Theatre & Film

From a 2012 reading of In The House We Haven't Built at U.C. Berkeley. That's Ansel himself on the screen.

From a 2012 reading of In The House We Haven't Built at U.C. Berkeley. That's Ansel himself on the screen.

I am a writer, director, dramaturg and occasional reluctant performer. My work is eclectic and a lot changes from project to project but much of what I do comes out of a fascination with the peculiarities of history and an immersion in the particularities of place. I'm also often preoccupied, in my creative as well as my academic work, with how our relationship with our non-human others impinges on our ideas of social justice and the futures we imagine for ourselves.

For a sense of my work as a director and dramaturg on projects like Philip Kan Gotanda's I Dream of Chang and Eng, Eugène Ionesco's Rhinoceros and Ebrahim Hussein's Kinjeketile, see the Portfolio tab above. I am also the co-founder and one of the directors of the Contemporary Drama Working Group, which brings outstanding playwrights to U.C. Berkeley for public readings of work in progress. For more on that work, see the CDWG website here.

On location with the cast and crew of Zoey and the Wind-Up Boy. Photo by Anthony Mogli Maureal.

On location with the cast and crew of Zoey and the Wind-Up Boy. Photo by Anthony Mogli Maureal.

My main role in the theatre, however, is that of writer. Some of my recent plays and performance texts include At Buffalo, a musical exploration of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition that I am developing with Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin and Khalil Sullivan; The Bonapartes, an absurdist retelling of the incredible true story of Napoleon Bonaparte, his wife Josephine and the orangutan they raised as a human child; The Enormous Room, a dramatization of E.E. Cummings' darkly comic account of his stint in French prison during the first World War; In The House We Haven't Built, a reimagining of the time that Ansel Adams spent photographing the University of California in the 1960s; Pretty Please (A Puppet Play), a domestic drama about race and sexual violence; The Quick and the Dead, an adaptation of Joy Williams' extraordinary novel; and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, a two-part work that I am devising (with Dar Es Salaam's Lumumba Theatre Group) around the Hemingway story and the apocalyptic threat of climate change in East Africa.

I have also begun to work in film. In 2005-2006 I made a documentary about Swahili street theatre for AIDS education called Kelele. At the moment, I am collaborating with the performance troupe Radix on the short film Zoey and the Wind-Up Boy, which is inspired by my play Zoey in the Snow. For more details on this and other projects, keep an eye on this page.

Images below (and on the main page), from left to right: Kokomo Jr., the "talking chimpanzee" who appeared on The Tonight Show and other television programs in the 1950s, © Getty Images; an (as far as I know) anonymous ape who features in many illustrations of the Infinite Monkey Theorem; and a dapper chimpanzee, likely named Consul, in a turn-of-the-century photograph © Hulton Archive / Getty Images.