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Siren Island’s New Immersive Theatre Production Promises Magic, Mystique

Updated: Aug 03, 2021 11:38
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Siren Island floats near Treasure Island as Lani Bidwell, Sophia, and Serena JV Elston (l-r) entice sailors to their doom. Photo by Carter Grimes.

Siren Island, the brainchild of artist Serena JV Elston, is many things: part boat, part sculpture, part stage, and part sanctuary, the floating wooden installation can often be found drifting along the shores of Treasure Island. Perched upon its peaks and lounging in its valleys one can spy the alluring Sirens – Elston and her friends – actively embodying the mythical beings of Greek legend. 

This weekend, the handmade island will play host to an exciting new theatrical production. Combining immersive theatre with waterfront ambience, and incorporating traditional Greek rites and live music, playwright and director Max Yeshaye Brumberg-Kraus’s Circe: The Twilight of a Goddess is a powerful reimagining of the myth of the minor goddess, Circe (And we have promo codes for the show at the bottom of this article).

Drawing inspiration from the titular novel by Madeline Miller, longtime friends Elston and Brumberg-Kraus collaborated to create a play which picks up where the novel ends. The result is a poignant meditation on grief, love, desire, and jealousy which will spellbind audiences every bit as much as the play’s gorgeous outdoor setting in the waters of Point San Pablo Harbor.

Producer Elston has always been drawn to mythology, especially to the powerful, dangerous, enticing creatures of the sea. Even her name, Serena, means “siren.” But even more in recent years, she’s been drawn to projects which recontextualize and reframe those same beloved myths. Brumberg-Kraus, too, has played with the interpretation of mythologies throughout their career, notably as Drag Ogress Çicada L’Amour of the House of Larva Drag Co-operative. 

In the words of Brumberg-Kraus, the play strives to ask, “what myths exist in our bodies, what myths still live in our brain and our soul and our body, and how does that help us or harm us.” By blending ancient elements (such as traditional Mediterranean instruments, rites, and rituals) with modern ideas regarding feminism, power, and identity, the play seeks to create a story as timeless as myth itself.

Serena JV Elston as the Water Nymph; costume by Solange Stefanelli. Photo by Aaron Morganstein.

Elston built the installation that is Siren Island as a space wherein she and other artists could experiment with this recontextualization of myth in a space of radical feminine liberation, safety, and empowerment. The Sirens aboard the island are sovereign; visitors who disrespect their hosts or their rules are not tolerated. Brumberg-Kraus says this aspect of the installation was absolutely a major influence on the play’s evolution. “I would say this is squarely a feminist production, it’s a queer production, and that’s not new. We’re part of a long tradition around the world of people saying, ‘we can shape [our] stories.’”

While part of Siren Island’s magic can be witnessed from afar as a delightfully strange, otherworldly vessel anchored in a calm corner of the sailboat-dotted waterscape, Siren Island can also be experienced close-up. However, approaching the Island is not for the fainthearted, as it can only be accessed by swimming directly up to it – leaving behind your cell phone, and the world at large.

It’s all about creating vulnerability in order to fully and deeply absorb a new and unexpected experience. “When you go places, you look [them] up on Google Maps,” Elston explains; but to reach Siren Island, one must divest oneself of the securities of the world beyond the water. “You don’t understand what’s about to happen, so you can have an authentic experience.”

Photo by Angela Lee, featuring Solange Stefanelli.

Circe: The Twilight of a Goddess will be performed at the Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor this Friday, 8/6, Saturday, 8/7, and Sunday, 8/8. The entire production is outdoors (don’t forget your mask though!), with the audience seated at the Harbor’s shoreline and the performance taking place aboard the floating stage of Siren Island.

The space will open at 7:30, and the show will begin once the sun has set. Get there on the earlier side for the full immersive experience – mingle with wandering satyrs, cheeky nymphs, and adorable live piglets. Don’t forget to grab some grub from Black Star BBQ, or try the pies custom-made by Edith’s Pies for the event (vegan and vegetarian options are available!).

An informal shuttle service will be available from Richmond BART Station to the Point San Pablo Harbor – just email for more info about getting a ride.

General admission tickets to this exceptional experience are $120 per person, but our readers can snag twenty bucks off with the promo codes below! There are only a handful of discounted tickets available for each day’s shows, so if you want to check out Circe: The Twilight of a Goddess this weekend, don’t blink or you’ll miss it!

Click here to buy your tickets to Circe: The Twilight of a Goddess, and make sure to use one of the codes below to get $20 off!





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Lizzie Locker - Events Editor

Lizzie Locker - Events Editor

Lizzie Locker has been an artist, entertainer, and “glamour girl” since birth. Since 2017, Lizzie has been writing professionally for small businesses, as well as creatively. She has published essays in VIE Magazine, and has written website and social media content for pole dance studios, afterschool programs, and reference sites. At the same time, Lizzie has also continued to develop her performance career at queer nightlife events across the Bay Area. She can be found both onstage and off, reading her stories aloud in bars, emceeing drag and burlesque shows, and producing arts events that defy genre and expectation.

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