5 plays to see in San Diego in February
Five new productions on local stages this month: "On Her Shoulders We Stand" from TuYo Theatre, "Trouble in Mind" at The Old Globe, "Life Sucks" at Cygnet, "Desert Rock Garden" from New Village Arts and "Best Lesbian Erotica 1995" at Diversionary.
'Desert Rock Garden' from New Village Arts
Runs Feb. 19 - Mar. 19, 2022 (low cost previews begin Feb. 11) at Oceanside Theatre Company
New Village Arts (NVA) will open Roy Sekigahama's new play, "Desert Rock Garden" on Feb. 19, which will mark the 80th anniversary of executive order 9066 — the 1942 directive to create what we now know as the Japanese incarceration camps.
Sekigahama's play was written for NVA's 2019 Final Draft New Play Festival, and this will be its world premiere. It's set in 1943 and follows an orphan and an older Japanese immigrant who met in the Topaz War Relocation Center in central Utah. Topaz held more than 11,000 people, and the dry, high desert conditions were harsh. Fuzzy (played by Lane Nishikawa) and Penny (played by Chloris Li) build a friendship in the inhospitable-in-many-ways setting.
NVA executive artistic director Kristianne Kurner said in an announcement that this play also marked the company's first National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant. The production is directed by Yari Cervas. [Production details, dates and ticket information here.]
'Life Sucks' at Cygnet Theater
Runs Feb. 3 - Feb. 27, 2022
Playwright Aaron Posner wrote "Life Sucks" as a retooling of Anton Chekhov's 1898 play "Uncle Vanya." (The script's official subtitle is "Sort of Adapted from Uncle Vanya.") It's full of love triangles (love pentangles?) amid a complicated gathering of ex-friends, former lovers, long-lost relatives and even in-laws. Throw in a dash of murder mystery-style tension, and this play might make even your rowdiest family dinner party seem tame in comparison.
Posner has a bit of a habit of adapting classic works into relatively absurd contemporary takes — take his 2013 adaptation of Chekhov's "The Seagull," for example. It was called "Stupid F*cking Bird," and locally, you may remember its Cygnet Theatre production in 2016.
"Life Sucks" is directed by Rob Lufty, and the cast includes Beatrice Basso, Frank DiPalermo, Patty Gallagher, Savanna Padilla and more. [Production details, dates and ticket information here.]
'Trouble in Mind' at The Old Globe
Runs Feb. 5 through Mar. 13, 2022
In 1955, Alice Childress wrote "Trouble in Mind" about a Black actress performing in an anti-lynching play, but that play-within-a-play was written by a white playwright and directed by a white man.
Racism, rivalries, misogyny, inequality, and the fraying sense of well-meaningness are all aired out as the production gets ready — and this is how the "Trouble in Mind" plot unfolds.
The Old Globe has assembled an excellent cast and crew for this story, with San Diego's Delicia Turner Sonnenberg as director, Ramona Keller as the lead and local Bibi Mama (a playwright in her own right) also in the cast.
[Production details, dates and ticket information here.]
'On Her Shoulders We Stand' from TuYo Theatre
Runs Feb. 6 through Feb. 26, 2022 at the Athenaeum Art Center at Bread and Salt
Not quite ready to be seated amongst other theatergoers for a full production? Travel through a seven-room immersive theatrical experience alone, or with three other people in your pod. TuYo Theatre is a local theater company dedicated to producing Latinx stories, and this program, written and directed by Patrice Amon, features a series of seven theatrical vignettes about the power of Latinas in World War II — and the power of stories — in small rooms, circus-style tents and other makeshift sets.
Guests will collect tokens about each story as they make their way through this multi-sensory production.
This production was also recently announced as part of the forthcoming La Jolla Playhouse Without Walls Festival. [Production details, dates and ticket information here.]
'Best Lesbian Erotica 1995' at Diversionary Theatre
Runs Feb. 17 through Mar. 20, 2022
New York-based playwright Miranda Rose Hall's new work, "Best Lesbian Erotica 1995," was part of Diversionary's 2020 Spark New Play Festival, with a radio play-style virtual reading. This month's fully staged, world premiere production is directed by Kym Pappas, who also directed that virtual reading almost two years ago. The cast for this production is brilliant — including San Diego theater world titans like Laura Zee and Katie Haroff, Andrea Agosto and more.
Hall's play is a tryptic of three distinct sketches: a comedy looking at lesbian erotic fiction; a study of domestic terrorism against the backdrop of the Oklahoma City bombing; and a reflection of the LGBTQ woman's role in culture in that era. [Production details, dates and ticket information here.]
For more recent KPBS theater coverage — including an interview with Moxie Theatre about their current hybrid production of "Sapience" — visit here.