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The Business of Show Biz | Auditions & Jobs | News & Trends

may/ june 2014

BEACH BLANKET BABYLON The Longest-Running Musical Revue Turns 40 + From the Bay to the Tonys


+ Writing About Real People  


+ Cast Early and Often + New Ways for New Plays MAY/JUNE 2014







Dancing, cocktails, auctions and Tony Awards viewing

J U N E 8, 2014 4 pm - 8 P M T H E H YATT R EGENCY, S F

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Editor’s Note 3 Celebrating Abundance BY SAM HURWITT

Executive Director’s Note 4

Once More into the Breach BY BRAD ERICKSON

The Business of Show Biz 5 BY VELINA BROWN

Editors’ Picks 6 Newsfeed 9 Auditions 41 Job Bank 42 Playwrights’ Opportunities 44 Other Opportunities 45 Resources 46 Encore 48


13 The Secret Life of a Production Photographer BY JEAN SCHIFFMAN

17 Writing from Life BY NIRMALA NATARAJ

22 Hats off to Beach Blanket BY LISA DROSTOVA

27 Are You Free a Year from Next May? BY JONATHAN SPECTOR

31 New Plays in New Ways BY LILY JANIAK

36 Tonys by the Bay



On the cover: Tammy Nelson and Caitlin McGinty in Beach Blanket Babylon. Photo by Rick Markovich. Cover design by Kendra Oberhauser.

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4 T H E AT R E B AY A R E A 


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Photo: Crowded Fire Theater and Playwrights Foundation world premiere production of The Hundred Flowers Project by Christopher Chen. Pictured: Anna Ishida and Wiley Naman Strasser (foreground) and Cindy Im (background). Photo by Pak Han.


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T H E AT R E B AY A R E A M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4

THEATRE BAY AREA BOARD OF DIRECTORS President ANDREW SMITH Vice President BEVERLY BUTLER Treasurer DAVID GLUCK Secretary JANICE E. SAGER Board Members CRISTIAN ASHER, GINA BALERIA, DON-SCOTT COOPER, EDWARD H. DAVIS, BRAD ERICKSON, PATRICIA L. HARDEN, MARK JANSEN, KATHY KING, T.J. KITCHEN, LISA MALLETTE, ANNE W. SMITH, ROBERT SWEIBEL, BRUCE WILLIAMS & MAGGIE ZIOMEK Theatre Bay Area is grateful for support from the California Arts Council, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, James Irvine Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Kenneth Rainin Foundation, RHE Charitable Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation & Zellerbach Family Foundation. © 2014 Theatre Bay Area.™ All rights reserved. In accordance with the requirements of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), Theatre Bay Area does not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in its services, programs, or activities. The views expressed are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board, staff or members of Theatre Bay Area. Publication of an ad or listing does not imply any endorsement or guarantee on the part of Theatre Bay Area. We reserve the right to refuse any ad or listing. Readers are recommended to make appropriate inquiries and take appropriate advice before sending any money, incurring any expense or entering into a binding commitment to an advertisement. Theatre Bay Area shall not be liable to any person for loss or damage incurred or suffered as a result of his/her accepting an invitation contained in any advertisement or listing published in Theatre Bay Area. Original Copyright 1982 Theatre Bay Area. All rights reserved. Printed by Modern Litho-Print Co., Jefferson City, MO. Vol. 39, No. 3. USPS No. 025-506. Theatre Bay Area (ISSN 1547-4607) is published bimonthly for $35 per year ($70 with membership) by Theatre Bay Area, 1119 Market Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103. Periodical Postage Paid at San Francisco, CA and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Theatre Bay Area, 1119 Market Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103.



Celebrating Abundance



ooboy, is there a lot of stuff in this magazine! In recent years the May/June magazine would have been our Youth Issue, but it was astutely pointed out to us that May was a little late for parents making summer plans for their kids, so we moved the youth listings to our March/ April issue. That leaves May/June as that rarity of rarities—an issue of the magazine with no particular theme at all! The possibilities are endless. And the room for features is...well, not exactly endless, but more than usual. This June is the 40th anniversary of San Francisco’s Energizer Bunny of theatrical extravaganzas, Beach Blanket Babylon, which lays claim to being the longest-running musical revue in the known cosmos. Lisa Drostova talked to the folks who’ve kept it going about how the show got started in the distant mists of time, and how they keep it fresh with an ever-changing barrage of topical references. There’s a bunch of new shows based on the true stories of real-life people coming up in the next couple of months, and Nirmala Narataj talks to the playwrights about their various approaches to turning people’s lives into something that makes sense onstage. Speaking of various approaches, Lily Janiak takes a look at some of the umpteen zillion different new-play development methods coexisting all around the Bay Area. Just Theater artistic director Jonathan Spector examines why the heck local theatre companies are casting their seasons earlier and earlier and what a self-perpetuating phenomenon that is, as everyone wants to take their pick before the pickings get slim. And Jean Schiffman checks in with some of the Bay’s busiest production photographers on just how they do that voodoo that they do. It’s also Tony season, which isn’t normally something we pay much attention to at Theatre Bay Area. The Tony Awards may be the nation’s most prominent theatre awards, but they’re limited to what goes on in only 40 theatres in one neighborhood of New York City, and that doesn’t typically have much connection to the work being created on our hundreds of Bay Area stages. But there are many individual connections

between our specific theatre community and the specific theatre community that the Tonys celebrate, and various artists and shows from the Bay Area have gone on to win Tony Awards once they hit Broadway; Chad Jones gives us many examples in his feature article in the magazine. You can help us celebrate both communities at once in our Blushing Orchid Ball on June 8, which includes a live feed of the Tony Awards. This shindig is the launch party for the Bay Area’s answer to the Tonys, the brand-spanking-new TBA Awards, which are now underway with legions of adjudicators out there assessing shows to be honored at our inaugural awards gala in November. Things are changing in our listings section, and we’re pleased to announce the addition of a brand-new listings category: Other Opportunities. Listings editor Lily Janiak has long lamented that there are a lot of opportunities for theatre artists out there that don’t quite fit into our existing listings headings: auditions, jobs and playwrights’ opportunities. These could include residencies or calls for pitches; they might be geared toward dancers or performance artists or ensembles. As this is a new section, we’re on the prowl for these “other opportunities,” and listing them is free, so if you have leads, send them to Lily at listings@ Check back in with us in the next issue, when we’ll be proud to publish the winner of this year’s Glickman Award for best play to premiere in the Bay Area in 2013: Ideation by Bay Area playwright Aaron Loeb, which San Francisco Playhouse unveiled as part of its second-stage Sandbox Series of smallscale world premieres in November. This one was such a smashing success that SF Playhouse is taking the unprecedented step of reviving the play to open its main stage season this fall. So unlike most years, when we can only say we’re sorry you missed the Glickman Award winner, this time you have another chance to see what all the fuss is about. Or two more chances, really, because we’re happy to clue you in with the full script of Ideation in our next issue. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. SAM HURWITT Editor-in-Chief

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4 T H E AT R E B AY A R E A 


executive director’s NOTE

Once More into the Breach




alifornia has a population of nearly 38 million people, with some 10,000 arts nonprofits. The Golden State is home to more artists than any other in the nation, and our creative economy is the state’s most important economic sector. The recently released Otis Report shows California’s creative economy generates $273 billion each year; constitutes 8% of the state’s GDP (gross domestic product); and employs nearly 10% of its workforce. Yet for more than a decade, California has held the dubious distinction of investing less in the arts than nearly any other state in the nation—just 3 cents per person from the state’s general fund. The national median is more than one dollar. It hasn’t always been this way. In 2000 funding for the California Arts Council stood at more than $30 million (nearly $1.00 for every Californian). Support flowed to programs that reached into every county in the state, serving inner-city youth and rural communities, the incarcerated as well as public school children, providing especially significant support for community-based and multicultural artists and arts groups. But in 2003 arts funding was slashed by 97%; investment from the state’s general fund fell to just $1 million— and it has stayed there for 10 years. Draconian cuts meant that programs that once opened the door to access for millions of Californians were eliminated or drastically curtailed. With ongoing structural deficits in Sacramento, the way forward looked bleak. That is, until last year, when a changed political and fiscal climate in Sacramento encouraged arts advocates—and legislators—to push for change. Last spring, Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian authored a bill to bring arts investment by the state to $75 million annually, a figure that seemed outlandish to some, but that in fact would have placed California only in 12th place in terms of per capita spending on the arts, still behind Minnesota, Hawaii, New York and Montana, among others. The bill failed, but it did set the bar, and it helped inspire grassroots advocates and well-connected supporters alike. It no doubt played a role in encouraging Speaker John Perez to T H E AT R E B AY A R E A M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4

allocate an additional $2 million to the Arts Council—the first significant bump up in its appropriation since 2003. Then, on February 12 of this year, at a hearing of the Joint Committee on the Arts—where the Otis Report was made public and experts testified for three hours on the economic, educational and social value of the arts—both the committee chair, Senator Ted Lieu, and its vice chair, Assemblymember Ian Calderon, each announced their intention to author bills to reinvest in the arts. Arts advocates suddenly found themselves in the unfamiliar position of having not one, but two bills that would restore funding to the California Arts Council, and through it send support to artists and arts organizations across the state. Advocates are now racing against the clock to move this new legislation through the committee processes in both chambers and find the necessary two-thirds of legislators needed to pass these bills. A parallel effort is unfolding through the annual budget process. Insiders, led by Assemblymember Nazarian, are working to substantially increase arts investment in the fiscal 2015 budget—a strategy that would need only 51% to pass, along with the governor’s signature. Artists, arts leaders and arts supporters are girding themselves once more for an all-out push, an effort that stands the best chance in a decade to reverse a history of disinvestment and restore real support for the artists and arts organizations that are changing lives and enriching communities across this golden state. To help, write, email or call Senator Lieu and Assemblymember Calderon, along with your own assemblymember and senator, and voice your strong support for Senate Bill 1432 and Assembly Bill 1662. More information and template letters can be found on Theatre Bay Area’s website. Go to “Community,” then “Arts Advocacy.” Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more! BRAD ERICKSON EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

the business


Help with Headshot Hype I get that since I’m an actor it’s important for me to have a picture. But I still don’t understand why I need to spend so much money on it instead of just having a friend take a picture of me. There’s such a big deal made about this two-dimensional thing. It’s not me and it’s not who I am as an artist. Also, if I’m auditioning for someone who already knows me, then I shouldn’t have to give them a picture, right? It’s expensive to be an actor. I want to do what is necessary, but I don’t want to run around focusing on things that have been exaggerated in their importance. Can you help me sort out what I really need from the hype about headshots? ably overglamorized and misleading. Next, the shot should help folks know how to cast you. I’ve seen a lot of pictures that show the actor in a light that doesn’t match the vibe they present when you meet them. For example, if an actor is quirky and funny but their headshot presents them as this smokin’-hot babe because that’s how

Photo: Lois Tema


es, a headshot is the primary marketing tool for an actor. It is a necessity. Without it you are largely invisible. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. Here’s why: anything you do to market yourself will rely largely on the quality of your pictures. When you register on casting sites, build your website, send out postcards or submit yourself for projects, you will need at least one very good picture. This “two-dimensional thing” is sometimes (often, in fact) the only representative in the room of your three-dimensional, multifaceted self. That picture is sometimes all you’ve got in the casting person’s office pleading your case. So you’d better have one. And it better be good. What makes a good headshot? First and foremost, it must look like you. You on a good day. You rested, nourished, hydrated and in a good mood. But that doesn’t mean glamorized. In other words, if you show someone your headshot and they exclaim, “Oh. My. God! You look amazing in this shot!,” hang it on the wall for fun but don’t use it as a headshot. It’s a bad headshot because no one should be shocked and amazed by how you look in it. It should look like you. It should be a look that you can re-create for an audition in 15 or 20 minutes. Otherwise, the shot is prob-

things and cast! Can you have a friend take your headshot? Sure, if your friend is an excellent headshot photographer! Yearbook pictures, family portraits, wedding photos or great selfies on Facebook are not the same thing a professional actor’s headshot. Get a pro. Do you need a picture even if the casting folks know you? Yes. For example, recently, I was helping run an audition at which an actor had forgotten her headshot. One of the auditors laughed and said, “Oh well, we know what you look like!” But once the actor finished what had been a good audition and departed, we promptly forgot all about her. Then we spread out the photos and mixed and matched them different ways to see which actors fit together the best. The actor with no headshot to represent her was gone, invisible. After we’d put together a first draft of a cast it was decided that we should go home and sleep on it. Something was bothering all of us, but we couldn’t put our finger on it. The next morning one of us woke up and emailed the rest of us, “Hey! What about Ms. No Photo!” We were all like, “Oh my gosh! That’s right!” She was perfect for one of the roles and solved a lot of problems, but without a picture in the mix she completely disappeared and nearly lost the role. Scary. A great picture will assist you in getting the opportunity to show who you are as an artist. If it’s bad or nonexistent, you risk not even getting the chance.

