Keeping the ball in the air

With more than 300 theater companies in the Bay Area, surviving, let alone thriving in a tough economy, one that’s been particularly hard on arts organizations, is an accomplishment. Cutting Ball Theater has managed to do that, and marks its 10th anniversary with a “10.10.10” gala Sunday.

An experimental theater committed to nurturing new work and revisioning the classics, Cutting Ball was founded by Minnesota classmates and friends Rob Melrose and Paige Rogers at a time when many of the critics in San Francisco were bemoaning a dearth of cutting-edge productions.

“When we were just starting out,” Melrose remembers, “they said if we could just last until we were 3 — because most organizations never make it that far — we’d be fine. We had our heads so wrapped around 3 we never thought about getting to 10, but here we are.”

The first year, they staged Richard Foreman’s “My Head Was A Sledgehammer.” Subsequent seasons saw new works such as “Pickling” and “Betting on the Dust Commander” by Suzan-Lori Parks, “… and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi” by Oakland native Marcus Gardley, and several works by Kevin Oakes.

On the classics side, the Bard is a company favorite and Cutting Ball has produced memorable Shakespeares, including a leathery “The Taming of the Shrew” that Melrose recalls with pride: “It was a real stretch and us trying to be way bigger than we were.” He’s currently at work on a three-person chamber version of “The Tempest” that will preview at the gala and open in November.

Until recent years, the company was nomadic, renting space where they could, which created something of a lack of brand identity. Melrose and Rogers wanted Cutting Ball to make a deeper connection to its audiences by presenting a season in a fixed location and the company is now in residence at The EXIT on Taylor.

Looking ahead to their 20th anniversary, the duo sees different but complementary things. Melrose is excited to be part of the revitalization of the mid-Market Street and Tenderloin areas. “I see us having a larger venue and being one of many venues in a really thriving part of The City that’s no longer scary at night.”

Rogers, who takes pride in Cutting Ball’s strong production values, is looking further. “I want to have a voice internationally. I want us to perform at festivals in Russia or Poland. There’s a great theater festival in Cairo. I want us to be there.”

 

IF YOU GO

10.10.10

Where: The EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., San Francisco

When: 7 p.m. Sunday 

Tickets: $25

Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.cuttingball.com

artsCutting Ball TheaterentertainmentNEPOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police seized ghost guns and other firearm manufacturing items while executing a warrant in February (Courtesy SFPD)
Ghost guns linked to rise in SF shootings as numbers jump

San Francisco police are seizing an increasingly alarming number of untraceable firearms,… Continue reading

Students walk around campus near the Cesar Chavez Student Center at San Francisco State University. (Steven Ho/Special to S.F. Examiner)
California’s massive UC and Cal State systems plan to require COVID-19 vaccinations this fall

Nina Agrawal, Teresa Watanabe, Colleen Shalby Los Angeles Times The University of… Continue reading

From left, California state Sen. Milton Marks, Sen. Nicholas Petris, Assemblyman John Knox and activists Claire Dedrick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Janet Adams watch Gov. Ronald Reagan sign the bill establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a permanent agency in 1969. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Former California Assemblyman Rob Bonta, left, shown here in 2015, has been chosen by California Gov. Gavin Newsom as the state’s new attorney general. Bonta was confirmed Thursday. State Sen. Ed Hernandez is at right. (Katie Falkenberg/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Rob Bonta is confirmed as California attorney general

Patrick McGreevy Los Angeles Times The state Legislature confirmed Democratic Assemblyman Rob… Continue reading

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101, including Park Presidio Boulevard, to keep traffic flowing as The City reopens. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Most Read