Playwright Chuck Nevius talks bringing journalistic experiences to stage with ‘The Oakland Raiders, True Crime & Coming of Age in SF’

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A journalist of about 40 years is now sharing his experiences through a different form of writing: playwriting. Chuck Nevius, a recently retired journalist, has pulled his many experiences over the years together to make “The Oakland Raiders, True Crime & Coming of Age in SF.”

This one-man show, performed by Nevius, is split into three parts, as the title suggests. From covering the Oakland Raiders to contributing reporting on a sexual assault case, the play depicts both the humorous and the serious facets of Nevius’ long career. It will premiere at The Marsh in San Francisco on Nov. 16 and will play through Dec. 15.

Having retired from journalism in December 2017, Nevius found himself with an abundance of stories to tell. He eventually came to the decision to pull them all together to create a show.

“I thought I’d put those together, then do a little tap dance in between and call it a show. I found it was a little more difficult than that, but it was also more interesting than that,” Nevius said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “It’s so different from anything I’ve ever done, but also tapped into writing, which I’ve been doing for almost 40 years.”

The show covers the arc of his career as a journalist, starting with his part-time work for a local paper in Colorado while he was teaching middle school. This led him to the San Francisco Chronicle, where he worked for many decades.

“When I heard that was an opportunity, I applied at the Chronicle. And in 1980, I came out here to San Francisco,” Nevius said. “I didn’t know anyone here, had never really been to California, besides Disneyland once at 12 years old. It was all new.”

Within his career, he has focused primarily on sports writing, including extensive Olympics coverage. He also wrote multiple long-running columns, including one on suburban life and one on issues facing San Francisco.

Vastly different from his columns about Little League and the families of suburbia, Nevius’ reporting on a sexual assault scandal at the University of San Francisco held much more severity. In the 1980s, a major basketball player, Quintin Dailey, was accused and later charged of sexually assaulting a resident assistant of the university.

“That was so different from what I’d been doing at Colorado Springs covering high school football — this was serious. This was real, and these kinds of things can have (a) real effect. And looking back at it, it all worked out fine, but at the time, we got a lot of pressure to do it right,” Nevius said. “The president of the university actually suspended basketball at USF based on our reporting.”

Wanting to share all of these experiences was the driving factor for Nevius putting the show together. But Nevius, who had no training in acting or theater, needed guidance. This guidance came primarily through the show’s director, David Ford.

“He’s good at not giving you too much direction. … I record every rehearsal, and he’ll go through and say, ‘I don’t think you need as much of this, or of that.’ And it nudges me in a direction, and then I put my own stamp on it,” Nevius said. “He’s not like one of those editors that by the time they finish editing, it looks like a story they would write.”

The fact that the play incorporates actual stories from his life made the transition to the stage more natural for Nevius. Despite this, he hopes for audiences to be so absorbed in the story that they forget it’s him up there.

“My goal is that they forget it’s me and just listen to the story. I just want them to get carried along by the story,” Nevius said. “Even if it’s people I know, I’m hoping that 15 minutes in, they forget and think, ‘This is a funny and interesting story.’ ”

With decades of reporting under his belt, Nevius has told numerous stories through his writing. He is now continuing to do that, just in a different format; all of his smaller stories are coming together to create this bigger story — one he felt compelled to tell.

“No one is going to walk up to you and say you should do a one-man show,” Nevius said. “So if you want to do it, then you have to be the one to do it and commit to it. And I did.”

Nikki Munoz covers theater. Contact her at [email protected].