NOT UNIVERSAL LOVE, BUT TO BE LOVED ALONE

Friday, November 26, 2010



THE NORMAL HEART by Larry Kramer.


WEDNESDAY, December 1st, 2010 at 8pm. All seats $20. First-come, first-served basis. Seating is limited. 204 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA.

Featuring Peter Balgoyen, Jason Bannister, Christopher Basile, Erica Bennett, Danny Crisp, Bryan Jennings, Rick Kopps, Steven Lamprinos, Stephen Ludwig, Alexander Price, Chris Secor and Lee Waddel.

If you can't attend the reading, please consider donating directly to the ASF via their website.

AUDITIONS FOR "JESUS IS GAY"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

SORRY, AUDITIONS FOR THIS PRODUCTION ARE LONG-SINCE CLOSED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST.

Monkey Wrench Collective will be holding auditions for the World Premiere of JESUS IS GAY by local playwright Chris Secor.

SYNOPSIS: A lonely housewife who sings to forest creatures + a gay Latino convenience store clerk + a dazed and confused, pot-smoking rapper + the hit TV show The Jewlyweds +  a vindictive bitch with too much time on her hands + a cheating husband + a power-hungry right-wing evangelist + a very unfortunate misunderstanding=Hell on Earth.

Directed by Dave Barton.

AUDITIONS:
This is an open casting call, beginning at 6:00 p.m., Monday, November 15. Rehearsals begin Nov. 22nd and the show opens January 28, 2011, running for eight weeks.

Where: Monkey Wrench Collective, 204 N. Harbor, Fullerton, CA. 92832

All roles are open, except the roles of Honey and Big Bird and all ethnicities are encouraged to audition. There is some pay.

ROLES:

Mona: Female, 30s, a lonely housewife who talks to imaginary animals and faces the wrath of a Fundamentalist Christian Inquisition over a stupid misunderstanding.

Steven/Fantasy Steven: Male, 30s, a callous jock douchebag whose last moment of glory was in high school, unhappy in his marriage/his sensitive, romantic alter-ego.

Anthony: Male, 20s.Latino convenience store worker who worries about everything, thick accent.

Marcus: Male, 20s, good-looking, wannabe rapper/model. Can talk to birds and is perpetually stoned.

Regina: Female, age open. Right-wing televangelist in the Jerry Falwell/ Robertson style, but worse.

Jewish Producer: Male, age open, reality show film producer/director stereotype.

King of the Gays: Male, 20s, good-looking, flamboyant activist stereotype.

2 Bodyguards/ Stage Hands/Puppeteers: age open.

PDF scripts are available from Rudegrrlla@aol.com

Please pass this on to anyone you think may be interested.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The O.C. Register's intrepid Eric Marchese stopped by the Wrench last week to do a little SHOPPING & FUCKING, and has subsequently rendered his review into print:

For "Shopping and F***ing," his first major full-length play, playwright Mark Ravenhill chose a simple theme that has wide-reaching ramifications: That, for good or bad, mass consumerism is the only thing that drives a Western civilization devoid of all other values.
For most Brits, Americans and Western Europeans, Ravenhill posits, spending money and enjoying life (sex, drugs etc.) are the only things that matter in life. That the Brit playwright is able to wring laughs from this premise is a testament to his skill, for whatever else, "Shopping" is basically a comedy, however dark its trappings.
Though most of Ravenhill's subsequent plays reiterate this theme, it's rampant in "Shopping," which opened in London in September 1996 and gets a notable workout from Monkey Wrench Collective theater company in Fullerton. ... The resulting show is a darkly comic warning sign for anyone caught up in shopping and – you know.
--O.C. Register
Review by Eric Marchese

