Our Vessel Is From Tyre Links

Our Vessel Is From Tyre poster


Vessel - Notes from the Director
 

haas exterior

Ah, for the days before electricity, when the family would gather in the double-parlor, turn up the gas chandelier and tell stories...or a weekend salon would be held for the neighborhood poets to speak their words aloud. If Time can bend, let us go there now, gathering tonight on the first floor of this glorious home to share a haunting tale of a heartsick Phoenician. And if in the midst of your listening you happen to be guided out of the parlor and pulled up a gleaming bannister, what adventures will the other floors hold?

In adapting a classic there is a natural reverence for the original, and so we offer a foreshortened and distilled essence of Shakespeare's play Pericles this evening, as we welcome you onto our good boat and proclaim that Our Vessel Is From Tyre.

Now, as a native San Franciscan who eagerly soaked-up my grandfather George's accounts of the Great Conflagration of 1906, I am aware that this edifice - the Haas Lilienthal House - survived by just one city block when the dynamiting of Van Ness Avenue finally stopped the progression of the flames in that explosive April. Water mains had been snapped by the earthquake, and the pipes were empty, even as the city-by-the-bay was surrounded by all of that water. As the peripatetic Pericles might tell us from his experience, disaster could be just around the next corner, so keep your powder dry.

pericles poster

I am simply a fool for plays of the Sea. This one lures me into its net for many theatrical reasons:

       The epic scope...

       The lament for the 'absent'....

       Pirates versus virtue...

       Clowns and kindnesses.

Within Shakespeare's transcendent final romance plays, the four elements are often named and held high:

       The billowing winds...

       The parched earth...

       Flame from heaven...

       ...and always, always the tossing briny ooze.

Floating in these final plays of Shakespeare's Folio (Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest) we may find ourselves clinging to a bard's strong bark of words, rolling on deep emotions, but we are held forever on the soft and ferocious mother ocean.

As haunting events go, staging tonight's production - and in this particular residence - has felt like being within a stately ship: the strong bones and mastlike parapets, gleaming varnishes, the weave of the fabrics and the musty smells up in the garret.  We are grateful and nod to the Victorian ghosts of the place, even as we recount our ancient Phoenician story with a touch of their turn-of-last-century flourish.

Not enough can be said about this collection of theatre artists who agreed to jump in, and rehearse this evening's entertainment in such short order. I am grateful beyond measure and delighted by their talent and beauty.

-Randall Stuart