Modern times call for a modern twist, so it makes perfect sense that Bay Area playwright Eugenie Chan’s latest production, “Bone to Pick,” updates the classic Greek myth of Ariadne to reflect the world’s current state of affair — war.
“The thing about ancient myths is that they didn’t pull any punches,” says Chan. “They really confronted all kinds of issues that in a way modern society has a hard time dealing with. So many of the ancient myths deal with incest, fratricide, power plays amongst families … that’s why they are so rich, there’s no denial in them.”
Chan’s postmodern look at the cost of love and war, which premieres Friday at Cutting Ball Theater’s second annual showcase of short experimental plays, “Avant GardARAMA!,” centers around Ariadne, now known as Ria, a waitress stranded at a military base diner who falls for Theo, an occupying soldier.
Stranded with seemingly no way out, Ria promises to aid Theo through a labyrinth, if he returns the favor by marrying her. Staying true to the classic Greek myth, once Theo successfully navigates the labyrinth and murders Ria’s half-brother, he leaves her stranded in a war-torn world once again.
“This particular love story imbedded in this context of war is really not black-and-white; it’s very complex,” Chan says. “It’s about survival. It’s asking where does the fault lie? Is it in our own aspiration, our greed, our pursuit of the American dream?”
In addition to Chan, Cutting Ball Theater’s “Avant GardARAMA!” puts the spotlight on the work of Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks — “Betting on the Dust Commander,” a playful look at marriage” — and Gertrude Stein’s “Accents in Alsace,” a cubist portrait of World War I.
Commissioned by Cutting Ball Theater and Magic Theatre / Z Space New Works Initiative, “Bone to Pick,” Chan says, is far from a simple love story. For Ria, her situation is very much a catch-22; she’s clearly in love, but is also faced with limited options as far as finding a way out of the only life she knows. Her decision to help Theo is one filled with underlying motivations.
“I hope they see, in the case of this war, blood’s on everyone’s hand — not just the soldiers,” says the playwright. “Everyone is connected, whether by choice, or by being at that particular place at that particular time. There are no totally innocent people, nor are there people to be totally vilified.”
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; closes Aug. 16
Where: EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., San Francisco
Tickets: $15 to $30
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.cuttingball.com