So I am pleased to officially announce that my next project will be CHAMPAGNE, my ode to sex, drugs and Silicon Valley.
Having the first tableread tonight at the Playwrights Foundation here in San Francisco, and I am extremely excited for this volatile piece.
The play will be produced in May, and will be the inaugural production of 6NewPlays, a Bay Area playwrights collective I co-founded alongside five of the most awesome dramatists in the Bay (and, therefore, also the world).
Anyway, figured I’d keep you updated and happy. There will be much more information to come.
THE SPEAKEASY is officially open as of tonight. I’ve worked on this piece for the past two years (and it was one of the major reasons I stayed here in California), leading a group of writers in crafting a living novel set in a 1923 San Francisco saloon. It’s been a huge ride leading to drunken shenanigans in Vegas to pick up a roulette wheel and having a “party nap” in a hot tub during a story retreat in Tahoe, as well as being nominally homeless for over half a year.
Oh yea, and we kinda had to reinvent how theatre works to accommodate this beast. It’s been a massive, challenging learning experience, and remains the largest work I’ve ever had a hand in.
[in regards to my insanely turbulent but oftentimes blessed year, not about myself].
I’m sitting in the Las Vegas airport right now, not gambling, but waiting for a delayed flight back to Oakland after a very peaceful Thanksgiving visit to Michigan.
I’m also reflecting on the fact that the two major reasons I completely altered my life and remained in the Bay Area are rapidly and beautifully coming to fruition.
The Speakeasy, a vast project (think 350-page living world) two years in the making, is in rehearsal and opens in just over a month (get tickets here). The journey has been perilous, but watching actors breathe life into these words is remarkably rewarding (it always is, but yet somehow stays surprising).
Tonight I have a dinner/coming-out-party with the Pit Crew, a playwright collective that’s been in the works for about the same time. I’m a founding member along with five other Bay playwrights. According to the plan, I’ll have more exciting news soon about 2014.
But, anyway, just thought I’d do a Thanksgiving check-in with the world on this official channel (you can always get less official updates by following me on Twitter or Facebook–I’m not just on social media to tweet at Miley Cyrus no matter what you heard).
…Oh yea, speaking of Miley Cyrus. Also doing a quick adaptation of Alice in Wonderland to benefit Santa Cruz Toys for Tots that’s going up on December 15th. There will be one for kids, and a boozier version for boozier kids. More info here.
I recently realized that most of my body of work is about the past.
My first professional (-ish) production was an adaptation of a medieval Christmas pageant. Minutiae, the first play I’ll have published (coming this December to a discerning bookseller near you), is set roughly 600 million years ago.
This year, I adapted Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War epic Little Women and I’m currently hard at work (well, not at the very moment I type this–because I’m writing this long awaited update everyone’s thirsted for–but metaphorically) crafting, with the help of several talented writers, the world of a 1923 speakeasy, which is set to open in January.
Don’t get me wrong, I love old stuff. I’m staring at a copy of Kafka’s The Castle and a collection of Wordsworth poems on my desk right now. Open Source Theatre Project, the group I founded right out of college in Chicago, was specifically created to merge the past with the contemporary. We produced the aforementioned pageant about shepherds as well as a devised piece that explored the century of history surrounding a Logan Square comfort station. This spring, it was a joy to work with a long-dead author and breathe life into one of America’s most cherished stories. And the sprawling Speakeasy project is the most exhilarating work I’ve done so far.
I recently read George Packer’s excellent contemporary history The Unwinding, which posits that we’re going through a societal “bottoming out” that started decades ago. It cumulated in the death of American industry, a foreclosure crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Walmart, Occupy Wall Street and Twitter. Packer explores the past century by fracturing stories of all sorts of Americans, from a Youngstown steel worker to a Joe Biden staffer to Jay Z to Alice Waters to Newt Gingrich.
What got me thinking about the future and my place in it was a series of interviews with Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal. He mentioned how technology is actually stagnating—we’re all excited for the latest iPhone but what about immortality? Flying cars? All the stuff Jules Verne and Philip K. Dick wrote about?
This also connected with my journalistic work covering tech and science. I’m not a technophile—I could care less about terabytes and megapixels. What I get fired up about are the volatile personalities (Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, whoever invented Snapchat) and the multifaceted stories of hope, money, and imagination that comes out of Silicon Valley.
Let’s face it: Silicon Valley is the most exciting place in America to be right now. Wall Street, Washington, and Hollywood are almost universally reviled. Very few college grads want to be Gordon Gecko or Rand Paul or Michael Bay anymore.
And for a playwright, the Valley’s storytelling gold is largely unmined. Aaron Sorkin seems to be biting, with his Greek tragedy retelling of the founding of Facebook and his upcoming Steve Jobs biopic (which sounds like it’s going to be awesome and not terrible like the Ashton Kutcher one). The folks at Wired are also pretty great at exploring the philosophical ramifications of our Web 2.0 world. But I don’t know of a playwright, major or minor, that is digging into the new, tortured soul of America.