AN IMPRESSION MORE THAN MERE INDIFFERENCE

Friday, October 29, 2010

With nerves steeled by years of critical dedication, O.C. Weekly's Joel Beers sat through the entirety of SHOPPING & FUCKING last Sunday and emerged on the other side with another trenchantly observant review grasped tight in hand:
Make no mistake: Though Shopping and Fucking gets a great deal of notoriety from its unceasing parade of horrifyingly violent and hardcore sexual scenes, it’s a play about money—how people who crave it will do just about anything to get it and what the reckless pursuit of it does to their souls.
Ravenhill peppers his gruesome, albeit very funny at times, play with everything from allusions to The Lion King to armchair theories of codependency. But commerce drives nearly every exchange—peddling Ecstasy tabs, resorting to phone sex to deal with debt, paying for sex in order to keep it a transaction rather than an emotional connection.
...
Helmed by Weekly arts contributor Dave Barton (who also directed the 2001 Rude Guerrilla production), Monkey Wrench’s staging doesn’t shy away from Ravenhill’s uncompromisingly savage tone. There is no attempt to soften the violence or hardcore sexuality, and there is a good reason why eight people walked out of the show during its first two weekends: Most people have real problems with watching private perversions and gruesome fantasies unleashed anywhere other than on their computer monitors or in their own imaginations....
[Y]ou might find it difficult to like Shopping and Fucking. But it’s doubtful you’ll walk away not thinking about what you just witnessed. Maybe those thoughts will lead you to question capitalism further. Perhaps they’ll help you to define your standards of what is offensive. Or maybe you’ll just want to jack off. Whatever. But there’s no denying Shopping and Fucking will leave some kind of impression—and it most definitely will not look like indifference.
Read the whole piece, rife with Beers' sharp insights, here.

And tickets? Why yes, still very much available. $20 General, $10 students, buy online or cash at the door. Under 17? No FUCKING for you.
--O.C. Weekly
Reviewed by Joel Beers

SHOPPING MADE WELL, FUCKING FOR FRESHNESS OF APPEAL

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Spark O.C. blog has not one but two separate, individual, and totally unique blog posts on (first) the experience and (then) the content of Mark Ravenhill's SHOPPING & FUCKING, currently inspiring strong audience reactions over at the Monkey Wrench Collective theater.

Watching three well-heeled ladies depart the theater at intermission at Sunday's performance inspired the first blog post:
Observing three audience members linger during intermission and then decide to depart yesterday's performance of the Monkey Wrench Collective production of Marc[sic] Ravenhill's Shopping and F***ing made me speculate about their motivation.
Throughout my long career in the theatre, I've witnessed plenty of walkouts. There's a tendency to assume that people are leaving because they're offended, and a similar expectation that artists are smugly satisfied because of it.
While there may be some truth in those perceptions, the reality is, not surprisingly, a bit more complicated.
The second post is a more direct review of the production:

For his first full-length play, written in 1996, UK dramatist Marc[sic] Ravenhill hits the mark most of the time as he peers into the pathetic lives of penniless, aimless and addicted young people who have concluded that life consists of little more than dangerous transactions in which sex and drugs are equal opportunity employers. The glimmer of hope, at least in the case of one man and woman, is their fascination with hearing and telling stories--not that the stories themselves ever seem to end happily. But the play, Shopping and F***ing, also sports absurdly funny moments that occasionally balance out the pervasively grim lives of its characters.
...
Monkey Wrench Collective's production, staged by artistic director Dave Barton, takes the raw material of this play (and some of it is very raw indeed, though the nudity and heartless sexual encounters never appear gratuitous), and makes clear that Ravenhill's is truly "the well-made play" in its adherence to theatrical conventions.

(Full disclosure: Spark O.C. reviewer Rick Stein will be directing Michael Tremblay's DAMNEE MANON, SACREE SANDRA at Monkey Wrench next June.)

Tickets for SHOPPING & FUCKING remain damnedly purchasable via the internet for a scant $20 General Admission fee and an even cheaper $10 for students (or those dedicated enough to forge their own Student I.D.s). Absolutely no one under 17 allowed. Walk-outs discouraged, but tolerated with a minimum of dirty looks. 

Reviewed by Rick Stein

SERVING THE DARKNESS BETTER THAN WE HAD BEFORE

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Joel Beers' Orange Curtains blog has an interview up with Monkey Wrench Collective Artistic Director Dave Barton about his second go-round directing Mark Ravenhill's SHOPPING & FUCKING, our current production receiving both critical raves and critical walk-outs:
How has your relationship with the play changed since the first time you directed it? Do you find more things to unearth the second time around?  
Ravenhill's work operates on a lot of different levels and I've found that when I've revisited them they always reward me with new insights. The first time I did the play, I took his themes very seriously--even too seriously, in hindsight. I was intimidated by the explicitness of the sex and directed the play with a focus on the more tragic aspects. while my first cast really went where they needed in order to capture the grittiness of the sex, we missed a lot of the play's humor. ...
Another difference is that as good as that first production was, I'm not sure I fully understood the play's harshness and I think I tried to soften some of it, unconsciously. The play's world view is bleak and uncompromising. I think this second production serves that darkness better.
You can read the rest of Dave's thoughts on the controversial nature of the play right here, and, as always, pick up some tickets of your very own by clicking here.

