“Three-dimensional characters… urgent human situations… complex ideas… a writer of real substance.”
—Tamim Ansary, author of ‘West of Kabul, East of New York’
Award-winning playwright and performer Charlie Varon returns to The Marsh this January to read a cycle of five comic short stories called The Listener. Developed with and directed by David Ford, the stories will be read in two parts during the month of January on The Marsh MainStage at 1062 Valencia Street. Performances are Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 5:00 pm, except for Sunday January 27, when there will be shows at 3pm and 7pm. The full schedule of Parts 1 and 2 of the cycle can be found below. The two parts can be enjoyed independently from one another and in any order.
Varon is best known for his hit solo shows, including Rush Limbaugh in Night School and Rabbi Sam, but he has also had work published over the years in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Salon. The Listener brings together the dramatic and literary strands of Varon’s work, as he delivers these five original short stories with a solo performer’s craft and gusto.
The stories in The Listener are comic, poignant, and – as Varon’s fans have come to expect – brimming with ideas. The cycle follows half a dozen residents of a retirement home in San Francisco. Selma Cohen wonders whether there is a next life and, if so, what should she pack for it? Bernie Schein asks himself why, after all the Nazis did, he still wants to seduce that German teenager. And Ben Rosenau, who’s 91, regularly upsets his daughter by telling her, “No one should live past eighty.”
These short stories are my love letter to my parents’ generation,” Varon says, “and an exploration of all they’ve lived through. They came of age when radio was the hot new technology and now they have to figure out how to use cellphones.”
The SF Chronicle has credited Charlie Varon with “redefining the art form” of solo performance. His hit shows – all created in collaboration with David Ford – include Rush Limbaugh in Night School (1994; revived 2004), The People’s Violin (2000), and Rabbi Sam (2009), which the Chronicle named one of the year’s 10 best plays and which Rabbi Dan Goldblatt calls “the most important Jewish play of our time.” In 2012, Charlie collaborated with David Ford and Jeri Lynn Cohen on the 2-actor comedy Fwd: Life Gone Viral, which enjoyed critical acclaim and an extended run at The Marsh. As collaborator/director, Charlie has worked with Dan Hoyle since 2004, on his award-winning solo shows Circumnavigator, Tings Dey Happen and The Real Americans.
Along with his work with Varon, David Ford has collaborated on much new and unusual theater, including Brian Copeland’s new and critically acclaimed The Waiting Period as well as Copeland’s previous show, Not a Genuine Black Man, which currently holds the record for longest running solo performance in Bay Area history and has been performed more than 500 times in San Francisco, LA and NY. Other work of note includes: Geoff Hoyle’s Geezer; Marilyn Pittman’s It’s All the Rage; and Say Ray, with storyteller-holy-man Ron Jones and Michael Rice, a mentally disabled performer. He also worked with Bill Talen on the original creation of Reverend Billy, the Obie award-winning theater/political action piece. Ford’s work has been seen regionally at the Public Theatre, Second Stage, Dixon’s Place, One Dream Theatre and Theatre for the New City (NY), Highways (LA) and Woolly Mammoth (Washington DC) as well as at theaters around the Bay Area including the Magic Theatre and Marin Theatre Company. A successful writer, his play, The Interrogation of Nathan Hale, premiered at South Coast Rep.