Elixir of Life

Elixir of Life is an original play based on apocryphal stories of a travelling Snake-Oil Seller who promises an Elixir that can literally work miracles.

Idiot String is currently developing the script, characters, songs and design for Elixir of Life, which will be performed outdoors on FluxWagon, our mobile stage, for audiences of all ages.

The Story

As so often happens, the story begins when a stranger rolls into town. In Elixir of Life, an acrobatic pair of Jonglers draw a crowd with their antics, drumming up business for an enigmatic Snake-Oil Seller with a miracle Elixir to sell. Amidst a lively sales pitch filled with song, slapstick, and terrible jokes, the Seller asks the audience: Who would you bring back from the dead?

The Setting

Elixir of Life takes place in the fictional town of Port Promise, California, quite a while after the rush for gold slowed, and before the world’s attention turned to a great war in Europe. By the time the Seller arrives in town, Port Promise, once a bustling shipping port, has been on the decline ever since the water inexplicably disappeared. The residents who remain are stalwart in their dedication to their community, though each has his or her own way of expressing it.

The Show

Like all Idiot String productions, Elixir of Life will feature original songs, an engaging ensemble, and a sprightly sense of play. Performed on Autumn evenings near dusk when the separation between the physical world and the spiritual world is at its most delicate, Elixir of Life offers equal parts comedy, contemplation, and a sense of mystery. The show’s old-time aesthetic will draw you in and characters’ stories will capture your imagination. Bring a jacket and your sense of possibility, but leave your notions of theatrical convention behind…

…and prepare to consider the possibility of second chances.

You never know: Who will buy?


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Port Costa, California
Our friends at the Bull Valley Roadhouse, Burlington Hotel, and Port Costa Conservation Society have generously co-sponsored three weekends of on-site devising and research in Port Costa. There we’ve had the privilege to study the history of Port Costa and the surrounding area, and to talk to residents about their experiences of living in a small community amidst the larger Bay Area.

With a generous helping of poetic license, we’ve based aspects of our characters and the town of Port Promise on stories we’ve gathered in Port Costa, and hope to honor Port Costans sense of pride in their community and sense of connection to one another in the themes of our play.

Development & Workshop Schedule

January: character workshops (Seller & Jonglers) – Oakland
April 29-May 5: Research retreat (Joan & Rebecca) – Port Costa
May 6-7: Workshop kick-off weekend retreat (all available cast) – Port Costa
May 8-21: Workshop Rehearsals (all available cast) – Oakland & Port Costa
May 21: Work-in-Progress Performance (4pm) – Port Costa
September: Design Intensive (Joan, Rebecca, Designers) – Oakland & Alameda

Rehearsal & Performance Schedule

Sept 23 or 24: First Rehearsal – Oakland
Oct 14 or 15: Tech/Dress begins – Alameda
Oct 19 & 20: Previews – Alameda
Oct 21-Nov 12: Performances (Friday, Saturday and Sunday early evening shows) – various Bay Area public spaces