Back by Popular Demand: Fatherville at the New Strands Festival

By Elspeth Sweatman 

At last year’s New Strands Festival, six performers walked onto an empty stage in The Rueff Theater. The only sounds were the noises of a funfair, the only prop a tiny mannequin of a child. Suddenly, the child transformed into a gigantic, besuited wooden figure—the symbol of a father. Before it the other actors capered and cringed, by turns entranced or recoiling. Over the course of the performance, the actors shifted fluidly between playing boys and men, exploring the freedom and fear of each role. By the time the cast took their bows, most of the audience was in tears.

The cast of Fatherville. A.C.T.'s New Strands Festival 2016. Photo by Stefan Cohen.
Fatherville, an elegiac, comic, and poignant ode to fatherhood, returns in a more developed state at this year’s New Strands Festival, May 17–21 at The Strand Theater. “What was organic last year,” says A.C.T. Assistant Producer Ken Savage, “we are now giving more structure.”

All the collaborators who helped create this project—from A.C.T. insiders Carey Perloff and Stephen Buescher to Bay Area artists Basil Twist, Pascal Molat, and Sheldon B. Smith, to A.C.T. favorites Gregory Wallace and Peter Anderson—will reprise their roles.

"After throwing much joyful spaghetti at the wall last year in our quest to plumb the depths of fatherhood, we've come up with a structure for our piece that takes these bewildered dads on a more specific journey of terror and discovery,” says Perloff. “Basil has now created puppets specifically for Fatherville, including a tiny Father to mirror the über-Dad we created last year. We're hoping to make a piece that is both intensely personal and also universal. And heartbreaking. And absurd."

Fatherville will have two performances during the festival: Saturday May 20th at 12 pm and 7:30 pm. For more information about this year’s New Strands Festival, running May 17–21 at The Strand Theater, 1127 Market St., click here.

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