Artists’ Mini-Retreat & Salon

Are you an artist who could use some time set aside for your own artistic practice? Would you value the opportunity to build a community of creative folk around cocktails and conversation?

Then mark your calendar, call in sick to work, and dedicate a day to your artistic practice or project at our Artists’ Mini-Retreat and Salon. After an afternoon of independent creative time, we’ll gather together for an informal sharing session and discussion.

Past participants have: cross-stitched, collaged, edited novels, translated plays, read tarot, sketched, danced, practiced falling down stairs in slow motion… anything goes!

Leigh Rondon-Davis at the teacher’s desk in the Port Costa School


Writers – Actors – Dancers – Illustrators – Musicians – You & Others you Invite


You’re invited to spend a creative day at the Port Costa Schoolhouse — away from distractions like your phone, the internet, that pesky day-job, pets, family, laundry, etc. You can write, draw, paint, sing, move, dance, noodle… whatever. Come and go as you please throughout the day. We’ll have snacks and a ‘chatting room’ available; you can also hike or bike the lovely hills along the Carquinez Strait.

In the late afternoon, we’ll gather to share works-in-progress, challenges, delights, and questions. Then we’ll move down the street to the Bull Valley Roadhouse for their Wednesday night pop-up cocktail lounge, the Dram Shop, where we’ll continue our discussion over drinks and/or dinner (please bring extra dollars for the Dram Shop).

Port Costa is closer than you think — about a 40-minute drive from the Bay Bridge with average traffic — but far, far away from all the things you’re “supposed” to be doing.

All art forms are welcome. In order to create an environment with minimal distraction throughout, this retreat is best suited to art practices that don’t need a lot of set-up or make a lot of noise… but get creative! You could practice your monologue, scene, or acoustic instrument outdoors; bring headphones for your amp or electric piano; or take some extra time to set up a mini painting studio.



Port Costa School House, 1 Plaza Del Hambre, Port Costa, CA
(at the intersection of Reservoir Street & Canyon Lake Drive)
Interested in carpooling? Drop a line to and we’ll hook you up.


Dates will be sent via email or Facebook invitation. For your invite, please email or contact us on Facebook. Here’s what to expect on the day:

11:30am – 12noon: Arrival @ School House
We’ll set up kitchen area for snacking & chatting
Find your favorite spot to work
12noon – 4pm: Self-Directed Work / Studio Time
This is your time to be creative! You do you; use the time as you see fit to direct your own artistic endeavors; come and go as you need.
4pm (ish): Gathering & Sharing Session
Those who wish can share some of what they’ve been working on, challenges they’re facing, or pose questions to the group; we’ll also have some provocations / open-ended questions to spur discussion.
5:30pm (approximately): Salon @ Dram Shop at the Bull Valley Roadhouse
We’ll move to the Bull Valley Roadhouse in downtown Port Costa to continue the conversation over cocktails! (the Dram Shop goes ’til 9pm, but you can leave any time)

Please note that it is OK to come and go throughout the day, or to join partway through. If you are arriving after noon, be sure to RSVP in advance so that we can let you know how to find us.


Space – Time – Solitude – Community – Conversation – Cocktails

how much

$15 Suggested Donation to defray the cost of snacks, and to support Idiot String and the Port Costa Conservation Society; no one turned away for lack of funds.

about the space

Port Costa’s historic 1911 Schoolhouse is lovingly preserved and maintained by the Port Costa Conservation Society as a community space. The building has plenty of interesting nooks, passageways and rooms where you can set up yourself and your project. The main rooms are:

  • Two “studio” spaces with wood floors (one with a mirror; the other quite large)
  • Vintage classroom with many old-school school desks
  • Small library with a big table in it
  • Carpeted room (good for yoga or stretching)
  • Kitchen with fridge
  • Meeting room (carpeted) with tables


  • Snacks, Coffee, Tea, and LaCroix
  • WiFi (please note that cell service is unreliable in the school building, however)
  • Folding chairs and tables
  • Some blankets for coziness
  • A spontaneous artistic community
  • Great conversation
  • Space to create


  • A bag lunch (there’s a fridge, but no nearby cafes)
  • Your art supplies, and anything you might need to prevent your making a mess with said supplies (drop cloths, etc)
  • LAYERS! It’s a drafty building.
  • Other stuff for your comfort: such as yoga mat, pillow, earplugs, etc.
  • Cash or credit cards for cocktails and/or food at the Dram Shop


For details, more information, or to RSVP, please email or contact Artistic Director Rebecca Longworth.

