In this time of crisis, what to do? Pull out some archival videos of shows that the founders of Bridge Street Theatre have done over the past 30+ years that we can legally post. We’ve been putting them on line as we can. Here’s what we have so far. Check back often for more.
THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID
John Chisum’s Story
by Michael Ondaatje
Recorded October, 2000 at Upstairs @ The Marsh
Directed by Steven Patterson
Way back before Canadian author Michael Ondaatje became widely-known for “The English Patient”, his 1970 first novel, “The Collected Works of Billy the Kid” cut deep into the psyche of one of the Old West’s enduring legends. Bucking conventional narrative for a pastiche of tall-tales, newspaper stories, eyewitness testimonies, photographs, and violent prose poems, Ondaatje’s rich, complex, language-drenched collage illuminated not just the character of Billy, but the mythos of the Wild West itself.
Back in 2000, while Steven and John were still living in San Francisco and producing as Kaliyuga Arts, we created an ambitious immersive stage adaptation of Ondaatje’s novel, certainly one of the most challenging – and quintessentially ‘Kaliyuga’ – productions we ever attempted, a word-drunk vision of American frontier dreams and violence, with the action taking place in, around, and through the audience.
In this excerpt from that production, Billy, his girlfriend Angela Dickinson, Pat Garrett, John Chisum and his niece Sallie (as well as the audience) huddle around a hurricane lamp on a ranch-house porch in the middle of the desert one night, passing the bottle, smoking, slowly going drunk. Chisum (brilliantly embodied here by actor Paul Gerrior) embarks on a rambling shaggy dog story (perfect for Halloween) about a man he knew in New Orleans before the Civil War who later went mad. As the form his madness took slowly reveals itself, don’t be surprised if you feel your flesh start to crawl. By the end of this hypnotic monologue, you’ll swear you can hear the baying of eerie hounds on the desert wind.
We’ll be posting more excerpts from our archival video of this production in the coming weeks. Till then, settle into a chair here on the porch, pass the bottle, and let yourself be drawn inexorably into this macabre little tale.
TRUE LOVE LIES
by Brad Fraser
Recorded live May, 2013 at Stageworks in Hudson, NY
Directed and Designed by John Sowle
Production Stage Manager Jen Dobies
Costumes by George W. Veale VI
Anna Chazelle as Madison
Samuel Hoeksema as Royce
Molly Parker-Myers as Carolyn
Steven Patterson as Kane
Kevin Craig West as David
In 2012 Kaliyuga Arts presented its first Upstate New York production, Lanford Wilson’s THE MOUND BUILDERS, and it was selected as one of the ten best productions of 2012 by Metroland. For our second outing we presented the area premiere of TRUE LOVE LIES by Canadian playwright Brad Fraser.
In 1997 Kaliyuga Arts presented the San Francisco premiere of Brad Fraser’s POOR SUPER MAN in a production that went on to win multiple awards. More than a decade later (after we’d re-located to New York), Brad sent us a draft of a new play he’d just completed called TRUE LOVE LIES. It follows the further adventures, about 15 years down the line, of POOR SUPER MAN’’s main character, David McMillan. Still alone, still adrift, and now entering his 50s, he has returned to the Edmonton of an even earlier Fraser play in which he appears, UNIDENTIFIED HUMAN REMAINS AND THE TRUE NATURE OF LOVE, to open a new restaurant. There he unintentionally re-encounters Kane Sawatsky, with whom he once had a two-year relationship that did not end well. Kane is now married, and he and his wife Carolyn have two kids – Madison, a brash and self-assured 20-year-old and Royce, an insecure, somewhat geeky teenager – neither of whom has any idea that their father was once one half of a homosexual couple. Almost against their wills, these characters get sucked into each others orbits, old wounds get re-opened, old lies get exposed, sparks fly, and all of them are forced to re-evaluate everything they think they know about love, marriage, and family.
More information and reviews at
Conceived and Directed by John Sowle
Scripted by Dan Carbone
John Sowle writes about THE PILGRIM PROJECT:
I am a Mayflower descendant. My ancestor, George Soule, was the manservant of Captain William Bradford, and was one of the few settlers who survived the first winter in the New World. He went on to become quite a successful businessman. So I have always been intrigued by the story of the Pilgrims, and have discovered how vastly different that story is from the myth that surrounds them.