A great picture will help you get the opportunity to show who you are as an artist.

their makeup artist wanted to style them or the photographer wanted to shoot them, they’ve got a bad headshot. It’s bad because it’s not representing the actor accurately. It’s confusing. Remember a standard marketing adage: “The confused mind says no.” You don’t want your picture to communicate one thing and then, when you walk in the door, you’re communicating another thing. You may think you’re “covering your bases” when you’re actually just confusing them. The point is to present your actual strengths at the photo shoot and capture them in the shot, so that you are called in for the right

—Velina Brown Send questions to M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4 T H E AT R E B AY A R E A 


editors’PICKS DivaFest

known primarily for her seminal band Throwing Muses and also as a solo recording artist. Bousel’s play is billed as “part biography, part rock concert, part experimental theatre” and includes live covers of Throwing Muses songs. Since its founding in 2002, the Exit Theatre’s DivaFest has Claire Rice directs a cast that includes Exit artistic director been devoted to new work by female playwrights, so it’s Christina Augello. interesting that the Also in this year’s play premiering in festival is a staged a full production at reading/workshop of this year’s fest was Margery Fairchild’s actually written play Pas de Quatre, by a man: Stuart which also had a Bousel, impresario reading in the 2012 of No Nude Men fest, and At the White Productions, the San Rabbit Burlesque by Francisco Olympireturning performans Festival and San ers Red Velvet and Francisco Theater If-N’-Whendy, whose Pub. But Bousel’s burlesque shows have Rat Girl is adapted been part of DivaFest from the memoir for the last few years. of the same name Visit by Kristin Hersh, Shay Wisniewski, Allison Fenner, Heather Kellogg, Sam Jackson and Eli Diamond in Rat Girl. Photo: Claire Rice —Sam Hurwitt an alt-rock icon Exit Theatre May 1–24

SAM’S OTHER PICKS: Daylighting: The Berkeley Stories Project Shotgun Players May 22–Jun. 22

Berkeley’s Shotgun Players have experimented before with plays woven out of community interviews, in playwright Marcus Gardley’s one-two punch of 2006’s Love Is a Dream House in Lorin, about Shotgun’s own South Berkeley neighborhood, and 2009’s This World in a Woman’s Hands, an ode to Rosie the Riveter and the Richmond shipyards. Now the company takes another look at the rich patchwork of its hometown culture in this commissioned world premiere by Dan Wolf. Daylighting weaves together the stories of a myriad of Berkeley residents, seen through the eyes (and heard through the ears) of a questing young Berkeley High grad named Bee. Visit T.I.C. (Trenchcoat in Common) Main Stage West Jun. 12–29

Marin-bred playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb has a diabolical knack for very dark comedy, and that’s certainly on display in T.I.C. (Trenchcoat in Common), which San Francisco’s Encore Theatre Company commissioned and premiered at Magic Theatre in 2009. Now that her mother’s dead and she’s been sent to live with a sperm-donor 6

T H E AT R E B AY A R E A M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4

dad she’d never met, a perpetually annoyed teenage girl spends her days spying on and blogging about her oddball neighbors in a San Francisco apartment building. These include a chatty flasher (thus the trench coat), a sensitive songwriter, a fragile and needy young woman, an ardent feminist activist, and the girl’s lonely, gay-porn-addicted dad. Oh, and one of these may very well be a murderer. It’s great to see the play being given a second life so close to home when Sheri Lee Miller stages it at Sebastopol’s Main Stage West. Visit The Crazed Central Works May 17–Jun. 22

The latest new play to come out of the new Central Works Writers Workshop is local playwright Sally Dawidoff’s adaptation of Ha Jin’s 2002 novel about a graduate student in China in the days leading up to the Tiananmen Square massacre. (Born and raised in China, Jin himself was studying at Brandeis at the time of the incident, and naturally opted not to return to his home country after that.) The story centers on the student’s relationship with a professor who’s had a stroke and now spends his days raving about the wrongs of the regime, and the life-changing effect these discussions have on the younger man. Visit

editors’PICKS Mutt Impact Theatre/Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company May 1–Jun. 8

Christopher Chen makes complicated things beautiful. And beautifully. His Glickman Award–winning meta-meta-metatheatrical play The Hundred Flowers Project depicts the sinister machinery of political power as created by, manifested in, and defended by performance—all that and it was a good play, too. Mutt gets up close and personal about race, specifically the complex negotiations involved in being hapa (of mixed Asian/Pacific Islander-and-something-else descent) in America. It may be lighter in tone than Flowers, too; an earlier version of the title was Mutt: Or What We Think We’re Talking About When We Think We’re Talking About Maybe Talking About Race Maybe Sometimes? This world premiere is the first coproduction between the more established Impact Theatre and Ferocious Lotus, a newish company launched in 2010 after cofounder Lily Tung Crystal won a Titan Award to get it rolling; its mission is to improve Asian American actors’ access to support, training, mentorship and work. Evren Odcikin directs. Visit —Laura Brueckner

Director Desdemona Chiang and playwright Christopher Chen in rehearsal for The Hundred Flowers Project. Photo: Pak Han.

LAURA’S OTHER PICKS: Pen/Man/Ship Magic Theatre May 21–Jun. 15

Christina Anderson is all over the place. I don’t mean she’s scattered; I mean she’s had work staged at Steppenwolf, Yale Rep, ACT and NY’s Public Theater, just to name a few. If you didn’t catch Good Goods at Crowded Fire (2012), or even if you did, this is your chance to see a world premiere by a writer American Theatre magazine named as one of 15 artists “whose work will be transforming America’s stages for decades to come.” In this darkly mysterious play, set in 1896, a father and son board a ship bound for Africa; what they discover on the open sea will change their lives forever. Visit The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fair(l)y Stupid Tales Peninsula Youth Theatre May 16–17

There will always be a soft spot in my heart for this surreal, snarky, not-necessarily-children’s book, now adapted for stage. Peninsula Youth Theatre, for its part, has won awards for both its performances and its success as a program for developing participants’ self-esteem and leadership skills through teamwork and shared responsibility. In short, this

looks like one of those win-win situations. Happily, with stories like “Little Red Running Shorts” and “Jack’s Bean Problem,” the material is also likely to offer audiences (and performers!) welcome relief from saccharine-sweet musicals and bowdlerized, fangless “classics” that can plague TYA. Visit The Fifth String Golden Thread Productions May 2–4 & 15–18

As a card-carrying music nerd, I’m always excited to learn more about the history of music. The subject of this playful biography, Ziryab, was a 9th-century musician of cultural-hero proportions, as not only the pioneer that brought Persian and Arabic musical influences to Spain (which changed Spanish music forever) but an extravagant fashionista and courtier, and quite possibly the guy who invented toothpaste. This “family-friendly” production at Oakland’s Islamic Cultural Center and SF’s Brava Theater Center also features live original music; look up any of the musicians on your computron to find YouTube videos proving they’re not messing around. (If you really feel like immersing yourself, May 17 is “Classical Persian Music Night” at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.) Visit

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editors’PICKS Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind San Francisco Neo-Futurists Ongoing

As a theatre critic, I don’t usually see shows twice. (I prefer to spread the, er, love.) What’s drawn me back to TMLMTBGB isn’t just the fact that each performance is different. It’s also the raw, contagious energy of rapid-fire creation. Following the same format as the Neo-Futurists in Chicago and New

York, the ensemble races to perform 30 bite-size plays, in an order determined by the audience, in 60 minutes. If it doesn’t beat the clock, the remaining plays don’t get performed. They might be gone forever: each week, the ensemble throws out some plays and writes and rehearses new ones to replace them. Those could be deeply moving dance pieces (“In the Land of the Blind”), silly romps (“Nudity for One”) or terrifying bits of satire (“Such a Pretty Me”). All, however, spring from that joyous place where impulse is celebrated, where idea germ is lifeblood. Visit —Lily Janiak Zoë Lehman, Amy Langer, Micael Bogar, Megan Cohen and Lily Mooney in San Francisco NeoFuturists’ Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Photo: Adam Smith

LILY’S OTHER PICKS: Savage in Limbo The Rabbit Hole May 30–Jun. 7

All five characters in this John Patrick Shanley play, one of his earliest, are 32. Having fallen short of their youthful ideals, they are now digging the ruts that will define the rest of their lives, but not without protest. In a dive bar in the Bronx, they all act out, obliquely but passionately (one holds forth about his new plan to have sex only with “ugly girls”), against the fates they have carved for themselves. Lynda Bachman’s production emphasizes the play’s connection to millennials, by many accounts the first generation to be worse off than their parents. Visit never fall so heavily again BrickaBrack May 16–25

The title of this piece of dance theatre comes from a lyric of Diana Krall’s “Narrow Daylight,” which, like the show, delves into heartbreak. Told in flashback with three main characters and nine performers, the piece, says writer/direc8

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tor Gabriel Grilli, asks “why we fall so hard sometimes and so gently other times.” It’s an ambitious project for the twoyear-old company, marking the biggest space they’ve used (Dance Mission Theater), the most dance they’ve incorporated into their work (choreography is by Katerina Wong) and the first time they’ve done a two-phased development process. Visit Antigonick scatterstate May 9–17

In writing this poetic version of Antigone, Anne Carson didn’t just translate from the ancient Greek; she also wrote the text by hand, and the published version features her handwriting overlaid with illustrations on transparent paper. Scatterstate’s production, directed by Caitlyn Tella, adds yet another layer to the mythic tale of a young woman fighting for her right to give her brother a proper burial: an all-female cast. It’s staged in the San Jose Armory, which, though a popular space for rehearsals and auditions, has never before hosted a theatrical performance. Visit

newsFEED Next Stage at Mills San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater has announced that it will begin partnering with Oakland’s Mills College on a new theatre curriculum starting in fall 2014. This will be a new major and minor offered by the college, which currently has only a dance department (which lays claim to being the oldest continuously operating dance department in the country). Mills hasn’t had a theatre program since 2004, when the school closed its dramatic arts department due to a budget deficit. The new program will be offered in the expanded and renamed dance and theatre studies department. Half the courses will be taught on campus at Mills, the rest in ACT’s studios in downtown San Francisco. Majors either enroll in ACT’s San Francisco Semester program, a four-day-a-week intensive program for a full semester, or register as a part-time student at ACT while completing their BAs at Mills. (Students in the program reportedly do not have to pay additional tuition to ACT on top of their Mills fees.) Students minoring in theatre studies will be able to design their minor with an emphasis on drama or physical theatre, drawing largely from the theatre component of the existing curriculum of the Mills dance department. It’s the Birthday Bard Assuming William Shakespeare wasn’t actually a vampire spy from the moon as some have theorized, this

April is his 450th birthday (or thereabouts—we know he was baptized on April 26). Marin Shakespeare Company is also celebrating an anniversary this year—its 25th season—and it’s celebrating with a summer full of popular favorites: Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet, and Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, in lieu of more obscure gems such as last year’s The Spanish Tragedy and the previous year’s King John that may tickle the critics but don’t exactly draw audiences in droves. Thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor, all tickets for the entire run of As You Like It are “pay as you like it,” with donations of any amount accepted at the door. Although As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s most oft-performed comedies, it’s been 13 years since Marin Shakes last staged it, and this is only the third time in the company’s history. It was the first play the theatre produced for its first season in 1990 (directed by Ann Brebner and starring Nancy Carlin), which makes it an especially apt selection to open the 25th season. Artistic director and company cofounder Robert Currier directs both comedies this year, and managing director/ cofounder Lesley Schisgall Currier takes on the starcrossed lovers. Where CA$H Is King Theatre Bay Area, in partnership with Dancers’ Group, has announced the latest recipients of its CA$H grants for theatre. Among

the grantees are Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience for Zakiyyah Alexander’s Sweet Maladies; Idiot String to build a mobile stage to tour parks with its show O Best Beloved; and foolsFury Theater for the premiere of Angela Santillo’s Faulted. Individual artists granted include Corey Fischer for a new solo musical theatre work; Sara Kraft for Fair Share//Share fare; Kevin Rolston for Deal with the Dragon; David Szlasa for Studio 1 Pop Up and Eli Wirtschafter, Marica Petrey and Hannah Michahelles for Post-Apocalyptic Storytime. The selecting panel for this round of grants comprised theatre artists Steve M. Boyle, Gabriel Grilli, Jeanette Harrison, Marcia Kimmell and Dr. Ayodele Nzinga. Wells Fargo Stages Santa Rosa’s Wells Fargo Center for the Arts has announced two new partnerships with local arts organizations. North Bay Stage Company joins Roustabout Theater as the center’s second resident theatre company, housed primarily in the East Auditorium. NBSC is a new venture helmed by producing artistic director John DeGaetano, coming from a long tenure as president of Raven Players in Healdsburg. Offering dance classes for youth and adults, Sonoma Latin Arts also joins the center’s resident partners, alongside organizations already in place such as Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmer’s Market and Village Charter School. “As a nonprofit organization,

it is our goal to make the center a gathering place for everyone in our community,” said Rick Nowlin, the center’s executive director. “We are delighted to be working with two organizations that share our core purpose of using the arts to bring people together.” Ground Floor Coming Up Berkeley Repertory Theatre is once again bringing a staggering array of renowned theatre artists together for its new works program the Ground Floor’s Summer Residency Lab. Now in its third year, the lab will be a hotbed of activity on 18 projects from more than 30 artists all going on at once at Berkeley Rep’s West Berkeley campus. Among the creators living, eating and creating new plays together over an intense four-week period are Annie Baker (Circle Mirror Transformation); Kara Lee Corthron (Etched in Skin on a Sunlit Night); Colman Domingo (Wild with Happy); Anna Deavere Smith (Fires in the Mirror); Joan Holden (Seeing Double); Aditi Brennan Kapil (Love Person), Manu Narayan (The Love Guru) and Radovan Jovićević of musical collaboration Darunam; John Leguizamo (Ghetto Klown); Dave Malloy (Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage); Gregory S. Moss (punkplay); Julie Marie Myatt (The Happy Ones); Dominic Orlando (Fissures lost & found) and Brian Carpenter (leader of the band Beat Circus); Jiehae Park (Hannah and the Dread Gazebo) and set designer Tristan Jeffers;

