On stage: ‘Revolt’ at SF’s Crowded Fire Theater is all about ‘smashing the patriarchy’

British playwright Alice Birch’s “Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.” is a dizzying series of vignettes and fragments. It starts with tweaking sexist language in dirty talk and responding to a marriage proposal as an insulting bid to turn a person into property and just becomes more provocative from there.

“It’s a dark comedy about smashing the patriarchy,” says Rebecca Novick, who’s directing the play’s West Coast premiere with Crowded Fire Theater. “Stylistically it’s very strange. It’s like it starts out in one format and then smashes itself. It starts out as sort of a series of sketches. We’ve been talking in rehearsal about it’s almost as if each act is in the style of a different playwright. It’s sort of got a Pinter play in the middle, and then it goes into sort of chaotic late Churchill at the end. I’m enjoying the experiment in form that goes along with the radicalness of the content.”

The founding artistic director of Crowded Fire, Novick started the company in 1997 and ran it for the first ten years. This is the first Crowded Fire show she’s directed since “Anna Bella Eema” in 2007.

“I’m always drawn to plays whose form feels complicated,” Novick says. “For me this was a little bit of a return to a kind of play that I directed a lot when I was the artistic director of Crowded Fire and have not really since. In the more community-engaged work that I’ve been doing of late, opaqueness in structure is not a positive thing, and it’s kind of a barrier to entry. But I do really enjoy it. I enjoy making weird stuff make sense.”

For most of the play, the lines aren’t assigned to any particular performer or character. The content and context often suggest who says what or how many people are present, but not always. At times it’s intended to be deliberately unclear whether a line is being said by a character or by the actor breaking character.

“There have been a lot of versions of what a Crowded Fire play is over the course of the three different artistic directorships,” Novick says, “but this play to me captured a lot of stuff that’s been in common for all three of us, which is a play with very forthright politics as well as very adventurous dramaturgy, and a play where language is at the center.”

This “Revolt” kicks off a 20th anniversary

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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