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Carole Shorenstein Hays Unveils Plans for the Future of San Francisco’s Hictoric Curran Theatre

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San Francisco, CA Carole Shorenstein Hays, the Tony® Award winning producer and San Francisco’s leading theatrical presenter, has announced plans for the future of the Curran theatre.  Following an extensive renovation project, that is currently underway, the historic theater will reopen as a full-sized venue in early 2017.  During the renovation, a special festival of intimate and non-traditional programming, called “Curran: Under Construction,” will be presented.  Throughout “Curran: Under Construction,” commencing later this month, audiences will enter through the Curran’s stage door alleyway (immortalized in the classic film All About Eve) and be placed on stage alongside the action.


“This endeavor is inspired by the spirit of the Bay Area, which is on the cutting edge of so many world-shaping industries,” Ms. Shorenstein Hays said in a statement.  “It’s my goal to create a beacon here for theatrical artists and audiences the world over.  We want to take giant creative risks and, in doing so, introduce new audiences to the power of the theater.”


Shorenstein Hays will be scouring the world’s stages, including London and Asia, in curating the post-construction programming for the Curran.


“‘Curran: Under Construction’ will allow us to utilize this great house during its renovation, and to stage exciting works in new ways,” she added.  “When we reopen as a full-sized venue, we will continue our commitment to programming daring and excellent works that otherwise might not find their way to a major West Coast theater.”


“Curran: Under Construction,” which features an array of diverse and ground-breaking works, each with ties to the Bay Area, will kick off with The Events, beginning its four-night engagement at the Curran on Wednesday, September 23.  For additional information and the entire current line-up of “Curran: Under Construction” offerings, bringing such internationally celebrated artists and companies as Dave Malloy, Taylor MacGeoff SobelleSteve CuiffoStew, and Story Pirates to the Curran’s stage, please see the attached schedule.  Tickets for “Curran: Under Construction” offerings are priced from $25 to $50 and can be purchased exclusively via Eventbrite by visiting SFCURRAN.COM.


Built in 1922, the over 90-year-old historic Curran theatre is undergoing its first major rehabilitation since the days of The Phantom of the Opera, when minor work was done to improve the building’s accessibility and life safety. Today the renovation, led by architect Perkins + Will, with interior design by Brian Murphy, is much more extensive, holistic and celebratory.  It involves a wide range of improvements and enhancements of the public facilities offered as part of the contemporary theater experience envisioned for patrons. Newly remodeled lobbies will grace the Geary Street side of the theater, and will feature three bars, digital displays, work by local artists and festive and elegant lighting. The auditorium interior will be returned to its former glory, with refurbished seats, new carpeting, lighting, and much more. Generous stairs and an elevator will take patrons to the totally reinvented lower level featuring generous new restroom facilities for men and women. An entirely new state-of-the art electrical system is being added, and the Curran’s mechanical systems will be replaced, ensuring greater theatrical flexibility and audience comfort. The addition of contemporary life safety features and removal of barriers to access are also important renovation features.


