Rock music, SF life fuel Jessica Hagedorn’s ‘Gangster of Love’

“The Gangster of Love,” Jessica Hagedorn’s new play at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, is not, strictly speaking, a sequel to “Dogeaters,” her previous play that had its Bay Area premiere at the Magic two years ago. Both are adapted from her own novels, and both are set in times and places with which Hagedorn was intimately familiar — the Philippines under the Marcos regime and San Francisco of the 1970s.

But the fictional characters in each are entirely different, and “Gangster” is the more autobiographical of the two, however loosely.

A commissioned world premiere, “The Gangster of Love” has been in the works for two years, although the novel itself was published in 1996 and is set two decades before that. Its premiere reunites Hagedorn with Magic Theatre artistic director Loretta Greco, who also directed “Dogeaters” at the Magic. (That play had originally premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 1998 and played New York’s Public Theater in 2001.)

The “Gangster” novel covers a lot of ground, from Rocky Rivera and her family acclimating to San Francisco after their arrival from Manila, through Rocky falling into a crowd of writers and musicians and finding herself as an artist, to a move to New York with her friends and all the tumultuous changes of her life there. The play version is really focused on a specific chapter of that saga.

“It’s not the entire novel,” Hagedorn says on the phone from New York City. “I’ve always found with adaptations you have to decide which stories can you tell. I can’t tell all the stories that are within the novel, because a novel has so much internal room. With ‘The Gangster of Love,’ what was exciting to me was a chance to look back on growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s and really work with …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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