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Three San Francisco theaters to take on 'The Brother/Sister Plays'

February 25, 2010 | 11:28 am

Marcus Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney's sprawling trilogy "The Brother/Sister Plays" is an epic production whose combined running time easily exceeds four hours.

Producing the drama would be an onerous financial burden for any single company to bear, and as a result, three Bay Area theaters are pooling their resources to give the acclaimed play its West Coast premiere.

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), Magic Theatre and Marin Theatre Company will collaborate on a production of the trilogy that is scheduled to open this fall.

Marin Theatre Company will stage the first play, which is titled "In the Red and Brown Water" while the Magic Theatre will produce the second, "The Brothers Size." The final installment of the trilogy, "Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet," will be staged by A.C.T.

"The Brother/Sister Plays" had a New York production in November at the Public Theater, and the trilogy is currently being staged by the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago. 

Each part of the trilogy can be viewed independently of the others, but they are also thematically connected. "In the Red and Brown Water" tells the story of a young woman who longs to have a child but can't, while "The Brothers Size" follows two siblings who may or may not be the same person.

"Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet" is set during the imminent arrival of a storm that resembles Hurricane Katrina. The play tracks the psychological state of a teenage boy who tries to conjure his deceased father while attempting to come to terms with his own sexuality.

The collaboration between the three Bay Area theaters marks the first time they have partnered on a stage production.

McCraney, 29, has had his plays produced at the Young Vic and Royal Court Theatre in London, the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta and the Vineyard Theatre in New York. His previous works include "Wig Out!,"  "Without/Sin" and "Run, Mourner, Run."

-- David Ng

Photo: Tarell Alvin McCraney. Credit: Deana Lawson