East Bay Express pieces

A collection of work I've written for the nationally-renowned Oakland publication.

In For a Penny: Only if You Mean It

In which I toast to the ‘Pub one last time.

(I know I’ve given it a eulogy once before, but this time it’s more than just hiatus. This time it’s good-bye.)

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III checks in one last time.

My first time at the ‘Pub, Feb. 2010 My first time at the ‘Pub, Feb. 2010

“Livin’ here in this brand new world might be a fantasy
But its taught me to love
So it’s real to me
And I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find
A world full of love
Like yours, like mine, like…”
– “Home” from The Wiz, Charlie Smalls, et al.

I’ve been drafting this final dispatch from the magical ‘Pub HQ since mid-September. I assumed it would be my final entry in December. Then in October, I got the e-mail saying we’d be wrapping up the regular columns by mid-November. With that in mind, I also decided to revisit the “SF Theater Pub – By the Numbers” spreadsheet I mentioned in my last entry. Like my fellow columnists, I’d planned for this to be a nostalgic look back at the last…

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In For a Penny: What’s in a Name?

In which my penultimate entry takes on that one Shakespeare question that just won’t go away.

San Francisco Theater Pub

IamShakespeare3a.indd
“Well, that was bloody Shakespearean! D’ya know who Shakespeare is? He wrote the King James Bible!”
Gangs of New York, screenplay by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, Kenneth Lonergan

It’s a bit empty ‘round the ‘Pub offices these days. Yes, there are Theater Pub offices. They’re located within a classified, heavily-guarded location that may or may not resemble the ThunderCats’ Lair. Within the great hall – which bears a strong resemblance to the Childlike Empress’ throne room in The NeverEnding Story – we ‘Pubbers gather to feast on divine ambrosia, sip unicorn tears from The Holy Grail, and plot world domination. We also occasionally write plays.

But yes, these days our hallowed halls aren’t as occupied as they once were: no more dispatches from the rainbow over Cowan Palace; the Working Title now reads “Happily Ever After”; Everything has moved on to Something greater; The Five are too busy…

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In For a Penny: Bum-rush the Show!

In which I listen to the offensive opinions of others and choose my battles for when to express my own.

San Francisco Theater Pub

eggs-i-dont-care

“A wise man told me ‘Don’t argue with fools
‘Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who’ ”
—Jay Z, “The Takeover”, The Blueprint

This past week I went to the Berkeley Rep to catch a preview performance of Jeff Augustin’s Last Tiger in Haiti. The story revolves around a group of “restaveks” (child slaves) and the stories they tell themselves to cope with the horrors of their daily lives. The first act takes place 15 years in the past, the second in present day, with the shadow of the 2010 Haitian earthquake looming large. Incidentally, this show was in production as Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti earlier this month, resulting in a death toll estimated between 1,000-1,300. As such, the curtain call features the actors asking for donations to help with relief efforts.

As I began putting on my coat, an older White man behind me…

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In For a Penny: I Die a little Inside

In which I try in vain to balance gainful employment with artistic ambition.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, waiting to be picked.

alemy-office-worker-copy

“The problem is that those of us who are lucky enough to do work that we love are sometimes cursed with too damn much of it.”
― Terry Gross, All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists

You ever get the feeling that you’re the one kid on the playground not picked to play kickball? Never mind the fact that they actually need you in order to have an even number of players on both teams; or that you’ve been practicing by kicking pinecones and have gotten pretty good at it; or that you’ve run around the yard just to prove you can run bases. No, all that matters is that the self-appointed captains have filled each of their teams with all of their friends. They don’t even pick you last, they just don’t pick you at all.

That’s…

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In For a Penny: The Numbers Game

In which I put all the people who irk me into easy-to-remember categories.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, ranking it up.

We’ve all done it. We’ve all done it.

It should come as no surprise that as much as I detest reductive labelling in this business we call “play-acting”, I’m not above sharing in some backstage gossip during my off hours. I’m only human. I find it both a great bonding experience with theatre colleagues as well as an incredibly cathartic way for us to air all of our frustrations. And as we snipe and snark in private, away from the sensitive ears of those who’d recoil in terror if we said these things on the record, I also find it a way to learn more about Bay Area talent beyond what I’ve read off of resumes. I hear about rehearsal showmances fizzling out on opening night, actors with poor personal hygiene making backstage a biohazard, and I get to tell about the time I was kicked on stage…

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In For A Penny: Accepting New Membership

In which I encourage people on BOTH SIDES of the “diversity” debate to think beyond mere tokenism.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, on long term goals and short term contributions.

teen-movie-token-black-guy-copy

“What is true of creed is no less true of nationality. There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism.”
– Theodore Roosevelt, Address to the Knights of Columbus (1915)

Now that the cat’s outta the bag, I thought about following up Meg, Tonya, & Stuart’s recent entry with my own reminiscence about what the ‘Pub has meant to me and what I think will happen when it’s gone. I’m going to hold off on that for three specific reasons: 1 – with a few more months to go, it hasn’t actually ended yet; 2 – I wrote a good-bye piece the first time the ‘Pub “died”, and the new one I’m thinking of shouldn’t be repetitive (which it won’t – I’ve already started it and it’s a bit heartbreaking); and 3 – I’ve also been thinking…

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In For a Penny: Raise a Broken Glass

In which I take a moment to toast every bad show that has burned itself onto my soul.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, celebrating the mistakes and the mistaken.

Half Baked glass

“Let’s have a toast for the douchebags
Let’s have a toast for the assholes
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them that I know
Let’s have a toast for the jerk-offs
That’ll never take work off”
– Kanye West, “Runaway”

Recently I was watching a review wherein the critic commented on what a colleague had recently said to him, that something “good” can be measured by its lack of anything “bad”. The critic argued – and I’m inclined to agree – that “good” should be measured by “the presence of a defined positive, not the lack of a specific negative”. After all, how many times has each of us eaten a meal, taken a ride, or experienced a piece of art that was by no means bad, per se – there was nothing to make you swear…

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