Charles De Gaulle’s Egg

Alma mast and rigging

I was more than a little pleased to learn during the high summer that the We Players were to bring forth a production of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and deliver the work from the deck and rigging of the scow schooner Alma, an historic ship sailed by crew of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

This pleasure with the advent of the Ancient Mariner to our park derives from my own private albatross and my own urge to prophesy:

Like Coleridge’s ancient mariner, I attend a good many weddings, often as an uninvited guest, often with words well-woven for unwanting ears.

Usually I stand unnoticed by flurries of wedding-guests passing in hopeful finery up the stairways and onto the breezy verandas of San Francisco’s Aquatic Park Bathhouse.  Occasionally I am noticed.  Occasionally, chance allows me to let fall a yarning of history.

The wedding guests rarely ask about the Bathhouse architecture or the murals.  When a guest hesitates in front of an exhibit or an element of the lobby murals, I sense the opening.  Often, too, there is the wedding guest who asks, “why is this place empty?  What are you planning to do with it?”  I point out that the building, artistically speaking, is far from empty and proceed to offer up a story that starts with a strange recurring dream I have.

In this dream it is September 1939, the year the Aquatic Park Bathhouse opens; the year the European phase of World War Two begins.   The dream is in French.  I am sitting in a dark wood-paneled study, a globe nearby; a green shaded desk lamp cast suffused light across a table-top dressed in leather and vermilion felt.  It must be midnight or nearly so.  I sit across from a young Charles De Gaulle, whom I inwardly dislike but toward whom I am being superficially polite.  He offers me a snifter of Armagnac ; I want something from Jerez in my glass; he has none.  He smokes; I do not.  He sits dressed as a Colonel of the Third Republic; I stand in the rumpled tweeds of a washed-out intellectual.  The meeting is not going well.

De Gaulle stabs his cigarette stub into a brass ashtray mounted on a small Gingham patterned bean bag cushion.  The ashtray is too English to be in the room and I wonder where it came from.  De Gaulle rings a bell, stands, and a valet presents the Colonel with an egg and a needle.  Over a garbage can, the future leader of the Free French de-yolks the egg and sets the now hollow and fragile alabaster-white eggshell on the desk before us.  He signals me and we sit.  De Gaulle leans over to me and says:

“It is hollow, Monsieur, but it is not empty.”

I fail to follow his line of thought and De Gaulle really does not care.  Colonel De Gaulle gets to his point quickly.  “I have a mission for you,” he begins, “you are to change into a tuxedo, take this eggshell, and parachute into Warsaw.  You are to carry this eggshell throughout the capitols of Europe while the war rages taking care that it does not break.  Perhaps find a spot where you can keep the eggshell and its contents safe for posterity.  After the war we will have another drink.  Remember the eggshell is hollow but it is not empty.  I will not wish you luck Monsieur; a man should know what kind of luck he has by your age.”

De Gaulle stands, presents me with the eggshell, a tuxedo, and a parachute.  Then he leaves. Then I leave. I enter some kind of anteroom flooded with harsh light.  I am conscious of a clock on the mantel ledge ticking.  On an impulse I hold the eggshell up to a light and peer into the hole in the bottom; my eyes and senses are dazzled by scales of color harmony and dancing patterns of the French Avant Guarde.  Along the interior surface of the shell are Hilaire Hiler’s Parisian murals; the egg is hollow, but it is not empty.

It sometimes takes the wedding-guest a moment, or perhaps long moments, to grasp the idea; the alabaster-white color of the Streamline Moderne building of the Bathhouse, the hollowness of the interior, the richness of the art that Europe lost but San Francisco preserves, in spite of itself, in the murals and mosaics that adorn the walls: rarely does an Ancient Mariner and a wedding-guest start out seeing things eye-to-eye.  Oftentimes the art and act of an Ancient Mariner is to turn apparent reality inside out, and unlock deeper meanings and histories.  In the story I related in the dream of De Gaulle’s Egg, I set the narrative in a past most listeners would understand, the Second World War, and used the metaphor of an egg that was hollow but not empty to demonstrate the value of an often overlooked piece of art and architecture.

