Musical ‘Slam’ — with skate choreography by Tony Hawk — about to get some air at La Jolla Playhouse


San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse is about to give a first peek at a skateboard-centric musical that’s been buzzed since early this year and features skate choreography by none other than local board boss Tony Hawk.

The Playhouse will stage a workshop version of “Slam” in May as part of its DNA New Work Series, a developmental showcase that has turned out numerous high-profile works over its seven-year history. (Cool bonus: Hawk will do skate demo sessions after the “Slam” readings.)

“Slam,” which boasts music and lyrics by Devo co-founder and vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh, is joined on the DNA slate by projects from UC San Diego grad Jeff Augustin, whose play “The Last Tiger in Haiti” received its world premiere at the theater in 2016; fellow UCSD MFA grad Emily Feldman, who just had a work in the prestigious Humana Festival; and Guillermo Calderón of the Playhouse-staged “Neva.”

The weekend-long DNA fest takes place May 2-5 in the Playhouse’s Rao and Padma Makeneni Play Development Center (PDC) and Seuss 1 rehearsal spaces. Tickets are free, but reservations are required by calling (858) 550-1010 or going to

For those not familiar with the DNA experience: All the plays are staged without scenic, costume or staging elements; actors perform with scripts in hand.

Here’s a look at the full lineup:


7:30 p.m. May 2, Play Development Center

This piece by the Chilean artist Calderon was commissioned by the Playhouse; the playwright himself is directing. His “Neva” was produced at the theater in 2013.

Here’s the Playhouse blurb on “Airport”: “Something ominous is happening in the town of Elizabeth, N.J. Elizabeth warns her daughter Elizabeth that a psychopath is targeting their cow, Elizabeth. But within this story lie other coded stories, all concocted by a woman torn between leaving and staying.

“Guillermo Calderon’s wildly original new commission for La Jolla Playhouse is a dark comedy about navigating a world of corrosive fears and impermeable borders.”

“The Best We Could (a family tragedy)

7:30 p.m. May 3, Play Development Center

Kate Eminger directs the new piece by Feldman, whose play “We’ve Come to Believe” was just seen at the Humana fest.

The blurb: “‘Are you sitting down? Maybe you should sit down.’” A daughter’s road trip with her father becomes a theatrical journey across more than just state lines in this funny, wise and heartbreaking new play.”


2 and 7:30 p.m. May 4, Seuss 1

The skateboarding musical, adapted from the novel by Nick Hornby (of “High Fidelity” fame), is said to have Broadway in its sights. It’s written by Kyle Jarrow, whose projects include the world-premiere musical “Whisper House” at the Old Globe (in collaboration with Duncan Sheik) as well as “SpongeBob SquarePants” on Broadway. Sean Graney directs.

The blurb: “Sam, a 17-year-old kid from a troubled background, finds refuge in the world of skateboarding and through imagined conversations with his idol, Tony Hawk. But when he falls in love with a girl, it seems like everything’s looking up — until it all comes crashing down.

“Mark Mothersbaugh and Kyle Jarrow’s musical adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel is a funny and edgy exploration of young adulthood and what it means to wrestle with dreams and disappointments.”

“Jean, Johah, and the Ginger Karl”

2 p.m. May 5, Seuss 1

Jeff Augustin’s play, commissioned by the Actors Theatre of Louisville (home of the Humana fest), is directed by fellow UCSD MFA alumnus Joshua Kahan Brody, who likewise directed “The Last Tiger in Haiti.”

The blurb: “When Jean arrives in Miami from Haiti, he’s determined to ‘learn America’ during a cross-country journey with his pregnant wife. Decades later, his son Jonah makes the same trip in reverse, desperate to understand his father — and discover himself.

“Two lives unfold side by side in Jeff Augustin’s beautiful new play about memories real and imagined.”