After the 1906 earthquake, 445 Geary St. remained empty for 12 years, until an ambitious 37-year-old Midwesterner decided it was time for San Franciscans to have access to the finest theatrical productions touring from Europe and New York.  Born into a wealthy Missouri family that owned a wheel manufacturing company, Homer Curran veered away from the family business and instead opted to pursue his passion for the arts. He traveled west to study music at Stanford University, where he established himself as an accomplished pianist and composed scores for musicals and operas on campus. After graduating, Curran first worked as a house manager for a theatre in Atlanta and then spent eight years managing San Francisco’s Cort Theatre, which he would eventually own. The construction of the Curran Theatre became possible in 1920, when Curran formed a business partnership with The Shubert Organization, one of the most successful New York theatrical organizations of the 20th century. To compete with a rival company, Shubert created a national chain of theatres, including one in San Francisco. Having spent more than a decade in San Francisco’s theatre business, Curran was able to provide the Shuberts with an invaluable understanding of local audiences’ interests. In exchange, the Shuberts paid to erect the Curran Theatre. The Shuberts’ international acclaim enabled the theatre to book first-rate productions from New York and Europe.  On Sept. 11, 1922, the Curran Theatre opened to the public with a performance of Mike Angelo, a play about a young Italian painter who eventually becomes a successful artist in New York. The audience was not only captivated by the performance but also impressed by the grand design of the theatre. Unlike many vaudeville houses of the time that were defined by their gaudiness, the Curran had an elegant, refined appearance. Along with the crystal chandeliers and a rose and tan interior, the lobby was adorned with artwork by Arthur Matthews, a celebrated artist who was a key figure in the California Decorative Style movement. As crowds flocked to performances, the Curran quickly gained a reputation as being “the handsomest theatre on the Coast.”  Since the Curran opened its doors in 1922, it has staged more than 8,000 performances and showcased countless stars such as Isadora Duncan, Ingrid Bergman, the Lunts, Edith Piaf, Katharine Hepburn, Carol Channing, Sir Ian McKellen, and Hugh Jackman.


Carole Shorenstein Hays‘ passion is nurturing American playwrights and bringing their distinctive voices to our national stages. Of the many playwrights whose work Carole has cultivated, four of them have won their first Pulitzer Prize for plays she produced. For three of those playwrights, it was their first time on Broadway. Over the course of her career as a producer, Carole has garnered eight Tony Awards.  Carole served as sole Broadway producer of August Wilson’s Fences, both for its original 1987 production (Tony Award for Best Play) and the 2010 revival (Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play), and lead producer of  John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt (Tony Award for Best Play; Pulitzer Prize for Drama).  She is currently producing the Tony Award winning Broadway production of Fun Home.  Her past Broadway productions also include Take Me Out (Tony Award for Best Play), Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia (Tony Award for Best Play), David Auburn’s Proof, Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change, Suzan-Lori Park’s Topdog/Underdog (Pulitzer Prize for Drama), among others. A lifelong member of the Bay Area community, Carole is married to Dr. Jeffrey Hays and has two children, Walter and Grace.


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**Please note, the schedule below is subject to change.  Please visit SFCURRAN.COM often for up-to-date listing information.


September 2015


The Events

September 23 – 26.


Award-winning Scottish playwright David Greig‘s The Events is a drama about a survivor in the aftermath of a tragedy, and her crisis of faith in the wake of unthinkable violence. Taking a deep-dive into the subjects of faith, politics, and reason, Ramin Gray and The Actors Touring Company production of The Events has been greeted with acclaim internationally. This inventive production features a different local community choir at each performance, which will be drawn from diverse communities throughout the Bay Area. The Curran is particularly excited to include these local artists, and their extended communities, as an integral part of our inaugural “Curran: Under Construction” production.


The Events was the hit of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013, where it earned five-star reviews, along with a Fringe First and the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award. The Events played at New York Theater Workshop in early 2014, and after its engagement in San Francisco will move on to the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.



October 2015


The Object Lesson

October 14 – 18


The Object Lesson is an environmental performance piece created by theater artist and Stanford graduate Geoff Sobelle. With boxes stacked to the ceiling of the space, Sobelle “transforms the theater into an epic storage facility of gargantuan proportion.” The audience is invited – in fact encouraged – to roam through the installation before the show begins, and peek into the boxes. The show, “unpacks our relationship to everyday objects: breaking, buying, finding, fixing, trading, selling, stealing, storing, and becoming buried under a world of things. Hilarious and heartbreaking, The Object Lesson is a meditation on the stuff we cling to and the crap we leave behind.”


The Object Lesson won the top prize at Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 and played a sold-out run at BAM’s Fisher Theater later in the year.  Directed by David Neumann, the production features a scenic installation created by Steven Dufala.



Ghost Quartet

October 23 – 25, October 28 – 31


“A song cycle about love, death and whiskey.”


