Since 1997, the Crowded Fire Theater Company has strived to produce challenging and provocative plays, making the group a key player in San Francisco’s experimental theater scene. Spark visits Crowded Fire hard at work as it prepares “One Big Lie,” a new work written by New York playwright Liz Duffy Adams especially for the company’s actors.
Adams’s play tells the story of a family that is reincarnated several times only to encounter similar problems again and again. The three-act play moves from mythical Greek times to the 1930s to a point in the post-industrial age that is just beyond our own. Each time, the family members struggle to discover some truth about the world as they are subjected to the whims and fancies of the same malicious gods.
For the players that make up the Crowded Fire Theater Company, “One Big Lie” offers a rare and exciting opportunity. The play was designed with the input of the actors in mind. Each member was asked what his or her dream role would be, which formed the basis of the characters Adams developed. The original score by David Rhodes was commissioned by Crowded Fire, along with the Playwrights Foundation.
The play does offers certain challenges. Despite the fact that most of the actors have had little musical training, the play calls for them to perform 20 songs, along with a live orchestra. As if this were not difficult enough, the performers also must wear elaborate animal masks that cover their entire heads, leaving gaps only for showing facial expressions.
More about the Crowded Fire Theater Company
The Crowded Fire Theater Company is dedicated to discovering and developing work that challenges audiences to see the world differently. Founded after a successful Fringe Festival by a small group of artists, Crowded Fire has since grown to a core group of 15 members. Each year, Crowded Fire produces three plays, including commissioned pieces and existing work. Past productions include plays by such noted contemporary writers as Charles Mee, Mac Wellman and Naomi Wallace. Crowded Fire also offers educational programming, including workshops open to the community at large.
More about Liz Duffy Adams
A graduate of NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing and Yale School of Drama, Liz Duffy Adams is, in her own words, “interested in the poetics and formal expansiveness common both to classical and experimental theater.” Her play “Dog Act” won the Glickman Award for Best New Play. Her published work includes “Greeks and Centaurs” in Smith and Kraus’s anthology “Rowing to America” and “Poodle With Guitar and Dark Glasses” in Applause’s “Best American Short Plays 2000-2001.” Crowded Fire also staged the West Coast premiere of Adams’s “The Train Play” in 2002.