In 2000, we gathered a bunch of wonderful actors together in our San Francisco digs to create a performance piece based on the Pilgrims’ actual experiences. We rehearsed over the course of a year, using the acting techniques of Polish director and teacher Jerzy Grotowski and the imaginative gifts of our collaborator, playwright Dan Carbone.
Grotowski’s theatre was profoundly serious. The finale of his work on the Holocaust, AKROPOLIS, has all the actors climbing into a small box and closing the lid. There is no curtain call. I wanted THE PILGRIM PROJECT to be profoundly comic, and it begins with the audience helping to pull a ship-shaped crate out from the wings to the middle of the theatre space, and from that box emerged 7 of the 9 actors in the cast. The 2 others, awaiting them ‘onshore’, played the Native Americans.
This immersive experience premiered on September 7, 2001 at EXIT on Taylor as part of the 2001 San Francisco Fringe Festival. Our second performance took place on September 10. The following day is now known as 9/11 and, for a day, the Festival shut down completely. Our next performance had been scheduled for 9/13, and it went on as planned. It seemed especially auspicious that a play about the so-called founding of this nation would be being performed during this dark time, and it was, of course, a deeply moving experience for all of us, both on and off stage.
THE PILGRIM PROJECT was selected for additional performances as one of the “Best of Fringe 2001″ and, at year’s end, was named “Best Original Script” by the Bay Area Theater Critics’ Circle.
Unfortunately we have only a single video of the performance, and since the production played in and among the audience, some of the action takes place off screen. I’ve tried to help out by providing subtitles throughout.
Sidney Burrows as Miles Standish
Carolyn Doyle as Elizabeth Hopkins
David Austin-Groen as Edward Winslow
Matt Klein as Squanto
Tristan Thunderbolt as Massasoit
Bill Parker as George Soule
Steven Patterson as William Bradford
Jennifer Taggart as Dorothy Bradford and Oceanus Hopkins
Dawn Walters as Mary Chilton
Stage Manager – Joseph Graham
Combat Consultant – Lawrence Motta
There’s more information and reviews HERE.
POOR SUPER MAN
A Play with Captions
By Brad Fraser
3 Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award Nominations
with Paul Anelli, Janet Keller, Steven Patterson, Erik Kever Ryle and Marin Van Young
Directed and Designed by John Sowle
Projections by Larry Ackerman
Sound Design by Steven Patterson
Stage Managers, Joseph Graham and Bill Parker
Opened February 6, 1997 at the SOMAR Theatre; San Francisco, CA
Warning. This video is for mature audiences only.
“Metropolitan Stage Pick! … To the uninitiated, the phrase ‘bad boy of Canadian theater’ might seem akin to ‘sensitive auteur of professional wrestling,’ yet Brad Fraser’s new play, Poor Super Man, makes one realize that he came by the title honestly … An erotic and emotional car crash of a play that deftly maps the treacherous terrain between gay and straight, bourgeois and bohemian, male and female. Matters are also helped by Kaliyuga Arts’ wonderfully protean stage design and the swift, almost cinematic pacing, which further sharpens Fraser’s already witty dialogue … A bit like an episode of Friends written by Paul Rudnick and directed by Peter Greenaway, yet there’s a diamond-hard emotional core … Like the X-ray vision and godlike strength possessed by Superman (whose recent comic-book death and resurrection are commented on within the play), Fraser’s characters boast verbal abilities that mortals only dream of, but which offer scant protection from the chunks of kryptonite life throws their way.” — Zack Stentz, The Metropolitan
“Beyond Awesome! … All five actors are excellent … Stunningly accurate, fabulous and fun! There is something for everyone to relate to.” — Sam and Ebon, Oblivion Magazine
SUBJECT TO FITS
A Response to Dostoevsky’s The Idiot
By Robert Montgomery
Recipient of 2 1999 San Francisco Bay Guardian
Great performance (Beth Donohue)
Best Scenic Design (John Sowle)
Directed and Designed by John Sowle
Dramaturgy and Costumes by Steven Patterson
Vincent Camillo, Dan Carbone, Beth Donohue, Paul Gerrior, Lawrence Motta, Russell Pachman, Kathryn Pallakoff, Larry Spenler and Kathryn Trask.
Musicians Elizabeth Keim, Mu’frida Bell & Noriko Kishi, Stage Managers Joseph Graham & Bill Parker.