“The mark of a civilization is the care and thought it devotes to the next generation.  I have a strong instinct to save ships for people I will never meet.” (Karl Kortum,1987).


We Players’ Rime of the Ancient Mariner begins October 31st and runs Fridays and weekends through November 16th.

 

Vessels for Improvisation aboard the ferryboat Eureka

When I was approached about programming concerts at SF Maritime as part of We Players’ cooperative agreement with the park, it didn’t take long to figure out what I wanted to do. 

One approach was to explore themes of the sea in latin american music, which we’ve been doing in our Canciones del Mar concerts.

The other approach that came to me was at the other end of the musical spectrum, so to speak. A more ‘pure’ exploration of sound in space, the basic idea was to let improvisers loose in the park to react and respond to the sounds of the pier. The bigger idea is that working with other artists in the familiar site of SF Maritime will help We Players company staff see the Park in new and inspiring ways.

ROVA and Vessels for Improvisation

A longtime fan of the ROVA sax quartet, they were the first ensemble I thought of approaching for this project. For an astounding 35 years, ROVA has been developing an improvisational rapport, making them an ideal group to step into almost any situation with open ears.  Larry and John came to scope out the pier and decided that the ferryboat Eureka was best suited to this endeavor, with ample space for both audience and performers to move freely during the concert.

I had initially conceived of Vessels for Improvisation as a solely musical event, but ROVA expressed interest in collaborating with dancer Shinichi Iova-Koga, which made perfect sense, as movement (of performers and audience alike) would be a major part of Vessels.  Now in it’s second year, I’m very much looking forward to what Vessels will reveal, featuring an expanded ensemble with the addition of John Bischoff on electronics, and Dana Iova-Koga and Dohee Lee from inkBoat joining ROVA and Shinichi.

– Charlie Gurke, Music Director

Al Blank: The Adventure of King Fool at Battery Wallace

The view from Battery Wallace in the Marin Headlands.

The view from Battery Wallace in the Marin Headlands.

First, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome We Players to the Marin Headlands. Having had the opportunity of working with this great group of actors during their performance of Hamlet on Alcatraz (in 2010), I can say without any hesitation, that the Marin Headlands is in for some very special and unique performances.

During the month of September, We Players will be presenting King Fool at Battery Wallace located in the Marin Headlands. The concept is unique as is the location.

Battery Wallace first constructed during the first World War and reconstructed as the United States entered World War II, stands as part of America’s determination to defend the coast of this country…in other words, to defend life!

We look at the term ‘death’. We talk about it as someone we know passes on. We see death in performances in the theatre, television and movies. We read about it in books. Death is final. What is unique in this process is that We Players is staging a story about death in a place that was created to preserve life: Battery Wallace! What makes this entire location more unique is that across the road from where this production will take place is a deactivated Nike Missile Site. This site was the epitome of attempting to stay alive when nuclear missiles were set to fire at Soviet planes during the Cold War. This history of life and death and how we deal with it is well served by having We Players perform their site-integrated production of King Fool in our park, this time at Battery Wallace.

We Players brings to all of us a new concept in art. A concept that allows us to become a part of living theatre and create a unique interpretive connection to the site in which they integrate their theatre. I am looking forward to the adventure!!

Al Blank started working for the NPS about about 13 years ago. Since then, he has worked on Alcatraz Island, at Fort Mason, Muir Woods National Monument and at the Marin Headlands. Originally from New York City, Al has spent most of his life working and traveling internationally. Al is collaborating with We Players on our site-integrated production of King Fool at Battery Wallace. 

 

Tickets are now on sale for King Fool. To purchase tickets to King Fool at Battery Wallace click here. For tickets to all other ticketed locations, click here.

Myths of the Mariner and the Muse

Myth

We Players’ MYTHS of the MARINER and the MUSE is an ongoing project taking a variety of performance forms on the historic ships located at Hyde Street Pier, the lagoon, and the surrounding environs of Aquatic Park.  We Players is proud to partner with San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in the first cooperative agreement of it’s kind between an arts non-profit and a National Park Service site.  This five year agreement officially began in August 2012 and will continue through 2017.

