Cashed Out: A Note from the Artistic Director

Cashed Out: A Note from the Artistic Director

Cashed Out, a San Francisco Playhouse commission and world premiere, was a rare happy result of the pandemic.

Relegated to serving our patrons online, we came up with the idea of a weekly hour-long Zoom program called Zoomlets, each built around a ten-minute play. I selected a play and a director in a microcosm of what the artistic director does for our mainstage season. The director then cast the shows and invited playwrights to participate. The director and playwright would talk about the play, and then the actors would read through the scene. After, all would discuss, the director would give notes and then read again, and discuss again! It was a wonderful way for our patrons to be a fly on the wall at a first rehearsal. The Zoomlets were wildly popular and Cashed Out, the winner of the Native American Short Play Festival at Native Voices at the Autry, was so praised by our patrons that we decided to offer playwright Claude Jackson, Jr. a commission to develop it into a full-length script. Furthermore, we asked Rainbow Dickerson, who had been spectacular as Rocky in the ten-minute version, to join us in developing the play and she has been with us though the entire process of at least ten drafts, four readings, and two workshops to get it ready for its world premiere.

Taking place on the Gila River Indian Community Reservation in Arizona, Cashed Out is so very specific to the community from which it was born, reflecting the incredible basket-making culture of the Pima and the casino culture that has become a part of Native American life. The collision between these cultures forms the fuel that runs the play. Like other great American playwrights, Mr. Jackson has placed the protagonist tragically in the vise between opposites, between art and commerce, between the traditional and the new, between dreams and fear.

We are beyond thrilled to present Cashed Out, to tell this very unique story, to provide a platform for this community that has been so under-represented on our stages. We are excited to introduce our San Francisco audience to their culture, and to remind ourselves of the bottomless universality that runs through the human experience from the ancient times of Sophocles, through the tragedies of Arthur Miller, to this profound premiere from the brilliant mind of Claude Jackson, Jr.

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Bill English is Artistic Director and Co-Founder of San Francisco Playhouse, and in twenty years with Susi Damilano, has guided its growth from a bare-bones storefront to the second-largest theater in San Francisco.

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