JAN 15 - FEB 20, 2010
Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
Swing Performance: Thurs, Jan. 28 @ 8pm
Preview: Thurs, Jan. 14 @ 8pm
Tickets: $20 (Preview:
Call (310) 281-8337 or
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hallucinatory slide on the downward spiral of drunken, dissolute poet, Baal. At
once genius and madman, Baal will seductively lift you up and decadently drag
you down into his journey of excessive, sensual experience. Sacred Fools has
joined forces with award winning film/TV/viral director Ben Rock (Warner Bros.’
Alien Raiders, The Burkittsville 7, Shadow of the Blair Witch, True Blood,
The 4400) to bring you Brecht’s poetic play, in a fierce new translation by
esteemed playwright Peter Mellencamp, complete with onstage film installments
and an original, urban-eclectic score by composer Kays Alatrakchi.
Named as one of
L.A. Weekly head critic Steven Leigh Morris' "Favorite Things" in L.A. Theater
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L.A. WEEKLY AWARD
Gregory Sims - Leading Male Performance
Jaime Andrews*, Jay Bogdanowitsch*,
Alyssa Preston, Marz
Andrea Walker*, Alexis Wolfe
and Gregory Sims* as BAAL
Jennifer Fenten*, RJ Farrington* & Ron Keck
* Member of Actors' Equity Association, The
Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
features Gregory Sims and Jay Bogdanowitsch
DREAD CENTRAL and
DISGUSTING for the blurbs!
L.A. Weekly (GO!)
adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's early, poetical drama is about the cruelty and
demise of a Bacchanalian poet who recognizes, curses and is cursed by
civilization's thin veneer. Ben Rock's staging is sometimes forced, more often
intense and seductive, with Gregory Sims' growling title character bearing a
physical resemblance to young Al Pacino, but with a voice like Tom Waits.
See Feature Article.
Animals! Camelot and Baal
Violent, debasing animal impulses drive the title character of Bertolt Brecht's
first full-length play, Baal, written in 1918. Based on a god referred to in the
Old Testament, via texts from northern Syria, Ba'al was the storm god, like the
Greek Poseidon. Delivering water to parched lands, Baal also became a god of
fertility, and the play delves the psychology of his sexual impulses, and how
they crash into the thin veneer of civilization (not unlike Guenevere goading
her knights to kill Lancelot from some combination of sadism and lust).
In director Ben Rock's sensual and visceral staging of Peter Mellencamp's
profane, poetical adaptation, now playing at Sacred Fools Theatre Company,
Gregory Sims performs the title character with the primal seductiveness of the
young Al Pacino, growling through the play, as though he's borrowed Tom Waits'
Jennifer Fulmer's set design consists of rolling platforms forged into circles
and triangular shards. As in Camelot, a moon hangs suspended. Here, though, the
moon is encircled by layers of those spearlike triangles. And though they're
static, these appendages are positioned as if they've been caught in some kind
of swirling orbit. Announcer Andrea Walker introduces scenes from video monitors
that snap and crackle.
Baal spends considerable time ruminating on sundry hypocrisies of civilization.
He mocks a literary critic (Paul Plunkett), and he deflowers the girlfriend
(Megan Rosati) of his gentlest and most earnest admirer (Marcus McGee). He does
all this while licking his lips. Remorse? He's an animal. Debasement is his
Baal may be the inverse of King Arthur, which makes him a far more dynamic
protagonist. Arthur's attempted journey is into the higher reaches of idealism.
Baal's is into the mud, where men belong, where they will rest. And there's
little more compelling than watching base cruelty such as his somehow tethered
to a force of nature. Brecht, too, knew that civilization is fleeting — civility
even more so. His view is not so different from that of Camelot, even if he
tells his story from the other side of the looking glass.
Rock's production is sometimes labored as Baal's downward trajectory — which
involves the jealousy of his friend/lover, Ekhart (Donal Thomas-Capello) —
becomes more than evident. These are truth-seekers spiraling into the mud. Yet
the production's sensuality matches its sincerity. The ensemble is terrific,
with particularly nice cameo performances by Jaime Andrews, Jay Bogdanowitsch,
Alyssa Preston and Alexis Wolfe.
