San Diego's Sledgehammer Seeks Transcendence South of Heaven

News   San Diego's Sledgehammer Seeks Transcendence South of Heaven Why is Southern California both the geographical and spiritual end of the American road?"

Why is Southern California both the geographical and spiritual end of the American road?"

Quasi-metaphysical questions like that are "sledgehammered" together with science-fiction and musical theatre in Scott Feldsher's new play South of Heaven, premiering Aug. 24-Sept.14 at San Diego's Sledgehammer Theatre.

South of Heaven is actually the third installment of Sledgehammer's U.S. Highway Love Slave trilogy. Previous plays in the trilogy include David Rosenthal's The Speed of Amnesia and Erik Ehn's The Silver. Both plays were produced last year at Sledgehammer.

According to writer/director Scott Feldsher, South of Heaven is "a big mythic love story about the search for heaven."

Ethan Feerst, Sledgehammer's executive director and co-founder, told Playbill On-Line, "The pieces were conceived in 1995, partially because Sledgehammer was motivated to actually create a company-developed work. We had worked with adaptations of the classics and done a lot of new plays, but never produced a work that was created by our company." The trilogy reflects the notions of how Man has adapted his views on spirituality to meld with contemporary culture and the evolution of technology. Feldsher began talking with three playwrights -- Erik Ehn, Kelly Stuart and David Rosenthal -- about the development of a three part show based on the spirituality theme. Each part eventually became a separate show.

"South of Heaven combines science-fiction and musical comedy in a schizophrenic hybrid of myth, allegory, B-grade science-fiction, utopian literature, The Wizard of Oz, and contemporary news events" says Feerst.

Last year, Feldsher co-wrote and co-directed the premiere of The Whole World Is Watching (see PBOL news feature Picture Oedipus' Family on a TV Talk Show ) at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. This mutli-media adaptation of the Oedipus saga received 11 Drama-Logue awards including best production and best direction.

Sledgehammer Theatre was established in 1985 by Scott Feldsher, Ethan Feerst, and Robert Brill. Over the past twelve years, the company has gained a reputation for producing large shows on small budgets and their intense dedication to new voices in American Theatre. It has introduced new works by such acclaimed playwrights as Erik Ehn, Kelly Stuart, Charles Mee and Mac Wellman.

For South of Heaven tickets, call (619) 544-1484. For more information about Sledgehammer Theatre refer to the regional listing on Playbill On-Line.

--By Sean McGrath

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