THE WAGES OF NEW CAPITALIST SIN

SHOPPING AND FUCKING's second review comes courtesy the Fullertonian and Mark Stouffer, who kindly stayed for the entire production before rendering his judgment. We particularly enjoyed his disclaimer at review's end:
This is the dark dead-end in the blind alley where we find the characters, discovering their own morality by something slightly better than trial-and-error. Mark (Keith Bennett) has discovered "transactions," mutually beneficial reciprocal actions. This is near the beginning of the play and I think I have avoided spoilers so I will let you discover where he takes transactions. I can say that it is like a blind groping for the new morality in capitalism.... 
WARNING: While this is an adventurous tail [sic] some people might be offended, or even disgusted by some of the content. Don’t bring people with delicate minds. 
As always, our contractual duties oblige us to mention that tickets for this show are on sale this very moment, and can be purchased for a mere $20 General / $10 Students.


Reviewed by Mark Stouffer



COME PREPARED, FOR ONLY THE BOLD SHALL PASS UNSCATHED

Monday, October 18, 2010

The first review of SHOPPING AND FUCKING is in, and it appears our little production proved a bit too much for the intrepid critic, who nevertheless was kind enough to oblige us with his opinion in print:
The grit and the sleaze are knee deep, and [playwright Mark] Ravenhill gleefully pushes your face in it. The characters -- addicts, dealers, male prostitutes, losers all -- are highly realistic. They’re people you wouldn’t hang out with for five minutes on a street corner and they don’t make very good company in the theatre, at least in Ravenhill’s crude hands; I found them so unsympathetic and unpalatable I left at intermission.
However, there is some terrific acting here under Dave Barton’s graphic direction. Keith Bennett, as a stockbroker/junkie trying to kick the habit, not only nails the role’s Scottish accent to a fare thee well, he makes your skin crawl. Bryan Jennings excels as a gangster with the soul of an artist and the heart of a thug. Jennings has a wonderfully poetic monologue in the first act that delivers the quality of writing I expected but did not find in the rest of the play. 
Trauma units have been dispatched to Mr. Young's bedside, where we hope to have him nursed back to some semblance of health in time to review Monkey Wrench's (less graphic, we swear!) next production, Caryl Churchill's DRUNK ENOUGH TO SAY I LOVE YOU, opening October 30th.

In the meantime tickets, of course, remain available for the remainder of SHOPPING AND FUCKING's unpalatably crude run. $20 General / $10 Student, absolutely no one under 17 allowed. 

Don't say you haven't been warned.

Reviewed by Jordan Young

MELANIE GABLE NAMED BEST ACTRESS IN O.C. WEEKLY'S BEST OF O.C. ISSUE

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The O.C. Weekly's annual Best of Orange County issue is out, and we're very pleased to find that Melanie Gable was named Best Actress for her role in Monkey Wrench Collective's production of THE FEVER.
There aren't many actors who would even consider tackling the role of a person grappling with issues both horrifyingly public and intimately private set in the context of a 90-minute monologue that slithers through some truly twisted corridors of the human psyche. But Gable not only proved her fearlessness with the decision, but also demonstrated some brilliant talent. She made the impossibly smart words and complicated thought processes of Shawn's character seem real, imbuing the character with the fragility and unquenchable curiosity that are essential to making this script more than just a very-well-written rant about the grayest areas of human morality.
Congratulations, Melanie!


AUDITION NOTICE

SORRY, AUDITIONS FOR THIS PRODUCTION ARE LONG-SINCE CLOSED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST.


CTAG is casting actors of all types and varieties for

"Blank Slate"
a play unwritten
World Premiering January 2011
at the Monkey Wrench Collective theater

Auditions are at 7pm on Sunday and Monday, October the 24th and 25th, 2010
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=133013180083185

at Monkey Wrench Collective, in downtown Fullerton.
http://www.facebook.com/MonkeyCollective

Be sure to visit the CTAG Fan Page to get updates and the audition prompts.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/CTAG-Studio/141675282545233


REHEARSALS:
The show will rehears in part time in November, and more intensely in
December, with lots of room for the holidays. It will preview and then
open in mid-January. The details of the rehearsal schedule are still being worked out and
participant's conflicts over the holidays will be taken into account.


