San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages

SAN DIEGO, I LOVE YOU–An Interview with Katie Harroff

on February 4, 2015
Katie Harroff (Photo Credit Rich Soublet)

Katie Harroff (Photo Credit Rich Soublet)

Tell us about yourself and Circle Circle dot dot.

My name is Katie, or Katherine Harroff and I am the founding Artistic Director of the company.  I launched Circle in 2011 after several years post-Grad School because I couldn’t find something that let me do everything I really wanted artistically in San Diego.  If I wanted to act, I auditioned.  If I wanted to write, I wrote by myself in a dark room.  If I wanted to direct, I needed to try to find a gig that would let me.  If I wanted to devise experimental community-inspired interview-based theatre, like I studied in school, I couldn’t because it didn’t exist at the time.  It was nearly impossible to establish myself and also do everything that I wanted to do! So I gathered a handful of friends and we launched our dream company– not only so we could have a creative outlet in town, but so we could do the kind of theatre that we believed in: modern, deliberate, conversation-starting original productions that reflect real stories from real people.

We have presented works on Drag Queens, Live Action Role-Players, Street Artists, the San Diego Homeless community, Mall Santas, Astrophysicists, and more.  Every piece is a workshop experiment in creating a production that best-serves a story.  Sometimes our pieces are ‘straight’ plays; sometimes they incorporate dance, music, puppetry, film, and magic.

Tell us about San Diego, I Love You.

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For the past three years we’ve sought out true romantic tales that took place with our beautiful city as a backdrop.  You’d be surprised to know how many people have fabulous love stories about meeting at a bar or a coffee shop in Hillcrest, University Heights, or more.  We take these stories and create scenes that are set and staged in unique locations and then we guide our audiences to travel with the performance and follow along in our beautiful city to watch the romance unfold.  Our first year featured a story about two friends entering the ‘relationship zone’, and last year we told the story about a military couple’s growing romance throughout several decades.

Previous production--San Diego, I Love You

Previous production–San Diego, I Love You (Photo Credit Rich Soublet)

Previous production San Diego, I Love You

Previous production San Diego, I Love You (Photo Credit Rich Soublet)

This year I interviewed two women that met and fell in love while studying in college so we’re setting the story at UCSD where there is beautiful architecture, a couple of fun on-campus businesses, and even an ocean view!  And since the location is a little more ‘controlled’ (we’re only showing the piece on weekends, when the campus is mostly empty), we are including beautiful choreography from Blythe Barton to aid in the dream-like retelling of this new story. It runs February 14-15 and 21-22.

Previous production--San Diego, I Love You

Previous production–San Diego, I Love You (Photo Credit Rich Soublet)

San Diego, I Love You is an example of a successful production experiment for Circle Circle dot dot.  This will be our third installment of this unique performance adventure, and we’ll continue doing it and bringing it to different neighborhoods in San Diego as long as people keep coming out for the shows!  I think the success of this production is a real testimony to the fact that audiences are looking for uncommon performance experiences, and that’s exactly what this site-specific show gives them.  I love this piece because it’s so raw and a little dangerous.  We call it a wild ride because it really is! The actors are ready for anything–and anything could happen when you take performance art outside.

Previous production--San Diego, I Love You

Previous production–San Diego, I Love You (Photo Credit Rich Soublet)

For more information visit Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/585189974948383/ or ticketing website https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=c2d2.

(Link to KPBS video http://youtu.be/X83nZcZh8E0)

How did you adapt the piece for UCSD?

When we first decided on our subject (two college gals meeting and falling in love), we actually had quite a few campus options for staging.  The piece was not originally specific to UCSD.  It could be staged at any campus, but after securing the location I went back to layer in UCSD-specific language, with the help of some interviewees that studied at the College as Oceanography majors.

We also kept some things flexible; where a scene might be staged depends on the accessibility of a location and if a business would be interested in partnering with us, or allowing us to bring additional foot-traffic into their location.  Fortunately we have great contacts at UCSD, and they have provided us with many visually striking locations to stage the piece and also are supporting our intrusion of their businesses.

Like I previously mentioned, there is also a lot more flexibility in staging a piece on an empty campus versus staging it in a busy business-filled neighborhood on a weekend.  College campuses are a cesspool of randomness as it is, so most passersby are prone to accepting the weird dance that’s happening in their bubble.  We’re definitely taking advantage of this and taking more surrealistic risks with the piece this year than in previous years.  We’re utilizing the backdrop to its full potential, and creating some beautiful imagery on top of some heart-thumping scenes.

What is your next project?

On April 18th/19th we’re hosting a small festival reading of new works titled Inspired Community where we’ll be inviting audiences to provide feedback to new pieces we are considering producing for our 2016 Season.  The festival will be taking place at Bread and Salt, and tickets will be very affordable and on-sale soon!

After that, I’ve been having a great time developing Circle’s next Community-Based piece with an awesome local artist and Conservation Specialist: Michael Nieto.  For nearly a year now, Michael has been sharing the fascinating story of San Diego’s incredibly unique ecosystem with me.  Together he and I are developing a magical movement piece that reflects that world.  Expect puppetry, dance, music, and much more.  We’re having a great time developing something really special for our final production in-residence at La Jolla Playhouse.

Thanks for talking with us Katie! Good luck with San Diego, I Love You 3.0! Runs Feb. 14-15 and 21-22, 2015. Visit http://www.circle2dot2.com/ for more information and tickets.

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