Front Line Theatre currently has two full-length plays in development: Glory Glory and No Means Yes. We also are planning an array of smaller-scale projects.
A new play by Matthew Milo Sergi
Co-Directed by Matthew Milo Sergi and Randy Symank.
Premiere Production Cast: Ara Glenn-Johanson, Lauri Smith, David Toda, and Charles Lewis III.
Glory Glory brings us to fifteenth century England and into the lives and fever dreams of Margery of Lynn and Julian of Norwich, the first two women writers in the english language. Both Julian and Margery claimed to have prophetic abilities, and to have seen, spoken with, smelled, tasted, and (in one case) married Jesus himself. As a result, both women’s sense of time (and truth) is less than linear when they misremember, conceal, and confess their beliefs and stories. Both Julian and Margery struggled to record their revolutionary ideas in a suspicious and oppressive England, where female literacy led to suspicions of heresy. Julian, an obsessive and damaged genius who locked herself into a small room for forty years, was sainted for her words. Margery, constantly weeping and constantly pregnant, preached chastity through England with her reluctant husband in tow, was nearly burned for her words. Though Glory Glory is a complexly non-linear work, it is centered on the night in May 1415 when, according to Margery, these two remarkable women met. The impressionistic and playfully absurd text of Glory Glory draws unsettling poetry from the books of these women, and explores what they had to learn from each other: about belief, memory, and strength. With writing that’s been contemplated for six hundred years, Margery and Julian have been called holy, mentally ill, harlots, heretics, and frauds, faking miracles to earn their freedom from ignorance, from systematic sexual oppression, and from silence. Glory Glory weaves in and around these women’s tales, using text, dance, and music to create the chaotic, poetic, and half-true world of this play.
The play runs approximately two hours and fifteen minutes (two one-hour acts, plus an intermission), and features four actors(premiere production cast – Ara Glenn-Johanson as Margery, Charles Lewis III as her scribe Robert, Lauri Smith as Julian, and David Toda as Margery’s husband John). Jesus, who never speaks, will be played by a different audience member every night (the best seat in the house).
June 18-27, 2010
Northside Theater, Building D, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, California
No Means Yes
No Means Yes is a multidisciplinary re-envisioning of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: a collage of movement, media, live music, and text from the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries (re-set in verse). Like Measure, No Means Yes will explore the tension between human sexuality and humane morality, and feature morally corruptible public officials who hold their constituents under oppressive secret surveillance. But No Means Yes draws specifically on the strange lives of modern public officials, for whom the disjunction between outward moralizing and inward conscience has grown, in a very real way, to proportions far beyond the most “problematic” Shakespearean exaggerations. Drawing especially on the words and lives of Senator Larry Craig and Representative Mark Foley, No Means Yes re-imagines the exploited Isabella as a young male page in Washington, subject to the repressed desires of two heads of state. Foley’s instant-message seduction of his page is, we have learned, even more horrifying when set in verse, and cut through with frantic live music. The brutality of Shakespeare’s poetry will emerge in new, disturbing shapes, through innovative approaches to art-making and production design.
No Means Yes will premiere at a Bay Area theater in 2010-2011 (TBA).
In conjunction with Berkeley’s Impact Theatre, we have also initiated Beer Theatre, an ongoing play series in which two teams stage raucous and abridged scenes from classics, musicals, and plays from the ages. Over the course of the evening, the scenes are performed, consecutively, three times—by increasingly drunk actors. All actors perform the first run completely sober, but then must drink during and after the other two runs, keeping track of their blood alcohol level with a breathalizer. Audiences are, of course, encouraged to drink right along with the performers and add flavor to the performances. Beer Theatre’s first run in October 2009, an experiment associated with company member Matthew Milo Sergi’s dissertation on festivity in medieval theater, was wildly successful; we are already working with Impact to take on two new scenes, as a fundraising effort for both our companies.
FLT has also laid plans for a series of web-based works, currently untitled.