San Francisco Olympians Festival IV – The Trojan Requiem

In 2010, San Francisco theatre-maker Stuart Bousel made an idea a reality and created the first San Francisco Olympians Festival.  Promo_Shot_2013It ran for twelve nights and featured twelve new full length plays, each one based on one of the 12 Olympian gods of Ancient Greece.  In 2011, the festival returned with 32 plays over twelve nights, ranging from five minute shorts to full-lengths, each one based upon an Ancient Greek sky god or mythical figure who had become a constellation or  moon. In 2012, 25 one-act plays debuted, each night pitting a play about an Olympian god against a play about a Titan, the race of gods who sired the Olympian gods, and were then overthrown by them. The twelve nights of the San Francisco Olympians Festival seems to have now become a local tradition.  The Olympians Festival focuses  on the creation of new plays of varying lengths,written around specific Grecian themes that change each year, and provides a showcase for local theatre artists. This year’s Festival runs November 6 – 23, 2013  and will premiere 36 new plays by 30 local playwrights.   The plays range from shorts to one acts to full lengths, and each one explores a different aspect of this year’s theme:  the Trojan War, the apocalypse of Ancient Greece.

I exchanged emails with Stuart Bousel, the founder of the Festival.  He had this to say about this year’s Festival theme:

The Trojan War legends are not just a major organ in the body of Greek mythological literature, but a cornerstone in western literature as a whole and the fertile field from which springs a great deal of our culture as we know it, right down to our sense of ourselves and the roles we play in our lives. What I love the most about the collection of plays we have this year is that, more than any previous year of the festival, we have really focused on the mortal figures of Greek mythology, and so many of the plays are explorations of not just the abstract concepts symbolized by the gods, but also the grit of human experience using the war as a common starting point. Whether an individual play focuses on a king or a commoner, a foot soldier or a captain, a princess or a camp prostitute, all of them are united by the context of a war that stretched for so long it became a way of life for those engaged in it, and there-in we see why it has retained so much importance in the collective unconscious of the west: the Trojan War isn’t a War per se… it is Life Itself, personified. 

Tickets are available for purchase at the door and are the best San Francisco entertainment value you can get for only $10!  See their website for more information, including artist statements and bios for this years participants.  For your convenience, and because it’s just plain fun to read the titles and descriptions, trojanrequimposter4LARGEb-1whether you can go to the plays or not, I’ve reproduced in full the schedule of performances of the Festival:

 ALL PERFORMANCES BEGIN AT 8 PM and occur at the Exit Theatre (156 Eddy Street, San Francisco).  

 November 6: Greeks Bearing Gifts

Ajax Major, or “Punchy” by Charles Lewis III, directed by James Nelson

Twenty years ago Ajax and Hector were the world’s greatest title fighters. That was then. Now one of them is fighting an internal battle that he will not win.”

AJAX MINOR by Barbara Jwanouskos, directed by James Nelson

Ajax is a super athlete and all around hero, that is, until rumors about his past begin to circulate…

 NESTOR by Robert Estes, directed by James Nelson

You don’t need his advice, just follow your heart. 

 DIOMEDES by Joel Street, directed by Charles Lewis III

Produce is a battlefield.

 TEUCER by Marissa Skudlarek, directed by Charles Lewis III

After the death of his beloved older brother, a young man must learn to be the hero of his own story.

PATROCLUS by Daniel Hirsch, directed by James Nelson

Retired statesmen/political upstart. Mentor/protege. Lover/loved. User/used.  

THERSITES or “Atreus Tonight” by Daniel Hirsch, directed by Charles Lewis III

Live on air tonight! A fair and balanced debate is anything but in the mounting escalation to all-out war!

NEOPTOLEMUS by Barbara Jwanouskos, directed by Charles Lewis III

The Greeks have high hopes now that they have found the young man who is guaranteed to win the war for them. It’s just that he’s a bit disturbed… whoops?


November 7: The Brothers (Part One)

MENELAUS by Annette Roman, directed by Elizabeth Vega

What if all of your problems could be solved by baring your breasts?

 AGAMEMNON  or “The House of Atreus Vol 3”  by Anthony R. Miller, directed by Tunuviel Luv

A rybald and emotional examination of the choices we must make when we have no choice.


November 8: The Brains

 ODYSSEUS or “Meg Cohen’s Totally Epic Odyssey” by Megan Cohen, directed via crowdsourcing

Homer’s classic tale of the world’s cleverest man, adapted and performed as a bardic solo in lively modern verse by one of SF Weekly’s “Bay Area Theater Artists to Watch in 2013.”