Arts In Review on KALX 90.7 FM


Last Thursday, June 13, Port Stories actor/creator Leigh Rondon-Davis and director Rebecca Longworth were interviewed by Greg Scharpen and Stephanie Kalem at KALX 90.7 Berkeley, on their fabulous show, “Arts In Review.” Listen below the pics…

They chatted all about the show — performing it, creating it, and interacting with audiences — and Port Costa, including the meaning of the local phrase “Port Acosted.”

Greg and Stephanie had come to see Port Stories the previous Sunday, when a herd of goats were grazing on the hills that surround Port Costa, as documented in Stephanie’s Instagram feed!

Don’t have your tickets yet? Get ’em here.


Listen to the interview in full right here… but watch out for light spoilers!

Port Costa plays through June 30 only — get your tickets here!

Where to eat and stay in Port Costa & Crockett

Marlene Yarosh and Leigh Rondon-Davis rehearse a scene from PORT STORIES in downtown Port Costa

Hello friends! To help you enjoy your trip to Port Costa for Port Stories you have your tickets already, don’t you? — we’ve put together a little guide to our favorite places to nosh before and after the show. And if you want to make a mini-vacation out of it, nothing beats the Burlington Hotel for Victorian charm… with a special discount for Port Stories ticketholders.


Crockett is the town you’ll pass through by taking the Pomona Street exit from 80. Be sure to leave at least 10 minutes to drive on to Port Costa from Crockett.

Sugartown Sweet Shoppe
This coffee shop / ice cream parlour / sandwich spot houses a yoga studio upstairs. They’re only open ’til 5pm, so best for a lunchtime stop or afternoon ice cream.

Club Tac
A dive bar that serves breakfast on the weekends.

Four Corners Pizza-N-Pasta
Pizza and pasta spot in Crockett that’s open ’til 10pm.

Port Costa

A view from the golden hills above Port Costa

You’ve wound your way through more hills and dales than you thought could be folded into this corner of the Bay Area, and now you’re in Port Costa! First you’ll see the Port Costa School, where our play begins. Keep going past the school toward the water to find “downtown” Port Costa.

The Bull Valley Roadhouse
One of the SF Chronicle‘s Top 100 restaurants, specializing in exquisite pre-prohibition cocktails and exemplary farm-to-table cuisine served family style. A real treat! The BVR opens at 4pm on Saturdays for dinner; Sunday brunch is served from 10:30 to 2pm, and dinner on Sunday also starts at 4pm.

The Honey House Cafe
Coffee, tea, homemade baked goods, bacon… and jars of local honey. The Honey House in the Burlington Hotel is a great stop before the 1pm Saturday show. If you stay at the hotel, a drink and cornbread or biscuit for each guest comes with your room in the morning.

The Warehouse
Legendary for its bikers, beers, and bears (yes, there are two, if you look closely), the Warehouse cooks up brats and burgers — including turkey burgers — on the weekends.

Stay all night!

A room at the Burlington Hotel

The Burlington Hotel
Our friends at the Burlington are offering $20 off room nights to Port Stories ticket holders; call 510.787.6795 or email for details.


Our Own Silent Film Festival!

Idiot String performers visited the amazing, annual Port Costa Yard Sale this Saturday with a DIY Silent Film Booth. We provided the props, costumes, director, cinematographer, and extras… and made silent films starring YOU!

We made (super short) movies, we made friends, and we got to talk to lots of folks about the upcoming premiere of Port Stories, our interactive, site-specific play that will take audiences throughout the historic Port Costa School and downtown Port Costa.

Check out the films on Instagram or You Tube! (There are different movies on each platform).


Port Costa Residency

Idiot String’s artistic residency in Port Costa, sponsored by the Port Costa Conservation Society, is now underway! Our residency aims to grow Idiot String’s creative and outreach activities, and to continue to activate the Port Costa School with creative programming for the local community and artists from around the Bay Area.

Featured projects of the residency include:

Public Workshop Series

Idiot String offers a series of creative workshops open to the public at the Port Costa School. Each workshop focuses on a different set of performance skills or artistic techniques related to our work. They’re a great way for folks of all experience levels to try something new, or to dive deeper into an established practice. Click here for upcoming offerings.


