Cross-cultural issues and conflicts at the border are the subject of the Magic Theatre's next reading series, “Plays at the Border.” The San Francisco venue hosts plays from Chay Yew (Red), Rogelio Martinez, Klaus Pohl and Cherrie Moraga Nov. 30-Dec. 10.
Of the four, Pohl's Waiting Room Germany/Wartesaal Deutschland receives a more complete workshop production, running Dec. 1-3 and 8-10. Translated into English by David Tushingham for London's Royal Court Theatre, Waiting Room Germany looks at the complexities of life between East and West Germans as specifically related to the recent reunification. From a taxi driver who lost his love to the border to a chief executive who must lay off hundreds of workers no longer necessary in the new Germany, Pohl interviewed people from all walks of life for his play.
Waiting Room Germany has never received a full production before in America, although it has been popular in Germany since its premiere in 1995. Pohl is also the author of Karate Billi Kehrt Zuruck (Karate Billy Comes Home), Hunsruck, Heisses Geld and Mulheim Playwrights Prize winner Das Alte Land.
Yew's Wonderland kicks off the staged readings Nov. 30 and Dec. 10. This play is set in Southern California, where three Asian Americans find themselves at odds with the world around them. The patriarch, an architect, wishes to design revolutionary buildings instead of the shopping malls he's assigned. His wife, who made it to America only after she told her husband she was pregnant, wants the America she saw in Elizabeth Taylor movies. Their son, meanwhile, fights for his own national, racial and sexual identity.
Director of the Asian Theatre Workshop at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum, Yew wrote Porcelin, Red, A Beautiful Country and A Language of Their Own. Lesbian playwright Moraga presents her The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea Dec. 3. Moving Euripides' tragedy to a future post-civil war world where whites live in "Gringolandia" and Chicanos reside in "Aztlan," she pictures a Medea on the border living with her son Chac-Mool and lesbian lover, who will fight to keep the boy with any means necessary.
Moraga's plays include Who Killed Yolanda Saldivar, Shadow of a Man, Watsonville: Some Place Not Here and Heroes and Saints. Her recent books include "The Last Generation" and "Waiting in the Wings: Portrait of a Queer Motherhood."
Martinez looks at two Cuban brothers, one who grew up in New York and one who stayed behind in Cuba with his mother and sister Margarita in Arrivals and Departures. Although both men have become successful writers, they bicker over who is more talented, more deserving and more Cuban. It takes Margarita to violently and powerfully come between the two, asserting her role in the family as one as important as theirs. Arrivals and Departures will be read Dec. 3 and 7.
After arriving in the U.S. in 1980 on a Mariel boatlift, Martinez has scripted Illuminating Veronica for New York's New Work Now Festival as well as work for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Mark Taper Forum.
Tickets are $15 for the workshop production, $10 suggested donation for readings. The Magic Theatre is located in Building D at the Fort Mason Center. For reservations, call (415) 441 8822.
- By Christine Ehren