70 SCENES OF HALLOWEEN by Jeffrey M Jones

Students & Seniors, Cal Staff & Faculty: $13 online presale, $15 at the door. ID required.
General Admission: $18 online presale, $20 at the door.
Written by Jeffrey M Jones
Directed by Christopher Herold
October 11-14 // The Playhouse at Zellerbach Hall

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TDPS opens its 2018-19 season with 70 Scenes of Halloween, a spooky, scrambled, and sly comedy that transforms the unraveling of a marriage into a frighteningly funny and fantastical romp. Written by experimental playwright Jeffrey M Jones, this fast-moving scuffle will be presented in an intimate configuration on the Zellerbach Playhouse stage on the UC Berkeley campus. Directed by Christopher Herold, 70 Scenes of Halloween runs October 11-14. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/70-scenes-of-halloween/) or at the door. 

The play reveals a young married couple, Jeff and Joan, who seem set to spend Halloween on their couch in a state of mild antagonism and mutual boredom. But as time fragments and reassembles, dark forces emerge and they must contend with ghosts, beasts, and witches banging on windows, wafting through rooms, and wielding butcher knives. 

The turbulent tale abandons linear narrative in favor of 70 brief scenes played out of order, resulting in a wild, dreamlike ride that blends realism with psychological surprise and humor. One minute, the couple is greeting trick-or-treaters, and the next, they are succumbing to inner demons, chasing each other through the living room brandishing a butchered chicken. Husbands becomes wolves and wives become phantoms in this domestic drama about a marriage dying of familiarity. Their haunted home offers a weirdly comical and thought-provoking glimpse into the nature of relationships.

Jeffrey M Jones uses the traditional institution of Halloween to deliver a message of estrangement, and to assert the frequent inadequacy of language. The play is an autobiographical work written in 1980, during the collapse of Jones’ own marriage.  Adding to the absurdity, he dedicated the play to his wife, whose name was Joan.

“While 70 Scenes of Halloween can be described as a domestic tale about a disintegrating marriage, it also reveals more profound truths,” says director Christopher Herold, “—our inner demons, fears, hopes, and the power of forces over which we seem to have no control.”  Herold has been intrigued by this play for many years, in part because of the ability to arrange the scenes in any order—creating a different story, message, and journey with each composition. He is inspired by the play’s insightful revelation of the human condition, and its imaginative theatricality, explaining, “The play is a wonderful concoction of differing tones and genres, moving rapidly and slyly from wild humor to bleak despair, from living-room domesticity to time-warped, altered reality.  Additionally, it’s a work that the audience probably hasn’t seen before, providing a rare opportunity to engage something fresh and unknown.”

View the press release