Friday, September 22, 2017

Cirque Exotique du Monde: What Are the Nuremberg Laws?

In September of 1935 in the German town of Nuremberg, the Nazi party held a rally lasting several days. Out of this Nazi gathering came what are called the Nuremberg Race Laws. Essentially, they were a set of German laws that institutionalized Adolf Hitler's "Aryan first" ideology of the Nazi party. The Nuremberg laws defined a Jew a someone who had 3-4 Jewish grandparents, whether or not the person in question practiced Judaism themselves, and didn't care if someone in the family line had previously converted to a different religion.

The laws prevented Jews from having Reich citizenship, prevented them from marrying or having intimate relations with persons of "pure" German blood, and deprived them of many political rights.The Nazis then expanded the laws in November of 1935 to included a ban on relations with or marriage to Romani gypsies or people with black skin.

As the host of the 1936 Olympic Games, Germany ratcheted down the laws briefly, to put on a good face to the world and retain the games in Germany. However Jewish athletes were not allowed to compete on the German Olympic team. After the Olympics, however, more articles were added to the Nuremberg laws that required Jews to register their businesses on a special register and then required them to "Arayanize" the business. Jewish owners and workers were then fired, and Aryan Germans took over the businesses at incredibly low prices that were set by the Third Reich. The goal was to impoverish the Jews. Jewish doctors were not allowed to treat Aryan patients and Jewish lawyers were not allowed to practice law.

These laws were the foundation for the eventual holocaust and concentration camps.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cirque Exotique du Monde: A Note From the Playwright

A word from the playwright: 

The world of Cirque Exotique du Monde is a confluence of two historic occurrences; the story of an ethnographer who collected morbid curiosities for his museum and the story of Circus Sarrasani, a prominent circus that began in Germany in 1901.  Ethnographer, Dr Gonzalez de Velasco’s story tells of a complex individual flawed by his dehumanizing pursuit of “oddities”; a pursuit which had a devastating impact on the lives it touched.  Circus Sarrasani is the story of a community and the changes forced upon it to survive.  ircus Sarrasani, weathered two world wars but at a significant cost. Most tragically, in WWII it was required to hand over performers to the Nazis if they did not meet the Nuremberg criteria of pure Aryan descent or if they displayed non-conforming traits or characteristics.  

The play begins in 1936 Berlin, a time of rising gross and blatant intolerance. We know now that this time foreshadows a tragic historic turn. Though this is a story inspired by historic events, it’s truly the story of family, community, and the individuals both within and without.  It is a story of acceptance and not accepting. It is the story of collective identity, personal identity and the constant struggle of finding one’s place.

Kathy Boussina


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cirque Exotique du Monde: The Design Team

Kathy Boussina (Producer/Playright) Kathy Boussina is a playwright whose plays examine psychological motivations, the complexity of relationships, and personal and societal strains on ethics. Kathy holds a degree in psychology from San Francisco State University and has studied playwriting at Berkeley Repertory Theater School, New Conservatory Theater Center, San Francisco State University, The 3 Girls Theater Group, and the Tennessee Williams Institute, Provincetown, MA.  She is a member of Berkeley Playground Writers’ Pool and the Playwright's Center of San Francisco.   Other full-length plays include Tenn, a play about Tennessee Williams and his psychiatrist Dr Kubie, and A Place for Grace, a southern family’s unearthed tale. Kathy is deeply appreciative of Dragon Theater for the opportunity to bring Cirque Exotique du Monde to the stage and to the tremendous directors, cast and creative team. More about Kathy and her plays can be found at:

Lessa Bouchard (Co-Director) Lessa Bouchard is a member the Cubberley Artists Studio Program in Palo Alto. She has a BFA in theatre performance from the University of Detroit Mercy, and MFA in Interdisciplinary Art and Media from Columbia College Chicago. She has written, directed, performed and taught production and performance for 20 years. She produced and directed over 60 plays in Detroit, including Recuerdos de los Repatriados: Memories of the Repatriated, Night, Mother, The Elephant Man, Trinity, Hannah Free, and RaincheckShe directed and performed in Victory Gardens ACCESS project in Chicago, helping to launch Crip Slam! A celebration of disability and performance. She directed Grey at EP theatre, Feeding the Moonfish with Core Project, and Widdershins and Back Again, a multichannel video installation. She has performed with SF fringe, Epic Immersive, and City Lights in SJ, and as The Professor/Mrs Soames In Our Town at The Pear.  At Dragon, she appeared in Memory of Water, Dangerous Liaisons, The Woman in Black, And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little, directed Tongue of a Bird, and led ensemble-created A Moment Unbound - a “stand out new work.”

