Saturday, April 4, 2015

PianoFight gets their cake, and eats it too

Kevin Fink, Rob Ready and Dan Williams, 
Founders and take-no-bullshit company members at PianoFight Theater/Landmark Entertainment Venue in San Francisco

Friend and colleague playwright Scott Charles (Dinners with Augie, Chamber of Love, The Call-Girl Dilemma) sent me an excellent article by Roz DeKett, "Original Voices Exploring Dangerous Things: Jacqueline Goldfinger," about the need to break out of traditional theater models in terms of show length and content in order to reach younger and more technology savvy audiences.

The truth is, we should all be looking seriously at Piano Fight in San Francisco. This vibrant, exciting, fun-as-hell theater breaks all the rules and they are packed every night. Artistic Director Rob Ready, Dan Williams and Kevin Fink formed PianoFight in 2007. In 2014 these guys raised 1.2 million bucks to build a gorgeous two theater complex with a bar/restaurant, Along with Cutting Ball, right down the street, they are transforming the Tenderloin into a destination instead of a hell-nightmare. They are for-profit. they sing a rowdy welcome song to late-seaters (instead of forbidding them to enter), allow and encourage alcohol consumption in the audience and even hand out "big shitty beers" to audience members who can answer random questions. They're young, they're passionate, and yes they acknowledge you'll probably send a text or two during the show--they could give a shit...they love their phones as much as you love yours.

For their 30 play, 7 week-long ShortLived competition, they hand out ballots so patrons can vote for their favorites, and Artistic Director Rob Ready warns them "Don't fuck it up!" Music plays, people hoot and tweet where they are, and the show begins. Afterwards, more drinks, dancing, a live band. Who doesn't want to have this theater experience?!
PianoFight, 144 Taylor St, San Francisco, 94102