At Z Space, the heart of what we do is producing new work.
By bringing together talented teams of artists and insisting on a rigorous process of development, a new artistic work is born. The new works that Z Space produces aren't limited to a particular genre or theme. Each has its own unique adventure, but they all contain the same commitment to discovery and theatrical excellence.
Here are some notable works of the past few years:
A Good Neighbor
By Kate E. Ryan, directed by Morgan Green
Dani’s daughter really wants to take piano lessons. Heidi is new in town and happens to teach piano. Dani is thrilled to have found a teacher, until she learns more about Heidi’s…politics. A Good Neighbor is a startling new play that confronts deeply conflicting ideologies in a distinctly apolitical space: the home. Amidst music lessons, potlucks, and a gossiping Greek chorus, the entire neighborhood must re-examine how kindness can exist inside of fear.
A Good Neighbor was produced in September 2018 in Z Below. It was commissioned and developed by Z Space and fueled by group discussions with women from the Bay Area. The commissioning and production of this new work was made possible by Gerbode-Hewlett Foundations 2015 Theater Commissioning Awards initiative.
Sisterhood. Love. Betrayal. A new rock opera by The Kilbanes.
Through intimate storytelling and the Kilbanes’ celebrated indie rock sound, Weightless explores the bonds of sisterhood and the power of the female voice. Through an interpretation of the story of Procne and Philomela from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the Oakland based-band have created a performance style that blends the raucous energy of a rock show with the imaginative spirit of raw, experimental theater.
the making of a great moment
An exuberant new comedy by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, directed by Sean Daniels, and starring Danny Scheie and Aysan Celik. Actors Mona and Terry are on an ambitious quest: tour their play Great Moments in Human Achievement across the country... by bicycle. Surely they’ll bring inspiration to millions! But as they pedal across the nation reenacting history’s high points, finding laundry facilities proves just as tough as their unruly audiences. When the day is done, can our heroes manage a great moment of their own? A hilarious comedy about all the potholes on the road to sheer brilliance.
"That the audience howled with sustained laughter throughout this piece is encouraging indeed for the future of wit and intelligence in comic theatre. This is must-see theater at its finest." — Steve Murray, For All Events
"...as poignant as it is satirical,The Making of a Great Moment...is likely to resonate with anyone who’s ever had doubts about personal life choices...a nonstop delight." — Jean Schiffman, SF Examiner
"Great moments can also be small moments — a display of compassion and understanding; passionate selflessness; a sudden self-awareness; a commitment to craft; an actor’s ad-lib; a duct tape life hack."-Lily Janiak, SF Gate
A HOUSE TOUR
OF THE INFAMOUS PORTER FAMILY MANSION
WITH TOUR GUIDE WESTON LUDLOW LONDONDERRY
Written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Directed by Jason Eagan, Starring Danny Scheie
Nominated for 7 TBA Awards Including:
Outstanding actor, director, set, props, sound, world premiere and overall production.
A House Tour of the Infamous Porter Family Mansion (or House Tour for short) is a prime example of the type of innovative collaboration that Z Space prides itself on. Z Space's in-house playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb wrote this hilarious satire specifically with Danny Scheie in mind exploring the charmingly warped inner world of tour guide Winston Ludlow Londonderry III. An immersive set by designer Sean Riley took the audience on an actual tour of a series of vignette pieces. This sold out show ran from March 29th through April 23rd, 2016.
"House Tour [is] a raw and polished gem."
—Claudia Bauer, SF Gate / SF Chron
"alternatively gut-bustingly hilarious and intensely poignant..."
—Jack Morse, SFist
Composed, Created by, and Starring The Bengsons
Directed by Anne Kauffman, Book by Kate E. Ryan
Produced by Z Space in association with piece by piece productions and Encore Theatre
It's a musical, well it's not a musical, and it's about love and life...well OK, it's also about loss and death. Hundred Days is a rare example of seeing a genre born onstage in front of your very eyes.
Sean and Abigail Bengsons' hauntingly beautiful indie-folk rock is a universe removed from the bouncy, sing-along, heart-of-your-sleeve fare of your typical musical. The innovative form, not a musical per se, but a live concert performance mixed with storytelling, dramatic interludes, and liberal breakings of the fourth wall, is now being emulated widely across the theater community.
A milestone in Z Space's new works development program, Hundred Days received its world premiere at Z Space in 2014 has gone on to subsequent productions at New York Theater Workshop, La Jolla Playhouse, and more.
"the Bengsons…elevate it to modern-day myth."
- Lily Janiak in the SF Weekly
Written by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, November/December 2014
The first play we produced that was by our in-house playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb. The Totalitarians is a raucous dark comedy about the state of modern political discourse, modern relationships and how easy it is to believe truths without facts. In many ways, the current political climate has show the play to be remarkable prescient. Commissioned by NNPN through the Full Stage/USA Program at New Dramatists with a lead grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Z Space was part of its 2014 Rolling World Premiere, directed by Kenneth Prestininzi.
THE COMPANION PIECE
Directed by Mark Jackson, 2011
Co-Created by Beth Wilmurt and Mark Jackson
When Z Space first took over Theater Artaud, Artistic Director Lisa Steindler knew that she needed the perfect piece to showcase our new home. Enter Mark Jackson and Beth Wilmurt with The Companion Piece. Using the 'blank-canvas' room in an expansive and innovative way, this piece set the bar for many of the productions that have followed at Z Space.
Synopsis: On a large empty stage, an aging vaudeville Headliner opens and closes the show with his long-since perfected act. In between, a vaudeville duo struggles to create their own perfect act. Drawing on elements of classic American vaudeville, as well as contemporary post-dramatic theater forms, through a series of acts and attempted acts the Duo and Headliner grapple with questions of survival and identity. Can we go it alone? Is our individual survival dependent on our identity, and on other people?