"Eugenie Chan's 'Bone to Pick', re-envisions the Greek myth of Ariadne, at the Cutting Ball Theater."
By Stephanie Wright Hession
Arts and Culture Writer
In 2008, Eugenie Chan debuted "Bone to Pick," her provocative re-envisioning of the Greek myth of Ariadne, at the Cutting Ball Theater. The San Francisco playwright set the tale in a post-apocalyptic world and reinvented Ariadne as a waitress toiling away in a diner.
Starting Friday, the company reprises "Bone to Pick," along with "Diadem," Chan's new companion piece, which serves as a prelude and depicts Ariadne as young and love smitten. Fast-forward a few thousand years in the second play, and the audience meets Ria, the embittered, betrayed waitress. In both solo performance works, directed by Rob Melrose, Paige Rogers, Cutting Ball's associate artistic director, returns to portray the two characters.
" 'Diadem' is about a giddy teenaged Ariadne in the first blush of love, romance, and desire - and what happens when she realizes she's been abandoned by her hero," Chan says. "It's about how she grows up, fast. In 'Bone,' Ria's been living, serving up cups o' joe and waiting for her man alone on that island for millennia. She's seen everything - seen her island, her home, her country, her family, her civilization blown up and destroyed. Her heart has been broken in so many ways. Yet dutiful temple suppliant that she is, she will serve her customers day in and day out with the utmost professionalism and aplomb.
"In short," Chan says, "she's been around and around the block for thousands of years, and now is her time of reckoning."
Chan says she chose the atmosphere and period in which "Bone to Pick" occurs to pose an intriguing question.
"We're in a time of war the world over. For us, it's the U.S. in Iraq, Afghanistan. It made sense to me to play out a time when the occupation of civilian life has overtaken. What would it be when the weight of the world fell on the shoulders of one woman, as she is simply living out her daily life in her job as a waitress?" she asks.
Although based on ancient Greek mythology, Chan says the works contain timeless elements relevant to contemporary society.
"At heart, these plays are about how people, in particular these two women, try to wrestle their lives to get what they believe their dream is," Chan says.
"The impact of human action, the nature of our hopes and love - our complicity in our own demise and betrayal - and the demise of our world. Especially in 'Bone,' it's about our complicity in the fizzling American Dream."
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 5 p.m. Sun. Check website for complete schedule. Through Feb. 13. $15-$50. The Cutting Ball Theater at Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., S.F. (415) 419-3584. www.cuttingball.com.