ROLES: 
All ages, types, and ethnicities are encouraged to audition.
Performers with extra talents are also encouraged--
musicians, jugglers, dancers, mask actors, poets, contortionists, etc
The key things we are looking for are passion and commitment. This
production will be unlike any you have participated in


ABOUT THE SHOW:
"Blank Slate" is a large scale experiment in developing an original
stage play using an unusual collaborative process.
Based on the critically successful development of "The Matriarchs" for
Rude Guerrilla Theater's 7 Deadly Sins collection, implementing tested techniques that
directors, R.J. Romero & Scott Williams have developed and implemented
in previous shows at other venues, an ensemble cast will be guided
through a series of exercises, improvisations, and collaborative
development activities in order to generate a final text. This
production will deliver a world premiere original script in 8-12 weeks
of rehearsal.

This is not an "improv" show, nor is it "sketch comedy". Both those
forms are fun and entertaining, but the goal here is entirely
different. Together the creative team and the ensemble will discover:
character, conflict, catharsis; and create an original story to tell
together.

Let go of any expectations, this show will be unusually unique!
This show will begin at the opposite end of the spectrum from most
productions -- with a production team, hand selected actors, and
literally-- a blank slate. Every member of the production will have a say, and be
expected to contribute to the development of the script. The creative
team, lead by Romero & WIlliams, will continually take in the words,
actions and other contributions from the cast and

More info will be posted on facebook. Feel free to ask questions!
http://www.facebook.com/pages/CTAG-Studio/141675282545233

R.J. Romero
Founding Artistic Director
Collaborative Theatre Artist's Studio

OFFEND YOUR POSTAL WORKER

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sign up for Monkey Wrench Collective's mailing list and periodically get images like this one delivered right to your doorstep! 


SHOPPING AND FUCKING / DRUNK ENOUGH TO SAY I LOVE YOU
Both coming in October to the Monkey Wrench Collective.
Postcard design by "Greg Adkins"

Become the envy of your neighbors when YOU hear about Monkey Wrench's new productions first!

Laugh with righteous anti-socialist disdain at our (infrequent, we promise) attempts to cajole you into donating money!

We may even send out the occasional discount ticket offer. All this for the low, low price of FREE!

Just send an email to
Info@MonkeyWrenchCollective.org with your mailing address, and we'll get you all set up. Your details will of course be kept ENTIRELY CONFIDENTIAL, and will not be shared with even the most benevolent of multi-national corporations. 

FEAR OF A RED-NOSED PLANET

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Intrepid O.C. Weekly reviewer Joel Beers has posted his interview with CLOWNZILLA: ILLEGAL ALIENS writer/director Eli Simon at the Orange Curtains blog, and it is, as always, a fascinating read:

Illegal Aliens is mythological in nature. It's my saga of the creation of Clowns, being born on Clown Planet, blowing the planet up, traveling through space to Earth, and how they came to live among us. The troupe is tackling issues of assimilation, immigration and persecution. So, it's a lot more serious in places than my previous shows. But there are also really entertaining moments along the way.

Would we miss this chance to remind you that tickets remain available for this weekend's performance? Indeed we would not. $20 general / $10 students and kids. 8pm Friday, 7pm Saturday, 2pm Friday.

TWO FOR TWO

Backstage.com on CLOWNZILLA: ILLEGAL ALIENS:

The evening is a skilled mixture of scripted bits, off-the-cuff clowning, slapstick, Theatre of the Absurd, and social and political satire poking fun not just at Arizona's posture toward immigrants but at the entire human race... [the] clowns are eminently sympathetic, even while evoking gales of laughter.
Some tickets still available for this weekend's performances!
$20 General / $10 Student and Kids.
Friday @ 8pm, Saturday @ 7pm, Sunday @ 2pm.


WELL-HONED CLOWNIC TIMING AND THE MOVEMENT AGAINST IMMIGRATION

The first review of CLOWNZILLA: ILLEGAL ALIENS is up at the O.C. Register, courtesy Eric Marchese: 


Has a troupe of generic clowns ever been so used to zero in on bigotry, racism, xenophobia and cultural conformity? The fact that they generate laughs while doing so is all the more remarkable... [the Clownzilla clowns] are expert mimes, using their faces and bodies to express a wide range of emotions. Despite the outwardly serious subject matter, they also garner plenty of well-deserved laughs, displaying well-honed clownic timing.
Some tickets for this weekend are still available! $20 General / $10 Students and Kids. Get 'em here while you can:
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/124221


LIKE IT SAYS ON THE TIN...

Monday, August 2, 2010


True Love Lies. Half-priced tickets. One night only. On sale now

Don't say we never did nothin' for you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Joel Beers' analysis of True Love Lies just hit the O.C. Weekly, and damn if it isn't a perfect example of why we love Mr. Beers' writing. Not because he always has nice things to say about us (he doesn't, but we forgive him), but because his insights into what he watches are always sharply observant and expressed with a fine eye for thematic detail:
"[Brad] Fraser’s True Love Lies, while containing its fair share of sexual situations and one intense beating, is anything but brutal or seedy. It is a beautifully rendered family drama that, in the hands of director Dave Barton, feels keenly empathetic and sincere....

