Solo performer Sandra Loh's Sept. 11 meditation I Worry and the Craig Bohmler-Mary Bracken Phillips' musical, The Mystery of Winchester House highlight the San Jose Repertory annual America Playwrights Festival, running June 14-18.
I Worry was Loh's immediate reaction following the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "I was just glued to CNN, reading the New York Times, going on websites. I was just horrified and transfixed until I became overloaded with information. I was reading about the caves in Afganistan and I started to worry, 'Does Bush know about these caves? It's buried in the L.A. Times on page seven! Should I let Bush know? Should I send him the clipping?'" Loh said.
From that inspiration sprang her top ten worry list, which changes from show to show and can include any number of things — "Anthrax, Israel-Palestine, terrorists moving into my apartment building, why Michelle Kwan can't skate a perfect routine," she said, naming a few worries from recent shows. In a four act setting, Loh talks about her problems, imagines a perfect world, lets the audience name their own strong and sometimes stupid worries and meditates on the meaning of death and life.
Workshop performances of I Worry are June 15-18. I Worry will have its world premiere in April, 2003 at the Wooly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC.
Sarah Winchester's famous San Jose mansion, the Winchester House, is the setting The Mystery of Winchester House, reading at11 AM June 15 at the Sobrato Auditorium. The widow Winchester, wife of the famous rifle manufacturer, was obsessed with the spiritual realm as were many Victorian-era women. Her obsession turned to fear, however, and she took to adding rooms, staircases and doors to her home in order to confuse the ghosts she was certain haunted her. The actual Winchester House, which Sarah continued to build on until her death in the 1920s, has 60 rooms (40 are bedrooms), five kitchens, two ballrooms, two basements, 950 doors, 47 fireplaces and 40 staircases. Bohmler and Bracken Phillips play with the legend of the Winchester House, turning history into a combination of romantic thriller and musical comedy. In the show, ghostly gunfighters shoot it out on the many staircases leading to nowhere, while a barbershop quartet of the deceased comments on the action.
Bohmler is best known for his musicals Enter the Guardsman and Gunmetal Blues. Bracken Phillips was Tony-nominated for her lyrics to Metro and penned the book and lyrics to Brimstone and I>Cradle Song.
Scott Schwartz (Bat Boy, tick, tick...Boom!) direct the reading of The Mystery of Wincester House.
Timothy Near directs Philip Kan Gotanda's The Wind Cries Mary, reading at 1:30 PM June 16 in the Fourth Floor Studio Theatre. A resetting of Hedda Gabler, The Wind Cries Mary will have its world premiere at the Rep in 2003.
San Jose Repertory Theatre is located at 101 Paseo de San Antonio between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. For reservations, call (408) 367-7255. San Jose Repertory Theatre is on the web at http://www.sjrep.com.
— By Christine Ehren