Monday, March 30, 2009

TERRORiSTKA: Afterglow

The staged readings of TERRORiSTKA were a great success this past weekend!

Carla Pauli as "Zarema"

We are beyond ecstatic. We accomplished all that we set out to do: we know so much more about this play - what works and what doesn't, more about the historical situation in Chechnya-Russia, more about the staged reading process, and more about ourselves as independent producers!

We had wonderful, smart, inquisitive audiences on both Saturday and Sunday, and the feedback session on Saturday was one of the most informative, insightful talk-backs I have listened to in ages.

Unfortunately, we had to cut Sunday's session short, but in chatting with you at Cafe Royale after the event, we learned so much from what you all had to say. Thank you for continuing to send us emails with your thoughts!

To sum up, some words from Rebecca Bella, our TERRORiSTKA playwright extraordinaire (pictured below!)

It was all too fantastic!
My mind is full of rhyming lines.
And yet, the soaring aspirations!
And pursuing apparitions!

Thank you to our emerging community of artistic partners. We look forward to incorporating your thoughts into the text and eventual full staged performance of TERRORiSTSKA.

Until soon!

Judith Reuter as "Fatima" and Carla Pauli as "Zarema"

A Big Thank You to Kathy Wangh for capturing these great shots!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Terroristka Comes to Life!

Threshold has been in the rehearsal room all week listening to the world of TERRORiSTKA spring to life through the voices of the actors. We look forward to sharing this evocative world with you! See you at the theater.

Sat. March 28, 2009 at 2:00 PM
The Climate Theater
285 9th St. at Folsom
San Francisco

Sun., March 29, 2008 at 4:00 PM
The Shelton Theater
533 Sutter St. at Powell
San Francisco

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Workshopping Terroristka

We are deep into the Caucus mountains this week as we workshop the new play Terroristka by Rebecca Bella. We began rehearsals on Sunday in my drafty dining room of the old Berkeley house I live in. 6 actors, 1 playwright and me all squeezed around a table with scripts, and sliced bread with cheese, almonds, dried cherries, a bit of green to munch on (thanks Rebecca!). We put the coffee on and hunkered down to the work.

I chatted at the group for the first thirty minutes or so. Talking about what the process would be like this week (very fast!), how the play is structured (primary action barrels forward to the crucial moment with Zarema in front of the cafe, with secondary action always commenting/contexutalizing from that post-bomb future), what kind of play it is (poetic drama/expressionism - Lorca, Brecht, A. Kennedy!), and what that means for the way the world works (we are in Jailbird's interior world, she is recreating the events, the future and its verdict always looming over the present action).

Rebecca then spoke a little about the language. It's in verse, but its rhythms are so very American, informed by her own American-ness. We don't need to be too precious. I add in that these people use lots of metaphors and images, they are always speaking in code, and always know what the referent is. Lean into the language and have a rip-roaring good time.

And with that, we read the play. Danny, Pamela, Kyla, Carla, Garth, and Judy chomped into it, and the 90 minutes flew by. Who knew! It's a funny play too! Very serious, but these people need to laugh too.

We took a wee break - more coffee, a smoke, some pow-wows in the kitchen and the backyard porch. It's freezing. We turn on the heat.

We come back, and I show them a slide show of pictures from Chechnya, and the devastation wreaked on Grozny in the last 15 years. It's mind-blowing. It looks like something out of WWII. We can't believe this happend in the recent past. Here are some of the pictures we looked at:

We also took a look at a couple of YouTube videos with haunting pictures of the country, the people, and the material consequences of the two Chechen wars:

All very sobering. The cast has so much to contribute, their own relationship to these pictures, questions that I never thought of. We have a curious group of people assembled, and I am glad for it.

I showed the picture of Zarema. The Russians put their accused behind bars, not just in the prison, but in the courtroom too. That's where Zarema is.

This is the picture that started it all for Rebecca. Zarema's eyes leap out at us. Alternately a plaintive plea, a hollow stare, an open threat.

This week will be an education for us all and will light the way for where we want to go during our next phase.

As the cast filtered out of the house as the sun began to set, Rebecca and I were excited, anticipatory and exhausted. It was a good first day.

Can't wait to dig in tomorrow and learn more about this story.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Join us for our upcoming reading of TERRORiSTKA

a threshold project

a staged reading of
by Rebecca Bella
directed by Jessica Holt

Based on a true-life story, TERRORiSTKA tells the story of a young female suicide bomber from Chechnya who walked away from her bomb in front of a crowded
Russian cafe.

Rebecca Bella's searing poem-play contemplates a young woman's passage from youthful innocence to volatile patriotism. The story unravels from both ends; as it does we see how young people become entangled in violence, and how they enable the conflicts that destroy their own lives.

A deeply felt play, TERRORiSTKA is both a lament for the lost, and a lullaby for the future.

Join Threshold for two staged readings of this beautiful play.
There will be a talk-back after each reading.

2pm, March 28, 2009
Climate Theater,
285 9th Street, SF

4pm, March 29, 2009
The Shelton Theatre,
533 Sutter Street, SF

Suggested Donation $10

About the Artists:
Rebecca Bella is a poet, playwright and translator. She began writing this play in early 2004 when she discovered the image and testimony of a female Chechen suicide bomber in a Russian newspaper. At the time, she was working on a Fulbright Fellowship—a project in poetry translation—in St. Petersburg, Russia. The image of this young woman compelled Rebecca to research and write her story. The result is Terroristka.

Director Jessica Holt is a founding member of Threshold, and has directed for Threshold, UC Berkeley, Three Wise Monkeys, and SF Young Playwrights Festival, and assistant directed at TheatreWorks with Robert Kelley and at Shotgun Players with Mark Jackson. She is the new Artistic Director of the Three Wise Monkeys Theater Company, and holds a Master's degree in Theater and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley. Jessica is a member The Magic Theatre's Artist Lab.

Jessica and Rebecca met a year ago in a workshop class offered by Playwrights Foundation. A studio for directors and playwrights learning to work together in "staging the developing play," Rebecca and Jessica are delighted to be putting the theory into practice.

Poster Design by Melissa Fall

The World of Exchange

We have pictures from Exchange! Thanks to Mike Ricca for shooting, and to the cast for looking so bad-ass!


For more of the pictures from the show, and for a peek at the other shows we shared the staged with at The Eureka, go to:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

No refunds on EXCHANGE

Threshold has been delighted with the warm response audiences have given to its most recent production: Exchange. Last night, after a week and a half hiatus, the Exchange cast was back on the stage at The Eureka, spinning their comic and chilling ghost-story of tale. Playwright Ben Fisher was in the house. It was a great audience, and we were thrilled with the turn-out. Thanks to Lucille, Linda, Catherine, John, Meg and Robert for showing Threshold some love.

The show has two more performances at The Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street at Battery in San Francisco: Saturday, March 7th at 8 pm, and Sunday March 8th at 2 pm.

You can buy your tickets at, or at the door. If you are a TBA member, a student or senior, come to the door to buy $12 rush tickets.

See you at the theatre!