Sophocles Nausicaä at Pillar Point

The Production…

At 1:08 p.m. on July 10th, 2016
we performed a site responsive theatre production
of the remaining fragments of Sophocles Nausicaä
at Pillar Point

The weather was sunny
with a temperature of 72℉
The duration of the performance
was 65 minutes
for an audience of 37

Aleta Hayes, Jamie Lyons, Judy Syrkin-Nikolau, Benjamin Cohn, performance art

The Fragment…

…to weave robes and tunics made of linen…

The wave passed me by
then slowly sucked me back

Possibly based upon parts of
book five and six of Homer’s Odyssey

scholarly speculation places the play
among Sophocles early work
and claims the playwright himself
appeared in the role of Nausicaä

The geographer Pausanias (A.D. 110-c.180)
in his description of the entrance to the Acropolis
notes an image painted by Polyglots
of Odysseus and Nausicaä
“On the left of the gateway is a building with pictures. Among those not effaced by time I found … Odysseus coming upon the women washing clothes with Nausicaa at the river, just like the description in Homer.”
Pausanias, 1.22.6, trans by W. H. S. Jones

Nausicaa Vase

Nausicaä, Odysseus, and Athena Greek Vase, 6th century B.C. Staatliche Antikensammlung, Munich

The Location…

Pillar Point was originally inhabited
by the Ohlone people

Storytelling of sacred narratives
has been an important component of the Ohlone
these narratives often teach specific moral or spiritual lessons
these stories centered around the Coyote trickster spirit
as well as Eagle and Hummingbird
Coyote spirit was clever, wily, lustful, greedy, and irresponsible
often competing with Hummingbird
who despite his small size
regularly got the better of Coyote

Ohlone creation stories
mention the world was covered entirely by water
apart from a single peak
Mount Diablo
on which Coyote, Hummingbird, and Eagle stood

Humans were the descendants of Coyote

The native way of life
rapidly changed in the late 18th century
as the first Europeans arrived
by all estimates
the Ohlone were reduced to less than ten percent
of their original pre-mission era population

The first European land exploration of Alta California
the Spanish Portolà expedition
passed through the area on its way north
on October 28-29, 1769
Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi
described Pillar Point in his diary
“In this place there are many geese, and for this reason the soldiers named it the plain of ‘Los Ansares’. From the camp the…point lies to the north-northwest, and the high rocks look like two thick Farallones [rocky islands] of an irregular and pointed shape.” Bolton, Herbert E. (1927). Fray Juan Crespi: Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast, 1769-1774. HathiTrust Digital Library. pp. 223–225

With the founding of Mission Dolores in 1776
the area came into use for grazing of mission livestock

Following the secularization of the missions in 1834
these lands were subdivided into large grants called ranchos
Pillar Point became part of Rancho Corral de Tierra (“earthen corral”)
granted in 1839 by Governor Pro-Tem Manuel Jimeno
to Francisco Guerrero

Guerrero was murdered in San Francisco
by Francis LeBras in 1851
He is buried at the Mission Dolores cemetery
Guerrero Street in San Francisco is named for him

On October 17th, 1876
the three-masted Welsh ship Rydal Hall
crashed in the fog off Pilalr Point
only twenty-one members of the thirty-man crew survived
the cargo was a total loss
as salvage was impossible
the broken ship languished almost a month on the rocks
before cracking apart
spilling tons of coal into the water
and onto the beach

During prohibition in the 1920s
the area was used by bootleggers
Rum Ships cruised off shore
unloading millions of dollars worth of illegal alcohol

During World War II an army post was established
to protect from Japanese invasion and bombing raids
today the post is run by the U.S. Air Force

site specific performance location

In early March 1967,
Alex Matienzo, Jim Thompson, and Dick Knottmeyer
surfed the waves off Pillar Point
with them was Matienzo’s roommate’s white-haired German Shepherd

they left the dog on shore
but he swam out to them
finding the conditions unsafe for the dog
Matienzo tied him up before rejoining the others
they limited success that day
surfing overhead peaks about 1/4 mile from shore
and thought the bigger outside waves too dangerous

the surfers named the location after the dog


site specific theatre, environmental theatre, san francisco


Jamie Lyons (concept and direction)
Aleta Hayes (choreography and Artistic Director of The Chocolate Heads)
Timothy Lee (Poseidon)
Arthur Jongebloed (Athena)
Benjamin Cohn (Odysseus)
Judy Syrkin-Nikolau (Nausicaä)
Amber Levine (Maiden/Cyclops)
Jamie Lyons, Judy Syrkin-Nikolaue, Arthur Jongebloed, Amber Levine, Timothy Lee, Aleta Hayes, Benjamin Cohn, Pillar Point, Sophocles, Nausicaa, Stanford Alumni, Stanford TAPS, Stanford Theater and Performance Studies, summer theater, environmental, performance, live art, theater bay area
Stanford Alumni, Stanford TAPS, Stanford Theater and Performance Studies


Angrette McCloskey (environmental design)
Jamie Freebury (narrator)

Sophocles Nausicaä at Pillar Point