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From the Producer

“If the success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do, how would I be? What would I do?”
– R. Buckminster Fuller

R. Buckminster Fuller: THE HISTORY (and Mystery) OF THE UNIVERSE, a new play by D. W. Jacobs, is an inspiring call to us all… we travelers on this "Spaceship Earth"… to get our act together and start THINKING… FEELING… even more importantly, ACTING on our God-given potentials!

This is not a play that plays on our guilt… this is not a play that talks down to us and makes us feel stupid… no… this is two hours of theatre that unabashedly compels us to think as one… and we love every minute of it! It is 120 minutes of eye-opening poetry; the kind that leaves you breathless and wondering how you've lived this long not thinking this openly.

The world is changing around us every day. So much is happening "out there". The impacts of political, economic and religious forces have become clearer to more people than ever before. I see more people becoming more open to re-evaluating how they fit in; how all this impacts them and how they can impact it. This play... the words of this man... have never been more important to our hearts and our minds.

You may think I am exaggerating here, but I honestly am not. From the moment I read the first script, I have been captured by this play, this man, and this way of just thinking bigger. I watched audiences in workshops and performances laugh, cry, and literally feel the earth move. I have listened to audiences, often and in unison, make that familiar guttural "ohhh" of understanding. I have been a part of the best experiences one can have in the theatre, as audience and artist. Listening to audiences respond to this play, which was on Critic’s Best of 2000 lists in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, and nominated for Chicago's Jefferson Awards for Best Performance and Best New Production in will be among my proudest and most memorable theatre experiences. The overwhelming critical praise, the buzz of Bucky-heads in the lobby, the incredible word of mouth and the natural mental high of audiences at intermission are a feast for those of us committed to the live theatre.

Now, thanks to good fortune, timing and collaborations... we have the opportunity to bring Bucky back to San Francisco where the commercial adventures of this production began. Recently, Project Artaud Corporation found themselves without a tenant (the company "Theater Artaud" went belly-up) and without much foreseeable revenue generated by the theater which occupies nearly a third of their complex. Despite the obvious temptations to let the theater become the next Starbucks or Walgreens... the Project remained resolved to keep the performance space they founded some thirty years ago. Together, Foghouse and Project Artaud crafted an arrangement that would provide the Project the financial security and time necessary to undergo the process of discovering and implementing a new theater operation that will keep performance alive at Artaud well into the future. For Foghouse, it gives us the opportunity to revive a show that was hugely successful in it's first SF run. We also believe the show will look, sound and feel the best it ever has.

Some of the most exciting performances have occurred in the venue now called "Project Artaud Theater". We are proud that our production about Buckminster Fuller - a man who would be pleased with this partnership - can be a positive force in this transition and play a small part in keeping a valuable and vital performance space alive. We hope you take the time to sign up on Artaud's mailing list and support the future efforts at Project Artaud Theater.

The play was workshopped and received its world premiere in Spring of 2000 at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. Doug Jacobs (Co-Founder and long time Artistic Director at SDR), actor Ron Campbell, and a talented team of designers crafted a piece of theatre that cuts across all social, political, cultural and economic boundaries. Bucky's daughter, Allegra; her film-maker husband, Robert Snyder; and their son, Jaime, have been an instrumental part of the development of this play. We are honored that they have been so supportive.

Finally, I will share with you an amazing part of the experience of doing R. Buckminster Fuller: THE HISTORY (and Mystery) OF THE UNIVERSE. Over the past two years, I have come across an amazing number of people who met, listened to, studied with, or simply read and admired the works of Buckminster Fuller. I confess, I never really knew much about Bucky or Bucky Balls. Sure, I knew about geodesic domes (there was one near my home in Oakland that we drove by all the time when I was growing up). I knew the Whole Earth Catalogue but I knew little about Vector Flexors and Dymaxion maps, houses or cars. On a recent vacation in Vancouver, I made sure to spend time just hanging around the Science Museum which is housed in a large geodesic dome on the waterfront. In fact, the energy of the geodesic dome is so inspiring to me, I made sure we could share it with you in the lobby of Project Artaud Theater, thanks to the support of Timberline Geodesics. I have been truly surprised by the number of people I knew and have met along the way who had been inspired by Bucky in some way. I hope you will be inspired, reinspired, or reaffirmed by R. Buckminster Fuller: THE HISTORY (and Mystery) OF THE UNIVERSE.

