Cutting Ball Theater has announced that it will add an additional four performances of its current hit production of TENDERLOIN, a World Premiere about the people and places in Cutting Ball Theater's neighborhood. Written by Annie Elias, with theater documentarians Tristan Cunningham, Siobhan Doherty, Rebecca Frank, Michael Uy Kelly, Leigh Shaw, and David Sinaiko (with additional writing by David Westley Skillman), and directed by Elias, TENDERLOIN plays now through June 3 (added performances: Thursday, May 31, 7:30pm; Friday, June 1, 8pm; Saturday, June 2, 8pm; Sunday, June 3, 5pm) at the Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor (277 Taylor Street) in San Francisco.
TENDERLOIN strives not only to bring Cutting Ball fully into its community, but literally brings the neighborhood into the theater. Using transcripts of interviews conducted by Annie Elias and the cast, six actors portray the subjects they interviewed, creating living portraits from which a portrait of the Tenderloin itself emerges. A powerful and confirming experience, TENDERLOIN honors the essence of the Tenderloin through the stories of the everyday people that make up this historic, and underrated, downtown San Francisco district.
TENDERLOIN was workshopped last spring as part of Cutting Ball Theater's RISK IS THIS...The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival, one of the only play festivals in America solely dedicated to experimental works for the stage. Since the workshop reading last spring, the writer/actors in TENDERLOIN have been gathering material to be used in this documentary theater piece. Each actor conducted three to five interviews with a variety of people who live and work in the Tenderloin, with the intention of getting a broad swath of perspectives on life in the Tenderloin. The interview subjects include activists, healers, police officers, street cleaners, artists, ex-junkies, immigrants, SRO residents, children, and Tenderloin movers and shakers. The interviews suggest a place that may not conform to an outsider's impressions given the neighborhood's harsh exterior, but speak instead of a deep love of the neighborhood and of its surprising beauty.
"When Cutting Ball's Artistic Director Rob Melrose asked me to create a documentary theater piece about the Tenderloin I looked at what my own experience has been with the neighborhood, which is that I would come here to go the theater and I would park as close to the theater as possible, cross the street quickly trying to avoid actually interacting with the neighborhood," said writer and director Annie Elias. Continued Elias, "When I began to scout out possible subjects for the actors to interview, the consistent response from prospective subjects was 'this is such an amazing place' and 'I want people to see what a great place this is.' One of those people was Mark Ellinger who has devoted many hours to photographing the Tenderloin area and working on a history of the community. The real love of the neighborhood that many of our interview subjects speak of has been eye-opening for me, and I am sure that this production of TENDERLOIN will be an eye-opening, as well as entertaining, experience for Cutting Ball's audiences as well."
Co-founded in 1999 by theater artists Rob Melrose and Paige Rogers, Cutting Ball Theater presents avant-garde works of the past, present, and future by re-envisioning classics, exploring seminal avant-garde texts, and developing new experimental plays. Cutting Ball Theater has partnered with Playwrights Foundation, and the Magic Theatre/Z Space New Plays Initiative to commission new experimental works. The company has produced a number of World Premieres, West Coast Premieres, and re-imagined various classics. Voted "Best Theater Company" in the 2010 San Francisco Bay Guardian Best of the Bay issue, Cutting Ball Theater also earned the Best of SF award in 2006 from SF Weekly, was selected by San Francisco Magazine as Best Classic Theater in 2007, and received the 2008 San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie award for outstanding talent in the performing arts. Cutting Ball Theater was featured in the February 2010 issue of American Theatre Magazine.
Following TENDERLOIN, RISK IS THIS...THE CUTTING BALL NEW EXPERIMENTAL PLAYS FESTIVAL returns to round out the season in June with two new works for the stage and five Risk Translations of August Strindberg's Chamber Plays in new translations by Paul Walshor.