That is what San Francisco is to me. That same Barbary Coast Port City—every version through the centuries and generations. Call it the City, the Sco, Sucka Free City—it is this same vibe that has us mixing, migrating, moving farrr west, left coast leaning, and on the edge of the States—cuz that’s what we do.
“If you ain’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much damn space.”
And through the years—we wildly, willingly keep digging for gold and... stuff.
I am proud to be born in San Francisco, but also pushed up by all the movements, madness, families, and flavors that seek this city out—and keep this place always alive.
You must do an archeological dig through this all to have a real talk about “the scene” here. For we are without one scene, but doing our own things; we are not just a “theatre” community, we are trailblazing. (wild wild west). People want to make things their own way here—food, wine, murals, graffiti, rhymes, LiteraryMusicVisual. All the City’s legends lead to creating a theatre that is not “just” theatre—but is performance, events, everything. I think things here are creations first—it includes theatre, but the walls were broken down long ago.
For we are without one scene, but doing our own things; we are not just a “theatre” community, we are trailblazing.
Wasn’t Howl made history by the reading here? Wasn’t Soul On Ice made public from the event at City Lights Books? Weren’t the Mime Troup launched in Golden Gate Park, with rock impresario Bill Graham presenting? And so were born the likes of Ntozake Shange and Jessica Hagedorn. (All these, I pull out the sky—they are everywhere in the City). From all this comes theatre fueled by the minor miracles made massive by people who just did—and out of it people called it theatre: Rhodessa Jones, Idris Ackamoor & Cultural Odyssey, Joe Goode Performance Group, Culture Clash. And with that we never had to look at theatre as only one thing, but a merging of many things. What other city could birth this? It is why we have Stanley Williams/Quentin Easter’s Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Theatre Rhinoceros, Asian American Theatre Company, Teatro de la Esperanza, Bindlestiff, Living Word. Not ‘just’ theatre companies—but cultural institutions that REFLECT our City.
That is how our small group—Campo Santo—got the idea that people could come together and tell stories that reflect the world we live in—that look like the street it’s on, that are part of the community.
As the heart of Campo Santo, Luis Saguar said: tell some of the untold stories—the lady at the corner store and the kid in Valencia Gardens Projects.
This desire to tell stories came alive by being part of San Francisco. A home for these stories and people. A place for relationships that transcend borders—the way we believe in theatre that transcends boundaries.
And we are all—loud and proud—part of San Francisco.
I only wish we were as proud about marking this history as we are about making it—so you could see everywhere, not just feel it in this City.
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Love the spirit and the passion. Brought a tear to my eye when you mentioned Luis... You did forget to mention the original, crazy radical Dude Theater and The Blake St. Hawkeyes (Berkeley, I know but close enough). Love your vibes!
Pause a moment and think a thought of Irving and of Florence. Every city has such modest angels in the audience and to see you reading and writing here, Florence- and in invoking dearest Irv- is a stunning gift this morning. Everyone reading: who are your intrepid fellow travelers in the audience? Think on them and feel yourself renewed. Love you and miss you suddenly fully Florence. Thank you, Sean, bringing her into this room. And for Luis in this story. Luis! And for finding the time in all you do to share a piece of what you feel with me.
Sean...what a great tribute. How I miss all that you write about but I am so pleased to have been part of it with Irv. I remember we met I told him that I was so grateful that he didn't live in Fresno! San Francisco had been in my dreams for years. Keep on keeping on!! Love and hugs.