"True Love Lies doesn’t say anything new about human relationships, sexual or otherwise. They’re just hard. Always have been, always will be, whether that relationship is between two lovers, a husband and wife, or parents and children. Like anything meant to last, they must be built brick by brick and worked on to prevent from collapsing. But when those bricks are built on a suspect foundation, as they are in the marriage in True Love Lies, it doesn’t take much to topple them.

"There are no black hats or white hats in this play, just people struggling for something authentic in a world filled with disappointments and distractions. People who choose, for whatever reason, to play certain roles at certain times because they desperately need to reconcile their private passions with social norms. Decisions are chosen, compromises made and, on some level, fingers are crossed in hopes that the latest costume is the one that will fit the best for the longest time."
Tickets? Oh yes, we still have some. Take them off our hands, won't you?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jordan Young of the LA/OC Arts Examiner has once more done us a mitzvah by reviewing True Love Lies, which we are (SPOILER ALERT) quite likely to shill for again at the conclusion of this post:
Brad Fraser’s witty and provocative new play... sparkles in its West Coast premiere at the Monkey Wrench Collective in Fullerton. ... It ponders the essence of love itself, both gay and straight, and the cost of telling the whole unvarnished truth to those we love most.

Anthony B. Cohen gives a thoughtful performance as Kane, a family man who watches his life unravel bit by bit after revealing a long-held secret. Jill Cary Martin is superb as his understanding wife, Caroline; Sabrina Zellars adds spice and zest as their oversexed daughter, Madison. Rick Kopps excels as David, a face from Kane’s past. But it’s Christopher Basile who impresses most, with his portrayal of the angst-ridden teenaged son, Royce, whose acerbic humor masks the turmoil under the surface -- much like the play itself.
As promised, the shill commences: you can buy your tickets for True Love Lies right here. $20 General / $10 Students.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

And another review, this time from Backstage West. We're not trying to brag or anything here, but we'd be lying if we didn't admit to being damned pleased by all the praise coming in for this show. Did we mention that tickets are still available for this weekend's performances?
The text is a knowing combination of cynicism, wry humor and penetrating insights into human nature, and the acting styles of director Dave Barton's cast members mesh well, supporting Fraser's ideas while adding their own shadings... Monkey Wrench's production is an ensemble effort in every respect and a must-see for devotees of the art of theater.
O.C. Register critic Eric Marchese took in the opening weekend of True Love Lies last week, and has very kindly decided to publish his opinion for the world to see:
One might think that questions about the nature of love had been exhausted in centuries of literature and the theater, but Canadian playwright Brad Fraser always seems to find a new wrinkle or two to add to the issue....

Fraser pens insightful, often deep dialogue, yet his text is also archly funny, chock-full of terrific zingers... You won't find cheap, sitcom-style laughs in "True Love Lies," nor soapy melodrama. What you will find are numerous, dead-on one-liners sure to evoke bursts of laughter as well as private moments of such compelling emotional content you'll likely swallow hard and suppress a tear.

In a cast that's wonderful all around, [Rick] Kopps is outstanding in a complexly drawn, nuanced role – a worldly gay man who's as objective about himself as he is others. Kopps brings smiles, an easygoing manner and near-total candor to the role. His David exerts effortless command of those around him, harbors no illusions about life and has the healthiest ego of the play's five characters...

If the name of playwright Fraser sounds familiar, it could be because Rude Guerrilla Theater Company's production of his "Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love" helped put [Director Dave] Barton and Rude G on the map (indeed, the play's characters include the youthful David and Kane).

If this production is any indication, Fraser's new work is now doing the same thing for the fledgling Monkey Wrench.
Tickets for True Love Lies are, perhaps not un-coincidentally, still available for purchase via our website.


AUDITIONS FOR "SHOPPING & FUCKING"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SORRY, AUDITIONS FOR THIS PRODUCTION ARE LONG-SINCE CLOSED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST.

Monkey Wrench Collective is holding auditions for the following role in Mark Ravenhill’s controversial black comedy SHOPPING & FUCKING, directed by Dave Barton:

Gary: Male, 18, should look younger. Gay male prostitute. Actor should be comfortable with nudity and explicitly gay sexual situations. British accent required, East End accent preferred. All ethnicities are encouraged to audition. There is some pay.

