Elixir of Life (2017)

Elixir of life was performed October 20–November 12, 2017, in Bay Area parks and public spaces.

Against a backdrop of an ornately carved wooden bar decorated with barren branches, Josephine, dressed in dark lace with a locket at her neck, receives a drop of mysterious liquid from Doctor Vitae, who wears a top hat and gently holds a vial.
Maria A. Leigh as Josephine & Julie Douglas as Doctor Vitae in ELIXIR OF LIFE. Photo by Serena Morelli

Who will buy?

Come with us to Port Promise, California: a late-Victorian outpost where mysteries are part of the fabric of life, and an old-fashioned tonic might do a body good. When a traveling Snake-Oil Seller rolls into town with an Elixir full of promises, each of the Port Promise citizens come face to face with the prospect of a miraculous second chance.

Performed outdoors on Autumn evenings near dusk—when the separation between the physical world and the spiritual world is said to be at its most delicate—Elixir of Life elicits laughter, contemplation, and a sense that anything is possible.

Jump to:

Maria A. Leigh as Josephine and Kristen Matia as Anita in Elixir of Life. Photo by Serena Morelli

Cast & Credits

Created by Rebecca Longworth, Joan Howard, and the Ensemble

Written and Directed by Rebecca Longworth

Scenic and Stage Design by Joan Howard

Sam Bertken
Miyaka Pical Cochrane
Julie Douglas
Joan Howard
María Ascensión Leigh
Kristen Matia
Casey Robbins
Marlene Yarosh

Assistant Director & Stage Manager
Maya Herbsman

Music Director & Composer
Casey Robbins

Costume Designer Addie McDowell

Scenic Artists Megan Hillard,
Phoenix Ritchie, Sarah Passemar

Lighting Consultant Kevin Landesman

Medicine Show Poster Design
Wendy Addison

Fight Captain Kristen Matia

Magic Consultant Paul Douglas

Photography Serena Morelli

A scene from Elixir of Life performed inside FluxWagon. Photo by Serena Morelli.

sponsors & Thanks

Play Development & Production Sponsors

Port Costa Conservation Society
The Bull Valley Roadhouse
The Burlington Hotel
M.E. Stanton

Performance Sponsors
Downtown San Mateo Association
Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends
City of Pleasanton

Certain performances are presented in association with Oakland Parks and Recreation, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, City of Berkeley Parks, Alameda Recreation and Parks

Special Thanks to Jeris Schaefer, Samuel Spurrier and Earl Flewellyn, Dee Stewart, Ridge Greene, Jeff Wilson, Bethany Carlson Mann, Cameron Swartzell, Janet Rumsey, Soren Santos, Tonya Narvaez, Paul Collins, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Aurora Theatre Company, and to our fiscal sponsors, Independent Arts and Media.


Photos are provided for archival and press purposes only, and may not be reproduced without our permission and credit given to the production, actors pictured, and photographer. Thank you and enjoy!

Production Photos taken November 12, 2017 at Franklin Park, Alameda.

Pre-production Photos
The photos below were taken Sept 30, 2017, at the historic Burlington Hotel in Port Costa. Artwork in the hotel by Bethany Carlson Mann.


Julie Douglas (Doctor Vitae) is a Bay Area actor-creator, teacher and clown. She has performed locally with We Players, Impact Theatre, SF Shakes, Shotgun Players, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and more. Julie gets to be silly on a regular basis as a hospital clown with The Medical Clown Project and has performed in various clown cabarets and festivals of devised performance. She holds an M.F.A. in Ensemble Based Physical Theatre from Dell’Arte International and a B.A. in Theatre from University of California at Santa Cruz. Julie has also trained and performed in Italy, Russia, and Bali and is on faculty at A.C.T. and St. Mary’s College. Before moving back to the California Julie made theatre in Chicago as a company member of The Moving Dock Theatre Company as well as performing with various local companies. She is so excited and grateful to be creating this magical piece with these generous artists!

Miyaka Pical Cochrane (Hollow) is an Actor-Creator who studied at Dell’ Arte International, toured throughout the west coast as a puppeteer, and created award winning electronic soundtracks to indie computer games. You may have seen him as Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew with San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, various roles in The 39 Steps at Contra Costa Civic Theatre, and as a company member of Impact Theatre her performed as Dromio in The Comedy of Errors, Orlando in As you Like it.  He is currently working on his first full length original adaptation of Vasilisa the Brave an adaptation of a Russian Baba Yaga folk tale, and an new work called épouser une déesse française. When not working in Theatre he also makes the best nachos you’ve ever had.

Maya Herbsman (Assistant Director) is ecstatic to be making her Idiot String debut with Elixir of Life! She is a director, playwright and teaching artist. Maya received her B.A. in theater from Wesleyan University, where she was awarded the Rachel Henderson Memorial prize for excellence in directing. In the Bay Area, she has worked with Berkeley Rep, We Players, NCTC, Z Space, Bay Area Children’s Theater, and TheaterFIRST. Favorite credits include Jean Anouilh’s Romeo and Jeanette, Carol S. Lashof’s Medusa’s Tale, Charles Mee’s Summertime, and Things I’ll Never Say, an original Avril Lavigne jukebox musical. Maya is passionate about audience-inclusive theater, Chekhov, and trashy pop music.