November 9: The Brawn

 ACHILLES or “Under the Gods’ Golden Cleats” by Rachel Bublitz, directed by Claire Rice

The legend of Achilles mashed with Texas football. A world where cheerleaders are slaves and homosexuality is an offense punishable by death.


November 13: Trojan Women

BRISEIS or “A Goddess in Her Grief” by Carol Lashof, directed by Elizabeth Vega

Love in a time of human trafficking.

 HECUBA by Patsy Fergusson, directed by Jacqueline Peters

She was the Queen. She would soon be a slave. In between, she was the mother of Troy’s greatest hero.

LAODIKE by Marissa Skudlarek, directed by Jacqueline Peters

She was the most beautiful woman in Troy — until Helen came along!

ANDROMACHE or “The Whole of a Woman” by Sarah McKereghan, directed by Elizabeth Vega

A tragic dramedy about a war widow who has lost everything, including herself.

POLYXENA by Peter Hsieh, directed by Elizabeth Vega

The complicated story of love and sacrifice that ends the Trojan War.

CRUESA or “Dead & Lovely” by Tonya Narvaez, directed by Jacqueline Peters

100 years ago a woman vanishes into thin air. But is she really lost?

OENONE by Ashley Cowan, directed by Jacqueline Peters

Awkward bangs, a big breakup, and a war to end all wars. Middle school is just the worst.

CHRYSEIS or “The Girl With Sparkling Eyes” by Carol Lashof, directed by Elizabeth Vega

When Briseis met Chryseis … 


November 14: The Brothers (Part Two)

PARIS or “The Judgement of Paris Is Burning” by Kirk Shimano, directed by Katja Rivera

A traditional retelling of the Judgment of Paris – except Olympus is a gay bar and the goddesses are drag queens.

HECTOR or “Prince of the City” by Bridgette Dutta Portman, directed by Katja Rivera

They threw him to his death from the wall of Troy. Or so they thought.


November 15: The Seer

CASSANDRA by Claire Rice, directed by Claire Rice

Sex, love, revenge, war, blood, fire, insanity: Cassandra saw it all before it happened and no one believed her. 


November 16: The Survivor

 AENEAS or “Burden of the Witless” by Colin Johnson, directed by Colin Johnson

Protected by the Gods for a destiny he cannot understand, a young man goes out in search of purpose, love and shiny things.


November 20: The Tools

GOLDEN APPLES I or “Kalisti” by Helen Noakes, directed by Robert Estes

3 Vain Goddesses + 1 Golden Apple + 1 Lovesick Prince = 1,000 Ships

THE SHIELD- Meg O’Connor, directed by Charles Lewis III

In a world where gods can determine the victors of battle, one god will rise above the rest to ensure justice is served…with a side of spicy black bean dip.

 THE HELMET- Meg O’Connor, directed by Robert Estes

Even the hearts of children can grow dark with the bloody rage of war.

THE SPEAR- Neil Higgins, directed by Robert Estes

A spear is a weapon, a tool in the hands of a soldier.  But no more so than a mere mortal is a tool in the hands of the gods.

 THE SWORD- Tracy Held Potter, directed by Robert Estes

Achilles’ love of battle blinds him from the love he feels for Penthesilea, the Amazon Queen, and her murder unleashes his madness.

THE SHIPS or “Alexis, the Bronze Age Warship” by Tracy Held Potter, directed by Charles Lewis III

A delightful romp through the Aegean Sea during the Trojan War.

THE BOW by Sunil Patel, directed by Charles Lewis III

A love story between a woman and her talking bow.

GOLDEN APPLES II by Allison Page, directed by Charles Lewis III

Paris must choose the fairest of them all in a high stakes game show he didn’t ask to be on – but does his choice really matter, or have the singing Fates aligned without him? Only the Wheel ‘O Fate knows the answer.


November 21: The Battlefield

 THE WALLS by Madeline Puccioni, directed by Jonathan Carpenter

What’s a Stone Age Mother Goddess gotta do to change the world – sleep with an Olympian? Yeech.

THE PLAINS by Jeremy Cole, directed by Jonathan Carpenter

Everyone has heard of Helen, Achilles, Cassandra and the Trojan Horse, but who remembers Cycnus, Protesilaus, Aethra or the Memnonides? The plains remember. The plains of Ilium can never forget. Close your eyes. Open your heart. Listen.


November 22: The Problem 

HELEN or “Ellen’s Undone” by Sam Hurwitt, directed by Mina Morita

When she left, it started a war. This time, she’s not going anywhere.


November 23: The Solution

THE HORSE or “See Also All” by Stuart Bousel, directed by Ariel Craft

Inside everything is something else. 


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