By Valerie Attisha, Rolando News Staff
No need to leave Rolando to see world class theatre. One of San Diego’s artistic gems can be found in our own backyard. Established in 2005, Moxie Theatre is a nonprofit organization founded by a talented and acclaimed group of writers, performers and directors with the mission of introducing audiences to underproduced, original and diverse works that promise to become classics of the future.
My husband and I are avid theatregoers. Each year, we wonder how Moxie can top the previous season. This year, Moxie’s 14th season, looks to be their best yet. The company is producing five wildly different plays–irreverent, funny, thoughtful and jaw-dropping.
“We were searching for stories that explored the complexity of what it means to be human,” Jennifer Eve Thorn, executive artistic director, explains. “The plays we selected explore the full spectrum of our experience: how we come to the final years of our life and still continue to learn about ourselves; how we come to terms with who we love; and the truth of how we often fear those who are different. I chose plays that are silly yet serious, intellectual yet adventurous. I am terribly proud to bring five incredible plays that most San Diego audiences have never seen to the MOXIE stage”.
The season’s first play is Voyeurs de Venus by Lydia Diamond, author of Moxie’s award-winning adaptation of The Bluest Eye. Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, Moxie’s founding artistic director, returns to direct this production. The play, which runs Aug. 12 – Sept. 9, is based upon the true story of Saartje Baartman, a South African woman who was captured and displayed on the streets of 19th century London and Paris as a freak show oddity, known as The Hottentot Venus. Diamond’s play is provocative, profound, unapologetically funny, and filled with incredible dance numbers choreographed by Michael Mizerany, until 2013 associate artistic director of the esteemed Malashock Dance Company.
Tanya Saracho, the gifted writer behind HBO’s Looking and Girls, STARZ TV Vida, and Lifetime’s Devious Maids, brings her play Fade to Moxie Theatre Oct. 14–Nov. 11. Fade, produced in partnership with TuYo Theatre, first appeared as a staged reading at The Old Globe. Not so coincidentally, the play is about Lucia, a young woman writing for television. Born in Mexico, she is the newest writer for a Hollywood television drama. When Lucia meets Abel, the Mexican-American custodian at her office, she jumps to a series of unfounded conclusions. As their friendship grows, his ideas blur with hers leading to unexpected consequences. A comedy about the fascinating hidden world of writing for television, Fade takes on issues of culture, class and the price of ambition.
Grace McLeod’s Herland runs Jan. 20 – Feb. 17, 2019. It is the world premiere of a work by a young playwright whom Moxie is incredibly proud to have discovered. In collaboration with REDTWIST Theatre in Chicago, Moxie will be the first in the country to produce McLeod’s play. Jennifer Eve Thorn will direct this ingenious comedy about growing old, growing up and growing into yourself. Herland tells the story of Jean and her three best friends, all in their 70s, who are adamant about not moving into a retirement home. Hoping to avoid this fate at all costs, they recruit a young high school intern, Natalie, to help them hatch a bold plan for a Utopian alternative. After a lifetime of following other people’s rules, they face the exhilarating prospect of making their own.
Lauren Yee’s Hookman will be presented Mar. 15-24. Yee, last year’s winner of the $25,000 National Arts Club’s Kesserling Prize, is one of the most highly produced playwrights in the United States. Moxie theatregoers may remember her A Man, His Wife and His Hat (now known as The Hatmaker’s Wife). Thorn again will direct. For the first time, MOXIE will partner with San Diego State University to produce the show on the SDSU campus, with SDSU actors. Why SDSU? It’s an ideal collaboration, Thorn says. “All of the Hookman characters are college-aged. And we have one of the nation’s best universities just down the street from us.” The play takes place during Lexi’s first year at college. Her roommate is odd, she is terribly homesick, and a hook-handed serial killer is slashing girls’ throats. “Yes, it is a slasher comedy but there’s a great deal of mystery,” Thorn says. “And it’s also funny. Really funny. And a little bloody.” This production has sold out in previous productions elsewhere. Jennifer encourages theatregoers to get their tickets early.
Jo Anne Glover, Moxie co-founder and fan favorite, will appear in the cast of the season’s final offering, Yoga Play by Dipika Guha, May 5–June 2. Moxie fans won’t want to miss it! Guha, who was born in Calcutta and brought up in India, Russia and the United Kingdom, this year has been a fellowship recipient at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. The production marks the directorial debut of Moxie’s new associate artistic director, Callie Prendiville. A playwright as well as actor and director, Prendiville comes to San Diego fresh from the success of her new play Blamed: An Established Fiction, which appeared in this year’s New York Fringe Festival. In Yoga Play, scandal is threatening to ruin a giant yoga apparel firm when a newly hired woman CEO stakes everything on a wild plan to recover its earnings and reputation. A comedy about enlightenment in a world determined to sell it, Yoga Play considers what it takes to succeed in a culture fueled by rampant consumerism.
Moxie Theatre has won the distinction of being named one of the top three theatres in the City of San Diego’s A-List and was recently named “Best Small Theatre” by San Diego Magazine. But don’t let the word ‘small’ fool you. Moxie’s size enables the company to produce some of the world’s most exciting new plays in an intimate setting. It is not unusual to find the director and actors milling about in the lobby and chatting with theatregoers. This intimate setting helps make Moxie a unique and wonderful place.
“We believe theatre should be easy and accessible,” Thorn says. “You should be able to walk around the corner and take in a great show with good friends. That is what we love about being in Rolando. People walk to Moxie from their homes. They know everyone at the box office and we know them. They meet us in the lobby after the show to talk about the play, or wait to meet and congratulate the actors on their performance. We believe it is important to be supported by friends and neighbors, and we are gratified when Rolando residents choose to buy tickets at their local theatre. They keep us open, keep money in the community, and support the arts. We love Rolando and are looking forward to seeing everyone at the theatre this season!”
Moxie Theatre is located at 6663 El Cajon Blvd., near Amherst and 67th Sts. There is parking in front of the theatre as well as on the street. Subscriptions range from $110-$161 for the 2018-19 season. There’s not a bad seat in the house. Group tickets are also available. Information about the theatre can be found at www.moxietheatre.com or by calling (858) 598-7620.