Joan Howard (Hobble, Co-Creator & Lead Designer) is a physical theatre performer and clown, as well as a builder and scenic artist committed to creating stages that partner with performers. She designs props for Bay Area Children’s Theatre, teaches physical comedy at San Francisco Circus Center’s Clown Conservatory, clowns with the Medical Clown Project, and plays Thumper of the Samuel Peaches Peripatetic Players. Joan has presented original performances at LEVYSalon, Barbary Coast Amusements, Literary Clown Foolery, The Clown Cabaret, and 8ight. She has performed in both Faulted and The Unheardof World with foolsFURY; with the site-specific company We Players; and as one-half of the acrobatic clown duo Max & Antoinette at San Francisco Theater Pub and the 2013 Factory Parts Festival. Joan is a graduate of Flying Actor Studio’s Physical Theatre Conservatory, and holds a BFA in Sculpture/Performance Art from California College of Arts & Crafts. She is honored to be co-creating Elixir of Life with Rebecca and this incredible cast and team. Thank you, all of you!

Addie McDowell (Costume Designer) studied costume design at Wesleyan University where she received her BA in studio art. She was assistant designer for In the Heights, the Bald Soprano, and Marisol. As head designer, she produced Seven Deadly Sins, a faculty written dance performance , as well as several student honors thesis shows. Addie was awarded honors and the Zawisa Program Prize for her thesis in drawing and animation. She also managed the costume collection archives at Wesleyan. This fall she is designing the College-Prep high school production of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. Addie is currently studying pattern design and is assisting several local designers in developing well fitting products. She was recently commissioned to make her first wedding dress and couldn’t be more excited. 

Kristen Matia (Anita) is excited to be a part of Elixir of Life, and is so grateful for the opportunity to work with Joan and Rebecca and this wonderfully talented cast and crew!  She has performed in the Bay Area with other independent theatre and film projects, but is most known for her training/work in stage combat, and the underground variety show she produced called Ei8ht.  Offstage, Kristen plays soccer, trains in aerial silks, loves popcorn, hiking, laughing, lipstick, and is a happy patron to all performances from theatre to hip hop dance to blockbuster movies.  If she could recommend one show to anyone in the Bay Area, it would be Beach Blanket Babylon. 🙂 

Kevin August Landesman (Lighting Consultant) is a Bay Area-based lighting, sets, and projections designer for opera, dance, and theatre. He is also the Lighting Director and frequent designer for West Edge Opera, Resident Designer and Theatre Operations Manager for Bay Area Children’s Theatre,  and the Technical Director for Hidden Valley Music Seminars. He has designed for local companies such as West Bay Opera, Mark Foehringer Dance Company, Ray of Light of Light, 42nd Street Moon,  Golden Thread Productions, Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company, Playground, The Refuge, and African-American Shakespeare Company.

María Ascensión Leigh (Josephine Wakefield) is delighted to return to collaboration with Rebecca, Joan, and Julie on a full length play, after having lived and worked together creating The Odyssey on Angel Island with We Players.  More recent work includes: The Breadbox:  MacBitch, We Players: Romeo & Juliet, Custom Made Theatre Company: Of Serpents & Sea Spray, and Tartuffe co-produced at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington D.C.).  Next up you can catch her in Timon of Athens at Cutting Ball Theater.

Rebecca Longworth (Director, Playwright) is a theatre maker dedicated to creating original ensemble performance and rich audience experiences. In addition to directing the Samuel Peaches Peripatetic Players in the guise of Madame Directrix, she has directed plays for New Conservatory Theatre Center, Theatre Q, SF Theatre Pub, the One-Minute Play Festival, Ragged Wing Ensemble, Jump! Theatre, Boxcar Theatre, Dragon Productions and El Gato Family Theatre; and creates site-specific installations and performances with the Hatch Collective. Rebecca has performed with Ragged Wing Ensemble, foolsFURY, and We Players, and has designed digital projections for Custom Made, Jump! Theatre, Crowded Fire and Shotgun Players. She holds an MA in Text & Performance Studies from King’s College/R.A.D.A. and is a member of the 2009 Lincoln Center Directors Lab.

Marlene Yarosh (Sybil A. Bryer) is delighted to be performing in the newest Idiot String production, Elixir of Life! She is a graduate of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine, where she studied movement theatre and contact improv (Loui Movement Technique) under the tutelage of Annie Loui. Marlene has worked with Berkeley Rep, Custom Made Theatre, Cutting Ball Theater, TheatreFIRST, and Repurposed Theatre, where she starred in the premiere production of Megan Cohen’s The Horses’s Ass & Friends! Marlene is a proud member of the Samuel Peaches’ Peripatetic Players, where she plays Princess Gwen. Marlene would like to thank Soren for simply loving her, her father for his support from afar, and her mom and padre for coming to see her perform in super random places, like Disneyland, a cemetery, and various parks. Cheers!

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