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newsFEED Awarding Local Dance As Bay Area dance legend Anna Halprin once said, “I am glad anytime that a dancer anywhere is getting an award.” The annual Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, or Izzies, is the local ceremony recognizing Bay Area dance artists. Every few years the event rotates venues; this year, the Izzies took place in March at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. This year’s awards were almost entirely given to performances taking place in San Francisco. The word on the street was that perhaps the ceremony needs a new mission statement, wherein the awards celebrate San Francisco–based dance rather than dance taking place in the greater Bay Area. Noted San Francisco choreographer Joanna Haigood and Cal Performances’ Rob Bailis hosted the ceremony. Jo Kreiter took the Choreography prize for her aerial dance Niagara Falling, on the west wall of San Francisco’s Renoir Hotel, which also won the award in the Company Performance category. Outstanding Individual Performance went to San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Frances Chung for her 2013 performance season. Popular performers Brandon Freeman and Katherine Wells won for Ensemble Performance for choreographer Amy Seiwert’s The Devil Ties My Tongue as part of Sketch 3 at ODC Theater. Alonzo King Lines Ballet received the Music/Sound/Text Achievement award for Collaboration with Edgar Meyer, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. There was a tie in the Visual Design category between Jim Campbell’s set design for Lines Ballet’s Constellation at Yerba Buena and Basil Twist’s set design for San Francisco Ballet’s Cinderella. Gary Masters was honored for his revival/reconstruction of the Jose Limon masterpiece Moor’s Pavane, for performances by sjDANCEco and Diablo Ballet taking place in both San Jose and Walnut Creek. The special honoree awards went to Sean Dorsey Dance Company and to events taking place in museums; choreographer Anna Halprin and composer Morton Subotnick were selected for their staging of Parades and Changes at the Berkeley Art Museum, and the de Young Museum was awarded for coproducing the exhibit Rudolf Nureyev, A Life in Dance. There were several Sustained Achievement awards, including eminent dance scholar Janice Ross, Axis Dance Company artistic director Judith Smith and Alonzo King Lines Ballet. —Kathryn Roszak Choreographer Amy Siewert’s next dance: Ben Needham-Wood, Terez Dean and Christian Squires in a world premiere ballet by Seiwert in Smuin Ballet’s XXcentric Spring Dance Series this May. Photo: Keith Sutter

Katie Pearl and Lisa D’Amour of PearlDamour (How to Build a Forest); Abigail Rezneck and Barbara Babcock (making their theatrical debut as writers); KJ Sanchez (ReEntry) and actress Jenny Mercein; Deborah Stein and Suli Holum of Stein | Holum Projects (Chimera) and sound designer James Sugg; Hadi Tabbal (After); and Oakland-based band the Kilbanes. What Was That Masked Musical? Who knew that comic-book plays were the next big thing? Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was one thing, but we’ve seen several comics-related plays pop up in the Bay Area in the last year or two, including Katie May’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl at the ACT Costume Shop and Carson Kreitzer’s Lasso of Truth at Marin Theatre Company. Over yonder in Texas, Dallas Theater Center debuted a newly revised version of the 1966 musical It’s a Bird...It’s a Plane... It’s Superman a few years back, and this March it presented the world premiere of The Fortress of Solitude, a new musical based on the comics-obsessed Jonathan Lethem novel of the same name. Bay Area connections abound in this production: playwright Itamar Moses is a Berkeley native and Berkeley High grad, and novelist Lethem, a once and future Brooklynite, lived in Berkeley for about a dozen years, where he worked as a bookstore clerk at Moe’s Books and Pegasus Books. And Such Pretty Wood Floors! Mark Foehringer Dance Project|SF has moved to a new San Francisco home: the


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newsFEED KunstStoff Arts space at One Grove Street. To celebrate and kick off the 2014 season, MFDP|SF has invited the arts community to an open house event called Inside the Studio on May 4, where attendees will tour the space; hear about upcoming programming and classes; meet staff, dancers and board members; and see dance pieces created by student choreographers, performances by company dancers and a new work in progress from Fulbright Scholar and MFDP|SF founder Mark Foehringer. Visit A Star Is Born On March 31, Cinnabar Theater executive director Terence Keane and his wife, Sarah, welcomed their first child, Brendan Blaze Keane, into the world. Brendan, named after an Irish hero, is reportedly “the newest member of Cinnabar’s Young Rep.” Congratulations to the Keane family on his successful debut! Brendan is the latest arrival in a veritable Bay Area theatre baby boom; in recent months the stork has also visited actors Alexandra Creighton and Anthony Nemirovsky (daughter Annabelle), actors Arwen Anderson and Rod Gnapp (son Rowan Anderson Gnapp), and director Jon Tracy and set designer Nina Ball (daughter Evelyn Josephine Tracy). Congrats to all the families! A New Legacy Congratulations are in order for of Inferno Theatre’s Giulio Perrone, the first recipient of the new Yuriko

Doi Legacy Award, given by Theatre of Yugen. Named in honor of Yugen founder and artistic associate Yuriko Doi, the annual award recognizes “directors, writers and creators of original work for the theatre, who have dedicated their creative lives to innovating within tradition.” Perrone, a playwright/director/ scenic and costume designer as well as Inferno’s producing artistic director, was honored with the award on February 22 at Theatre of Yugen’s February Fusion Fest; he received a certificate of recognition and a cash prize to support him in creating further work. The Sound of No Music Citing rising costs, Diablo Theatre Company has announced that it will not be presenting a 2014–2015 season at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, where it has been an anchor tenant since the center’s opening in 1990. “The costs of producing main-stage shows at the Lesher Center have escalated beyond our resources, compelling us to take a year off to retool and evaluate options,” states Sherry Caraballo Dorfman, DTC board president. Thankfully, DTC is not closing its doors; instead, the company plans to take the season off from main-stage productions to concentrate on its educational programs. It will continue to offer classes, and its youth program participants will still get their razzle-dazzle stage time, albeit at other venues. The STARS 2000 Teen Theatre performances of Thoroughly Modern Millie will go up

at Diablo Valley College Performing Arts Center in Pleasant Hill, and the Performing Arts Academy for youth will perform its Peter Pan, Jr. at the Village Theatre in Danville. DTC will soon launch a Back to the Main Stage fundraiser, to secure the necessary funds to begin producing large-scale musicals again. To donate or for more information, visit   Philip “Cal” Gotanda Nationally and internationally produced Bay Area playwright Philip Kan Gotanda has recently been appointed a professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies, where he has been heavily involved since his first term as a resident artist in 2009. Gotanda, an important voice in American theatre, is also a meticulous researcher and creative polymath whose artistic output includes directing, acting, music, filmmaking and opera; at Cal he has taught playwriting, mentored students and staged two new plays: I Dream of Chang and Eng and After the War Blues (an updated version of After the War, which debuted at American Conservatory Theater in 2007). Gotanda says that he finds teaching “liberating to the mind and soul,” adding, “I can’t think of a more sublime way to spend the rest of my life.” One of his major goals is to develop the department’s existing playwriting offerings into a structured and comprehensive playwriting program that will earn national recognition. He will

also teach courses in Screenwriting, American Cultures, Contemporary American Drama and Asian American Theatre, and he intends to continue writing and mounting new works on the UC Berkeley stage as they develop toward full productions. Nom Nom Nom The venerable San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (that’s SFBATCC to you, bub) has announced the nominees for its next round of theatre awards. The group, which consists of 19 critics for various print and online publications, has put out a list of more than 260 nominees in 60-plus categories, plus special recognition for African-American Shakespeare Company (the Paine Knickerbocker Award, named for the former theatre critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, presented to an organization that has made a continuing contribution to Bay Area theatre); San Francisco Playhouse’s artistic director Bill English and managing director Susi Damilano (the Gene Price Award, honoring a person who embodies superlative professionalism and passion for Bay Area theatre); and Cinnabar Theater’s artistic director Elly Lichenstein (the Jerry Friedman Award, a lifetime achievement award given to an individual who has furthered the creativity and growth of theatre in the Bay Area throughout his/her career). The SFBATCC Awards will be presented at the group’s Awards Gala on May 5 at the California Ballroom

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newsFEED in Oakland, and includes dinner from Extreme Pizza, dessert, drinks and live music. For gala tickets and info, names and media outlets of SFBATCC members, and complete lists of award categories and nominees, visit Got Her (New) Work Cut Out for Her In March, Beatrice Basso was named director of new work for American Conservatory Theater, the first in the company’s history. Basso, an actor, dramaturg and translator who has been an

artistic associate at ACT as since 2009, will focus on new work development, season planning and the commissioning process for all of ACT’s performance spaces: the Geary Theater, the Costume Shop Theater and the soon-to-be-opened Strand Theater. Basso says, “We are inviting artists—playwrights, yes, but also composers, musicians and dancers—who fit our broader aesthetic. We are dreaming up San Francisco stories told through different mediums, and are developing new ways of

Exciting Development(s)

commissioning pieces. We want to become a team with them while they are in our midst—and beyond—so that each work can develop and be produced and shine in the best of ways.” In Memoriam Carol Anne Haws, who taught in the theatre and dance department at San Jose State for 27 years, died on January 14 in Farr West, Utah, with her husband, Von, at her side. She worked extensively in the Bay Area as a freelance director and choreographer,

especially for Tabard Theatre Company, where she was a board member for years. She also directed and choreographed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Oakland Temple Pageant four times. Funeral services were held in Utah shortly after her death, attended by her family of seven children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brother, sister and close friends. A celebration of her life took place Saturday, March 22, at Saratoga Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Saratoga.

In 2011, the company acquired an offsite scene shop, In February, Marin Theatre Company welcomed a new hired additional production staff and upgraded its lighting development director: Noralee Monestere McKersie. Forand sound equipment in 2011. FY 2012 was the fourth merly associate director of major and special gifts of the fiscal year in a row where MTC showed a revenue surplus. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Legion of Honor/de And just this past year, MTC added a five-play Theater Young) and executive director of the Marin Symphony for for Young Audiences series in partnership with the Bay more than a decade, McKersie has lived in Marin County Area Children’s Theatre, developed a new theatre training for 30 years and brings a wealth of knowledge about local program for middle schoolers and a 24-Hour Playwritarts audiences and supporters to the rapidly growing Mill ing Festival for teens, and expanded its onsite educational Valley company. offerings to include classes for Managing director Michael adults and preschoolers. Barker says McKersie “has a In the realm of new work, proven track record of buildMTC has put its money where ing relationships with funding its mouth is too, coproducing organizations and patrons, two National New Play Netconnecting passion to projects. work Rolling World Premieres This, combined with her love in its 2014 season, Carson Kreof the performing arts and itzer’s Lasso of Truth and local long history in Mill Valley and playwright Lauren Gunderson’s Marin County, will be key as I and You, and announcing a MTC moves into our next 2014–15 season of all new plays stage of growth and service to Devion McArthur and Jessica Lynn Carroll in the world by living playwrights. So far, premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s I and You at Marin Theatre our community.” this investment in new work is Company, 2013. Photo: Ed Smith McKersie’s hire is the latyielding exciting results: I and est feather in MTC’s cap during a time of impressive You has just won the coveted Harold and Mimi Steinberg/ growth. Over the last five years, its development departAmerican Theatre Critics Association New Play Award for ment has had great success in building strong patron and 2014. Also honored with a runner-up prize was Seven Spots donor relationships, leading to increased revenue for the on the Sun by Martín Zimmerman, which won MTC’s company. MTC has responded by investing in its staff, 2012 Sky Cooper New American Play Prize and received its equipment and its programming, especially youth a public staged reading at MTC in June 2013. Here’s to a theatre and new work. Bay Area victory! —Laura Brueckner 12

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n an early Sunday evening two days before the first preview, the three actors in Bauer, Lauren Gunderson’s new play, gather on the San Francisco Playhouse stage in costume for a production photo shoot. The set, by director Bill English, is a cluttered artist’s studio that’s angled artistically askew. The entire backdrop comprises colorful slides of a few of the abstract, Kandinsky-like artworks of the titular early-20th-century artist Rudolf Bauer. Photographer Jessica Palopoli, who has a long, dark ponytail and multiple tattoos and is wearing a sundress, is standing by, her camera looped around her neck. It’s a Canon 5D from the mid 2000s, whose age she compensates for with good

lenses. (It seems all photographers are either Nikon people or Canon people.) English, the tech crew and the designers are here, plus a videographer shooting from a skateboard. Onstage, Stacy Ross, almost unrecognizable in makeup, dark-blue suit and wig, is adjusting her beret-style hat with feather. Ronald Guttman, a TV (Mad Men and more) and film actor who plays the artist, sits calmly in a chair awaiting instructions. The third cast member, Susi Damilano—looking like a refugee from The Sound of Music in a long faux braid—also does some publicity work for the company as its (above) Bruce Vilanch and Ashley Rae Little in 42nd Street Moon’s production of Du Barry Was a Lady. Photo: David Allen

