Alter Theater Offers Great Plays in Rep in San Rafael Store-Front

By John A. McMullen II
Friday January 24, 2014 - 01:13:00 PM

Just across the Richmond Bridge, up in San Rafael, there is theater on the main drag in a storefront. But not always the same store-front . ALTER THEATER, run by Jeanette Harrison, is a little peripatetic and portable. But she draws some of the best established and emerging actors in the Bay Area, and runs her plays in repertory, i.e, more than one play running on alternate evenings.

It’s rough theatre: sometimes you can hear people vacuuming in the apartment upstairs, but it all seems to fit together. It works, and supplies Marin County with cutting edge theatre.

Right now, they are playing at 1344 Fourth Street which is the main drag of San Rafael.

Right now, through February 9th, ALTER is running FOOL FOR LOVE by Sam Shepard and THE RIVER BRIDE by Marisela Treviño Orta Both shows then have a short run February 11-16
in San Francisco at A.C.T.’s Costume Shop Theater.

FOOL FOR LOVE is a Bay Area original which opened at the Magic Theatre in 1983 with Kathy Baker, Ed Harris, and Will Marchetti. Marchetti is directing ALTER THEATER’S production. Matt Lai and Harrison are the principals Eddie and May, with acclaimed actor Charles Dean as the Old Man, and Danny Jones as Martin. NY Daily News called it, “Sam Shepard's purest and most beautiful play."

THE RIVER BRIDE won the 2013 National Latino Playwriting Award, mad is the first professional production of a new play developed within AlterTheater’s playwright residency program. The play is inspired by Brazilian folkore about river dolphins who come ashore to seduce women
The description by Playwright Treviño Orta reads, "Three days before a wedding a handsome and mysterious man is fished from the Amazon River.” The ALTER website adds, “A beautiful new fairy tale about having it all.” It is co-directed by Bay area theatre doyenne Ann Brebner (who just celebrated her 90th birthday at Skywalker Ranch), and ALTER THEATERproducer and artistic director co- Jeanette Harrison. 

The cast is Livia Demarchi, Nick Garcia, Matt Kizer*, Carla Pauli, Cathleen Riddley*, Adam Roy (*member AEA).

Asked why she chose these plays, Harrison replied, “We’re an ensemble company, and our plays are actually chosen by our Literary Committee. I love the way AlterTheater makes decisions—I think it’s harder to take risks on challenging material when one person has all the weight of that decision-making on their shoulders. Our Literary Committee really delves deeply into the plays we consider, and we discover pretty quickly what we’re passionate about. I’ve always been a fan of THE RIVER BRIDE, and I’m thrilled that 6 of the plays developed within our playwright residency program are headed to production. Our season usually includes two new plays, plus one contemporary classic.”  

ALTER THEATER was begun in 2004 and has won awards: They were among Critic Sam Hurwitt’s TOP FIVE picks for theatre in Marin County for Jose Rivera's lushly poetic play "References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot," and for the world premiere of the first play to come out of their playwright lab, THE DEAD GIRL by Ann Brebner; their players have won Critics’ Circle awards, and they have been major grant recipients.

The rest of their season includes BABA, a one-woman show written and performed by the talented Denmo Ibrahim; it’s a touching and funny story of the American Dream, told through the eyes of an Egyptian immigrant to New York and his American-born daughter.

ALTER’S season finale is THE FELLOWSHIP by Ignacio Zulueta, directed by Hugo E. Carbajal, about a young man whose only real friends growing up in rural Northern California are figments of JRR Tolkien's imagination, sets out on his own quest to find a friend. But will the rest of the town let him?

It’s new, fresh, adventuresome choices that include international plays are compelling, and it’s a short drive from Berkeley to quaint San Rafael which has lots of good restaurants right around the theatre.
Take a drive and catch it soon.

Tickets, info at www.altertheater.org/