Opened January 29, 1999 at EXIT Theatre; San Francisco, CA
Presented as part of EXIT Theatre’s 1999 Absurdist Season
“Critic’s Pick! … The musical form heads in a decidedly different direction in Subject to Fits, Robert Montgomery’s ‘response’ to Dostoyevsky’s Idiot. The misadventures of that wise fool, Prince Myshkin, are not literally adapted; Montgomery instead creates a theatricalized abstraction of the novel’s themes and its demented state of mind.
“An enormous upsurge of happiness had completely dispirited me,” Prince Myshkin (Vincent Camillo) says, and that line could serve as the motto for all of Dostoyevsky’s thrashing lunatics, for whom misery is ecstasy and expiation. Guilt drips from characters who celebrate their own unworthiness, from the manipulative Natasha (Beth Donohue) to the brutal Rogozhin (Lawrence Motta).
“For all that, Subject to Fits resembles its source in that its wallow in Russian anguish is lively and sometimes hilarious. Director John Sowle perfectly captures the black comedy inherent in the writhing of fractured souls, an acuity reflected in the endless twirls of his ingenious unit set. Donohue is a knockout as the ruthless Natasha, and Dan Carbone, Russell Pachman, and Paul Gerrior all contribute vivid comic characterizations.
“Sowle and his Kaliyuga Arts partner Steven Patterson have demonstrated a gift for rendering such oddities with grace and insight, and it’s fitting that the show should appear in EXIT Theatre’s Absurdist season. When Subject to Fits asks Feodor the musical question, ‘Whatever did you mean by the stuffed gerbil?’, you’re convinced that Dostoyevsky was the ur-absurdist par excellence.” — Brad Rosenstein, San Francisco Bay Guardian
THREE SISTERS WHO ARE NOT SISTERS
An Opera by Ned Rorem with text by Gertrude Stein
1998 San Francisco Bay Guardian Upstage/Downstage Award
Directed and designed by Steven Patterson
With Linda Noble, Alexis Lane Jensen, Steve McKearney, Jonathan Nadel, and John Rose
Dwight Okamura on piano
Opened April 28, 1998 at the EXIT Theatre; San Francisco, CA
Presented on a double-bill as part of EXIT Theatre’s 1998 Absurdist Season
“Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters, a group of children embark on a murder game with such seriousness that a true mystery results. Stein’s childlike playfulness and Rorem’s score are in perfect, witty harmony. Linda Noble sings splendidly as ringleader Jenny, and Jonathan Nadel does bright work as her prowling antagonist. Director and designer Steven Patterson has given the piece a Victorian staging à la Edward Gorey that’s ideal for its friskily macabre tone. The result is an absolute charmer that make-believes so well it calls reality into question, even its own.” — Brad Rosenstein, San Francisco Bay Guardian
“Three Sisters Who Are Not Sisters, a Ned Rorem mini-opera based on Stein’s 1943 play and directed by Steven Patterson (who also designed the deliberately tatty music-hall set and lighting), plays like a conventional 19th-century murder melodrama with Stein’s famous repetitions and syntactical eccentricities woven into its fabric. All five of the singers do a wonderful job interpreting the gloriously silly lyrics (and aping the mannerisms and facial expressions of high melodrama, to great comic effect), while musical director Dwight Okamura keeps the ivories jumping! … If you’ve never seen Stein onstage, EXIT provides a perfect forum with both these pieces.” — Kerry Reid, San Francisco Metropolitan
by C.D. Arnold
Directed & Designed by John Sowle
Dramaturgy & Sound Design by Steven Patterson
Stage Manager – Carol Charles
Mikael Duden, Andrew Harkins, Janet Keller,
David C. Perez, and Maryann Sanders
Opened April 30, 1993 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco, CA
C.D. Arnold was a legendary San Francisco playwright. It was at the world premiere of his THE KING OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE at Theatre Rhinoceros that Steven and John met. They produced it again in Los Angeles in 1987. THE CLIENT was the last play C.D. wrote, and we worked closely with him on the script before he died of AIDS in September of 1992. This play was his own eulogy, celebrating his complex, conflicted life. Mikael Duden, who played the lead, also died of AIDS shortly after this production. So many lost to another devastating plague.
