Adventures In Tech

category: one-act
genre: comedy
running time: one hour, twenty minutes
setting: San Francisco
period: the second tech boom

Stuart, a playwright working at a tech start-up
Cody, an artist
Co-Worker, a salesman
Other Co-Worker, a tech-writer
Female Engineer, an engineer
Australian Co-Worker, another salesman
Recruiter, who gets Stuart the job at the start-up
Coffee Shop Girl, who works at a chain coffee shop
Other Coffee Shop Girl, her shift manager
Another Guy, who is in line for coffee
Homeless Guy, who is screaming at a train station
First Friend, riding public transport home
Second Friend, his buddy
Old Woman, who is the voice of San Francisco
Drag Queen, who is impervious to cold
Young Woman With Glasses, who is riding an escalator

Stuart, a playwright living in the middle of the San Francisco tech boom of the early 21st century, gets a job at a tech start up where he helps design and manage the office for a collection of unique personalities. Often discussing the day to day of the start-up with his artist boyfriend, Cody, and the staff of a local coffee shop, Stuart must learn to get along with his Co-Worker, an alpha-male salesman who at first seems entirely alienating. They are joined by Other Co-Worker, Australian Co-Worker, Female Engineer, and eventually a number of other unseen employees as the business and building expands. Though the relationships between everyone aren’t perfect, a kind of harmony is achieved as the city around them continues to change, inspiring intimacy in unexpected but sincere ways.

author’s comments:
This simple and sweet little play is actually one of the most experimental pieces of theater I have ever created. Begun as Facebook Status Updates, I was recounting tweaked versions of actual conversations I was having at my day job, and at home with my boyfriend. These postings quickly developed a following, with friends weighing in their own experiences, and some characters (particularly Australian Co-Worker) earning a fan-club level of devotion. Before I knew it, there were demands to stage the vignettes, and on my 37th birthday in 2015, at the SF Olympians Festival (which happened to have a reading that night), several of my friends surprised me (and the audience) after the main show by performing a section of Adventures in Tech, as I had taken to calling the segments online. Recognizing gold when I saw it, I began developing the pieces for a larger show after Emma Shelton and Kate Jones at PianoFight approached me about creating a piece for their venue. Weaving together the sketches into something resembling a story, I streamlined the cast of characters and then spliced each section of the piece with narrated stories of my time in San Francisco, attempting to capture the changing face of the city, the wealth disparity and housing crisis issues facing residents at the time, and the whimsical but fundamentally human face of the tech industry, largely reviled as the downfall of the Bay Area while also being quintessentially Californian. Though of course some lines and figures were tweaked for dramatic effectiveness, the truth is about 80% of the text is rooted in reality, and the conjunction of the traditional scenes with Greek Chorus-like interludes makes for a piece that is one part autobiography and one part satire, and by far the most “of the moment” play I’ve ever written, laced with pop culture and historical references, including the death of David Bowie and the trial of Martin Shkreli. At the auditions for the cast, the most surreal moment of my theater life occurred listening to director Allison Page tell actors “why Stuart loved Cody”. Realizing the bizarreness of talking about me as if I was a character, not a person, she turned to me and asked, “Is this weird?” to which I could only nod and say, “Yes.” Of course, I’m not the first person to write about himself in this manner- it’s been going on since Moliere, at least- but the weirdness of putting my own life on stage, and the lives of people around me, so honestly, openly, and yet in such a stylized manner, pushed my own comfort zone in a way I hadn’t yet pushed it, and yet somehow it also enabled me to articulate the awkwardness of living in a time and place experiencing a gold-rush not everybody living there was participating in or benefiting from. Generally speaking, as an artist, I aspire for timelessness but this show had no such ambitions, instead working determinedly to be of the here and now. Was it worth it? Yes. Will it age well? I guess we’ll see.


AIT Poster

PianoFight Productions, June 23, 24, 25, July 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 2016, at PianoFight in San Francisco, California. Directed by Allison Page; Production Managed by Emma Rose Shelton; Artwork by Cody Rishell; Publicity by Kate Jones; Lighting by Clinton Winder; Scenery by Cole Ferraiuolo; Props by Hannah Barndard-Henke; Stage Managed by Britta McClure. Cast: Dan Kurtz (Stuart), Casey Robert Spiegel (Cody), Derek Jones (Co-Worker), Emily Keyishian (Female Engineer), Cooper Carlson (Other Co-Worker), Amanda Rosenberg (Recruiter), Kevin Glass (Australian Co-Worker), Adrianna Delgadillo (Coffee Shop Girl)