Rehearsals begin August 29. Show opens October 8 for an open-ended run. All other roles have been cast.

Auditions: Sunday, August 1, from 12 to 2:30. Callbacks are at 3:30.

Location: Monkey Wrench Collective, 204 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, CA.

Please bring headshots, resume and prepare to cold read from the script. Script is available via email from Rudegrrlla@aol.com

THE RECONDITE MATHS OF BRAD FRASER

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Arts Orange County's Rick Stein is back with another insightful review of Monkey Wrench's latest production, the West Coast Premiere of Brad Fraser's TRUE LOVE LIES:
This, the fourth Monkey Wrench Collective production, is the most accessible and demonstrates that its founders aren't wedded to any single style or subject matter as long as it is thought-provoking. True Love Lies certainly is that, but it's also the first comedy the new Monkey Wrench has produced (albeit one containing adult language and brief nudity).

...the bitingly funny dialogue punctuates each twist and turn of plot from almost the moment the play begins. But it's character-driven humor--not appliqued punchlines--that is fresh and insightful. The audience departed from the theatre wounded and bleeding from hilarious indictments hurled (mostly) by the two young characters, whose observations about their parents, their peers and even themselves were shocking-but-true.

...Director Dave Barton's staging is fluid, sensible and copes well with creating multiple locations within the confines of the small performance space. It's also very well-cast and acted convincingly by its five performers.
As ever, we are honor-bound to note that the production runs for another four weeks, and tickets can be purchased online right now.

IN THE MANSION OF ARTS AND LETTERS, WE LIVE LIKE CHILDREN

Monday, June 7, 2010

Theatre is not a grown-up activity. People who work in theatre and put on plays are playing. I was first in a play, at school, when I was nine, and I was most recently in a play, in London, a few weeks ago. It was just the same. A banker puts on a costume and pretends to be an adult. I don’t.
--Wallace Shawn,
from an interview

THE TASTE OF IDEAS TRIPPING OFF THE TONGUE

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Joel Beers of the O.C. Weekly was good enough to interview me about THE FEVER, which opens Thursday at 8pm:
I suppose one of the primary assets of [Wallace Shawn's] work is that he's completely unabashed about being a smarty-pants intellectual., The foundational style of his plays is that they're built up from this aesthetics of ideas. They're just so clearly in love with the idea of ideas. His characters dance about with one another's philosophies and political ideologies, luxuriating in this kind of wild, intellectual promiscuity. And the Fever is a great encapsulation of that sensibility.
Tickets are but a wee $10, and can be purchased online here.


AN APPROPRIATE BAPTISM

Friday, May 28, 2010

While we love all theater critics and their publications equally, it's hard for us not to hold a special place in our hearts for the O.C. Weekly, which has proven itself particularly ardent in its support of local storefronts. And so we're rather gratified to see intrepid Weekly reviewer Stacy Davies deliver her take on pool (no water):
Director Barton and choreographers [and co-directors] Melita Ann Sagar and Lee Samuel Tanng took on a monster with this production—a bare-bones text with single sentences parsed out among actors with no characterizations, directions or descriptions on the page. Employing a cohesive and impressive creative vision, the trio manages to transform the small, brick-wall-enclosed space into a melee of projected videos, revving soundtrack, focused light and creeping shadows that meld into dark, crude poetry. There are no props, save a gurney and a single cluster of shower curtains; these minimalist representations serve the production well, keeping Ravenhill’s disembodied tale in the abstract nightmare world in which all human excess is amplified.

Cast members Lamprinos, Peter Balgoyen, Christopher Basile, Keith Bennett, Sean Engard, Terri Mowrey and Alexander Price are decisively twisted archetypes of the oversexed, overdrugged and self-absorbed pals and co-workers who can inhabit many of our lives; the energy and courage with which the actors bare their strife and bodies is a sight to behold.

PODCASTING "POOL"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

O.C. Theater Reviews is a new, potentially exciting addition to the Orange County theater scene: it's a (weekly?) podcast intent on giving honest reviews of local productions. Their very first episode has just gone up, and we're quite honored that it's focused on Monkey Wrench Collective's U.S. premiere of pool (no water). Reviewers Stephen John, Mike Martin and Billy Jones have a lot of interesting observations to make about the production and the theater, but because our egomania knows no bounds, we'll just give you a little taste here that happens to double suspiciously well as a pull-quote: "Was it worth $15? Absolutely. Absolutely... The new Monkey Wrench Collective are bringing their A-game... I really think Monkey Wrench has far surpassed its Rude Guerrilla [roots]."

