The Last Night of the Barbary Coast is an original theatrical production debuting in San Francisco in February that pays tribute to one of the city’s most notorious eras, thanks to the creative input of some of the most outrageous creative spirits of the Bay Area present. The show portrays the Barbary Coast neighborhood in the mid-to-late 19th Century. The name of that district is shorthand for the overall culture of pleasure and vice that was an intrinsic part of San Francisco in those days. It bears more than a little resemblance to another gold rush town: Deadwood, South Dakota.
The Last Night of the Barbary Coast is very loosely based on the family legend of Director Jessa Brie Berkner‘s great-great-aunt Babe as she fled Meaderville, Montana, joined a Vaudeville troupe, and headed West.
The play’s story follows the archetypal and mythical structure of the tarot, or hero’s journey, as our heroine encounters the trials and tribulations of the Wild West from a young woman’s perspective.
The set for the show will be a giant roulette wheel designed by woodworker Jack Ruszel and artist Simon Cheffins. Cheffins is the leader of The Extra Action Marching Band (and before that of the legendary Crash Worship); he is also known for building a Spanish galleon equipped for sailing the Nevada desert at Burning Man known as La Contessa.
The show will debut in mid-February at SOMArts Gallery in San Francisco.
But before the wheel can spin, it needs to be built. So they’ve set up a Kickstarter fundraising project. The goal of $3500 needs to be reached by Tuesday Feb 1, 2:02pm EST. Rewards for contributions range from posters of the event to private performances by the cast and musicians.
photo by Mr. Nightshade
On previous Laughing Squid posts you can see La Contessa in action on the playa (or read about it’s demise and burial).
Tickets are already on sale for the eight performances in February. The show also has a Facebook page.
The show’s Musical Director is Freddi Price, front man for Rube Waddell and Lord Loves a Working Man. The choreographer is Ena Dallas, artist with The Starlings trapeze duo and member of the Extra Action Marching Band’s Flag Team. The Lighting Designer is Zoltan DeWitt, former lighting engineer for Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Director Jessa Brie Berkner is also Performing Arts and Theatre Director at Oakland Technical High School. in 2010 she took the school’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Here’s a short feature on the Oakland Tech performing arts program including Jessa talking about her work at the school.