Playwright and stand-up comic Del Shores may be revered for his camp and wit, but theatergoers may find his latest offering, “Yellow,” not for the faint of heart.
“It truly is a play about family and betrayal,” Shores says. “Anybody who has experienced any kind of betrayal and has been lied to will identify.”
Now in previews, the show opens in its Bay Area debut Saturday at New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco.
“Yellow,” which addresses the depths to which people plunge in order to survive tragedy and grief, marks a significant departure for Shores, who made a name for himself writing a variety of darkly comedic plays, television series (”Queer as Folk,” “Dharma & Greg”) and independent films, including “Daddy’s Dying: Who’s Got The Will,” “Southern Baptist Sissies” and “Sordid Lives.” In the hands of director Ed Decker, founding artistic director of NCTC, it promises to swim deep emotional waters.
“What I do is tell a story,” Shores adds. “There’s a sick child component here so what I did was create this perfect family and just tore them apart. There’s this guarded secret that comes out.”
The material was inspired by some events from his own life — mostly friends who had challenging experiences. Shore warns, “The audience is so shocked by the end of the first act that they keep rooting for the family.”
Set in Vicksburg, Miss., “Yellow” also illuminates the importance of remaining united through the most pressing adversity. Embraced by both critics and audiences in the Los Angeles and Dallas areas, the show recently was nominated for a variety of Column Awards, which honor excellence in local theater in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
But if there’s a real secret to Shores’ theatrical artistry, it may lie in his unstoppable dedication.
“I do so many things and these days, I have a very successful stand-up career going where I do more storytelling,” he says. “But I am most happy when I am in the theater directing my own pieces, and when such amazing actors breathe life into my characters.
“For me that is the most exciting and exhilarating part of what I do,” he adds. “And not too far behind that, is watching from the lighting booth — just watching the audience react to the play.”
IF YOU GO
Where: New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes March 23
Tickets: $15 to $25