The wildly talented Dave Malloy has written a song cycle about ghosts, and you may leave a believer. Having played a sold-out, five-week run at the Bushwick Starr before transferring to the McKittrick Hotel (home of Sleep No More), Ghost Quartet made it onto the “Best of 2014” lists of The New Yorker, The New York Times, Broadway World, and Playbill, among others.


Malloy has long history of work in the Bay Area. He is the composer of Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage, by Banana Bag & Bodice, which was commissioned by the Shotgun Players in Berkeley and won the East Bay Express “Best of the East Bay” in 2008 and was on the “Best of Year” list of every major Bay Area paper. Beowulf has gone on to play numerous venues and festivals in the US and internationally, including at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theater. Malloy has also worked with California Shakespeare Theater on their upper version of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Banana Bag & Bodice’s Sandwich in the SF Fringe, and at ACT and the Magic Theater.  Ghost Quartet is presented in association with Berkeley Rep and was developed with the support of Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor program.


November 2015


Steve Cuiffo is Lenny Bruce

November 19–21


The celebrated performer Steve Cuiffo has immersed himself in the work of Lenny Bruce, delivering sublime, hyper-real, verbatim resurrections of the great American thinker’s monologues. The New York Times has declared, “Lenny Bruce is brought back from the dead in the form of Mr. Cuiffo.”


Lenny Bruce performed at the Curran on November 19, 1961.  Now, 54 years later to the day, Cuiffo will bring Bruce back with a one hour set that includes the highlights of Bruce’s material from the Carnegie/Curran period; a compilation of Bruce “bits” on still-hot topics, including organized religion, race, illegal and prescription drugs, sexual mores, obscenity and the Constitution.  More than half-a-century may have passed, but Bruce’s often prophetic, freedom-loving skewering of American culture is as dazzling, hilarious and insightful as ever.


“Anyone familiar with Bruce’s seismic impact on generations of comics will find Cuiffo’s performance a revelation. It’s as close as you can come to seeing the real thing.”  –New York Post



December 2015:


StewNotes of a Native Song, TBC

December 3-5


Famed writer/musician Stew, whose Passing Strange started at Berkeley Rep and went on to win several Tony Awards, now brings Notes of a Native Song to the Bay Area.   An homage to the great African-American writer and activist, James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Song is a collage of songs, text and video inspired by Baldwin’s brave and visionary proclivity for airing uncomfortable truths as celebratory events of poetry and beauty. The show was previously presented as part of Harlem Stage’s season celebrating the 90th anniversary of Baldwin’s birth.


Story Pirates’ Greatest Hits Show

December 11-13, 19-20


Story Pirates celebrates creative writing by students from coast to coast in a loud, hilarious sketch comedy musical performed by professional improvisers and musicians. The performance is based entirely on stories written by elementary school students, and part of the show is made up on the spot by the kids in the audience.  Story Pirates will bring some of its Greatest Hits from around the country to the Curran, and each show will include the world premiere of a different story written by a local elementary school kid in the audience.  In preparation for this program, the Curran will be working directly with local schools to foster young playwrights, before presenting their work on the Curran stage.


January 2016:


Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music

January 21 – 31


Taylor Mac is a legendary downtown New York theater artist, originally from Northern California, with a large and dedicated audience in the Bay Area. He is a playwright, actor, singer/songwriter who has performed internationally from the Public Theater in New York to Sydney Opera House. He is currently an artist in residence at the Park Avenue Armory and the Sundance Institute’s Theater Lab at for summer 2015. He is this year’s recently named recipient of the Herb Alpert Award for theater.


Mac is embarking on an ambitious, highly entertaining and stirring project called 24-Decade History of Popular Music, a “durational music theatre project and a subjective history of the past 240 years in America. This highly anticipated project incorporates over 30 different performance art concerts, a number of co-commissioners from around the world, and will culminate in a one-time only 24-hour event.”  He will be performing mini-marathons of 3 and 6 hour excerpts of the piece, both as developmental workshops prior to the 24 hour piece, and touring after the “premiere.”  The Curran is proud to co-commission this ambitious work and present the first six decades beginning with the birth of the nation in 1776, here in the city that inspired him to create it.