JAKE JEPPSON’S DARK COMEDY BRINGS MALE PRIVILEGE, INTERNET BULLIES AND THE BROCODE TO FAULTLINES PREMIERE OF
I am still getting used to the Hash Tag world and FAULTLINE THEATER'S new play #bros clearly brought to the #Bar. Playwright Jake Jeppson plays include; Turtle, and The Clearing. His work has been produced and developed at the National Theatre, Soho Theatre, American Theatre Company, Asolo Rep, Red Twist, and others. His play Turtle continues to run in rep at the New Theatre of Riga. FAULTINE’s Founding Artistic Director Cole Ferraiuolo says “We are very excited to be bringing New York playwright Jake Jeppson to the Bay Area for this play's premiere. Directed by my Co-Artistic Director Rose Oser, #bros is a challenging, insightful, and necessary comedy about tech, politics, and personal responsibility in the age of the Internet- it's provocative nature demands diverse analysis.”
Director Rose enthusiastically said at opening night “we are happy to present this premiere, #bros is 80 minutes, every play should be 80 minutes and we have a bar in the lobby where we can meet after the play and talk and drink.” Jeppson agrees with Rose and says “I hope you grab a drink at the bar after the play and hash it out with the cast and your friends.” The one act play includes some very effective projections by Jason Andrew Maze and video inserts produced by Nick Flory and Maxx Kurzunski that reveal a battle of customers that use the web site presented in the story. The six dudes at SensitiveBros.com create instant think pieces about masculinity in the cyber world. A think tank of scared men hashtagging their peers to hide behind their male ego with clever topics based on their #Bro-code.
But when one of their pieces inspires the Men's Rights Movement, this new breed of bro is forced to look at themselves and what they've built. The six men all called “dude” respond to one of the dudes who tells the team about a recent date of his “I was thinking we publish like a list of unique hashtags that are stand-ins for all the things you want to say in that kind of a situation but can’t. And an umbrella hash too, for the initiative.”
The awesome cast includes Megan Wicks as the “Girl” who deals with the white man myth and in the end debunks many of those fears. The terrific Brennan Pickman-Thoon plays the main “Dude” who brings the “girl’ to the SensitiveBros.com board room discussion #girltalk. Thoon keeps Jeppson’s fast talking #BroScript moving and his arguments with Brian “Another Dude” played by the provocative Derek Jones who #manspreads perfect. Jones is powerful on stage and brings the bros more fear and anger that pinpoints Jeppson’s arch of this script.
The likable Jonathan Villaluz plays the “Quiet Dude” who at times is bullied by his #bros but brings #everyman to the discussion table. Villaluz is excellent in his role and keeps the #Brownskin in the scheme along with the vibrant Heren Patel as Rakesh or “Some other Dude.” Patel, who has a team of interns, gives a comical performance as the fast talking brown man at the table. Patel’s comic timing with Kevin Glass who plays “Dudest of Dudes” works well “I worry about bro-code Easy to autocorrect to brocade” says “Some other Dude”. Glass can also come off as a bully but the main table of SB.com are likable asshole male’s and Jeppson captures that perfect.
The detailed Ryan Hayes plays “Head Dude”, the white dapper dressed male we see at the center of the table who says, “Oh My god I love it, when can you get it to us” to each of the hashtag nonsense presented by the boy think tank team. The dark comedy opens in a fast fun smart table scene with the men. One of their hashtag moments shakes turmoil in the bully pit they have created. "Girl" takes an easy IN to destroy their myth.
Wicks is excellent in the 80 minute internet web and handles her all male cast well. Director Rose has that female edge encouraging these boys to bend a knee, and it is very well done. Assistant directed by Allie Moss helped to work in the timing of the Jason Andrew Mazes’ projections and the extras that appear in the hashtag video clips. Dramaturgy by Vanessa Flores paced all the new millennial jibber as a modern rap at times, and set the tone of Villaluz’ “Quite Dude” everyman performance.
FAULTLINE’S craft department is always first rate at transforming their small black box home into some amazing acting spaces. Sound designer Evan Wardell relies on the natural sound of the bros cell phone chirps and a catchy sound track, that is balanced by Brooke Jennings’ costumes that tell the story of each of the boys - with shoes, tops and pants that reveal their personalities. Lighting and projection design by Maxx Kurzunski keeps the mood changing with ease from the upper set to the lower floor and the sexy sex scenes with Wicks and Pickman-Thoon. The clever Sarah Phykitt designed the set and created a space that includes projection screens and a raised platform that brings the modern think tank conference room center stage and allows each audience member to feel the madness and male guilt of these “Jake Jeppson” dudes.
Writer Jake Jeppson
Jeppson says about his characters “I put messy moments on stage. Characters in my plays struggle to articulate their thoughts and emotions as they face moments of crisis.
Bros isn’t an easy play, it is a struggle. It puts a lot of men on stage and it’s written by me, a white man. I have written not to present a lecture on male privilege or to articulate a point of view. But because I have a big question about liberalism and the prejudices it hides beneath its language of inclusion.” Jake also shared that other stage companies rejected this play “A lot of bigger theatres have sniffed around my play and backed off because it’s messy and ugly because it doesn't neatly sum up the huge shitty situation we find ourselves in these days.”
The cast and craft team bring a chilling telling of Jeppson's work. Online posters hide behind the truth about their offline identity, the individuals making up the manosphere seem to skew younger on average, are part of all walks of life. There are socially awkward, video game-loving teenagers, bitter well read college boys and Ivy League-educated millennials who feel women don’t afford them the respect and admiration they deserve. There are men who claim to be highly successful at attracting sexual partners, but hate women all the same, it can be a horror story of reality and how times have changed.
The mood of the play made me think of the a real hashtag drama Charlottesville, Virginia, and the anti-racist protesters, the hashtag #ThisIsNotUS began trending on Twitter. People used the phrase to express their disdain and disappointment at the hatred and bigotry on display in Charlottesville, and to condemn the violence which resulted in the death of one woman and the injury of dozens. “This is Anti-American,” wrote singer Lady Gaga, meaning icon trend setters can make changes. Let’s hope the after the play bar discussions lead to positive moments . Jeppson encourages people to contact him after you see his play to continue the discussion; he can be reached at @jakeyjeppson.
Faultline Theatre Presents
Written by Jake Jeppson
Directed by Rose Oser
Founding Artistic Director
With; Megan Wicks, Brennan Pickman-Thoon, Derek Jones, Jonathan Villaluz, Heren Patel, Ryan Hayes, and Kevin Glass.
Through Nov 18th
144 Taylor Street San Francisco, Ca
Running time 80 minutes
Tickets at faultlinetheatre.com
Photos by Clive Walker
Contact Jake Jeppson
ABOUT FAULTLINE THEATER : FaultLine empowers emerging artists to create vibrant new works. We turn fresh scripts and bold ideas into fully realized, polished productions. We open our doors to the young and the skeptical to build a welcoming artistic community and cultivate a demand for the art of live performance.