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Theatre Arts stages two plays on love and war

November 2, 2005

Photo of a scene from Roy Conboy's adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet"Theatre Arts Chair Roy Conboy mounts two productions this month: an adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" set in present-day San Francisco and "Drive My Coche," a solo play about a man who takes a road trip down memory lane during the Vietnam War era. Conboy said both plays carry the theme of love and loss "because love is muy importante when death is loose in the world."

The plays are produced in part by the SFSU Theatre Arts Department.

After a successful run at SFSU's Studio Theatre in May, Conboy's interpretation of the Shakespearean classic "Romeo and Juliet" reopens Friday, Nov. 4, at San Francisco's Off -Market Theaters/Stage 250. Titled "Romeo and Juliet: A Contemporary Adaptation," the play keeps the Shakespearean language but adds elaborate masks, Kabuki-inspired swordplay, rock 'n' roll and San Francisco's very own MUNI into the mix. Directed by Conboy, it is performed by a multicultural cast of SFSU theatre arts students and alumni.

In "Drive My Coche," Conboy displays his talents not only for playwriting and directing, but also song-writing. All songs in the piece -- about cruising, unrequited love and the Vietnam War -- are written and performed by Conboy. "Drive My Coche," which opens Friday, Nov. 11, at El Teatro de la Esperanza, tells the story of Bill, a middle-aged Chicano. Lost in the fog while driving in San Francisco, Bill rediscovers memories of his 18-year-old self, his love affair with his first car, a 1960 Chevy Bel Air, and his first love, Kathy.

Conboy said in a 2004 El Observador article that "Drive My Coche" is based on his own life, growing up outside Los Angeles. "It comes from a time when I thought girls and cars were cool." The play depicts Latino youth in the 1970s: their love for beautiful cars and girls, uncertainty and fear of the military draft and the struggle for equality as American citizens. SFSU alums involved in the play include director Emily Lou and lighting and sound designer Darcy Villere.

Conboy, who is of Irish and Chicano descent, said in a 2003 interview with the SFSU student organization Wordsmith's Guild, that he started writing because he realized he would "never be involved in a play about anyone of my ethnicity unless I started writing those plays myself."

Now regarded as one of the leading Chicano playwrights in the country, Conboy's work has been produced by Teatro Vision of San Jose, Teatro Latino in Minneapolis, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio and Cucucuevez in Santa Ana, which he co-founded. His recent plays include "Suburban Canciones," "Tailor From Chihuahua" and "When El Cucui Walks."

As chair of the Theatre Arts Department and head of the graduate Playwriting Program, Conboy initiated the Play Development Workshop, which stages readings of student-written plays. He also founded the annual One-Act Festival, in which plays are written, directed, designed and acted by students.

Tickets to "Romeo and Juliet: A Contemporary Adaptation" and "Drive My Coche" can be purchased online at Ticket Web or in person at the SFSU Creative Arts Box Office. Admission to "Romeo and Juliet: A Contemporary Adaptation" is $12 general and $10 for students and seniors. For details, visit the Off-Market Theaters/Stage 250 Web site.

Tickets for "Drive My Coche" are $15 general and $12 for students and seniors. El Teatro de la Esperanza's Black Box Theatre is located at 2940 16th St. (at Capp), San Francisco. For details, visit the College of Creative Arts Web site.

-- Student Writer Audrey Tang and Matt Itelson


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Last modified November 2, 2005 by University Communications