Some reviews of the production:
Refreshingly non-stereotypical … Playwright C.D. Arnold, who recently became another monument in the boundless local graveyard of artists lost to AIDS, has written his own eulogy into this sharp play-within-a-play … The recently relocated Kaliyuga Arts company has broken noteworthy ground in their new hometown.” — Kama Einhorn, S.F. Weekly
“The Client ranges from morbidly hilarious to profoundly moving, often in hardly more than an instant.” — Steve Warren, San Francisco Sentinel
“Fascinating! … Arnold’s power to create dramatic fireworks is at its peak.” — Gene Price, San Francisco Bay Times
“Sensitively directed by John Sowle, The Client is a goblet of rich wine held up as a toast to the sanctity of the human spirit … A lovingly mounted, well-constructed realistic play filled with wit and humor, and which is also deeply moving.” — Dean Goodman, Drama-Logue
A Hardy Boys Musical
Book by Timothy Cope
Music and Lyrics by Paul Boesing
Directed, with Sets & Lighting by John Sowle
Musical Direction & Keyboards by Alan Fricke
Choreography by Jayne Zaban
Costumes by Jeffrey Simpson
Stage Managers – Joe Graham and Bill Parker
Scenic Artist – Margit Dupont
Patrick Michael Dukeman, Gina R. Falchetta, Jared Fortunato, Jessica Jackson, Shelley Lynn Johnson, Richard Pardini, Steven Patterson, Stephen Pawley & Jonathan Simpson
Opened June 1, 2000 at New Conservatory Theatre Center, San Francisco, CA“CAPTIVATING! A thrilling mystery ride… John Sowle has directed a hilarious look at the Hardy Boys’ detective series. The dialogue is delicious double entendre, the cast is vibrant and winning and the music and lyrics by Paul Boesing are just terrific. One song, “Dance With Me”, would surely have won a Tony Award if the show were in New York. The book about the two ‘innocent beyond belief Hardy Boys’ by Timothy Cope is funny and goofy. There’s real wit here! This mystery about an ‘Old Queen’ is just good old-fashioned fun … RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!”
Lee Hartgrave, San Francisco Spectrum
DO LET US GO AWAY. A PLAY
This 1998 production, presented at the EXIT Theatre in San Francisico, was part of a double bill of works by Gertrude Stein. The video includes English Subtitles.
A director’s note: The play was written in 1916 during World War I when Gertrude and Alice had escaped Paris for Mallorca. The subtitles contain the complete text of the “play.” There are no other references to characters or stage directions. The casting was inspired simply by the fact that I had a lot of good women audition, and few men. So I decided to cast all women in the speaking roles, and since Stein’s “plays” are really all about her anyway, dress them all as Gertrude Stein.
X: THE RISE & FALL OF AN ASYLUM STAR
In 2002 at the Phoenix Theater in San Francisco Kaliyuga Arts presented an evening of two solo performances called HYSTERICS. First up was Dan Carbone’s UP FROM THE GROUND (which we brought to BST in 2015), followed by X: THE RISE & FALL OF AN ASYLUM STAR, written by Jill Dowse. We had seen Jill perform it at the Montreal Fringe Festival when Steven was doing BEAUTY there, and we loved the show so much we decided that we needed to present it ourselves. Jennifer Taggart received a 2002 Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Award Nomination for her performance in our production.
Suicide? Murder? Assassination? In 1978, Oakley Hall III, Artistic Director of Greene County’s now-legendary Lexington Conservatory Theatre, completed a play called GRINDER’S STAND about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Meriwether Lewis (of the Lewis & Clark expedition) on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. That same year, under mysterious circumstances, Hall himself fell from a bridge spanning Schoharie Creek and sustained massive head trauma from which he never fully recovered. His play premiered in Lexington the following summer to wild acclaim. We were sure we had to do this play as soon as we had a space available to present it. This production was presented in our “Raw Space” in 2015 before the theatre was completed. This video contains archival video of excerpts from that production.
AN IMPERSONATION OF ANGELS OR THE ENIGMA OF DESIRE
This is a rare and rough archival video of the world premiere of AN IMPERSONATION OF ANGELS OR THE ENIGMA OF DESIRE, the last show Kaliyuga Arts produced in San Francisco in 2004. It’s a surreal distillation of the life of Salvador Dali. It was written by our favorite collaborator Dan Carbone, and featured Dan and Steven playing the old and young Salvador Dali. Magician Christian Cagigal (whom you may remember for several performances at BST) plays Garcia Lorca.
There is more information HERE. Click below to play.
The year after Steven did BEAUTY at the San Francisco Fringe, John decided he needed to do his own one-person show for the Fringe. The result was HORRIPILATION! The word means the experience of your hair standing on end as a result of excitement. It’s a state that the Natyashastra, an Indian manual for actors created in 600 BC, expects performers to create on cue. It’s also one of the most desired responses of the audience to a performance.
