Tony Material? Play at SF State to Dramatize University Budget Cuts

Categories: Education
In which the cheer coach makes off with the club's money and goes to Vegas.
Any playwright or screenwriter searching for their next big idea should consider the bizarre case of the San Francisco State cheerleading coach who embezzled the team's money to go to Las Vegas. We're thinking Kirsten Dunst for the title role of coach Ashlee "Star" Haley.

But that is not the self-referential play that will be performed at San Francisco State next month. The dramatic material for this work is much more of a downer: budget cuts.

Yes, it's true, SF-State adjunct faculty member Vincent Chandler has created a play called BEAT, in which he will read verbatim interviews gleaned from 88 students faculty, lecturers, and staff about the budget cuts and restructuring of the state university system.

Watch out Broadway.

We applaud Chandler's efforts to bring attention to the lack of funding for education -- no doubt times of economic hardship is the stuff of which much great art is made. But do we really want to spend Friday night watching a performance on education cuts?

Just how compelling is it to hear professors sound-off about the bureaucratic woes of combining the ethnic studies and education departments?

But Chandler assures us his masterpiece will be moving.

"I talked with these professors. One said 'these motherfuckers, they saw this shit coming down and they gave themselves raises,'" he said. "They didn't mince words, they didn't hold back."

Chandler said he edited the 88 interviews down to the best 16 or 17.

Speaking of broke, Chandler himself almost couldn't make rent while researching the play. He had just graduated with his master's from SF State, and went on a state-wide tour to do the interviews without any grants or outside funding for support.

He did manage to pay for the excursion with a combination of his unemployment checks and pawning some personal items -- his watch, a card table, and shoes.

"I was eating fries and trying to get 10 bucks for gas," he said. 

But he did it, and now Chandler will perform BEAT throughout the California State University system this and next month. The play will make a stop at San Francisco State on April 15 and 16 at 8 p.m.

And because he doesn't want to be hypocritical, admission to the play is free.

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