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Production Photographer

Ronald Guttman, Susi Damilano and Stacy Ross in Bauer at the San Francisco Playhouse. Photo: Jessica Palopoli

producing director, so she is coordinating the shoot. This is not a traditional production shoot; normally, freelance photographers like Palopoli are called in to shoot a dress rehearsal. But in this case, Damilano has a list of about 10 setups that she wants to shoot, so the entire session takes a mere hour. And because there are only three actors, it’s pretty simple. Palopoli says this is the only theatre for which she is likely to be called to shoot setups (other clients include Shotgun Players, Z Space and others); normally setups—posed interactions or individual portraits—might occur immediately after the dress rehearsal shoot, if the publicist wants some especially important shots. It’s not something that exhausted actors, or exhausted photographers, particularly like to do. Palopoli, who started taking photos in high school and got her first theatre gig by chance, prepared for today’s shoot her usual way: by reading the play synopsis on the theatre’s website. The photographers who discussed their process with me have varying approaches to preparing for a production shoot, as well as varying backgrounds and methods. All take advance publicity photos for the media as well as production photos; the latter are used for publicity and for archival purposes. Today’s shoot is more like an advance publicity shoot in that Palopoli is not trying to chronicle a run-through; rather, the 14

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shots are all preplanned. However, the shoot doesn’t require the kind of creative input from the photographer that an advance shoot might. As in shooting a dress rehearsal, Palopoli is scampering around, up and down the central aisle, shooting while backing up the aisle, kneeling, standing on a bench, leaning her elbows on the edge of the stage, sitting on the edge of the stage, even getting up on the stage (which wouldn’t happen during a run-through). Kevin Berne—an architectural photographer who segued into theatre photography, starting with American Conservatory Theater in the late 1990s, and now has a large clientele including Berkeley Repertory Theatre and many others—occasionally drops in at a tech rehearsal in advance to check out lights or set, but more often just shows up ready to shoot. Taking production photos during dress rehearsals is very much like being a “clicking fly on the wall,” says Berne. “It’s like shooting a sport,” he explains. “I’m running around, sweating, jumping over seats, cramming my body into weird positions, running up and down the aisles. . . . I’m just shooting on intuition. There’s no time to make a lot of decisions. You do it by feel.” Sometimes he rests his camera on the very edge of the stage and does a long exposure: “something artful, something crazy. Usually it’s about finding the right angle.” Pak Han describes the experience as being in the zone. He transitioned from painting expressionistic abstract works to street photography when traveling in Tokyo. Soon after, in 2009, he got into theatre photography through his cousin, choreographer/theatre artist Erika Chong Shuch, documenting rehearsals at Intersection for the Arts. Sometimes he goes to a rehearsal or a tech in advance in order to check out the lighting—always a prime consideration for photographers—and to think about how to approach the framing. For a recent shoot of A Maze at Ashby Stage, he arrived a few hours early and talked to the lighting designer. “I love movies, science fiction, comic books, and these things have a huge influence in the way I photograph,” he says. In 2010, he shot Jon Tracy’s The Salt Plays: Of the Earth at Shotgun Players, which had very stark lighting, “as though I were shooting a panel of a comic book,” he says. “Superhero poses, dramatic fights. I had a blast.” He warms up before every shoot, doing stretches, and wears knee pads so he can comfortably get into as many different postures as possible. He runs back and forth, stands on chairs—Palopoli has at times climbed ladders—kneels, always trying to get a variety of perspectives, especially perspectives that the audience will never have. “I approach my photos with an artful and cinematic perspective,” Han says.

Production Photographer “I frame and compose a shot as if I’m working on a film.” Like the others, he’s always exhausted after the shoot. It’s a natural high, he says: “When I’m shooting, the adrenaline is going. Everything slows down [internally]. I can catch tiny things, gestures I’m attracted to. I can anticipate—see something and know what comes next. I’m ready! It’s weird, hyper. Maybe my brain is shooting endorphins. I feel alive.” With all that athletic activity, accidents can happen. Han once failed to tighten the lens on his Canon 5D, which fell off with a loud thud, an embarrassment. Occasionally he trips and falls. Berne, who works with a Nikon D4, recently crawled around on the floor in a theatre in the round. And he once tripped over a director’s dog in the dark and almost cracked his head open (also almost broke his $6,000 camera). “Everyone said, ‘Is the dog OK?’” he grouses. David Allen, a former photojournalist who has been a theatre, dance and music photographer for several decades—and who has worked with most of the theatres in town, large and small, commercial and nonprofit, often with independent publicist Carla Befera, a longtime colleague—makes sure there’s clearance in the two front rows of the theatre. He stays in a semicircle for the most part, but also shoots profiles from the wings, and sometimes shoots down from the mezzanine. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” he says. “The flow of the play dictates where I am.” He’s a Nikon man and works with two cameras, one wide-angle and one telephoto, plus a third backup that’s rarely needed. During that frenzied shoot, the photographers are employing all their hard-earned skills. Palopoli learned early on how to shoot quickly and rapidly switch settings on her camera. She has developed a rhythm—she rapid-fires five to six shots, looks quickly at her screen, adjusts her settings for lighting, etc., as needed, then goes back to shooting. “It’s so fast and so many moving parts and lights, that I have to bring a strong technical approach to it,” she says. On today’s Playhouse shoot, she pauses occasionally to change lenses and once to change her battery, but it never seems to slow down the progress of the shoot. Pauses occur only for actors to change a costume element or add a prop or, on occasion, when Palopoli asks the actors to reposition themselves within the frame, or when she asks the lighting person for more lights. “One problem I frequently run into is that stage lights overexpose everything,” she comments. Han learned theatre photography by first photographing dance, which taught him how to change camera settings quickly under varied lighting conditions, and how to adjust shutter speed depending on how fast or slow the performers

are moving. Says Allen, “It’s all about timing, trying to capture that split second where you have to show the essence of the play. It’s very intuitive. . . . I’ve worked with [local] actors a lot and get a sense of their style, and that helps.” He usually takes 700 to 800 shots in a two-hour show, sometimes more. “I love shooting the smaller houses,” he says. “They’re more intimate, you get more of a sense of the drama. You get into a rhythm, and it’s a great feeling.” “I try to be invisible as much as possible,” he adds. “It’s one of those things I’ve developed with time and experience.” “A good theatre photo,” muses Berne, “has a shape or color or combination of those things that’ll jump off a page or screen. Something that looks unusual. That’s the cool thing theatre can do—bring another world to someone that they normally would not see. Hopefully [my] picture shows a little window into the world the play is trying to express. . . . Maybe it’s about [an actor] showing some kind of emotion. Hopefully you capture that well enough to make someone want to see the show.” Once the shoot is over, the photographers post a gallery of selected shots for the publicist to look over, sometimes as soon as the next day. Palopoli, whose shoot at San Francisco Playhouse ends at 6:30 on Sunday, will have her chosen shots available by Tuesday morning at the very latest. Among the shots she’s taken, she’ll look especially for expression in the actors’ eyes. Artificial and tungsten lights can make actors look sallow or sickly, so learning to shoot with artificial lights

Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Tiffany Rachelle Stewart and Lizan Mitchell in Berkeley Rep’s recent world premiere of The House that will not Stand. Photo: Courtesy of

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Production Photographer

Harold Pierce and Sarah Moser in Just Theater’s A Maze at Ashby Stage. Photo: Pak Han

can make the difference between taking good photos or bad, she says. She is also careful to never over-retouch. During the editing process, as she’s picking the best shots to post for Damilano, scrutinizing them carefully for focus and clarity, she’ll spend, as always, a lot of time enlarging the photos in order to Photoshop lint off clothing. Berne, who takes a whopping 2,000 to 4,000 shots per shoot, edits his photos down to a tenth of the original pool, often staying up all night to do so, being a night owl and hopped up after a shoot anyway. As he’s going through them, he’s looking to see if the exposure is right (“Colors change, light amplitude changes, people move in and out of pools of light”). He says that he has an intuitive feel; a picture will jump out at him: “It’s no, no, no, oh yes.” He’s always looking for an interesting shape, a contrast that will jump off the page—nothing too flat. “Is it colorful, is it a good expression, does it show a relationship?” If there’s a two-person scene, and in one frame one person’s eyes are closed but the other person looks good, he can combine the two images. Similarly, when there’s very little light, if you focus on a person in the foreground, the person in the background is out of focus, and vice versa, so he has the option of taking two shots and combining the two images so that both actors are in focus. “In theatre, I can’t use a tripod to do a long exposure, and there’s low light, which means you’re up against physical and technical restrictions that sometimes you can fix later if you take multiple exposures and combine them,” he explains. “It’s time-consuming and I don’t like to do a lot of that, but if it’s 16

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important, then I’ll try to.” Then he posts a gallery, and when the client chooses the preferred photos—usually 10 to 20 for the press and a few more for a brochure—Berne finalizes them: cleans them up, adjusts the lighting, etc. (He points out that the whole final process can slow down if there’s a celebrity in the cast; in those cases, the actor and his team get final approval.) Han usually turns around his photos in two or three days, offering the theatre 40 to 50 possibilities after doing color correction to make sure the lighting is as close to the actual lighting as possible, not too dark, not oversaturated. “Half of shooting is postproduction,” declares Allen, who whittles 700 to 800 images down to around 200, then crops the chosen 10 to 15 to size for publication. “That process takes a couple of hours, but it’s really important because the lighting is critical. You want to make sure it’s balanced and reflects the ambiance of the play.” At the end of the Playhouse shoot, Palopoli, packing up her gear, reiterates that this shoot was different from the more usual dress rehearsal shoot. “I usually worry that I’m in the way,” she says. “This is more fun. I like interacting with the actors.” Still, a particular silhouette shot made her edgy because it was so dark. Adapting to different lights is always the hardest part. The easy part here is that she knows this company—and they’re very friendly, funny and down-toearth, an ideal working environment. Berne, who has shot more than 300 shows, says that watching all that acting has affected him: “I’m sure I’d be a different person if I was shooting food or flowers as opposed to theatre,” he says. “I’m sure it has made me more theatrical, but I couldn’t say how.” A key moment for Allen, years ago, was chronicling a production for Brava! For Women in the Arts from beginning to end. Now, when he walks into a dress rehearsal, he appreciates what goes into a production. “I think it’s important to reflect on that and make images worthy of the blood, sweat, tears and money,” he says. “I feel a small but important part of that.” “People will look over these photos in the future,” muses Han. “So a good photo is when you’re able to document the production accurately, capturing all the colors of the lighting, getting the right details of set and costumes. It’s the production photographer’s job to accurately record that. Theatre is of an ephemeral nature. It runs a month and it’s gone. The photos are what’s left.” Jean Schiffman is an arts writer based in San Francisco.


Hershey Felder in Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro. Photo: Michael Lamont

WRITING FROM LIFE T he trials and tribulations of adapting an honest-togoodness true story, culled from the life of a person who either once existed or is still around to offer feedback, are numerous. These include deciding whether or not to stay true to the original kernel of inspiration, dealing with legal rights and naysaying fussbudget relatives of the biographical subject, and the general difficulty of constraining a complex, nonlinear story to the needs of the stage. When does an adaptation stop being someone else’s story and become a work of art, viable in and of itself, and not necessarily moored to the dictates of a world that adheres to the authoritystamped rules of biography? The trajectory isn’t necessarily intuitive. Different playwrights have divergent approaches to translating a life from memoir, real-time experiences and historical documents to the stage. Hershey Felder, a composer and actor whose pieces are based on the lives of notable musicians, says, “As with anything that

is based on someone who existed or something that really happened, it is important to begin with the things we know.” Felder’s pieces have been featured everywhere from the Berkeley Repertory Theatre to Broadway and London’s West End. His audience-arresting shows, which are usually punctuated by engaging snippets of conversation and musical theatre, include Beethoven, as I Knew Him; George Gershwin Alone; The Pianist of Willesden Lane; and Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro. The Pianist of Willesden Lane was featured at Berkeley Rep last fall. Felder adapted and directed the play, which brought to life the story of pianist and storyteller Mona Golabek’s mother—a young Jewish musician whose dreams were thwarted by the rise of the Third Reich. History and personal narrative blended seamlessly with the powerful sound of ivory keys crashing. Felder’s upcoming Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro at Berkeley Rep in June covers the illustrious life of

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WRITING FROM LIFE the eponymous composer and presents another first-person narrative offering a mix of musical entertainment and littleknown stories. Although Felder often chooses larger-than-life subjects, when it comes to adapting their lives he opts for authenticity over romanticization. “A friend and historian once taught me, be careful to observe and assess what is in front of you. Don’t look at what you think you see, or what you would like to see.” Felder’s pieces are usually based on the lives of well-known people, and this is usually a guiding factor in his sense of where the story should go. “I’ve always found that in simplest terms, I am not smarter than any of my subjects, nor do I somehow have a handle on exactly the way things happened. If I have to make stuff up to tell the story, then something is wrong. There is a place for that—a huge place. And I love nothing more than great fiction that when I watch, I believe it actually happened and can happen, but that’s not what these pieces I do are about.” Indie theatre stalwart Stuart Bousel (the founder of longstanding San Francisco troupe No Nude Men as well as the San Francisco Olympians Festival, which features original plays based on the Greek pantheon) is also drawn to biography as an inspiration for his plays. Bousel’s keen eye for storytelling and dialogue (often culled from his own experiences) had him turn his attention to a new project: an adaptation of Rat Girl, the memoir by alt-rock goddess Kristin Hersh, who’s most well known as the lead singer of Throwing Muses. The play premieres at Exit Theatre’s DivaFest in May. Described as part biography, part rock concert and part experimental theatre, Bousel’s play was derived from Hersh’s account of her experience of hitting it big as a rock icon after her band was signed to cult British label 4AD. Her journey through mental illness, a suicide attempt, motherhood and the demons of her own artistic genius are beautifully relayed through a combination of comedy and tragedy. For Bousel, the principal appeal of Rat Girl, outside of his love for Hersh’s music, was his sense of connection to her story, as well as his instinctive knack for sussing out theatreworthy dialogue. “In my head, because I knew the songs, I would hear them sung whenever they popped up in the book, and after a while, it was hard not to read every portion of the book as if it was being performed live in front of me,” Bousel remembers. “This is a story about a gifted person who struggles with her relationship with her gifts, learning to accept that they come with a price, and also learning to accept she needs the help of others to cope with that price. That’s a struggle I personally have.” 18