You can listen to the podcast here, and, as always, secure your reservations for the show by calling 714.525.1400. Only six performances left.

THE RHETORIC OF RAVENHILL

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Over at the Spark O.C. blog, Rick Stein has a thoughtful, anti-structuralist weigh-in on pool (no water). We had considered offering our own deconstructionalist rebuttal to the Waynes Booth school of thought here, but alas, became irrevocably distracted by the sight of our own names once again rendered in print, and have thus chosen to focus our full attention on the blog's final paragraph:
As for Monkey Wrench's production... their tiny, brick-walled storefront on the main street is a lovely space for this kind of work. Dave Barton and two other credited directors Melita Ann Sagar and Lee Samuel Tanng have taken Ravenhill's 70-minute musings and woven into them a kinetic, lively and engaging production, carefully choreographed and infused with music. The cast is a well-oiled ensemble that never misses a beat. It's playing to full houses on the weekends through June 6, and is a welcome addition to Fullerton's bustling scene of small, hip theatre companies.
A few reservations remain for this weekend's performance. 714.525.1400. Thoughts on authorial intent welcome.

AN ELOQUENT TAPESTRY OF WORDS

Friday, May 21, 2010


The next review for pool (no water) is up, coming to us this time from Jordan Young (who we just noticed you can follow on twitter. Kids these days with their technology and their gadgets and their whatnots.):
If the US premiere of Mark Ravenhill’s “pool (no water)” is any indication, and I suspect it is, [Monkey Wrench Collective] is out to shake up the status quo and challenge the definition of theatre -- or what passes for theatre in OC, at any rate.

Ravenhill’s latest is ostensibly about a group of artists and the tragic accident that befalls the most successful of them, but it’s more about the nature of friendship. It’s an eloquent tapestry of words, closer to a prose poem than a play. As directed by Dave Barton, Melita Ann Sagar and Lee Samuel Tanng, and choreographed by Sagar and Tanng, this bold and uncompromising effort resembles a work of modern dance that is striking in design and execution.
Pool continues its run this weekend at the MWC space in downtown Fullerton. Tickets $15 General / $10 students. 714.525.1400 for reservations.

HUMAN DECENCY IS SOMETHING I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND

Monday, May 17, 2010

Coming June 3rd:

The Fever
Written by Wallace Shawn. 

Directed by "Greg Adkins". Starring Melanie Gable. 
Musical performance by Teresa Chan Escober.


Tickets are available now. Just $10.


A "POOL" FILLED WITH AMBIGUITY

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Courtesy Eric Marchese of the O.C. Register comes the first review of our first official show in the new space, the U.S. Premiere of Mark Ravenhill's "pool (no water)":

In some spots, "pool" has a tone that's lightly ironic, reflecting a puckish sensibility; in others, its mixture of colored lights, amped sound and vicious action yield a feeling of psychedelia.

A scene about halfway through the play, set to a pulsating electronic rock score, is highly stylized. In fact, much of "pool" has the look and feel of the best small indie filmmakers – a fact as much attributable to [co-director Dave] Barton as to Ravenhill.

It doesn't take us long to adjust to the vicious nature of those depicted in "pool," and Barton does all he can to augment that sense. Filled with colorful lighting, dozens of photographs, a rock music underscore and plenty of well-choreographed speech and movement, his staging is graphic and vivid.

Like earlier Barton-directed plays, "pool (no water)" has elements of strong language, nudity and violence. While some may see these as gratuitous, they're anything but, always employed within the service of Ravenhill's concepts.
We would, of course, be utterly remiss if we did not mention that "Pool" is opening tonight at 6pm. Tickets only $15. Reservations 714.525.1400.

AND SO IT BEGINS...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

After many months of creative toil and bureaucratic finagling, construction on the new Monkey Wrench Collective space in downtown Fullerton began in earnest yesterday, with an official projected completion date of "soon."

Disappointingly, not a new avant-garde seating arrangement for the audience.

Though there remain, inevitably, a few more red tape hurdles for us to jump before we can make any official announcements, expect to see new opening dates soon for the rebooted U.S. Premiere of Mark Ravenhill's "pool (no water)", paired with Wallace Shawn's epic monologue-play on the corrosive moral influence of money, "The Fever".

Imagine this, but with lights, seating, completed walls, 
no construction equipment, and actors.

In the months to follow, the Monkey Wrench Collective stage will feature new work from Brad Fraser, Chris Secor, and Clownzilla; a revival production of Mark Ravenhill's controversial British hit "Shopping and Fucking"; and a few more surprises we're keeping discretely secreted up our Collective sleeve.