A light bulb went off; I want to tell the story of the future.
Production-wise, I have a tentative spring opening for an untitled piece I’m working on right now—one that brings together Edward Snowden, Fairchild Semiconductor, the booming Bay Area prostitution business, space exploration, Daft Punk, etc., etc., etc. It will be produced in conjunction with a playwriting collective I’m with that’s been incubating for a year, name now TBA.
Working on this piece has given has become a midwife for others, including some backburner projects that are now gradually moving to the front burner.
Basically, I think I’m at the shore of a new artistic period for me, one that beautifully combines my location, my work and my art. And, according to current forecasts, by early next year it will start bearing fruit.
Perhaps I’ll be better about blogging (I think I’ve given up on empty promises about updating and will just come clean, for your sake and mine), but you can keep up with my fast-paced and oh-so-exciting life on social media (click on that Social Media Guru page—you won’t be sorry) or on my AllVoices site.
P.S. Here’s a good article (obituary, actually) in sync with some of my new ideas:
Yesterday, my stage adaptation of Little Women closed after a successful five week run. It’s been a remarkably intense journey for the past seven months, and one of those instances where art and real life intersect in so many ways you start to wonder what movie you’re in and how the reviews were.
But, the spine of theatre is ephemeral and all good things come to an end. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actively looking into having my adaptation see production again (if you are looking to produce a theatrically daring, unsentimentally sexy study of growing up amidst war and scarlet fever, please contact me via the Contact Me page and we’ll chat Alcott), but now it’s on to the next project.
Which is: Speakeasy. I’m a producer and the head writer for this beast of a project (meaning I’m also managing a healthy team of fellow playwrights as well as writing hella content myself). Basically, I’m helping convert a floor of a building into a fully functioning Speakeasy, ripped straight out of 1923–including a whole universe of intersecting storylines and shelves of Prohibition characters that will create an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your natural life.
Look out for more information as time goes on. Think F. Scott Fitzgerald meets Sleep No More meets the best party you’ve ever been to (including your wedding).
PS: Hey, I’ll try to update this marginally more often. I remember it’s here and that you all care, I swear.
Wow, a lot of stuff has happened since I’ve posted last. First, I hope your year is going fine. Sincerely.
Alright, there is a lot of news to get through, so let’s start slogging:
LittleWomen-I am in the midst of adapting Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic Little Women. I’m directing the play as well (auditions are a week from today), and it’s going up in April. Girls of all ages, get excited.
Publication-Smith & Kraus offered to publish my short play Minutiae which was produced by Chicago’s Point of Contention Theatre in 2011 and Oakland’s Pan Theatre last October. It’s also going to be produced at the East Bay Arts High School in February.
It’s about two simple organism fighting about a patch of the ocean floor billions of years ago.
The play is getting snuggled in an anthology entitled The Best Ten Minute Plays of 2013, which is a great title for my ego.
Lemonsat San Jose Rep-My one-act Lemons, supposedly a metaphor for the ills of Capitalism through the guise of a lemonade stand, will go up in April at San Jose Rep as part of the their Emerging Artists Lab. It was already produced in March last year by FABUM, Inc. in Washington, D.C.
Dream Project-Not necessarily the project of my dreams, but a project about dreams (although it is kinda a dream project in the former sense). I will be working with FABUM of D.C. again this year on an immersive theatrical experience that travels through your dreams. Oooooooooo!
Speakeasy-This is still chugging along and should be coming to a discrete location near you this fall.
AllVoices-My journalism career is also taking off this year. I’m covering Macworld this weekend (the Apple fan’s wet dream) and I am officially covering tech, science and business for Allvoices.com.
Whew, my fingers. Gotta love updating. Hang around the site. If you see something you like, get at me. We’ll work something out, I’m sure.
Thanks for coming to my site, kicking back, and enjoying a cold six while you catch up on all the reasons why I’m great. I have a couple of good things coming up.
First off, I’m in a crackerjack production of Tennessee Williams Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in San Leandro, CA. That goes up September 29th and runs until October 28th. Performances are at 8PM on Saturday and 2PM on Sunday. I’ll playing Gooper, Brick’s scheming brother.
I also just found out last night that my short play Minutiae is part of Pan Theatre’s Anything Can Happen in Ten Minutes Festival here in Oakland. The play focuses on two bacteria fighting over some ocean floor billions of years ago. It should be pretty wild. Come check it out, it runs October 12th, 13th, 19th, and 20th. Tickets can be found here!
Annnnnnnd…new things are underway for me in the Washington, D.C. area. Stay tuned!!!
I’m trying to make some kick-a updates to the ol’ BarryEitel.com, many of which focus on Flesh, my latest project. We got postcards printed, a venue (the ubercool Motiv), some great actors, and a wicked script. It’s been a very challenging project and I’ve been learning a bucket-load about producing, but I think the finished product will be frickin’ awesome (a show about flesh-eating bacteria, and you can drink through the whole thing!).
Get some tickets and come down to lovely Santa Cruz. You won’t be sorry. I might even buy you a drink.