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The topic of community, connection and relationships is also one of the underpinnings of playwright Dan Wolf’s new project, Daylighting: The Berkeley Stories Project, which premieres at Shotgun Players’ Ashby Stage at the end of May. Wolf is an actor, writer and director who has produced work with Intersection for the Arts’s Campo Santo, as well as hiphop theatre collective Felonious, so collaboration is an integral part of his artistic process. Daylighting features the stories of real Berkeley residents and arose from a question Wolf asked himself in 2008, when he moved to Berkeley right before the birth of his first child: “What does it mean to make art in your community, with your community, especially when you’re not from that place?” Alongside his friend, director Rebecca Novick, Wolf set out to gain a deeper understanding of where he was living and who his neighbors were. While the piece derives from people’s stories, Wolf notes that Berkeley is as much a character as any of the other people depicted by the play’s 10 actors. “The play started in the dirt, in my backyard,” he says. “I was pulling out ivy, on my hands and knees, and thinking about the land, the generations of plants that had been there—what was native and what wasn’t, what had been here once and wasn’t anymore. The ghosts of all times of Berkeley began to speak to me and emerge as a voice, and it took me through the layers of history of Berkeley, from the Ohlone to the Huchiun to the Spanish to the Gold Rush to the industries springing out of that.” While Berkeley unfurls in all its wild and wacky detail in his play, Wolf made some deliberate creative choices about its presentation. For instance, he chose to avoid including 1960s Berkeley in his saga, especially considering that people who “think they know what Berkeley is assume it’s all about hippies, dirty kids on Telegraph Avenue and the Free Speech Movement. That’s a story everyone knows, and by avoiding it, we start to define a different narrative about Berkeley—its past, present and future.” While Wolf ’s research primarily consisted of firsthand interviews with residents of the area, Felder’s approach to history has been a bit more dependent on nonprimary sources, given that all of his subjects are deceased. For George Gershwin Alone, Felder pored over historical documents associated with the composer for more than five years. For all of his pieces in general, he is sure to discuss the historical aspects of the work with scholars and to interview and befriend individuals who were close to the subjects, including family members and associates. At the same time, an account of one event in a person’s life

WRITING FROM LIFE may not entirely hold water—especially depending on who’s telling the story. “Put a person in the middle of a room and ask 10 different associates to comment. Each will give their own take,” he notes. “The best way to work, then, is not to impose what I think happened, but simply to tell the story as it is known to have happened (by the most reliable sources) and then let the audience decide what they think about the whole thing.” Because Bousel based his adaptation on a single source, reliability was less of an issue than finding a way to capture a natural cadence. Bousel’s oeuvre is attuned to casual conversation, so many of his plays tend to be chatty and strewn with articulate, self-aware characters. He is also drawn to arguments, confrontations and philosophical dialogues about ideas or concepts. Luckily, the book version of Rat Girl contained great conversations and arguments in spades. Bousel notes that one of his challenges in the adaptation process was rewriting his favorite scenes so that they made dramatic sense. One of these involved Hersh and her friend

Mark spending a rainy night sleeping under a porch after riding his motorcycle to a party in a ruined building at a local state park. Because the various locations, as well as the motorcycle sojourn and passage of time, would be difficult to stage, Bousel rewrote the scene into a more traditional real-time conversation, weaving the original sequence into a concise, localized interaction. (Bousel admits that while he likes his scene and feels that it encapsulates the essence of Hersh’s relationship with Mark, “the cinematic quality of that section of the book is gone and I miss it. It’s very romantic in the book, whereas in my play it’s more bittersweet.”) While Felder tends to rely on a variety of sources to tell his stories, Bousel was able to get some his information straight from the horse’s mouth, as he corresponded with Hersh during his process. Although Hersh gave the play her blessing, the drafts unfolded largely independent of her feedback. “She’s actually working on a teleplay version of Rat Girl herself, though, so I think most of her interest in my project is as a supporter and potential audience member,” Bousel says. “She does tweet

Eli Diamond, Sam Jackson, Shay Wisniewski and Heather Kellogg in Rat Girl. Photo: Claire Rice

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WRITING FROM LIFE about us on occasion, and that is pretty darn awesome.” Felder doesn’t always have the blessings of the heirs and descendants of his subjects, “but thankfully, I have come to the point where the work is respected enough that if I am not allowed to tell what is known as the true story based on whatever facts there are, then I cannot proceed,” he says. For the most part, Felder trusts that “the real story is the real story,” and that’s what ultimately suffices in his work. “When it comes to folks like Beethoven and Chopin, there were enough commentary and letters left behind to allow for a justifiable background to the story. Now, figuring something out that is believable and as true as can be as to who that individual was—that is a tough trick. But it always comes down to the details. Don’t make stuff up. No one really wants to know what I think, but they do want to know what the characters may have thought.” Bousel differs on the notion of staying absolutely true to biography. Throughout Rat Girl, there were many moments when he felt it was important to chuck out fidelity to the “facts,” instead choosing to go with his own artistic vision. As each of the four drafts of his play progressed, the story became more his, he says. “This is partly something that just happens when you take a story from one medium and re-create it in another. There was a lot of stuff that was cut or adjusted to make it flow better in a two-act, two-hour play, and while there are story and character arcs in the book, because they are based on real life, they aren’t exactly tidy.” This means that in the effort to make the scenes more dramatically impactful, some characters were condensed or cut, while others were fashioned into people with full backstories of their own, “as opposed to the book, where we see everybody through Kristin’s eyes.” Wolf is also less concerned with fidelity to facts than he is with fidelity to the undergirding spirit of a story or character. “Everybody I’ve ever met has probably been in every single piece I’ve written, but these aren’t specific characters in terms of a one-to-one correspondence,” he says. Rather, the characters in his piece are amalgamations of various interview subjects. Wolf often took totally separate accounts from different people and found commonalities between them, such that he compiled multiple interactions and people into a single character. “The result is that you have 10 actors on a stage portraying the breadth of Berkeley,” he says. Wolf’s melded-together accounts arose from a few basic questions posed to hundreds of Berkeley residents. They included: Why did you come to Berkeley? Why did you stay? What is magical about this place? Interviewees included high20

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school students, long-time residents and civic workers, all from different economic and ethnic backgrounds. Wolf recounts interviewing four Mexican day laborers and hearing a story that was particularly heartfelt and rich. “This guy told us about his wife being pregnant and how he found his way from Mexico to the United States to work here. He’d only been here for two or three days, so he told the story with the magic only someone who’d just gotten here could tell it with.” So even when characters are composites of several residents, “every story in the play always comes directly from a person.” The notion of Berkeley as a character in and of itself was a major factor in Wolf’s development of his other characters— but for Wolf, as well as for Felder and Bousel, personal connection to people’s stories is always the primary motivating force behind a stage adaptation. Felder says he’s prompted by the inexplicable intersection between a story that is moving and one that also makes him think. “If I start to think, ‘This would be a great idea, and boy, will the public just love this, and it’ll sell loads of tickets, and...’ then I know I’d better turn in the other direction, and fast.” In other words, there’s no easy formula. It’s all about the feeling. As Felder notes, while he desists from fabrication and fiction, it’s near impossible to whittle a life, and a great life at that, down to two hours. “I believe in evocation,” he says. “If I can give a possible ‘idea’ to as what it may have been like to be in that person’s presence, personally and artistically, then I’ve done what I’ve set out to do.” In thinking about whose stories are worthy of making it from the page to the stage, Bousel felt the humility of Hersh’s memoir was particularly salient. “It’s not about a precocious young person who overcomes adversity and learns how special she is,” he says. “Rather, it’s a story about a precocious person whose life takes a rather horrible turn, and she survives it, only to discover that she’s more or less just like everybody else—and that there’s great strength to be found in that realization.” Given the cultural tendency to place famous people on unshakeable pedestals, Bousel’s approach is a refreshing reflection of his subject’s career trajectory. While she may be a rock star, Hersh never achieved megasuperstardom, and she remains someone who makes art on her own terms, largely outside the purview of the mainstream. “I always think it’s important to tell stories about people whose definition of success isn’t just money and fame,” says Bousel. “I also think the world needs more stories about women in general, particularly stories that aren’t love stories. The current larger social discussion around mental illness in modern society, particularly with bipolarity, also makes Kristin’s an important


Dan Wolf with frequent collaborator Tommy Shepherd in Angry Black White Boy at Intersection for the Arts, 2008. Photo: Jeff Fohl

story to be telling.” All the same, Bousel decided to make some early decisions that he hoped would help liberate the story from “history,” including never naming the band, the record label or the college where the story takes place, or using anyone’s last names except for one character (Betty Hutton), “all in an effort to let this be both Kristin’s story and a story about a girl named Kristin.” Bousel notes that Hersh published her book on the premise that it was a story anyone should be able to relate to and get something out of, so he consciously attempted to avoid what he feels are the pitfalls of a bio-play. “With musicians or artists as the central figure, it can very quickly become a greatest hits list. It helps that the story only covers one year of her life, and the life of the band.” For Bousel, creative leeway in the process was aided by the fact that Hersh’s book is a memoir rather than a historical document or account, meaning there was already license to stray from the particulars of the story. “To me, it’s the difference between a history lecture or a documentary and a play as a work of art—it’s supposed to document, but also comment and explore/expound.” Wolf’s approach is somewhat similar to Bousel’s, but even more of a jigsaw process. “As a writer, I have to make decisions that may not exactly represent the exact person I was engaging with purely,” he says. “The world inspires me, so I listen and I capture and I mix and I remix and I rearrange. It’s a play, not documentary theatre. Staying true to the story isn’t as

important as staying true to the people and human nature.” Wolf is less interested in basing his piece on specific stories than in making sure people who come to see the play recognize themselves. Hundreds of Berkeley residents have been involved in the play’s two-year process, which included several public meetings and conversations about the script. “Nothing is more important than asking people questions and listening to their answers,” he says. Wolf compares his work to music. “If you look at a play as a piece of music, my first draft is like whole notes. It’s broken into quarter notes in the next draft and gets more and more specific as I know what the story is, who’s saying it, and why. Sometimes I land on that right away, and other times it takes a lot of fine-tuning.” Of course, given that Felder is a musician and composer himself, he often uses musical works or compositional processes to advance a story in a way that evokes the presence of the play’s subject. At the same time, he says, “It is theatre. It is made up. The real person isn’t there on stage, and life didn’t happen in a hundred minutes. And in order to create that illusion, every detail must be carefully chosen. Each word, each phrase, each moment, each movement, each line reading, each note played are all carefully considered, so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And the devil is in the details—always in the details.” Nirmala Nataraj is an arts writer based in San Francisco.

