North Beach’s The Emerald Tablet* celebrates Halloween with ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ — a one man performance by Austin-based actor Charles P. Stites

(Charles Kruger)

Magic is often afoot at The Emerald Tablet.
Magic is often afoot at The Emerald Tablet.

In the midst of the many changes in San Francisco, in defiance of the infamous techie gentrification of our artistic neighborhoods, something amazing is happening at The Emerald Tablet in North Beach. And it keeps on keeping on.

In April of 2011, Lapo Guzzini and Della Heywood inaugurated one of San Francisco’s most interesting art houses in a barn like space on an alley in North Beach. In a very short time, The Emerald Tablet (a “creativity salon”) has become a significant cultural force in North Beach, taking its place along side big hitters such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore, the Trieste Cafe (where beat poets of international repute continue to hold court over coffee and notebooks) and Spec’s Bar, which may be the finest literary dive in the entire world.

Lapo Guzzini and Della Heywood, proprietors of The Emerald Tablet, continue a tradition of artistic excellence in North Beach.
Lapo Guzzini and Della Heywood, proprietors of The Emerald Tablet, continue a tradition of artistic excellence in North Beach with a remarkable “creativity salon”.

The variety and excellence of programming at this truly magical venue is quite simply mind boggling. Lapo and Della (and more recently on-board colleague, Evan Karp) have curated dozens of art exhibits, poetry readings, musical performances, new cinema, and original theatre as well as hosting a variety of workshops and seminars.

The performers and artists who have participated in Emerald Tablet events range from emerging local talent to some of the most dynamic thinkers and creators of the past century. In this intimate venue, audiences have interacted with poets such as the late Amiri Baraka, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Hirschman, ruth weiss and Diane di Prima, among many others. In the field of consciousness, the EmTab has hosted both Ralph Metzner and Dennis McKenna. Art exhibits have included work by artists Lawrence Ferlinghetti (what doesn’t the man do?), Agneta Falk and most recently a major retrospective of modernist master William Reid (a collaborator of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera) spanning seventy years of painting, drawing, illustration and sculpture.

And if that isn’t enough, these intrepid entrepreneurial impressarios are also producing original theatrical events. In early days, they hosted a remarkable production of ‘Alice Down the Rwong Wrabbit Whole’, an original work by actresses Karen Anne Light and Edna Barrón. More recently, they hosted the peculiar and intriguing work of Alexandra Tatarsky in “Sign Felt!” Devotees of popular culture oddities will recognize this weird and literate comedian as the young lady who briefly convinced a large public that she was the hitherto unknown daughter of the late Andy Kaufman, conceived (of course) after his death, which she claimed was faked. The EmTab also simultaneously offered the world premiere of much-admired local performance artist Karen Penley’s “Feral Girl”.

Alexandra Tatarsky and Karen Penley are two of the high original performance artists who have been featured at The Emerald Tablet.
Alexandra Tatarsky and Karen Penley are two of the highly original performance artists who have been featured at The Emerald Tablet.

All of which is to say, these folks have an eye for the exceptional. Which brings us to ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’, a one man interpretation of the H. G. Wells classic by Austin-based actor Charles P. Stites. While traveling in Texas, Lapo attended Austin’s famous FronteraFest where he saw Mr. Stites’ performance and immediately  began arrangements to bring the show to San Francisco.

Charles P. Sites (left) brings H. G. Wells' (right) disturbing "Island of Dr. Moreau' to bloody life.
Charles P. Sites (left) brings H. G. Wells’ (right) disturbing “Island of Dr. Moreau” to bloody life.

And now, just in time for Halloween, ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ has landed at The Emerald Tablet for a short run from October 29th through November 2nd. The reviewer for the Austin Chronicle said that Stites’ performs H. G. Well’s classic tale “so well that it just about wounds you.”

Given this venue’s history of promoting highly original artists in this exceptional space, it is likely that “Dr. Moreau” could be the highlight of this year’s Halloween theatricals.

If you appreciate fine acting, great literature, and have a taste for the bizarre, this should be a fine opportunity to check out one of San Francisco’s most interesting institutions.

For further information, click here.

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