five continents—from the Magic Theatre in San Francisco to Peking University in Beijing. Recent full-length plays include Just Deserts and Disclosure, both produced by Those Women Productions.  “After the Prologue” was first performed by Woman’s Will. “When Briseis Met Chryseis” was developed with the help of the San Francisco Olympians Festival. Carol holds a PhD from Stanford University and is Professor Emerita at Saint Mary’s College. She is a member of the International Centre of Women Playwrights and the Dramatists Guild of America.

Kat Meads’s short plays have been produced in NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oregon, Maryland, Arizona and the Midwest. Her play Husbands Found Dead won the Chameleon Productions Showcase Award and received the Judith Siegel Pearson Award in Drama from Wayne State University. Her feminist fairytale “Sleep” was performed by San Francisco’s Shee Theatre Company. Recent work has won SRO Productions’ Best of the Fest award, second place honors in St. Croix Festival Theater’s one-act contest, an Actors Theatre of Santa Cruz 8 Tens @ 10 award/production and has been produced byNorthern Arizona Playwriting Showcase (NAPS), a collaboration between Northern Arizona University’s Creative Writing Program and Theatrikos Theater Company. Her play about the night nurse who confessed to starting the fire that killed Zelda Fitzgerald, Matched, was a finalist in the Arts Club of Washington’s 2014 one-act contest. Produced by Silver Spring Stage’s One Act Festival in August 2014, it received Best Production, Best Director and Best Actress awards and was restaged at Maryland Community Theatre Festival in 2015. A native of North Carolina, Meads teaches in Oklahoma City University’s MFA program.

Patricia Reynoso was born and raised in California. She is the winner of the 2015 Highsmith Playwriting award and the 2014 Yeah, I Said Feminist playwriting award. Her Ten-minute play “The Hidden Room” was part of the Whoop ‘n’ Wail Festival in London and The Two Muses Theatre Women’s Playwriting Festival in February 2015. The Hidden Room will also be performed in the Detroit Fringe Festival in July 2015. In 2013 she developed “Nadleehi and the Coyote” for SFSU’s Greenhouse festival. She studies playwriting and will receive her MFA from San Francisco State University in 2015.

Born and raised in Japan, Mimu Tsujimura has always enjoyed writing stories and poems about plants, animals, stars and the moon, and people living amongst them. For the past eight years, she has worked as an actor with a number of Bay Area opera and theater companies, including West Edge Opera, Lamplighters Music Theatre, Crowded Fire Theater Company, The Cutting Ball Theater, and Magic Theatre. Despite the passion and joy that theaters have inspired in her for these past years, she has also been missing those nature-filled stories she experienced as a child in theaters in Tokyo and decided to create them herself. “My Name Is Mother” is the first play she has written.

The Directors

Norman Patrick Johnson has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from City College of New York. He studied acting in San Francisco at the Bay City Studios, where he completed a 2 year Meisner program. Norman’s first foray into directing came in 1997 when his daughter was in first grade and he was asked to assist on her school’s production of The Phantom Tollbooth.  Apart from teaching drama, Norman has also taught English and middle school Humanities. As of 2013 he has been the director of the Middle School Drama program at The Berkeley School. He is presently serving on the Arts Education Committee of the African American Shakespeare Company.

Christine Keating is a writer/director living in San Francisco. Directing credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Can’t Thread a Moving Needle, War Brides, and The Vagina Monologues. Christine has also worked, as playwright or director, with SF Olympians Festival, Magic Theatre, SF Theater Pub, Custom Made Theatre, Playwrights’ Center SF, TheatreWorks Young Playwrights Program, Santa Clara University, and downSTAGEright Theater as a playwright and a director. You can look at her face and read some things that came out of her brain at www.KeatingMarie.com.

Libby Vega is the Co-founder and Managing Artistic Director for Those Women Productions. She holds a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College and an MFA in Staging Shakespeare (emphasis directing) from Exeter University. Now a professional drama teacher, math tutor, and director, she has worked around the Bay Area for such organizations as the CalShakes Summer Conservatories, Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, and the San Francisco Olympians Festival.

The Tech Team

Beth Sheridan Donovan (Stage Manager) is new and delighted to be part of Those Women Productions. This spring she Assistant Directed for Piedmont Players. She’s always loved theater, from at least fourth grade on she was found on-stage and backstage, painting the stage etc. all through high school. In college she discovered her two loves, Directing and Philosophy. Unfortunately she left theater behind and chose Philosophy to as her degree subject. However, after completing her Masters, she has found her way back to the theater and is pretty sure this is where she’ll stay.

Audrey Ronningen is delighted to be returning as a Production Assistant with Those Women Productions, after working on the company’s 2014 fall debut, Just Deserts. Since graduating from UC Santa Barbara this June with a bachelor’s degree in English and Comparative Literature, she has been working as an author’s assistant in the Bay Area.

Prem Lathi has worked as a costumer for fifteen years in the Bay Area and has designed numerous shows for the Phoenix Theater, SF Playhouse, SF Pocket Opera and NCTC. Some of her favorites  include My Beautiful Launderette, Waiting  for Giovanni, Dear Harvey and Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins, for which she was nominated for a BATCC.

Samuel Raskin has done sound design work for Aurora Theatre, Berkeley Rep, SF Shakes, and the Strangefellowes Theatre Collective, of which he was a founding member. He lives in Oakland with his wife and their four and a half cats.

Molly Stewart-Cohn is a Berkeley native and a graduate of Vassar College. Her designs have been seen at Berkeley Playhouse, NCTC, and ACT Conservatory. She works as a freelance lighting technician, and is currently the master electrician at SF Playhouse.