Bora “Max” Koknar (Co-Director) Bora “Max” Koknar is a Turkish-born director, actor, producer, writer and educator. Over a professional career of a dozen years as an actor and variety performer, Max has entertained over a half million people. His projects have been featured on publications such as San Francisco Weekly (Ancien Regime, Epic Immersive, 2016, Associate Director & Actor) and The New York Times (Headlands Gamble, First Person Travel, 2015 - 2017, Actor & Assistant Director).  During his career Max has had the honor of collaborating and training with movement coaches who’ve trained the Blue Man Group and the stars of Marvel’s Thor, students and collaborators of Marcel Marceau, Obie Award Winners, and Cirque du Soleil clowns. As an educator and consultant, Max partnered with institutions including U.C. Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) and K-12 Schools in Ohio and California. Max is currently the Education Director, Monday and Late Night Events Coordinator, and Assistant Production Manager at Dragon in addition to also serving as Associate Artistic Director of Epic Immersive. He is so excited to be bringing the world premiere of this beautiful and timely play to life with such an amazing team of collaborators.

Emma Feeney (Rehearsal Stage Manager) Emma Feeney is overjoyed to be working at Dragon Productions Theatre Company for the first time as the Rehearsal Stage Manager! She has previously stage managed two short plays at Ohlone Community College as well as assistant directed and stage managed Singin’ in the Rain Jr. for Chrysalis Youth Theatre. She also co-directed Pride and Prejudice. However, she began her theatrical journey as an actress, earning her B.A. in Musical Theatre from San Jose State University, her favorite productions being The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later (“Beth Loffreda and Ensemble”), Disney: Workshop (“Flounder”), and Hair the Musical: Workshop. Emma would like to thank her loving parents for their support, as well as Dragon for giving her the opportunity to work with this fantastic company! 

Katie Forrest (Production Stage Manager) Katie is delighted to be working with Dragon Productions Theatre Company for the second time. She has worked behind the scenes and on stage for many previous shows. Her most work was done at Woodside High School, taking on various roles in productions. She is also studying at Canada College to obtain a double major in Business and Theater.

Charles McKeithan (Master Carpenter) has been working in Bay Area theater for over ten years now as an actor and a carpenter and is happy to be back with the Dragon for another round of fun. His past works include Voice of the Prairie at the Dragon, Walls of Jericho at the Pear, Collosus at SF Playhouse, and countless productions with Ron Gaspernetti under the guise of Thrust Scenic Design.

Nathanael Card (Scenic Designer/Lighting Designer/Properties Master) Nathanael Card does it all for theatre. When he isn't designing, he keeps busy as resident PM/TD for Youth Musical Theater Company, and also directs their teen apprenticeship program. At TheatreWorks, he recently Assistant Directed Constellations. He also works extensively as an electrician for companies including Berkeley Rep, ACT, CalShakes, and Smuin Ballet. Occasionally he even performs as a tap dancer and actor. He is a BFA graduate of the Theatre Apprentice program at Stephens College for Women (2006). Follow him @NCardCreative #DanceEveryDay

Kathleen Qiu (Costume Designer) is excited to be joining Dragon Productions for Cirque Exotique du Monde. You can see more of her work right now at Custom Made Theater Co (How I Learned to Drive). Previously in the Bay Area, she has designed at the SF Playhouse (You Mean to Do Me Harm), Palo Alto Players (The Graduate), Custom Made Theatre Co (The House of Yes) and Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre (In the Heights, Jesus Christ Superstar). Her other credits include Pirates of Penzance, Steve
Martin’s The Underpants, Dracula, War of the Worlds, and Picture Imperfect, among others, with a variety of theatres in Tallahassee and Chicago. She graduated from the University of Chicago with degrees in Chemistry and Psychology. She would like to thank the production team for this opportunity and her family and friends for their continued support.

