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The Rules

Written by Dipika Guha
Directed by Susannah Martin

Photos by Ken Levin

Presented by San Francisco Playhouse
June 22-July 16, 2016

TALKIN’ BROADWAY “The production is well worth the price of admission with terrific acting, splendid storytelling, clever dialogue, and excellent direction by Susannah Martin.” – Richard Connema

KQED “The first five minutes of Dipika Guha’s The Rules have the feel of a poorly written soap opera. But the show quickly becomes compelling, then gripping, then hypnotic. And so this poorly written soap opera ends up being the most beautiful and artful one you could ever imagine. SF Playhouse artistic director Bill English’s commitment to showcasing new plays and playwrights isn’t always successful, but it shouldn’t be. When a play like The Rules comes along, you realize how vital and important the company’s “Sand Box” series of new works is.” – John Wilkins

SPLASH MAGAZINES “Shining brightly under the direction of Susannah Martin… The Rules is characterized by the Sandbox Series group as a ‘fable about love and blindness and the promise of happy endings’ and ‘a ‘late’ coming of age story.’… the ending- as it draws attention to, explores and even begs questions about women’s friendships- is priceless.” – Ariel J. Smythe

From Artistic Director, Bill English
When we look back at the last century, since women achieved the right to the vote in 1920, we believe that huge progress has been made. In the 1960s, so much attention was placed on Women’s Liberation. And legislation has been enacted in decades since which protect women from discrimination and guarantee their rights to property and many other areas of life where men traditionally held all the power.  Woman have risen to the top of corporate ladders and universities and it seems likely we shall soon have the first ever female nominee for President.

We have good reason to be positive about the progress of women in our time. And yet, our society’s multigenerational conditioning that women are somehow inferior to men can still have a powerful effect on women today. This effect can afflict even well-educated women who otherwise know the fallacy of such subversive sexism. These conditionings are often unconscious and can manifest in small invisible ways, such as the unwritten rules of how women should behave, the rules of courtship, the rules of relating to other women. Like many of the ways racism expresses itself subtly, women can often find it difficult to counter the programming that has been passed down from their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers. We often can’t feel the impact of this deep conditioning, until a moment of crisis. Then the cultivated virtues of ‘niceness’ are pushed aside and a more ancient archetypal wildness can emerge. Best Selling Author and Psychologist Dr. Clarissa Estes describes this wildness as a savage creativity or the instinctual ability to know what tool to use and when to use this. Without it, women, she argues are spiritually and often physically dead.

Ms. Guha, in order to spark an intense debate on these and other compelling issues of our time, throws three friends in the petri dish with the seemingly perfect man. He appears to be exactly what each of them respectively want from their ideal mate. How will these three friendships be impacted by the simultaneous romance of the same man? What rules will govern the courtships and the friends’ reactions? The playwright offers no clear answers, just an opportunity for us to wade into the complexities of modern courtship and the lives of these three female friends. Will we see ourselves reflected in the characters on the stage? Can we observe how the “rules” of engagement still trap women and men into ancient games of inequality and misogyny? In what ways do our complicity with the existing power structures intertwine with our resistance to it? What will it take to move forward as the curtain closes on this world and we leave the theatre to return to ours?

Ana / Sarah Moser*
Julia / Karen Offereins
Mehr / Amy Lizardo*
Valmont / Johnny Moreno*

*Member of AEA

Artistic Director / Bill English
Associate Artistic Director + Production Manager / Jordan Puckett
Costume Design / Ashley Holvick
Lighting Design / Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky
Production Assistant / Breanna Mack
Properties + Set Dressing / Devon LaBelle
Set Design / Angrette McCloskey
Sound Design / Matt Stines
Stage Manager / Katie Sumi
Technical Director / Tish Leung