A peek in Shel’s Shorts

When Auburn native Jason Sinclair Long was looking for a theater piece for his recently formed Watershed Theater Project, he went back to his childhood. Like those of many kids who grew up in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, Long’s bookshelves held the darkly humorous books written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein. Long’s bedtime reading included Silverstein’s slightly subversive Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic and The Giving Tree. While traveling as a member of the experimental performance troupe Blue Man Group, Long stumbled upon a Boston theater company producing adult-themed short plays by Silverstein. Turns out Silverstein wrote more than 100 of these shorts that had never been published before. The debut of the newly released plays was in 2002, and a West Coast premiere followed in Los Angeles last year.

“Like his poetry books, [Shel Silverstein’s] short plays are very funny with a dark undertone,” said Long. “But the topics are adult themes and characters. They are comedies that expose the darker underbelly of life, but with the same clever wordsmithing and cleverness of his children’s poetry.”

After his Blue Man period, Long moved back to Auburn and hooked up with his old theater friends—and Placer High School alumni, class of 1990—Scott Namanny and Jason Adair. Although they all have full-time jobs (Long as a graphic artist, Adair as a display artist for the Placer County Museum and Namanny in social services), the three wanted to start a theater company in their hometown.

Long hopes the Watershed Theater Project will fill a void in a community without a theater troupe. Watershed already has produced one play that Adair and Namanny wrote, Love and Math. The group doesn’t have anything scheduled after Shel’s Shorts until next fall, when it will produce another original play by the duo.