‘I Was Right Here’: A Note from the Artistic Director

‘I Was Right Here’: A Note from the Artistic Director

I did not imagine, when we started our five-year, 20-play commission program that we would be commissioning a solo piece. The one-person show has never been a regular part of our modus operandi. We have always focused on the interplay of multiple characters on stage. But about three years ago, Susi and I were invited to hear one of our favorite actors, Julia Brothers, work out on a solo piece she was starting. Up in our rehearsal space with a few other guests, we watched her in a very early run-through and were completely captivated by the premise behind the play, its originality and the promise it embodied. We talked about it on the way home and decided to offer a commission to help her develop the piece.

What are we? Who are we? We rely on our memories for the details that place our lives in perspective. Where and when we were born, the experiences that shaped our world view, the joyful experiences that give us hope, the painful losses that leave scars. Our memories are how we define ourselves. So what happens when they come into question, when a memory we cherished and relied upon for self-definition turns out not to be accurate, when the circumstances of the event we so revere couldn’t possibly have happened? How then can we be sure we are who we think we are? What other of the important facts about our lives will turn out to be false?

On a train ride from Manhattan to New Jersey to visit her 97-year-old mother who is slowly slipping into dementia, Julia wrestles with her own memories. Is she following in her mother’s footsteps? If the cherished event that helped define her childhood never occurred, is she the woman she thought she was? With the rug jerked out from under her, she takes us through a catechism of memories, of those she has loved and lost as she struggles to reassure her sense of self and build her courage in the face of losing her mother, to treasure each priceless moment.

Bill English
– Artistic Director

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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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