Theater schedule for 2018-19 finalized

By Xavier Johnson, Scene Editor

Two world premieres bookend next year’s supernatural-themed 2018-19 theater season continuing the momentum built from this past season’s successful final production “The Cries of La Llorona.”

The first world premiere is an original horror play written by Contra Costa College drama department Chairperson Carlos-Manuel Chavarria titled “Vengeance: A Ghost Story” in October.

Chavarria said the play, while not yet written, derives loosely from “The Injustice to Dou E,” a Chinese play written by Guan Hanqing (1241–1320) during the Yuan dynasty. In this play, a woman is falsely accused and executed for a crime. Prior to her death she predicts omens like snow in the summer and a severe drought that will happen, proving her innocence.

Chavarria said he has a basic idea of the story he wants to write. It is a modern play about a family that’s celebrating a birthday in a cabin somewhere in Northern California. A ghost will appear and there lies the conflict that drives the story. He said he wants to emulate typical horror movies, except he is going for less gore and more psychological horror.

The second world premiere will close out the season in April with “Ministers of Grace: The Unauthorized Shakespearean Parody of Ghostbusters,” written by Jordan Monsell and directed by professor John Crosthwaite from Los Medanos College. Crosthwaite worked with Chavarria for “The Cries of La Llorona” as fight choreographer.

While the play has been performed at readings during various theater festivals, Chavarria said the play has never been performed as a full-fledged production. Based on the original “Ghostbusters” film, this re-telling maintains the same story but with a script adapted with a Shakespearean flair in iambic pentameter.

He said that going into next season a particular theme wasn’t planned out like this past season. During the 2017-18 season a conscious effort was made to have plays that represented different groups, such as “The Cries of La Llorona” representing Latino theater or “Emotional Creature” focusing on the experience of young women.

In November, Angelina LaBarre directs the second show of the season, “Water by the Spoonful,” written by Quiara Alegria Hudes.

LaBarre said the play is told through interactions in an online message board for recovering addicts and also follows the struggles of Elliot Ortiz, a Latino soldier returning from Iraq, as the second part of a trilogy of plays about Elliot.

Chavarria said “Water by the Spoonful” is a serious play in the vein of November 2017’s “How We Got On” this past season. He said for future seasons November could be the landing spot for the season’s most serious production.

Fall semester will feature productions from familiar faces in LaBarre and Chavarria. However, spring 2018 will include two new directors from different schools in the Contra Costa Community College District. Accompanying Crosthwaite will be Ryan Weible, professor at Diablo Valley College, directing “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” in March 2018.

Chavarria said, “It’s like eating the same food all the time. Eventually you’ll get tired eating the same food. I’d like to bring new people in to get a wider variety of plays based on what they like.”

Weible said “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” is a great piece that incorporates the artistic concept of magic realism. Magic realism is a style of narrative fiction that is largely a realistic narrative that incorporates surrealism.

The season will also see a new faculty fundraiser production. “No Clue” will be replaced by a faculty performance of “Baby With The Bathwater” written by noted playwright Christopher Durang.