To date, projects at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park include a sailing production of The Odyssey (inspired by Homer’s ancient epic), aboard the scow schooner Alma (2011); Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, while cavorting along the pier and aboard both the full-rigged ship Balclutha and the steam-powered ferry boat Eureka (2012); and intimate sea-inspired story sharing aboard Eureka (2012).

In 2013 we will produce a series of music concerts, under the music direction of Charlie Gurke.

We Players Partners with SF Maritime National Historical Park

SFMNPA_logo

We Players is proud to partner with San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in the first cooperative agreement of it’s kind between an arts non-profit and a National Park Service site.  This five year agreement officially began in August 2012 and will continue through 2017.  Our MYTHS of the MARINER and the MUSE will continue in a variety of performance forms on the historic ships located at Hyde Street Pier, the lagoon, and the surrounding environs of Aquatic Park. 

To date, projects at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park include a sailing production of The Odyssey (inspired by Homer’s ancient epic), aboard the scow schooner Alma (2011); Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, while cavorting along the pier and aboard both the full-rigged ship Balclutha and the steam-powered ferry boat Eureka (2012); and intimate sea-inspired story sharing aboard Eureka (2012).

Prepare – The Odyssey on Angel Island State Park

Odyssey(landscape)

Information to equip you for your journey on Angel Island… 

BOOK TICKETS FOR THE GREAT ADVENTURE NOW!

Want to join this great adventure?  Volunteer.

Can’t afford tickets? You may request pay-what-you-can tickets for select performances.  Click here.

PROVISIONS

Please plan to bring or wear the following on your voyage:
* sun hat/ protective clothing/ sun screen/ sunglasses
* comfortable walking shoes
* layers for changing weather conditions
* a water bottle
* lunch (OR choose not to purchase a wrap from The Cove Cafe, see below)
* a pen or pencil
* a comfortable backpack or shoulder bag to hold all of the above

Although there are opportunities to partake of food and drink throughout the performance, we recommend that everyone bring a bag lunch, or purchase a sandwich from The Cove Cafe.  There is no scheduled lunch break; please bring food that you can easily access and eat during the performance. 

GET YOUR PROVISIONS HERE!

At the provisions link above, you may also purchase a limited edition We Players program, or t-shirt or tote bag with the season compass rose logo.

REGISTRATION

Registration details depend on your travel plans.  Please read below for the details appropriate to your city of departure.

General Admission

If you purchased a performance ticket without ferry passage, please be sure to visit our registration tables near the ferry landing in Ayala Cove before 10:20am.

**Guests traveling from Oakland/ Alameda – we were unable to make special arrangements for the Oakland/ Alameda – Angel Island ferry due to schedules (the boat departs the island before our performance ends!). However, you may purchase a general admission ticket to the show here, and purchase your own Oakland/ Alameda – Angel Island ferry ticket from Blue & Gold Fleet on the day of the show.  The ferry stops in San Francisco, and you’ll arrive and depart Angel Island with our other San Francisco guests.  Once you get to Pier 41 or the Ferry Building, you’ll need to transfer to an Oakland-Alameda ferry.  Your round trip ticket is good to get you home on any of the remaining boats that evening.

San Francisco

San Francisco registration for The Odyssey on Angel Island State Park is at Bay Crossings in the the San Francisco Ferry Building.

The Ferry Building is located on San Francisco’s eastern waterfront, where Market Street meets The Embarcadero.

Click here for public transit routes and options.

Bay Crossings is located in Marketplace Shop #22, on the west side of the market hall, just south of the main/ center doors of the ferry building.

Look for The Odyssey on Angel Island State Park sign in chalk, and a We Players staff member in a beige t-shirt with a blue compass rose logo on the chest.

Tickets will be available for pickup starting at 8:20am.

YOU MUST CHECK IN BEFORE 9:10AM.

The Blue & Gold Fleet ferry departs at 9:20am. 

ALL RESERVATIONS ARE WILL CALL.  No need to print your confirmation email.

