Sunday, February 08, 2015

Collected Works Presents Jean Genet's "The Balcony"

I've mentioned the Collected Works theater company after going to see their production of Witold Gombrowicz’s Princess Ivona. Their current production is Jean Genet's play "The Balcony." They have some wonderful pictures available at their sneak peek page.

Making the production even more intriguing is its performance at The Old Mint in San Francisco. From the Collected Works' page about this location:
The Old Mint (affectionately referred to as “The Granite Lady”) was designed by Alfred B. Mullett and completed in 1874. The building sits on a concrete and granite foundation, designed to thwart tunneling into its vaults, which at the time of the 1906 earthquake and fire held $330 million, fully a third of the United States’ gold reserves. Heroic efforts by Treasury Department employees, using only a one-inch hose connected to wells in the interior courtyard (built just weeks earlier) saved the Mint from the fire that destroyed commercial San Francisco after the earthquake. With the downtown area and its banks destroyed, the San Francisco Mint was the only financial institution open for business in San Francisco, and became the depository and treasury for the city’s relief fund. The building continued operation as a U.S. Mint until 1937.

I plan on re-reading the play and posting on it soon, but for now I'll borrow their comments about it (again from their page on the play):

Genet’s play tells the story of a revolutionary uprising in the streets of an unnamed city. While armed rebels fight to take control of the city’s power structures, most of the action takes place in an elite brothel or “house of illusions,” where clients act out their fantasies of institutional power: they play judges, bishops, and generals as their counterparts in the “real” world struggle to maintain their authority. The Balcony is a landmark in modern theatre: the eminent American critic Edmund White noted that, with The Balcony’s foregrounding of the role of illusion and meta-theatricality in creating contemporary power and desire, Genet invented modern theatre.

I'm hoping I'll be able to attend a performance before the final performance on February 21. If you're in the area, I highly recommend you do the same!

Click here for more information on "The Balcony"

Many thanks to Cynthia Haven for alerting me about this production.

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