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Hats Off to Beach Blanket

ome of us slow down at 40, but Beach Blanket Babylon is still a mile-a-minute mashup of glittery costumes, elaborate, gravity-defying hats and clever dancing to popular music rewritten to reflect current affairs. It’s the longest-running musical revue in the country and probably the world; six million people have seen it over the course of 15,000 shows. It’s been to London and Vegas and has a small touring company for special and corporate events. The 394seat Club Fugazi regularly sells out seven shows a week. The show has regulars who make a point of coming at least once a year to see what’s new; people come back every generation with children and then grandchildren, and performers from the show (many of whom stay for years or decades themselves) are honored guests at civic events. Stage manager John 22

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Camajani, who’s been with the show since 1979, affectionately calls it “a monster, a steamroller.” And Beach Blanket gives back, donating to several local organizations and sponsoring a highly competitive college scholarship program for high school seniors who want to study theatre. There’s a Steve Silver/Beach Blanket Babylon room at the library and a similarly named gallery terrace at SFMOMA. Where does a beloved monster like this come from, and how does it survive and thrive for so long? The answer’s in the details. Four decades is long enough to get the kinks ironed out. Camajani joined “this wacko show in North Beach” as as(above) Kirk Mills, Jacqui Arslan Heck, Shawna Ferris McNulty and Phillip Williams in Beach Blanket Babylon. Photo: Rick Markovich

sistant stage manager after spending a year and a half working cruise ships, figuring, “I’ll take this job until something better comes along, but nothing better came along. I was having fun; I didn’t want to move along.” Over 35 years he’s had time to learn how to handle the nearly 50 people (cast, crew and musicians) who show up to work every night. “For the last 10 to 15 years, when we hire a new person, I take them aside for an hour and a half and bore them with all the policy and what pertains to them. I try to instill in them the fact that this show has been running forever, and will run forever and ever; we all work together very well and we get to play. All your energy should be put towards that. I have an open door policy; come talk to me—I’ve probably come through that particular angst with someone else. I would rather have things run as smoothly as possible. We’re supposed to be having fun while we’re working, but we are a business.” A business, and a detail lover’s playground. Camajani gets passionate about microphones, one technology that’s improved dramatically in the last 40 years. “At first most of the numbers used corded mics; that was just a nightmare with all the dancing the kids do on stage. Now we have six cordless handheld mics people can go anywhere with. They’re all colorcoded, they have patterns, they get handed off; the performers have to know the traffic patterns. We have these little plastic cups screwed into the walls backstage, and they plop the mic into the cup when they come off. The stuff floats around backstage. The caveat is that if someone makes a mistake, it can be a domino effect. They think, “it’s a mic, they’re all on,” but they’re only on for the person who’s supposed to be on. I have to get on the headset and talk to the sound person;

I have to wait until someone is out doing a solo and fix the pattern. Now two of the girls also wear E6, the kind that clips over the ear. They’re very easy to deal with; the battery pack goes in a pocket of the costume so they can gesture.” Along with the mics, all of the performers juggle characters; Renee Lubin, who joined the cast in 1986 meaning to stay five years, tops, before heading to Europe, says that “right now I play about 10 [roles]; I think I do 13 costume changes. I think everyone has at least 10 changes per person. I wish I could move that fast at home. Or maybe not!” And it’s a fun show to do. Lubin, who married an audience member and whose 16-year-old son grew up with the show, has a hard time choosing a favorite of the 30 to 50 characters she’s played, but finally goes with Anita Hill. “I love ’em all, but the funnest was playing Anita Hill when I got to punch Clarence Thomas; that was the best! And I got to sing “Respect” while I dragged him all around the stage by the collar. I’m very happy with what I do. Lady Macbeth, how boring. Who wants Lady M when I can do 30 other people? Please.” Nearly four decades has also been time enough for Alan Greenspan, the man they call the Mad Hatter, to bring the art of monster millinery to new heights. Describing himself as “basically a hippy high school dropout who doesn’t know any better to think there isn’t a way to do something,” Greenspan started with the show in 1978 when his roommate, who worked at Tower Records, asked a record-buying Silver how the show was going. “Part of Steve’s process was to talk about every idea he had with everyone who would listen, edit it and then talk to someone else. He told my roommate that he wanted a SF skyline hat that would light up and glow, and

A 2014 Beach Blanket Babylon finale. Photo: Rick Markovich

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Beach Blanket my roommate said I could do it and gave Steve my number.” Greenspan obviously made the hat work, because he’s still there, keeper of the mysteries. He will admit that foamcore, which was just coming on the scene at the same time he was, has been his trusted friend in the elaborate sculptures that defy the word “hat.” He professes a weakness for Crystalina glitter, which sculpture supply heaven Douglass and Sturgess refers to as “precision cut iridescent glitter” and Greenspan sums up as “blinding in the sunlight.” Which probably also sums up Steve Silver, by all accounts the sort of guy who made sure everyone had fun. At San Jose State, he got his master’s in painting, but he was also a gifted host and raconteur. “Everyone wanted to be around him,” explains his widow, Jo Schuman Silver; “he made everything a party.” After college he did various gigs, including being assistant art director on Harold and Maude and taking tickets at the hungry i before it went strictly strip club. But it was his Rent-a-Freak, where costumed characters would sing on street corners, that put him on the Beach Blanket path. Silver himself would dress as a Christmas tree and joked about saving up all the money (rented freaks got paid $90 a gig) to get to Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, with Curt Branom, Charlotte Shultz, Val Diamond, George Shultz, Renee Lubin, Christa Noel Hunter and Stirland Martin, 2005. Photo: David Allen


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Hollywood and Vine. But instead Rent-a-Freak brought him to the attention of American Conservatory Theater, where he became an associate director; it also laid the groundwork for the show that would eventually lead the city to rename a block of Green Street in its honor. So when Silver had the idea for a musical revue inspired by his love of the Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon beach blanket movies, the owner of the Savoy Tivoli on Grant let him use the bar with the deal that the show would run for six weeks. The owner would keep the bar proceeds, while Silver got the door. Silver dumped two tons of sand on the floor, dressed his ticket-takers up as lifeguards with zinc on their noses, and put his performers in crazy hats because, while the room in the Tivoli was small and narrow, the ceilings were high. When Beach Blanket opened on June 7, 1974, tickets were two and a half bucks and the show was 45 minutes long. The follow spot was a Folger’s can with a light in it. There was only space to go up from there. San Francisco’s chief of protocol Charlotte Swig threw a Beach Blanket party for her friends, and then everyone who was anyone had to come. The show kept extending until Silver’s father found

Beach Blanket time in 1982 with her then-husband and Club Fugazi, an Italian music hall, and his friend Cyril Magnin, she thought, BBB moved there in 1975. It stayed a “This show was written for me! I wrote family operation for a while, with Silver’s this four-page fan letter, I’d never done father at the bar and his mother wiping that before. And it went to the wrong down the tables, and Silver’s father was address and it came back. My husband instrumental in the logistics. He was the opened it, said, ‘Are you sure you want one who suggested Greenspan make not to send this? You sound like an idiot.’ just the hats, but some of the other outI reread it and saw it was preposterous, sized props—rainbows and palm trees, but a month later we met and become cigarette packs, “a lot of crazy stuff.” soulmates.” Silver changed the show regularly, with As Silver’s handpicked successor, she’s themes like Beach Blanket Goes Bananas, been driving the show since his death. Beach Blanket Goes to the Stars and Beach Besides producing it, she writes it, Blanket Goes to the Prom for the 10th anexplaining, “Most of the ideas are mine, niversary, although he eventually settled on Beach Blanket Babylon. Jo Schuman Silver and Steve Silver in 1986. or I ask everyone for ideas, because we’re Photo: Courtesy of Beach Blanket Babylon not above asking everyone for ideas. We Camajani tells me, “1986 was the never take anything too seriously at the show. Everyone has a year that we shut down for two months when we installed good time, everyone pitches in; if something doesn’t work it’s the center balcony, the longest time we’d shut down. It was not a big deal, because something new always comes along.” also the first time we’d put two finale hats in instead of one. It helps that Silver remained a prolific artist to the end and We wondered, is the public going to forget about us? Is this left behind piles of sketches to which the team can refer when going to fly? And there’s all this banging and clanking with it’s time to build a new character. “It’s like he’s still with us,” the balcony and welders in there. Is this thing really going to enthuses Schuman Silver. When I saw the show mid-March, open? We opened the first week of March in ’86, and it was there were appearances by Duck Dynasty and Fifty Shades of even better than before, dancing garbage cans and poodles and the big finale hats were all over the place; he amazed us all Grey and a twerking conga line; while clearly things had been added in the past few weeks, visually the show was completely as he always did.” consistent. Beach Blanket Babylon became a San Francisco institution. And they’re fast. “When William and Kate married, our Silver got his dream of befriending Annette Funicello (who costume designer was up at three in the morning. We were performed with the cast once) and Frankie Avalon; Prince able to get it into the show that night. It was amazing; Charles and Camilla have seen it, as has Queen Elizabeth in we couldn’t believe it ourselves.” According to Camajani, a command performance. Silver became known as well for “Anything that shows up in the news or national magazine, his philanthropy. When he died at 51 in June 1995, the cast we give it the Beach Blanket warp and see what happens; and crew were devastated and wondered if the show would you never know until you put it in front of the audience survive. Camajani says, “Every year Steve would make big and see what happens. It gets real quiet backstage [when a changes. We would take a hiatus in January and he would introduce the new stuff. Every year I’d think, ‘How’s he going line change or new material is introduced] to hear how the audience reacts.” Schuman Silver describes sitting in “the to top this?,’ and he would come up with something new. It penalty box,” a seat in the balcony that faces the audience, was kind of amazing he could do that every year. It was very sad when Steve passed away, and things were feeling shaky be- to gauge what they’re laughing at; she’ll also position herself at the door and ask people point-blank what they thought cause we weren’t sure what was going to happen. We were all glad the show has continued through Jo and [director] Kenny on their way out. The model demands that the team pay attention to what’s landing and be brutal with what doesn’t. Maslow. They’ve done an absolutely excellent job of keeping Everyone has a story about something they loved that didn’t this show alive.” “Jo” is Jo Schuman Silver, a former adwoman and theatrical fly. Camajani says that while “costumes are built to last, agent from New York who found “pure escapism” in the show definitely, nobody knows how long a bit will last; it could die a horrible death in one night or last forever.” He reand artistic inspiration in Silver. When she saw it the first

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Beach Blanket members carrying a champagne-glass hat to the warehouse after its one and only appearance, never to be worn again. Lubin loved a Nunsense-inspired bit, but the audience wasn’t having it, so it never became a habit. Greenspan describes a marvelous hat: “a roach motel, and a roach would come out of it and a gun would shoot at it and it would turn over in the air.” I can’t imagine who wouldn’t love that, but the hat failed its tryout and got mothballed along with the champagne glass. The Beach Blanket Babylon warehouse is starting to sound like a wonderland in its own right. Asked what has changed over time, Lubin says, “The show itself has gotten faster and bigger. You’ll see a lot more characters than you did 10 years ago. We pack a lot more into that 90 minutes than we ever have.” Schuman Silver concurs, “The numbers are tighter and shorter because attention spans are shorter; what could have been 10 minutes is now three. In the ’80s, when MTV came, Steve made it more like MTV, more like the Internet; it’s much faster. There also used to be a big difference between the matinee and the evening [Sunday is the only day guests under 21 are allowed in], but today the way kids are, there’s almost no difference. Through the years as the show’s evolving, mothers came up to me and said, ‘Our kids get it; you don’t have to change it that much.’” Schuman Silver knows when not to push it. She quotes Silver: “We have fun with, we don’t make fun of.” There used to be a bit about Sonny and Cher; as fun as it was, it went Ryan Rigazzi, Phillip Williams, Caitlin McGinty, Kirk Mills and Paulino Duran in Beach Blanket Babylon. Photo: Rick Markovich


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away when Sonny died because audiences weren’t ready. She was out of town for Princess Diana’s accident, but the minute Schuman Silver learned that Diana was dead, she called the theatre and pulled the number while the show was going on. They’ve never gotten audience pushback for the political material. “[Former secretary of state] George Shultz loves the show; George has played characters! Even when he brings [Republican] friends and we make fun of Republicans, they love it. It’s not mean-spirited; you can parody anyone. You can’t be mean-spirited and last this long. There’s a fine line, and you can’t step over it.” According to Greenspan, “Beach Blanket Babylon has become part of the fabric of San Francisco, and being connected with it in any way is a treat.” San Francisco concurs, and in honor of the 40th anniversary, there will be a big event open to the public at City Hall on June 6 with surprises and celebrities. Meanwhile, 21 hats, many of them custom jobs, are going on display around town; virtually every Macy’s will have one, and many theatres and museums, including ACT, Berkeley Rep, Cal Shakes, the de Young and Davies Symphony Hall. The Westin St. Francis and the Fairmount each have one, as well as Tiffany and Wilkes Bashford. Most of the hats are only on display through the first week of June. Lisa Drostova is the public engagement manager for Ragged Wing Ensemble and is an associate artist with foolsFury.


a Year from Next May? A

t the TBA General Auditions this year, I overheard a group of actors discussing an audition for a show that was more than a year away. When I asked them if this was normal, they all agreed that, while one year may be on the farther end of the spectrum, there was no question that companies were casting shows farther and farther out. Could this be true? Is our collective Bay Area casting timeline getting longer? If that is the case, how does this play out, and what kind of effect does it have on the community? 

 Casting is a particularly sensitive issue, and many of the people I spoke to for this article, particularly those who were part of institutions, asked to speak off the record. I was able to confirm as a factual matter that many theatres, from LORT to BAT to non-Equity, have intentionally moved their casting calendars up from what they were several years ago. This seems to be happening in part out of a sense that other people were doing it and not wanting to get left behind. However it began, it necessarily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The perception that theatre A is casting earlier puts pressure on theatre B to cast earlier, and then theatres C and D see that B is casting earlier and move their own casting up. 

 Jonathan Kreuz, Shotgun Players’ casting coordinator, says, “A couple of years ago there was one show that we were trying to get a bunch of people for, and we kept finding that everyone was already booked for other shows. After that happened, we moved our general auditions up. They used to take place in October or November, and for the past year or two they’ve been in the summer instead.” San Francisco Shakespeare Festival artistic director Rebecca Ennals says, “We’re definitely casting earlier than we used to—everyone is.” A casting director at one of the LORT theatres tells me it’s moved its casting deadlines a month earlier from what they were a few years ago, and another casting director at a midsize theatre tells me,

“It’s something we talk about lot and are very conscious of.”

