YOU'VE heard of community theater, well, Shotgun Players
and playwright Marcus Gardley are taking that notion a step further.
With "Love Is a Dream House in Lorin," they're turning
an entire neighborhood — the neighborhood outside their theater,
as a matter of fact — into a piece of theater.
More specifically, they're looking at the history and people of
South Berkeley's Lorin District, from the Ohlone Indians to the
building of the Ashby BART station.
The world-premiere production is in previews today and Saturday
and opens Sunday at the Ashby Stage.
With a cast of 30, and working from an original script developed
by Gardley, this is probably Shotgun's most ambitious production
Taking a cue from Cornerstone Theater in Los Angeles, director Aaron
Davidman (artistic director of Traveling Jewish Theatre), puts residents
up onstage alongside actors to help tell stories stretching back
to the mid-19th century.
Among the stories collected by Shotgun's group of core artists
are a young Japanese woman who moved back to the street her grandparents
lived on before they were uprooted to internment camps; an elderly
African-American woman whose family left the segregated South to
find prosperity in California during the shipping boom; and a 19-year-old
man struggling to find some sanity in his drug-riddled neighborhood.
Shotgun artistic director Patrick Dooley says when his company
moved into the Ashby Stage, which began life as the Evangelical
Lutheran Bethlehem Congregation, there was a strong desire to learn
more about the neighborhood.
"We wanted to learn more and create a production that truly
is community theater: both by telling a story about the community
and by involving its members in the development and production itself,"
Dooley explains. "Creating work that starts a conversation
about important issues in a community will allow us to process,
explore and celebrate our vast diversity before it creates a greater