When you check in, We Players staff will give you a sticker (your pass to access all aspects of the performance; please place prominently) and paper ferry tickets (give one to the ferry staff when you board en route to Angel Island, and the other when you off board back in San Francisco).

If you purchased provisions, placed a reservation for mobility assistance, have any questions, or would like to purchase a limited edition program, t-shirt, or tote bag, please proceed to on-island registration upon arrival to Ayala Cove.

After the performance, you will catch the 4:30pm Blue & Gold Fleet ferry from Ayala Cove.  You may disembark at either Pier 41 (5:30pm arrival) or the Ferry Building (6:00pm arrival).

Tiburon

Tiburon registration is at the Tiburon ferry landing.

The Tiburon Ferry landing is located behind 21 Main Street, Tiburon, CA 94920.

Marin Transit Bus 19 serves Tiburon on a regular morning and afternoon schedule on weekends.

Parking in Tiburon is limited and expensive.  We recommend the lots behind the Bank of America (enter from Beach St., just north of Tiburon Blvd) or Chase Bank (enter from Tiburon Blvd., west of Beach St.), both of which cost $5/day.

Look for a large red We Players flag, and our staff in a beige t-shirt with blue compass rose logo on the chest, standing near a large sandwich board with The Odyssey on Angel Island State Park sign.  

You may check in at the Tiburon ferry landing starting at 9:15am.

YOU MUST RETURN TO WE PLAYERS CHECK IN AREA AT 9:50AM.

The Angel Island – Tiburon Ferry departs at 10:00am.  

ALL RESERVATIONS ARE WILL CALL.  No need to print your confirmation email.

When you initially check in, We Players staff will give you a sticker (your ticket for ferry passage to Angel Island, and access to all aspects of the performance; please place prominently on your left chest).  When you return to the check in area prior to boarding, you will hear important announcements and receive paper tickets for your return ferry passage (you will give this ticket to Angel Island-Tiburon ferry staff when you board in Ayala Cove for your return trip to the mainland).

After the performance, you may catch either the 4:20pm or the 5:20pm Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry from Ayala Cove to Tiburon (4:40 / 5:40pm arrival).

If you purchased provisions, placed a reservation for mobility assistance, have any questions, or would like to purchase a limited edition program, t-shirt, or tote bag, please proceed to on-island registration upon arrival to Ayala Cove.

SHARING YOUR JOURNEY

We encourage you to engage with The Odyssey on Angel Island State Park using all your senses, interacting with our performers as invited, and interacting with one another.

For those of you who use digital tools – please feel free to photograph, Tweet, Facebook, and Yelp us.  We ask that you avoid posting video of the performers, and credit them and We Players if you post photographs online.

You can engage with We Players now and throughout the year by visiting www.weplayers.com, joining our mailing list, “liking” us on Facebook, or following @weplayers on Twitter.

We’re particularly interested in your own stories of journeying, war, heroes, and homecoming! Visit our website or use the hashtag #AngelOdyssey on Twitter to join The Odyssey on Angel Island conversation!

OTHER QUESTIONS?

We Players performs in all weather unless there is a safety concern.  If there is any chance of inclement weather please dress accordingly, so you may remain comfortable while wandering outdoors for most of the day.  In the off chance that there is a cancellation, we will leave a message stating so on the voicemail greeting at 415-547-0189.

If you have any other questions, do not hesitate to contact us at reservations@weplayers.org or 415-547-0189.

 

 

Hamlet on the Rock!

O god, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space……
We Players proudly announce our 2010 production
Shakespeare’s HAMLET
to take place as an interactive, island-wide journey on the legendary
Alcatraz Island
this October/November
 
Stay tuned here for information about salon events, work-in-progress showings and discussions, and special gala performances on-site this summer.
This production is part of our three year residency on The Rock,
in collaboration with the National Park Service.
We are developing outreach programs and diverse on-site installations in conjunction with the production of Hamlet, to incorporate voices of under-served populations, such as people in prison and their families.
write to us at alcatraz@weplayers.org
or info@weplayers.org
with questions, suggestions, or to get involved.
an enterprise of great pith and moment
Join us!