John studied theatre in India in 1973 for his PhD dissertation, and this performance is a distillation of his experiences there. If you’ve been to our lobby, the headdress behind the box office was created for this show. It was performed in San Francisco and San Rafael, and then revived for the Times Square International Theatre Festival in 2012.
This video contains highlights from the hour-long performance.
Steven created this homage to Jean Genet for the San Francisco Fringe Festival in 1994. It won Best of Fringe and went on to tour all over the US and Canada. It was called “a gay cult classic” by American Theatre Magazine, won the Drama-Logue Award, a Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award Nomination, and a Cable Car Award Nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance.
Confined to his cell, a solitary prisoner creates an imaginary world of erotic and spiritual fulfillment for himself. BEAUTY is a hypnotic, disturbing waking dream of a show with all the stink and sensuality of a seedy back room — brutal, raw, and transcendent. It evokes the prison writings of Jean Genet in a full-frontal assault.
There is more information and excepts from reviews it received HERE.
This performance was primarily recorded in 1998 at The Theatre Off Park, New York City.
WARNING. This is definitely for MATURE AUDIENCES only.
There are graphic sexual simulations and nudity.
KINGDOM OF NOT
KINGDOM OF NOT, written and performed by the inimitable Dan Carbone, was first presented at the San Francisco Fringe Festival where it won a Best of Fringe award. As Kaliyuga Arts, we brought it to New York City for performances at the famous Cherry Lane Theatre in 2006. Dan was nominated for a Independent Theatre Solo Award for his performance. It’s a brilliant, off-the-wall piece described as follows:
During “bad times in a hard place that’s getting harder” Anita Humm, a wary, outcast young woman, finds herself the guardian of an odd, preternaturally wise baby boy. Together, they take refuge from the rest of the world in Anita’s crumbling old house at the edge of Turkey Bluff, where a whole universe of mysterious wonders (and dark secrets) is waiting to be revealed.
THRICE TO MINE
In honor of the 456th birthday of William Shakespeare we offered archival video of Roxanne Fay’s premiere production of her take on the real Lady MacBeth, THRICE TO MINE, very successfully presented last year at BST. Scroll down for the link.
IN CIRCLES is a musical by Al Carmines, who was one of the primary founders of the Off-Off-Broadway movement in the 60’s and 70’s. It is based almost word-for-word on a late “play” by Gertrude Stein called “A Circular Play.” However the script doesn’t look anything like a play – there are no character names, no stage directions, and certainly no plot. The score does assign characters to dialog and music, but again there is no indication of what is actually going on. The challenge for a director is to try to make some sense of it. Bottom line for me is simply that it’s about circles. It celebrates circles of all kinds, but especially circles of friends who connect and challenge and celebrate and support each other through successes and failures, through loves and losses. It seems an especially relevant message for these times. Gertrude Stein was a great friend to a great many people, and her spirit, buoyed by Al Carmines’ amazing music, comes shining through every moment.
The play was originally presented at Judson Memorial Church, off Washington Square Park, in 1967. It moved Off-Broadway where it played for a year. I saw it first at Stanford University Theatre on a tour in 1968. For our New York production we managed to convince Judson Church to allow us to do it again in their meeting hall. We had to completely build the space for it, with the audience seated in the round, of course. The only “set” was a floor painted with an image that combined several of Picasso’s late cubist paintings and some stools.
We were so fortunate to have found a fantastic cast who could really sing and play, a great choreographer, brilliant costume and lighting designers, and a dynamite follow spot operator in Michael Temlin.
Do be aware that this is an archival recording, so it’s certainly not TV quality. But hopefully it captures the energy of the production. I’ve added subtitles as the words are mostly unexpected and the space was not ideal for sound recording.
THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH
Written and Performed by Steven Patterson
Kaliyuga Arts & Bridge Street Theatre present THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH Performed by Steven Patterson Directed and Designed by John Sowle Recorded July, 2015 at Bridge Street Theatre, Catskill, NY The world’s oldest surviving work of literature is brought to stunning new life in this virtuoso solo performance by actor Steven Patterson. A mythic “quest” narrative (as well as an epic “bromance”), GILGAMESH tells the story of a grief-stricken king who, when his best friend dies, embarks on a dangerous odyssey to the ends of the earth in a desperate attempt to restore him to life. With its timeless themes of competitiveness, friendship, hubris, loss, grief, and acceptance, this ancient tale remains a surprisingly modern-seeming and deeply moving experience.