Shotgun Players

Only five people were in the audience one night during the run of the Shotgun Players' first show, David Mamet's Edmund. But the lack of attendance didn't bother Artistic Director Patrick Dooley; the cast was fabulous. When Dooley talks about Shotgun he's full of stories -- like lying about even having an ensemble when he procured the group's longtime home beneath a Northside Berkeley pizza parlor. All he had was himself and a name. But his imagination got him and the company through seven penniless years of increasingly-less-amateur theater in the basement of La Val's -- and culminated this year in the group's austere, riveting Henry V.

Shotgun's driving idea is to break plays down to their basic elements -- voice, character, emotion -- and create theater that is immediate, intimate, and raw. Of course it doesn't hurt that minimalism is cheap. The company has grown -- it's now a nonprofit with a managing director -- and taken hits: Their triumphant new space in South Berkeley has had its wings clipped while it undergoes an earthquake retrofit. But Dooley is ready to rebound, directing the next show, Red Roses and Petrol, written by Sinead O'Connor's brother. And though Dooley is the founder and ebullient storyteller of Shotgun, he knows he's only part of a theatrical clan. "An ensemble is like a family," he says. "If people have problems with each other they are motivated to work them out."

-- Julie Chase

 
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