Through a Lehigh Faculty Research grant, I traveled to San Francisco to participate in both the design workshops and ultimate production of Crowded Fire’s of The Late Wedding. These workshops, initially commissioned by Crowded Fire and additionally supported by both Tournesol and NEA grants, fostered the unique development approach I have been refining in my approach to new work. Our time was spent creating the visual language of the play through the use of props, levels, and layering of space. These methods worked well with Chen’s highly experimental writing style and grounded the script in the beginnings of a tangible environment. The Late Wedding is a wildly innovative work that investigates themes of intimacy and distance, and explores new depths of meta-theatricality and actor/character/audience relationships that shift and change. The scenic design is also highly experimental, creating an expansive and flexible space to contain Chen’s literary landscape. The world premiere of The Late Wedding was well received by both audiences and critics alike, and has been quoted as “beguiling and relentlessly inventive…another of Chen’s slyly metatheatrical, blissfully funny, whiplash-smart creations,” by The San Francisco Chronicle. Many reviews specifically laud the set along with the entire production.
CFT provides a rich home for our ensemble of Resident Artists made up of top Bay Area actors, designers, dramaturgs and directors. This ensemble, with its wealth of interests and ideas, as well as the dedication and talent of its members, represents one of the company’s most significant strengths. An integral part of the producing season, each of the Resident Artists contributes to at least one project per year, as well as serving as an artistic advisory committee to the company. Crowded Fire’s ensemble produces poetic, bold theater created by new and contemporary artists. We seek to engage our community by producing adventurous work, innovative in structure, which addresses the diverse political and social concerns of our audiences. In 2013 CFT achieved significant recognition for high quality programming, including several nominations for the Bay Area Critics Circle, Broadway World San Francisco, and the winning of spots on the Top Ten lists for best production in 2012 from the San Francisco Chronicle.