The San Diego Rep premiere shattered all box office records for a non-musical in Rep history. Our San Francisco and Seattle runs enjoyed weeks and weeks of sold out houses. The Mercury Theater in Chicago saw the most repeat business for one show in the theater's history. People returned three, four and five times to see the play. Why? Because people of all ages, cultural backgrounds, economic situations, and whatever other "preferences" one uses to separate people today were moved to open themselves and think as one. See this play. Talk about it. Get on the Buckminster Fuller Institute and GENI mailing lists. Buy a book or video in the lobby. Be a problem solver. Be a trimtab.

"Producing this play" is our answer to the question above. What's yours?

Jeff Rowlings

From the Director

What do you look for in an actor who must play "the P.R. Man to the Universe"?

What follows are excerpts of notes by Writer/Director D.W. Jacobs of the kind of actor he sought to play this demanding and challenging role. We believe that actor Ron Campbell more than meets this challenge as he delights and inspires audiences with each performance.

by D.W. Jacobs

An ageless actor (probably 35 to 55, but with an air of being 1 to 80 years old), in excellent physical condition, capable of memorizing two hours of material. “Bucky” was an engineer, architect, car designer, geometer, cartographer, inventor, poet, philosopher, prophet, political theorist, historian, athlete, naval officer, and lecturer who spoke 7000 words per minute during talks that lasted from 2 ½ to 14 hours. He has been called a crank, “America’s first engineering saint,” and “the P.R. Man to the Universe”.

This show explores his life and work through performance ­ “I am not a Noun. I am a Verb.” The production blends testimony, lecture, autobiography, poetry, comic antics, movement, song, dance, lights, sound, and video imagery to reveal the seeds of his ideas, their growth through experience, and the fruit born from years of disciplined application to comprehensive physical and metaphysical problem-solving. The show spirals through ideas and experiences to send the audience out with their own lives placed firmly back in their laps.

The actor needs: the physical agility and dead-pan manner of Buster Keaton, a clear, strong voice, the powerful hands of a machinist that can grab ideas out of the air, a quick mind, and a game spirit. Fuller loved to sing and dance ­ he did both badly and often. We don’t want an impersonation of Fuller, but we’re looking for someone with the dignified spine of a New England Brahmin, the dry, aggressive humor of fast-talking Americans who spent their early years in factories, football games and speak-easies, and who can suddenly display the introversion and concentration of a monk or artist. Fuller’s voice was part Elmer Fudd, and part JFK ­ “A Massachusetts Yankee in Uncle Sam’s Corporate Kingdom” ­ he worked diligently to find a way to leverage us out of muddled misconceptions and obsolete information.

We are looking for an actor to embody Fuller’s Actions, to play the Verb that was Buckminster Fuller. Fuller was distinctly American, perhaps an embodiment of the best we have to offer. We need an actor who has a feel for: 1) the pragmatic idealism of 19th century America, where Fuller was born, 2) the discontinuity and experimentation of the 20th World, where he lived and worked, and 3) the longings and fears that surround our visions of Spaceship Earth in the 21st century, where he pointed to a possible promised land by drafting out his “anticipatory” visions. Like an Old Testament Prophet, he had a powerful sense of the meaning of history, the manifestations of vision, and the apocalypse that comes when the rich neglect the poor. We need an actor capable of bearing testimony ­ disarmingly simple scientific, philosophical and spiritual testimony ­ laced with inadvertent humor, innocent goofiness, and dead-earnest appeals to the audience to live up to their own truths and integrates.


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