Back in 2013, Wily West initiated a policy of running two plays simultaneously over the summer, repertory style. That is an ambitious undertaking but, not surprisingly, this “can do” theatre company pulled it off with aplomb. “Lawfully Wedded” and “Gorgeous Hussy” played throughout the summer of 2013 and garnered enthusiastic reviews. In fact, “Gorgeous Hussy” won playwright (and company artistic director) Morgan Ludlow a San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC) award for Best Original Play.
It should come as no surprise that Wily West has won awards for original work, as it is one of the few companies in the Bay Area (indeed, one of the few anywhere) to devote itself entirely to new plays by local playwrights.
Wily West has pursued new work with a vengeance, producing hundreds of original scripts (from 10 minute plays to staged readings to full scale productions featuring professional actors) since its founding in 2008.
Among Wily West’s notable achievements is its association with the Playwright’s Center of San Francisco to produce an annual festival of plays, “Scheherazade”. In 2013 and 2014 , the Scheherazade Festival produced original work by nearly 20 playwrights.
For the Summer of 2014, Wily West is offering two more original plays to run simultaneously: “Superheroes”, which Opens July 17, is a collaborative work by eight playwrights, who together created a series of interwoven stories about superheroes, old and new.
Playwrights On Parade
The playwrights include Susan Jackson (SFBATCC award winner), Morgan Ludlow (SFBATCC award winner), Rod McFadden (Board Member, Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco), Patricia Milton (nationally produced playwright and multiple award winner in several states), Laylah Muran de Asserto (poet as well as playwright, and executive producer for Scheherazade), Bridgette Dutta Portman (a playwright whose work has been seen as far away as Wales and who has won awards in such exotic locales as Ohio), Jennifer Lynne Roberts (a recent MFA graduate from the prestigious California College of the Arts), and Karl Schackne (whose short play, “Chocolate”, won first place at the 2014 Daegu Play Festival).
Playing simultaneously with “Superheroes” is a second world premiere by Stuart Bousel, “Everybody Here Says Hello”. The company describes this bittersweet play as “a fast paced comedy about a man, his boyfriend and his boyfriend’s girlfriend”.
Stuart Bousel is well-known to Bay Area theatregoers as playwright, director and producer. This past Spring at Exit Theatre’s annual DivaFest, he premiered another original work, “Rat Girl“, a play based on the memoir of alternative music artist Kristen Hersh. Bousel’s many directing credits include The Merchant of Venice and The Crucible, both at The Custom Made Theatre Company. He is the founder of No Nude Men Productions, and is also responsible for perpetuating the beloved San Francisco Theatre Pub, known for delivering high-class Shakespearean work in deliciously low-class venues where the cast and the audience drink and carouse their way into the night.
The Bay Area has many companies that keep the tradition of classical theatre alive. But companies like Wily West that focus on new work by emerging playwrights are a rare and precious phenomenon that deserve to be celebrated. Kudos to Wily West and the talented playwrights committed to bringing us exciting new work.
If you care about supporting local theatre, you ought to go and see what these good folk have been up to. You’ll be a part of something big.
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