Sponsored by funding from the Crockett Community Foundation, Idiot String offers in-school performing arts education workshops and master classes to the John Swett Unified School District. Workshops, master classes, and teaching residencies are available to other school districts and community groups as well; please visit our Creative Education page for more information.

Port STories (2019)

Idiot String’s site-specific, interactive production was created throughout late 2018 and early 2019 at the Port Costa School, and performed at the School and throughout downtown Port Costa in June. Port Stories was commissioned by the East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation, with additional support from the Edward J. Daly Foundation and Crockett Community Foundation.

Artists’ Mini-Retreats and Salons

Are you an artist who could use some time set aside for your own artistic practice? Would you value the opportunity to build a community of creative folk around cocktails and conversation? Contact us for an invitation to our Artists’ Mini-Retreats and Salons. Held approximately every other month on a Wednesday, each Mini-Retreat concludes with a visit to the Dram Shop at the Bull Valley Roadhouse with that day’s cohort of artists.

Community Outreach

We’re delighted to be able to offer residents of Port Costa, Crockett, and Tormey reduced-price tickets to Port Stories and public half-day workshops. Show tickets for residents are just $5, and day workshops are $10 for residents, also thanks to funding from the Crockett Community Foundation!

Read more about the Crockett Community Foundation’s support here.

2019 Workshop Series

Next Workshop:

Somatic Clown Weekend retreat
nov 16-17, 2019

Announcing workshops in Port Costa!

In connection with our residency at the Port Costa Schoolhouse, sponsored by the Port Costa Conservation Society, Idiot String is proud to announce our 2019 Workshop Series in Port Costa. This workshop series is supported in part by generous funding from the Crockett Community Foundation.

2020 workshops:

Story Adaptation : Date to be announced

Physical Comedy: Date to be announced

Be sure to join our mailing list so you’re the first to know about upcoming events.

Every workshop is an all-levels creative workout, geared to accommodate folks with little to no performing experience and to challenge veteran artists. Individualized attention at each workshop ensures that you can come as you are. We aim to be sure you leave inspired!

Most workshops are suitable for ages 14 to adult. Participants under 18 must have their parents’ permission. Port Costa, Crockett, and Tormey residents can attend 3- and 4-hour workshops for just $10!

Port Costa Residency Announcement

Exciting News!

At the invitation of the Port Costa Conservation Society, Idiot String is beginning an artistic residency in Port Costa. We’re thrilled to be deepening our relationship to this magical town by spending more creative time there, finding inspiration in the history and landscape, and activating spaces inside the historic Port Costa School with rehearsals, workshops and other activities. While there, we’ll be developing new plays for site-specific performances in Port Costa and for touring on our mobile stage; and will begin to offer occasional education programs — in the hopes that they’ll become regular education offerings — as early as fall 2018.

Help commission a new play

The East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation has awarded us a matching grant to fund the creation of a new play in Port Costa that will premiere in 2019. In order to receive this funding, we need to raise $4,000 from individual donors before July 15, 2018. Donate today to help us create this new play!


Thank you!

We’ve been visiting Port Costa with the Peripatetic Players each year since their inception in 2014, and have always been thrilled at the warm welcome we’ve received there from locals and visitors alike. The Burlington Hotel and Bull Valley Roadhouse have helped to keep us fed and housed; Wendy Addison and her magical shop, Theatre Of Dreams, is a true inspiration (and creative consultant to Elixir of Life); and the dedicated folks at the Port Costa Conservation Society have made the Port Costa School a delightful stop on each of our tours. Throughout 2017 we also developed (the entirely fictional play) Elixir Of Life with inspirations from Port Costa and the surrounding area — including bona-fide history as well as tall tales and the general feeling of what it’s like to live in a small community.

Stay tuned for more about our Port Costa projects in the works!

Meanwhile, enjoy these photos from some recent exploratory days in Port Costa…



East Bay Fund for Artists Commission

We’re thrilled to announce that the East Bay Fund for Artists at the East Bay Community Foundation has awarded Idiot String a matching grant to support the development of a new site-specific play in Port Costa — part of our residency hosted by the Port Costa Conservation Society — that will premiere in 2019.

It’s a challenge grant, so we need your help! We have until July 15 to raise $4000 in individual donations, to match EBFA’s pledge.

Your donation will support us today, and commission a new play for next year!

Sam Bertken and Marlene Yarosh in Elixir of Life (2017)