If you attended an early performance of the fifth anniversary production of Beertown a year ago, you might have met “Herb.”
One night he had only recently returned to town after being incarcerated for an unspecified period of time. Another night, he came with his niece–they have traveled “back to Beertown” specifically for this event. No one but the dogs and ponies knew that “Herb” was actor, playwright, visual artists, one of three co-founders/members of Chicano comedy troupe Culture Clash, and Mellon Foundation playwright-in-residence at the San Diego Repertory Theatre (REP) Hebert Siguenza. He was in D.C. doing research for the REP’s adaptation of Beertown to Beachtown.
Beachtown is the next phase of Beertown for dog & pony dc. After performing it ourselves countless times, adapting sections of the script over time to be community-specific in Omaha, Cincinnati, and Raleigh, we then did a full re-write/update of the play bringing Beertown into 2017 Washington, DC reflective of who the citizens of DC and artists of the company were today. Like the time capsule contents, we never imagined the show to be static, stuck in time. And it became clear to us that the more we made the essential elements of Beertown available to other artists, the more we could share the benefits of audience integration to theatre nation wide. Why not have other playwrights adapt our play? That seemed the logical next step. The REP engaged their longtime collaborator Herbert to be the first to take on that task.
Herbert, in collaboration with REP’s Literary Manager Danielle Ward and NNPN Producer in Residence Patrice Amon, interviewed numerous residents of Southern California beach communities about the history of the area and cultures of the people who lived and live there. Herbert reimagined the characters of the town to be more SoCa in energy and took off writing. Rachel Grossman, dog & pony dc’s Ensemble Director and Beertown’s director for six years, along with designers Ivania Stack and Colin K. Bills provided feedback on early script drafts. Rachel then traveled out to San Diego for some workshops in early 2017 and has since come on board as a co-writer with Herbert and an associate director for the production (with REP artistic director Sam Woodhouse directing).
Photos Rachel took during the January 2017 workshop production of Beachtown:
Yes there will be more reports as we near the world premiere of Beachtown in March 2018, but for now, a sneak peak into what’s new and different:
- Beachtown’s time capsule day celebration is a decennial—an every-ten-year celebration. It started in 1908 so this is the 100th anniversary.
- The ceremony creators of Beachtown established that every decennial, one item must be voted out of the time capsule. Yup, every ten years an item is always taken out and a new one put in.
- Eternal artifacts include a red clay pot, a tuna filleting knife, and a sun catcher. Ephemeral artifacts include a tryptic of stamp designs, a piece of barbed wire, and a surf board fin. Probably.
- The Mayor of Beachtown will wear flip-flops. (Not sure Mayor Soch would approve.)
- The show will include a performance by community artists from San Diego. The REP is leading up to Beachtown all season with lobby activities connecting current events in San Diego to the show running in the REP to Beachtown.
ps those lighting sketches are by Beachtown’s lighting designer Anne McMills. You can learn more about her HERE.