Until that time, we shall conduct ourselves, even whilst under construction, ever apropos to the regard in which you hold us.

Yes, that sounds about right.

TAKE A BITE OF OUR BAD-GIRL MEAT

Monday, April 12, 2010

Up next from Monkey Wrench Collective:


"pool (no water)" by Mark Ravenhill
U.S. PREMIERE

Cinematography by Eric A. Wahl

"REVENGER'S" OBSERVED ONCE MORE

Monday, April 5, 2010

Never ones to pass up an opportunity to see our names in print, we present here for your perusal the latest review of "The Revenger's Tragedy", courtesy Joyce Rosenthal at the Fullerton Observer. (But unsuspecting reader, beware! The full review features a largish spoiler about the fate of our characters.)
[Monkey Wrench's] first production is a rousing rendition of Thomas Middleton's 1608 play, The Revenger's Tragedy. It is a typical play of the era (think Shakespeare) with a large cast of characters and a convoluted plot. The language is of the era but the costumes and makeup are current and trend towards the flamboyant. Director Dave Barton does a great job keeping his cast moving at a rapid pace...

Costumes by Amanda Jimenez and makeup by Melita Ann Sagar add immeasurably to the play. Mark Coyan (Vindici), Brenda Kenworthy (Duke's eldest son) and Susan E. Taylor (Duchess) are outstanding performers.
(PDF download)

RESURRECTION SPECIAL

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spend Easter Sunday bathed in the blood of the wicked.
Showtime 6pm. Tickets $5. Reservations 714-525-1400. Location here.

NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO SPEND THEIR LIFE WITHOUT BEING OFFENDED

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

But no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don't have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don't have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or bought, or sold or read.
--Philip Pullman, talking about his new novel

A FROSTY TREAT

Friday, March 26, 2010

The latest review of "The Revenger's Tragedy", from longtime Orange County Register critic Eric Marchese:
If it's true that revenge is a dish best served cold, then Monkey Wrench Collective's newest show is a frosty treat...

MWC co-founder Dave Barton has created a new adaptation of Middleton's Jacobean-era gore-fest, giving it a kinky, Quentin Tarantino-type spin. The characters still speak in blank verse, yet their garb and choice of weapons (automatic handguns) would suggest a more recent vintage... [Barton's] staging in an empty building near downtown Fullerton's train station (until his new theater space can re-open later this spring) is as visceral – and as gory – as any revenge tale antique or modern.

MURDER AND MAYHEM AT THE MONKEY WRENCH

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The first review of "The Revenger's Tragedy" is in, courtesy Jordan Young of the LA/OC Arts Examiner:
The stage writhes with twisted, unsavory characters in director Dave Barton’s stylish update of the 400-year-old Jacobean dark comedy by Thomas Middleton. This tale of murder, lust and blind ambition is Shakespearean in scope (Middleton collaborated with The Bard on “Timon of Athens” and “A Yorkshire Tragedy”); think “Titus Andronicus” played tongue-in-cheek and you’ll have a rough idea.
"Revenger's" runs through April 11th at the Crystal Ice House in Fullerton.

OUR HISTORY IS WRITTEN ON THE WALLS OF THE INTERNET

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cristofer Gross of the Orange County Local News Network -- a website whose existence, I have to confess, I was not previously aware of -- nevertheless has done a very nice write-up on the troubled Monkey Wrench space and the (finally! tonight!) opening of "The Revenger's Tragedy" at the Crystal Ice House in Fullerton.
Barton, who was also Rude Guerrilla’s founding artistic director, remains convinced of the rightness of an aesthetic the company website defines as “devoted to U.S. premieres of European work, West Coast premieres of socially provocative new work, and vibrant productions of rarely performed classics.”

It was back in the fall of 2008 that Barton and Jennings began imagining life after Guerrilla. They were in Malta to remount their 2004 production of Kane’s “Blasted,” and getting inspired by the politically charged Maltese audiences and administrators. Video from home suggested a political sea-change may be represented by Obama’s victory.

“We were talking about how enjoyable it was working with people we really liked and doing work that we really wanted to do,” Jennings said. “And at the time, Rude Guerrilla had gotten a little big for itself and there was infighting and decisions we weren’t happy with.”

THEY SHALL SIGH BLOOD

Monday, March 15, 2010

"The Revenger's Tragedy" by Thomas Middleton
Opening March 20th at the Palace Ice House in Fullerton


Cinematography by Eric A. Wahl