Art Queer News

Berkeley, CA: “Bread and Circuses” A Hilarious and Thrilling Exploration of Violence as Entertainment

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Maria Giere plays, among other characters, a little girl willing to get her hands dirty in Bread and Circuses at Impact Theatre.
Credit:
Cheshire Isaacs

Impact theatre is at Its absolute bloodiest with “Bread and Circuses,” a hilarious and thrilling — yet trenchant — exploration of violence as entertainment.

 

Impact theatre continues its 2013–14 season with “Bread and Circuses,” a collection of nine funny, scary, and brutal short plays by a who’s who of powerhouse next- generation playwrights and television scribes. The show previews February 27 and 28 and opens March 1 at Impact Theatre’s home, La Val’s Subterranean in Berkeley. Desdemona Chiang returns to direct.

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Honorary Bay Area writer steve Yockey (The Fisherman’s Wife at Impact in 2012; now a writer on MTV’s Awkward) curated this cavalcade of carnage by corralling eight playwright friends of his and convincing each to contribute a short play exploring the theme of violence as entertainment. And these were no ordinary friends — the roster is a star-studded sight to see:

• Roberto Aguirre-Aacasa, a now-renowned writer (the current hit musical version of American Psycho as well as Glee, Carrie, and Big Love, not to mention the reworked Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) whom Impact introduced to the Bay Area ten years ago with his early play Say You Love Satan

• Prince Gomolvilas, recipient of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Drama and a multifaceted writer whose Jukebox Stories series at Impact is one of Impact fans’ favorite shows

• Declan Greene, an award-winning Australian writer who has received several commissions

• Lauren Gunderson, a beloved Bay Area playwright who premiered her Toil and Trouble at Impact last season and was just announced as a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn award alongside such notable competition as Theresa Rebeck, for her play I and You at Marin Theatre Company

• Dave Holstein, a Los Angeles–based playwright who has worked on Weeds and Raising Hope
• J.C. Lee, a Bay Area playwright (Into the Clear Blue Sky) who is now a staff writer on the new HBO show Looking and will be writing for the next season of Girls

• Ross Maxwell, a staff writer on Glee

• Lauren Yee, a playwright born and raised in the Bay Area who has gone on to win countless awards and fellowships and has had plays produced off-Broadway, including Ching Chong Chinaman, an early work of hers that is still one of the most successful Impact plays in the company’s 18-year history (and was helmed by Desdemona Chiang, the director of Bread and Circuses)

The show takes its title from the ancient Roman practice of civic leaders buying favor with a mollified populace by providing not only cheap food but also superficial entertainments such as gladiator contests, chariot races, and — ahem — theatre. And with such a high caliber of talent exploring this topic, don’t think Impact’s Bread and Circuses will be simply buckets of blood.

“This is not violence for violence’s sake,” says director Desdemona Chiang. “Our vision in bringing these stories together is to examine why violence is presented as entertainment. It’s still hilarious and thrilling in the way only horror can be, but beneath that lies a serious look at the way we’re fed violence like candy.”

The cast features Impact members Sarah Coykendall, Michael Delaney, and Maria Giere and welcomes back Maro Guevara and Eric Kerr. Dana Featherby makes her Impact debut with this show.

DON’T MISS!”

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Bloody good fun!

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS

Blood, gore, giggles galore!

THEATER DOGS

Runs through Apr 6 · Thu–Sat 8pm · Sun 7pm (except Sun Mar 2 2pm)

La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709 $10–25
impacttheatre.com

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Maria Giere Marquis (left) and Sarah Coykendall are a murderous little girl and her mom in Dave Holstein’s “Alone Together,” one of the nine violent short plays in Bread and Circuses at Impact Theatre.
Credit:
Cheshire Isaacs
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Eric Kerr is a man not quite certain of his identity in Declan Greene’s “Marimba,” one of the nine violent short plays in Bread and Circuses at Impact Theatre.
Credit:
Cheshire Isaacs
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Maria Giere Marquis plays the title role in JC Lee’s “The Reanimation of Marlene Dietrich,” one of the nine violent short plays in Bread and Circuses at Impact Theatre.
Credit:
Cheshire Isaacs
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Sarah Coykendall and Michael Delaney play a couple hiding from zombies in Ross Maxwell’s “Don’t Turn Around,” one of the nine violent short plays in Bread and Circuses at Impact Theatre.
Credit:
Cheshire Isaacs
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Michael Delaney plays, among other characters, a psychotic doctor in Bread and Circuses at Impact Theatre.
Credit:
Cheshire Isaacs
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Eric Kerr plays a man who must be cured of an ailment with the help of a gangbang in Prince Gomolvilas’ “Heteronesia,” one of the nine violent short plays in Bread and Circuses at Impact Theatre.
Credit:
Cheshire Isaacs
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Sarah Coykendall plays, among other characters, a damsel not exactly in distress in Bread and Circuses at Impact Theatre.
Credit:
Cheshire Isaacs

About Impact Theatre:

Since 1996 Impact Theatre has spoken to a new generation of theatregoers and longtime enthusiasts alike who want to see something fresh and fearless on stage. Our audience ranges from students to professionals to seniors, all of whom share a taste for exciting, unpretentious theatre that doesn’t conform to traditional assump- tions of what constitutes high culture. Impact ensures the continued strength of American theatre by featuring new plays by emerging playwrights as well as vital, contemporary spins on classic drama; engaging new audi- ences; and fostering the development of Bay Area theatremakers. Impact shows compel, provoke, and inspire, at prices everyone can afford.

Bread and Circuses by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Prince Gomolvilas, Declan Greene, Lauren Gunderson, Dave Holstein, J.C. Lee, Ross Maxwell, Lauren Yee, and Steve Yockey, directed by Desdemona Chiang

Previews Feb 27 & 28 · Opens Mar 1 · Runs through Apr 6 · Thu–Sat 8pm · Sun 7pm (except Sun Mar 2 2pm)

La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709 $10–25
impacttheatre.com

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