 While this situation may not be unique, it’s certainly different than some other cities. Crowded Fire artistic director Marissa Wolf says, “I think it’s definitely true that people get scooped really early, way earlier than in New York, where they can book a good gig the month before it starts.” New York director Kip Fagan (who recently directed Circle Mirror Transformation at Marin Theatre Company) concurred, saying, “I’m doing a play with [downtown theatre company] Clubbed Thumb in June, and we’re just starting the casting process now [in March].” In New York and L.A., it’s much more acceptable for actors to take advantage of the “more remunerative work” clause in Equity contracts, which allows them to leave for better paying gigs at any time during a production Cassidy Brown in The Complete History of America (abridged) at Marin Shakespeare Company, 2011. Photo: Eric Chazankin

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Are You Free a Year from Next May? me, such a big part of it is, we want to cast local before we except a 14-day “prohibited period.” One casting director I go out of town, so I have to get started with a casting process talked to tries not to cast out of New York more than two locally early. If I have to go to New York or L.A. for actors, I months out, for fear of losing actors. 

 want to do that in the summer, but I want to exhaust the opOn the other hand, Minneapolis-based actor and playtions I have in the Bay Area first.” 

 wright Aditi Kapil (who will be workshopping a play in Most of the large professional theatres Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground begin casting as soon as they announce Floor this summer, and whose play their seasons, but they have to schedule Brahman/i will premiere with Crowded around the availability of out-of-town Fire in June) says that the situation there directors and playwrights. For the is similar to the Bay Area. “When the LORT theatres with an out-of-town Guthrie started casting shows like a year creative team, there may only be a short out a few years ago, I feel like that moved window of time when everyone can be a lot of midsized theatres’ casting timein the same room together, so that will lines up also. I know several that try to dictate the casting calendar. 

 square away their casting for their whole Although many theatres find themseason the spring before, concerned that if they wait any longer the actors they selves doing some form of casting year want will get snapped up.”

 round, there are two major cycles: the Crowded Fire Theater artistic director Marissa summer Shakespeare theatres that begin The core of the issue is that many Wolf. Photo: Courtesy of Crowded Fire Theater casting in the late fall, and the theatres theatres act out of a sense of scarcity, which is one of the many places where this subject becomes on fall-to-spring seasons, who begin casting in the spring. In the case of the Shakespeare theatres, there are fewer of them touchy and complex. As one person tells me, the percepand the hierarchy is pretty clear, according to Rebecca Ennals, tion is that “we have a shallow bench, which is not to say we don’t have a lot of talent here, but if you’re looking for a who says, “I know that actors will generally take an offer from specific type, maybe you can only go two or three deep, and Cal Shakes before they’ll take one from me, and I try to get if they’re all gone you’re out of luck. Not even talking about my casting done so that I don’t make Lisa (Tromovich, of Livermore Shakes) wait too long, since we know actors will talent, just type.” 

 generally take my offers over hers. But we all are very open For the larger theatres that cast both locally and nationally, and in communication with each other.” 

 the desire to cast early comes in part out of wanting to fill as The Theatre Bay Area General Auditions tend to fall in many parts locally first before looking out of town. Marin Theatre Company artistic director Jasson Minadakis says, “For the window of time after the Shakespeare theatres have announced but before the theatres on a fall-to-spring schedule San Francisco Shakespeare Festival artistic director Rebecca J. Ennals (left) with executive director Toby Leavitt. Photo: John Western have set their seasons, creating a situation where, as one casting director tells me, “the Shakespeare theatres see the people, make them offers, they say yes, and they haven’t even had a shot at the LORT theatres.”

 In February there was an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about the increasingly common practice of actors in that city jumping ship from one theatre to a better paying gig at another. Almost everyone I talked to agreed that this kind of thing happens relatively rarely in the Bay Area, in part because it’s such a tight-knit community. From the point of view of the companies, casting an actor who had already been cast at another theatre is frowned upon. Marissa Wolf says, “I’m not gonna do that to another producer-colleague; we all know each other well.” 

 But with casting happening so far in advance, it increas28

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Are You Free a Year from Next May? atre. Rebecca Pingree says, “There’s this legend that a powerful ingly brings up the question of how actors should approach casting director once said, ‘if it’s a no-brainer for you it’s a a situation where they’ve been cast in one show and are then invited to audition for another. Everyone seems to have his or no-brainer for us too,’ that if you get an offer that’s a million times better for you, the theatre gets that.” Marissa Wolf conher own rules for what the right approach is. Actor Rebecca Pingree tells me, “If it’s a theatre that I’m happy to be working curs, saying, “If somebody gets a contract at Berkeley Rep or for, but not really breaking even financially, and I’m asked to ACT, they have to take it, so I just want to be looped in. The audition by a theatre where the money is significantly more sucky part is just being in the dark.”

 and I wouldn’t have to be scrambling for other jobs while I’m Another actor tells me that she’s afraid to turn down audiin the show, then I don’t turn down the audition. It’s so rare tions at larger theatres for fear they’ll stop calling her in, even for it to work out, but in cases where it’s gotten close, I’ve if she’s already booked for another show. “There are definitely been really honest with both of the theatres. 

 situations where if you said to [big LORT theatre], sorry, At my company, Just Theater, we’ve generally taken the apI can’t come in because I already booked a show at [small non-Eq theatre], they would think you were insane. And they proach of trying to cast early, with the understanding that we would be insulted, I think. Because if I keep rejecting the may lose people to bigger gigs and have to recast closer to the auditions, it’s my belief that they will stop calling me.”

 start of rehearsal. Recently, I had an actor turn us down for a While everyone may be understanding of the jump from role because he needed to leave himself open to better-paying a gig that pays a small stipend to opportunities. “It’s a timing and a one that offers a substantial weekly money thing,” he said. “Currently I’m salary, the are many subtle layers in only booked through early July, and between, and it is inevitably within the rest of the year has a big question those layers that choices becomes mark on it. If I could confidently say messy and emotions flare. Even in that I had a well-paying gig on either the best of situations, there’s great end, or had a day job that I could rely disagreement about how much time on, I would say yes. But as it stands it’s is enough to recast. One actor tells too much of a gamble with so many me that she feels it depends on who things still unknown.”

 you are, saying, “If I have to drop One actor tells me that he has out of your show, I’m super-easy to sometimes taken “the middle ground, Marin Theatre Company artistic director Jasson replace [as a young white woman], where I say I would like to take this Minadakis during a workshop for Lasso of Truth by Carson Kreitzer (foreground) in September 2013. whereas if [a much sought-after role, the caveat being, I’m on hold for Photo: Cody Gulick actor of color] drops out of your [big LORT theatre]. Even if I’m not show, you may be screwed.” 

 actually on hold for it, I have my eye on it, and I know I’m The consensus from theatre companies was that actors often being brought in for it. So what I’m gonna tell you is I’m in consideration for it, because it just sounds better. So I will say, don’t have a clear sense of what the constraints and difficulI would like to say yes, with the condition that [I will drop ties are in recasting. At the bigger companies, they may be out if I get that part]. And if that’s OK with you, then let’s go hemmed in by the availability of out-of-town directors and forward, and if not I totally understand.”

 authors, whereas at small companies, often the production at For the actors who rely on theatre for health insurance and hand may be entirely consuming the staff’s time, and it will be a major part of their income, the puzzle of when to accept a long while before there is a window of time to deal with it. 

 roles from smaller theatres is especially complicated. Cassidy Many people I spoke to wished for a better system, one Brown says, “As an Equity actor who is kind of mercenary in which actors would be able to accept roles at smaller theabout what I do, who works for health insurance and to pay atres early with clear and specific caveats about when and if the bills, I would love to work at the smaller houses, but I also they would be able to consider better paying gigs. Cassidy need to work at the bigger houses occasionally. So I can’t shut Brown, who was formerly the casting director at the Wilthe door on the options.”

 lows, says, “I think for most casting directors and directors And then there’s the even stickier question of when (if ever) and theatre people, the more transparent we are, the better it’s acceptable to drop out of a play for a role at a different the- off we are. And I know as a casting director I was always

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Are You Free a Year from Next May? happy to have transparency.”

 But how exactly does transparency play out? In theory, actors could tell the company that had cast them that they were auditioning for another role, but as one director put it, “It’s like saying to your husband, ‘Is it okay if I cheat on you? I’m not saying I will, but...’ Even asking will get you in trouble.”

 One longtime casting director tells me, “The only solution is I think that we as a community should come up with some kind of conditional yes when it’s super-early, that if somebody’s asking you 12 months in advance, unless it’s Hamlet or Medea, you gotta strike a deal where you say I want to do it, but for the sake of my career I have to see what else is out there, and when can I reconfirm that still leaves you time?” TheatreFirst artistic director Michael Storm agrees, saying, “Recasting one to two roles three months before rehearsal starts would be easier than having to do the whole cast. Right now I don’t think there is an ideal time for us [on the smallest contracts] at the bottom of the fish tank.”

 It should be said that this inquiry didn’t really delve into issues of nontraditional or creative casting, which is a whole other layer of complexity. Several people I spoke to thought that the situation was markedly different for men than women, particularly in the summer, when the Shakespeare theatres are looking to cast many male roles. To a degree, it’s possible the situation would ameliorated by companies producing plays with more roles for women, or more casting of women Rebecca Pingree (left) with Carla Pantoja, Jomar Tagatac and Dodds Delzell in Symmetrical Smack-Down, part of 2013’s Best of Playground 17. Photo:

in traditionally male roles (Rebecca Ennals has a great essay on the subject from on the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival blog at, posted in August 2013.) I also didn’t particularly address the art part in my discussions, which is ostensibly the reason everyone got into this in the first place. Despite all of the financial pressures, it frequently happens that actors take roles at smaller theatres over bigger ones out of a desire to work with a certain playwright or play a certain role, but for those struggling to make some semblance of a living at it, the larger issues remain. As one actor tells me, “This is what I get for pinning the majority of my finances on being in plays!” If all of this is a problem (and not everyone I spoke to necessarily thinks it is), then where does the solution lie? How do we slow the casting war of attrition? For the larger theatres there are no obvious or easy answers. In theory, the community could agree on a date at which casting season “opens.” This would alleviate the anxieties theatres may feel to push up their season announcements and auditions to compete with other companies that are doing the same. In practice, however, there are likely far too many internal pressures and needs at each institution to make such a system workable. So the movement of casting calendars may simply be a natural result of a system in which a great number of people and institutions are pursuing their own self-interest. And yet our community doesn’t exist purely in an Adam Smithian void of free-market forces. Everyone I spoke to is deeply invested in Bay Area theatre as a whole, and interested in finding ways of working that would benefit everyone. Theatres up and down the spectrum of size share many of the same artists, and everyone wants those artists to be able to survive, to make a living and thrive in the Bay Area so that they have a reason to stay. For small theatres, perhaps it begins by being willing to engage with actors in more open conversations and accept the possibility of conditional or contingent arrangements. In fact, during the course of writing this article I found myself entering this very situation. I made an offer to an actor, who wanted to accept but was told by one of the biggest theatres in town that it may be considering him for a role in play that may go into the same slot. Those were enough maybes for me that I suggested that he accept my offer, with the understanding that if the offer for the other show came through sometime in the next two months, he would take it. I’m anxious but excited. So in that sense, it’s no different than any other aspect of preparing for a production. 
 Jonathan Spector is the artistic director of Just Theater.


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New Plays in New Ways:

Redeveloping the New Play Development Model


groups dedicated to developing plays nontraditionally, and ost theatre people know too well how new our major regional theatres are also importing work made play development typically works: A playwright submits a draft to a theatre compa- that way, such as Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s and Ameriny. The company takes the draft through a can Conservatory Theater’s Kneehigh Theatre productions. Many factors account for this surge. Gary Graves, codiseries of table reads, workshops and staged rector of Central Works, points to “an explosion of playreadings, with the playwright submitting a writing talent.” Indeed, the number of playwriting MFA new draft based on what he or she has learned programs has ballooned in recent years, and with a broader from each stage. The process culminates in approximately population entering the discipline, presumably they’d want three weeks of rehearsals and three weeks of performances. to create work in a broader variety of ways. Lisa Steindler, I say “too well” because this model often seems like the artistic director of Z Space, sees new ways of creating work only model, and many artists are chafing at its limitaas an adaptation by the community to the fact that acting tions—particularly at how few opportunities for collaboracompanies—permanent ensembles of actors and artists who tion it affords relative to other models one might imagine. get to work together across time For many, the classic image of the instead of on just one project—no solitary playwright, toiling molonger exist. Devised theatre, she nastically in his or her cell until a says, “is not that new; it’s just a finished product emerges, no longer word we’ve come up with in the feels relevant. More and more often, last five years. In the ’80s and ’90s, writers are not just creating new we had companies. Nobody can work; they’re creating new ways afford that any more. Development of creating new work, often in the processes are bringing temporary company of theatre artists from companies together as kind of an other disciplines. in-between.” For Rob Ready, artistic In fact, even if this traditional director of PianoFight and a pernew play development model seems former in a workshop production predominant, Bay Area theatre artof Hundred Days—a collaboratively ists already use a wealth of nontradidevised piece that premiered at Z tional models, far too many to cover Space in March—those temporary in a single article, and evidence companies of which Steindler speaks suggests these new ways of working allow artists to have deeper relationare becoming only more popular. Christopher Kuckenbaker and Beth Wilmurt in Z ships with one another and proThere’s a burgeoning number of Space’s The Companion Piece. Photo: Pak Han

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New Plays in New Ways duce bolder art as a result. Of Hundred Days, Ready says, “Everybody’s friends. There’s an inherent level of love and respect and trust. It’s very different if you’re trying to pull in a bunch of strangers and have them work on it for six weeks.” Ben Yalom of foolsFury and Christopher W. White of Mugwumpin both point to new markers of legitimacy that reflect and further promote the expansion of nontraditionally created theatre. Founded in 1996, the Network of Ensemble Theaters has grown to more than 200 companies in recent years, and there’s a new grant from the National Theater Project that focuses just on collaborative work. Within this new wave, there is a great range of different working methods. On one end of the spectrum, devised theatre groups such as Mugwumpin are so collaborative in structure that they don’t even have single, designated play-