Nick Ferraro (Sound Designer) Nicholas Solasteas is thrilled to be working in an age of miracles with this merry band of makers! He is a graduate of Santa Clara University, and has been working in (mostly) production roles for south bay theatres for nearly a decade. Favorite productions include The Charitable Sisterhood of Second Trinity Victory Church (Dragon Productions Theatre Company) Arc:Hive presents A Moment Unbound (Dragon Productions Theatre Company), Side Effects (San Jose Rep’s Emerging Artist Lab), and A Christmas Carol (Northside Theatre Company). Nick also performed in a different kind of Carol with Bora "Max" Koknar in Make Christmas Great Again: A More Accurate Account of that Infamous Christmas Eve as Told by the Miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. Of late, he has been working with Epic Immersive as a writer, designer, and community member. When he's not making theatre, he likes to play tabletop role playing games (bigger stories, smaller budgets) with the Society of Spectacled Merrymakers.

Cirque Exotique du Monde: The Cast

Meet the intrepid cast of our circus: 

Lisa Burton (Sarrasine/Tsarina) Lisa Burton is thrilled to be back on the Dragon stage.  You may recognize her from her role as Bea in the Dragon’s production of The Charitable Sisterhood of the Second Trinity Victory Church.  She also recently appeared as Cassie in the Santa Clara Players production of Rumors. Favorite past roles include Dorine in Tartuffe and both Cecily and Gwendolyn in two different productions of The Importance of Being Earnest. Lisa has a degree in theatre from New York University where she trained in the Experimental Theatre Wing, both in New York and Paris. She dedicates this performance to the memory of Norm Newhouse, a good friend and a funny man.

Ronald Feichtmeir (Dr. Singer/Officer Kraus) Ronald is a bay area native who was last seen at the Dragon Theatre in last year's production of Waiting for Godot, as Estragon. Other recent credits include the Mechanic in Middletown, at Los Altos Stage Company, and the Mad Hatter in Shrek, at Foothill Musical Theatre.

Alix Josefski Little Giant/Picnic Jager) Alix Josefski (Little Giant/Picnic Jager) is honored to be making her Dragon Theatre debut! She recently appeared as a featured zombie in Geeks Vs. Zombies at the Pear Theatre after a long hiatus from performing, and is thrilled to find herself back on the stage. Alix has extensive training in the circus arts, including partner acrobatics, aerial silks, and contortion, and has taught partner acrobatics classes at Athletic Playground in Emeryville. Alix is a proud member of the Oakland Symphony Chorus “Alto Nation,” and a graduate of Emerson College in Boston

Charles Monson (Hans the Giant) Cirque Exotique du Monde is Charles Monson’s first production at the Dragon Theater. Charles has classical music and musical theater backgrounds, starting with the San Francisco Boys Chorus, and Peninsula Civic Light Opera.  Charles attended San Mateo High School, and the University of California, Davis, where he majored in Music. He also performs as Redwood in San Francisco’s wacky, subversive drag scene, and earlier this year he joined the Lamplighters, Lamplighters Music Theater, and performed chorus roles in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience, in February, and Yeomen of the Guard, in August.  

Alika U. Spencer-Koknar (Boshka/ Magda Goebbels) Alika is excited to make her Dragon debut. She has recently joined the staff at Dragon as the new Company Manger. She is a local Bayarian who graduated from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in 2006.  Her past theatrical credits include; Beatrice in Infernal Motel (Epic Immersive), Pamela in The 39 Steps and Mina in Dracula (California Theater Center) Hannah in the South Bay premier of Collapse and Evelyn in the Shape of Things (Renegade Theater Experiment) Maureen in The Beauty Queen Of Leenane (Northside Theater), Johnna Monevata In August: Osage County with City Lights Theater Company and Alice Bloomfield in Kinan Valdez’s production of Zoot Suit (El Theatro Campesino).  Alika also teaches young people throughout the Bay with Theater of All Possibilities and through Tabard Theatre. Alika would like to dedicate this performance to Maggie Bosch.

Oscar Velarde (Otto/Joseph Goebbels/Concessionaire/Nazi Soldiers) Oscar Velarde was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He is a recent Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate of The Academy of Art University’s Acting Department, San Francisco, where he also performed in various shows including “Silver Song of a Lark,” “Magic to do Variety Show,” “Sketch Bam Variety Show,” and the school’s first musical production, “Hair.” Oscar has also acted in Catherine McSharry’s new musical, “Lefty and Liela get it Right,” at Pianofight. Oscar is also a professional juggler and has performed with, “Circo Atayde USA tour,” “El Gran Circo de Mexico tour,” and is an artist at Circus Center’s Cabaret Series, San Francisco, with performances in “Through with Love,” “Come Hither Zombie,” and “Love Hangover.” Oscar has acted in various film projects and commercials, and is a circus skills instructor at Circus Center, San Francisco.