"First I invoke Rob Melrose," Saito says, referring to the artistic director of the Cutting Ball. "I say it's about 90 minutes long. I say it's not about a thing -- it is a thing. Then my sort of elevator pitch is Krispy Kritters examines visceral human yearning for connection in an urban wasteland of despair, and the play features dead rodents, a cadaver, a brothel, and a World War II veteran who has lost his legs."
The inspiration for the play came during a workshop with San Francisco playwright Octavio Solis.
"Octavio is an amazing master teacher," Saito says. "I have taken three workshops with him, and he taught me not to look outwards for inspiration but to look inwards. This came out of the unknown below the conscious mind and the mysterious creative soup that simmers inside."
Saito says this is very different from the next play he'll be writing -- the inspiration for that came from an Economist article about Donald Rumsfeld purchasing a property in Maryland that was a plantation in the 1800s where the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass was a slave.
Saito will be writing this play for the Cutting Ball as well. Recently, the company was awarded an Andrew Mellon Foundation grant to fund Saito as a resident playwright, meaning he will have a salary and benefits for three years.
"It really is a dream come true," Saito says. "Actually, it's even beyond anything playwrights dream of because it doesn't really exist so much. Residencies are usually for people very advanced in their careers like Will Eno."
Saito, who went to University of California at Berkeley before getting his MFA from the University of Iowa in playwriting, says his two major influences are the Peruvian theater collective, Yuyachkani, and poetry. He originally wanted to be a poet, and cites Li Young Lee, Pablo Neruda, and Mary Oliver among his influences. Saito took June Jordan's Poetry for the People class at Berkeley, which had a big impact on him.
"I love language play and playing with sound and assonance and rhyme," he says. "I would argue that all playwrights should have a foundation in poetry."
The opening for Krispy Kritters in the Scarlet Night is May 23. It runs through June 16 at the Cutting Ball Theater iin residence at EXIT on Taylor (277 Taylor Street) in San Francisco. Tickets are $10-50. For more information visit The Cutting Ball Theatre website or call 525-1205.