Thursday, March 25, 2010

These last few weeks, I have been in rehearsal for Audience by Vaclav Havel, a play I am directing for the San Francisco Theater Pub (where I am one of the co-founders. Wonder how I got the directing job?). It’s great to be returning to Havel once again, and I am really excited for the production. The play will be staged in the round in the CafĂ© Royale bar, and I could not ask for a more committed cast and design team.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with a two person cast on this play – it makes the rehearsal process very fluid has really allowed us to be responsive to the text. I am reminded again what an overlooked genius Havel is as a writer. This piece is without question one of his best – clever, engaging, wonderfully accessible but disarmingly complex. Given Havel’s personal history as a dissident and the time he spent in prison, I think he is able to write about political issues in a way that few writers can – a way that is immediate and not ideological.

This next week, the actors get off book and the design element start to physically come together. It’s starting to feel real.

The play only runs for five performances – April 13, 19, 20 and May 3, 5 – but all the shows are free admission and, since they are on Mondays and Tuesdays, it’s not like there is a whole hell of a lot else going on. Since Havel is performed so infrequently, I think it’s a rare opportunity. And, hell, there’s going to be beer – onstage and off. Seeing some culture is a good way to excuse the fact that you are drinking on a weekday.

If you want to reserve a seat, email

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What is your favorite tunnel?

So, here we are. I thought to myself today "it's time I hopped on the train with the rest of the herd and started blogging. The world has been deprived for too long."

I do not read any blogs, I confess. I am somewhat opposed to the whole idea, really. In my limited experience, I have found them horribly self-involved, but hopefully, in this blog, there will be some value for for people other than myself. By and large, I will be posting about theatrical projects I am involved, local groups that are doing interesting work, and anything that might interest the theatrically inclined in the theatrically inclined in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are so many incredible things going on out here, and I consider myself very fortunate to have collaborated with a lot of inspiring people on a lot worthwhile projects even in the two years or so since I finished my undergraduate degree and moved back out here. I've found the work very compelling, and so I imagine someone might want to hear about it.

I'm going to try to keep the navel gazing to a minimum, but that's the challenge of having a blog, isn't it? The whole blogging culture practically insists that you create something superfluous. For those of you who may be wondering, that's why I chose the name 'Puzuk.'

Puzuk is a character from Vaclav Havel's comedy
The Increased Difficulty of Concentration. In my senior year of undergrad, I directed the play for the college's spring main stage production (the photo in this entry and the one on the main blog page are from that production, as I'm sure you've guessed). I was fortunate enough to meet Havel and a number of other Czech theater makers in Prague that year as well, and his writing and that play hold a very special significance. Puzuk is a computer - a machine that uses the most advanced techniques available to in an attempt to understand human individuality. In the play, a team of researchers bring Puzuk to the house of a social scientist, Edward Huml, to try and measure what makes him distinct. When the researchers prep Puzuk for the examination, it behaves more like a small child than a computer. It is temperamental, it whines, it asks to rest. When Puzuk is finally coaxed it into performing its function, it spouts a series of nonsense questions - "what is your favorite tunnel?", "do you pee in public, or just now and then?". In the end, Puzuk and the researchers learn nothing about the subject of their inquiry, but the audience - having watched Huml struggle to maintain a positive relationship with his wife, his mistress, his secretary, and the research team in a bizarre, non-linear, time-jumping redux of a classic French farce - knows what makes him tick.

In spite my best intentions, I suspect that my work with this machine - like the research team with Puzuk - will experience moments of utter uselessness. There might be some whining, some inane questions. It may reveal nothing worth knowing. Nevertheless, I feel the subjects I want to talk about (art, theater, what's going on in the Bay Area, etc.) are worth examining. Perhaps by just watching the comedy unfold, you, the reader, will be able to see something of value that I, who am ensconced in it, cannot perceive.

I am relying on you all to keep me honest, readers.