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SF Playhouse Takes a Chance

Scott Lucas | February 11, 2013 | Story Galleries and Performance

"Out of the hundreds of play submissions that we read, we realized that there are very few African-American or female playwrights being produced in the Bay Area," says Lauren English, a Playhouse staffer and actress. "So we had a conversation about how we could open our doors." The result is SF Playhouse's "Our Voices, Our Stories," a weekly series of staged readings that runs through March. There will be six full length plays (along with six to eight shorts), all of which are by writers rooted in the Bay Area.

In February, Playhouse focuses on African-American writers. The Black Odyssey, by Marcus Gardley, kicks off the readings. Though he lives in New York now, the Bay Area was his home for many years. English confesses an ulterior motive: "None of his plays have been done out here yet. So we're bringing him back, which is a chance for us as a theatre to get to know his work." Tonight's show includes actress Margo Hall, who currently appears in SF Playhouse's The Motherfucker with the Hat.

On the next two Mondays, the series will present Love Balm for my Spirit Child, drawn from the testimony of mothers—including Oscar Grant's—who have lost children to violence and Obeah, based on African folklore.

English sees in these plays an, "incredible array of old ritualistic—almost primal—voices mixed with spoken word and hip-hop. These very talented writers grapple with a cultural heritage—and where their voices fit in the contemporary theater world."

Our Voices, Our Stories begins tonight at 7:30 and continues on the 18th and the 25th. In March, it changes focus to plays by Bay Area women. All shows are free and BYOB. 450 Post St.

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