Read the Full Article
--Steven Leigh Morris
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BackStage (CRITIC'S PICK!)
In his youth, German
poet-playwright Bertolt Brecht was fascinated by the
Semitic/Phoenician/Babylonian deity Baal: god of fertility and sexual excess. In
this play, Brecht took the name Baal for his anti-hero: a poet-singer for whom
nothing is sacred. Baal (Gregory Sims) is a sex magnet, a sexual predator, and a
fierce iconoclast, who respects nothing he can't experience in his own flesh. He
routinely seduces his friends' wives and girlfriends, and sneers at success and
ambition. When his naive friend Joe (Marcus McGee) introduces his prim,
virginal, 17-year-old girlfriend, Johanna (Megan Rosati), the poet immediately
seduces her away from him.
Subsequently, the traumatized girl drowns herself in the river, but Baal seems
to have no conscience pangs, though he's haunted by the image of her body
floating out to the sea. Later he takes up with Sophie (Alexis Wolfe), whom he
seems to love, but he abandons her when she becomes pregnant. When the women who
pursue him are no longer enough to feed his insatiable lust for experience, Baal
transfers his love to his male comrade Ekhart (Donal Thoms-Cappello), and the
two embark on a reckless vagabond life.
Though the play was written in 1918, its hero seems remarkably modern,
particularly in this colloquial, free translation by Peter Mellencamp. Director
Ben Rock gives the piece a bold but faithful production, finely assisted by his
leading man. Sims offers a wonderfully rich, volatile performance as the
Dionysian Baal, touching all his contradictory bases: poet, beast, child, and
monster. Sims also wields enough charisma and animal magnetism to make Baal's
sexual prowess credible. (Audible responses from the women in the audience
testify to the potency of his ruthlessness and charm.) He receives admirable
support from Rosati, Wolfe, and Jaime Andrews as the women in Baal's life. And a
versatile quartet of character actors—Jay Bogdanowitsch, Alyssa Preston, Paul
Plunkett, and Marz Richards—play multiple roles as the colorful lowlifes, bums,
sycophants, and antagonists Baal encounters. Designers Jennifer Fulmer and David
Knutson provide the handsome, flexible set, and Kevin Ackerman supplies the
appropriately chic or seedy costumes.
Brecht's play is provocative and less pedantic than his later work. It's hard to
pin down its precise meaning, but that's as it should be. As one of the
characters observes, "Stories that we understand are just badly told."
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Last weekend Dread
Central decided to get a bit of culture and headed over to Sacred Fools Theater
to check out film/TV/viral director Ben Rock's (Alien Raiders) intense new
Based on the 1918 story by Bertolt Brecht, Baal is the trippy little
story about a destructive and alcoholic poet named Baal (played by Gregory Sims)
who destroys anything and anyone in his path. Baal has no issue with seducing
friends' wives and girlfriends, deflowering young teenage girls, and drinking
himself into a stupor on a regular basis. The world is for Baal's taking, no
matter what the cost.
While not necessarily horror, the ramifications of Baal's downward spiral into
excess are quite horrific as he manages to leave a body count in his wake. The
reinterpretation of Brecht's story by Peter Mellencamp is bold, startling, and
devastating. When the play finishes, you can sense the uneasiness in the
audience as they file out - and it's not because they didn't like the play. You
just feel the devastation that Baal inflicted on those around him to your very
Sims' portrayal of Baal is both seductive and horrifying. Picture what would
happen if Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum in The Fly), Jon Stewart, and Hunter S.
Thompson had a love child and unleashed him on the stage.
After the performance we had a chance to talk with both Rock and Sims about all
things Baal. You can check out the video below.
Baal will continue to run at Sacred Fools through February 20th. If you live in
the LA area, this is definitely one performance you won't want to miss.
SEE A VIDEO INTERVIEW ABOVE,
--Heather Wixson, "The
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