Susannah Martin, Wiley Naman Strasser and Stephanie DeMott in Mugwumpin’s The Great Big Also. Photo: Pak Han

wrights. In such models, roles are more fluid; it often makes sense to refer to artists involved as creators rather than actors or writers or choreographers because all perform these tasks in concert. “Once we have a sense of what the piece is or what the theme is or what the foundation is that we’re building upon,” says White, “everybody brings in what they’re interested in and sort of lays it out.” This research, which can take different forms and go deeper or broader depending on the project, the group explores, riffs on and eventually shapes into a piece; the director serves as a guide. “The trick of directing,” says White, “is to have an authorial eye and steer the ship, so to speak, but also to listen really, really hard and say, ‘Oh, the ship wants to head in this direction.’ You need to listen to this ensemble organism and focus the energy, not let the energy of theme or story 32

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become too dissipated by the multiplicity of voices.” For many other companies, using a nontraditional new play development model needn’t mean reinventing the wheel. Collaboration, after all, is a matter of degree; many artists incorporate elements of it into the writing process without radically altering that process. PlayGround, for example, which offers playwrights in its writers pool an array of opportunities to develop and produce work, isn’t in the day-to-day creative trenches with those playwrights, but it’s deeply involved in perhaps one of the most important parts of writing: inspiration. Recognizing that one of the greatest struggles of playwriting is simply giving yourself freedom, permission and discipline to commit glints of inspiration to paper, PlayGround assigns its writers pool short monthly prompts, sparking ideas that aren’t just writing exercises but that could lead to readings and full productions. It also hosts lecturers, especially in math and science, to further pique playwrights’ curiosity. “We’ve been now for 10 years developing a series of plays inspired by the world and the people of mathematics,” says artistic director Jim Kleinmann. “We bring [the playwrights] to the MSRI [Mathematical Sciences Research Institute] headquarters. There’s a one-hour presentation by a mathematician on a specific subject—It could be string theory, or the development of calculus.” Many plays in the 2013 Best of PlayGround Festival were originally inspired by these lectures: Symmetrical Smack-Down by William Bivins, My Better Half by Jonathan Spector and The Spherical Loneliness of Beverly Onion by Katie May (which was later adapted to a full-length, Abominable). For many Bay Area theatre companies, shaking up the new play development model means introducing early on in the process artists who might otherwise not have begun to collaborate until later. Just Theater, which hosts a group for playwrights called its New Play Development Lab, pairs writers with directors as the writers are writing, rather than after; these directors aren’t shaping the script for production, says coartistic director Jonathan Spector, but rather serving as sounding boards for writers: “The focus is just on figuring out what the play is. The directors don’t have their own agenda about what the play should be. It’s too early in the process to be giving that kind of feedback.” In typical development situations, he says, “There’s the expectation that you take the play in whatever draft it is and make a finished product. Other people’s opinions become more important. This isn’t really about that.” In Factory Parts, a new foolsFury performance series for

New Plays in New Ways short, ensemble-created works in progress, ensembles are paired with dramaturgs as they’re creating. Deborah Eliezer, foolsFury associate artistic director and Factory Parts creator, believes the most radical part of the event is that it legitimizes short works in progress as performance pieces. “There aren’t a lot of places to put up half an hour of work and call it a play and have it be acknowledged and understood as part of the evolutionary process in order to get to the next stage,” she says. “If we were dancers, this would be no big deal. Sometimes in foolsFury we consider ourselves more akin to the dance world in practice than to traditional theatre work. The dance community will have entire choreographic showcases that are just five minutes each.” At Central Works, a company that’s long been developing plays through its Central Works Method, the entire cast and production team (or close to it) comes on at the beginning of a process, but company codirector Gary Graves doesn’t see this method as very radical. “You cannot avoid collaboration in the theatre—the interaction of actor, director, dramaturg, not to mention designers. There’s no substitute for that. That is the lab in which the playwright works. You bring the play into that lab, try it out, and you make all sorts of discoveries. We move that lab to the get-go, as the script is first emerging.” For many artists, the most exciting opportunity for earlier collaboration is with designers, whom, many feel, are often brought on as afterthoughts to rather than full collaborators in a production. Ragged Wing Ensemble, an Oaklandbased ensemble; 99 Stock, a two-year-old company founded by recent SF State graduates; and the playwright Chris Chen (whose development process for Crowded Fire’s The Hundred Flowers Project Theatre Bay Area has already detailed extensively in our July/August 2013 issue) all spoke about how central it was to their process to develop scripts that have—and they all used similar language here—holes. For these artists, their scripts (and they don’t always look like traditional scripts) truly weren’t complete without the contributions of designers. For Hitcher, 99 Stock’s fall show, which was developed from a draft of screenplay treatment by Jim Morrison, writer/director Alex Peri brought on composers and designers early, sat his team down, he said, “and said, ‘Here are all the holes, here are all the questions, and we have all the pieces to start filling in the holes—the music, the movement.’” Nontraditionally developed theatre, he says, is “very energizing…because you’re not sitting there memorizing lines. You’re creating organically. We’re generating a thousand things but we can

only use 10—which do we use? We have to be able to cut away a lot of the bullshit and say, ‘What is the corn kernel we’re searching for in this?’” Similarly, Ragged Wing artistic director Amy Sass is most interested in what she calls “these wonderfully imperfect plays.” In these pieces, she says, “the written form of the play offers a lot of opportunity to be expressive as a director or a choreographer.” They’re “scrappy scripts” that “in their literary form would never be considered a perfect play.” Ragged Wing, which does both devised work and plays by playwrights such as Sass and Anthony Clarvoe, creates these “imperfect” scripts in different ways. “Some of the work that’s created in our company is devised,” Sass says. “Some originates from music or visual design or movement. Other work originates from reading. We really like to look at creating a piece of theatre that originates from different places and doesn’t necessarily grow off the written form. Sometimes the written form is its ending point; sometimes it shows up midway and becomes a solidifying point; sometimes it’s the seed. It’s an ever-shifting experiment of where the piece becomes a written piece. Theatre is a life form; it reaches its real form in space and time out of a script that gets published. I think of them as very different, the actual, tangible written form versus the thing that you experience physically and chemically and kinesthetically. Some things show up beautifully in written form; others show up imperfectly. Those are pieces that tend to have a strong element of choreography or movement.” Ragged Wing’s process, which members call “creative development,” centers on a theme or title for an entire season. At the beginning, says Sass, “all the artists come together to do some kind of retreat and a series of trainings and creative development. We will take this idea of the season theme; we will have some research element, and then we will start to create writing—writing prompts, creating compositions up on our feet, a lot of them not at all with dialogue. Often it’s a song. A lot of times we’ll use some element we don’t usually see—sand, water, fire, really tactile stuff. Often they’ll be site-specific—on the beach, in the woods, in a crawl space underneath a house, on the fire escape of an industrial building. We’ll often be using the architecture or the elements that are present wherever we are. There might be some ritual element; there might be some audience participation element. A whole lexicon for the season starts to emerge. We develop our own vocabulary. It can be phrases that are said over and over again. It might be a particular image or movement sequence or somebody eating

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New Plays in New Ways a watermelon that later becomes the central image of the whole play. We do creative development for the season, so out of that we do proposals for projects—Proposals come out of what was seen and heard and smelled and felt and tasted. And then people take them and begin to develop full ideas for their own pieces based on that. Once the proposals come in, those people leading those particular projects do creative development just for their projects.” Some companies go to great lengths to get whole teams, designers included, assembled just as a process is beginning. For Steindler of Z Space, getting the right team for a project is so important that she’s willing to have Z Space do many fewer projects than it perhaps otherwise could as a result. “Finding the right team takes a long time,” she says, sometimes up to two years of meetings and coffee with potential team members. “For me as producer, that’s big part of my job,” she says. “When you do new work, it’s like a marriage. We spend so much time together. When there isn’t that rigor and fearlessness and enjoyment of being in a room together, it’s a problem.” In his desire to produce Erin Bregman’s Before and After, Paul Cello, producing artistic director of 2by4, saw an opportunity to partner with another organization: Playwrights Foundation, which was producing a staged reading of the play as part of the 2013 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Playwrights Foundation was already dedicated to providing its BAPF playwrights with visual and design dramaturgy, and 2by4 already knew it wanted to fully produce the play in the future. Cello thought, “Can we use this as an opportunity to develop Erin’s play with other members of 2by4, to get other collaborators in the room together?” Luckily, Amy Mueller, artistic director of Playwrights Foundation, was open to the collaboration. “It was a really wonderful opportunity,” says Cello, “the right place, the right time, the right set of circumstances. The question for us always is how to make collaborative touch points more frequent and more cross-disciplinary along the process. So often what happens is playwrights are writing in isolation. They get workshops, but often those workshops are with different people.” For some companies, just as important as when collaborators climb aboard a project is how the process is structured once they get there. Steindler of Z Space, Cello of 2by4 and Yalom of foolsFury all emphasize that they don’t have a set process, that each project needs a unique process in order to develop organically and with integrity. FoolsFury, which sometimes has a designated playwright for its pieces, learned to adopt this policy the hard way, says Yalom: “When we 34

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did our first big project, with Doug Dorst, it worked one way, and it seemed so clear. We did a lot of Viewpoints and composition, and he would just sort of sit in the corner and absorb the language and the gestural work. My assumption coming out of that is that’s what it’s always going to be like. Our next major project was P.O.S.H. with Sheila Callaghan, and it started to become clear that the same process we’d used with Doug wasn’t helping Sheila. So we changed to fit her needs. She was much less interested in watching us jam around physically and develop gesture. [Working with her] forced us to do a lot more writing, to bring in a lot more verbal material. She took that material and really honed it into the language of the play.” Now, Yalom says, he realizes, “I just think for every writer it’s different, which is juicy. I won’t make the assumption again that there’s sort of a onesize-fits-all model.” What many artists crave in nontraditional new play development models is simply space to think. The Companion Piece, which was conceived by Beth Wilmurt and directed by Mark Jackson for Z Space in 2011, had a two-week workshop, then a months-long break, then a full rehearsal process. “The nut of devising is constant conversation. That’s why people talk so much about it,” Jackson says. The break allowed the team to have those conversations under much less pressure, to experiment and “to soak up what happened organically so then you come into the rehearsal process ready to go.” White says that over time, Mugwumpin learned that it works best under similar circumstances. “We just reached a crossroads where we’re realizing that it takes us a really long time to make a show,” he says. “We work really well in short bursts, putting a thing down and coming back to it…. It’s like working on a crossword puzzle: ‘I can’t answer anything else.’ And then later: ‘I know all of these!’ It’s not battering your head against it incessantly. The flip side of that, which might actually be the same thing, is that in the process of creating, we really fall in love with an idea—the first time something happens, it’s magical; it’s like that’s the kernel of the show. Without taking breaks, it’s really easy to keep trying to cram that idea into something alive and evolving. It might be a great idea, but for another show. Taking breaks allows us to fall a little less in love with our ideas and be able to look at it a little more clear-eyed.” Perhaps one of the most exciting new models of new play development in the Bay Area is Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, a residency and development program that had its first session in 2012 under the leadership of Madeleine Old-

New Plays in New Ways ham and Mina Morita. For two summers now, artists from all over the country (including some locals, such as Lauren Gunderson), selected by a rigorous application process, have descended on Berkeley Rep’s West Berkeley campus for four weeks, which those artists can use however they want. What makes the Ground Floor special isn’t just that it doesn’t require a performance at the end (à la Just Theater’s New Play Development Lab), which might force an artist to make inorganic choices to make it suitable for an audience (although some, such as Marcus Gardley’s The House that will not Stand, later become full Berkeley Rep productions); it’s also that the Ground Floor accepts artists whose projects are in the most nascent stages—including some that are still in the proposal phase. Ground Floor artists have all their food, housing, transportation and chores taken care of to give them the freedom to have fun and create. Fun is a big part of the Ground Floor’s philosophy: At last summer’s session, a skeeball machine and a giant bowl of M&Ms were available at all times, and each night there was shuttle service to a nearby bar and the hotel where artists were staying. The theory is that goofing off or drinking or enjoying catered communal meals is actually a crucial part of the creative process. It gives artists time to process and discuss their own and others’ work, activating the kind of creativity that comes from being playful. The Ground Floor’s artistic resources are just as staggering; artists get the kind of privileges Berkeley Rep might allocate to a full production. The Debate Society, a Brooklyn-based company that was using the Ground Floor to work on a piece with one scene in a hot tub, was expecting Berkeley Rep to just throw a couple of couches together to simulate the tub. Instead, Berkeley Rep’s carpentry shop actually built them a to-scale model of a hot tub. For the Debate Society, having a more realistic set piece influenced the direction of their show. Company member Hannah Bos says that the extremely close quarters of a realistic hot tub made them realize just how differently characters would talk and interact in contrast to typical spatial relations. The Debate Society also joked that they should laminate the pages of their script and try it out at an actual hot tub—and then Berkeley Rep made that happen, taking the company on a field trip to a functioning hot tub. For another artist, the New York-based César Alvarez, Berkeley Rep took an extremely unusual development route. Alvarez, who was creating a piece about what he has called “a techno-Utopian space colony,” got hooked up with experts in fields as varied

as game design, crowd dynamics and flocking behaviors, including senior directors at the Exploratorium. “If you make every work the same way,” Alvarez says, “the same thing comes out. The fact that [Berkeley Rep] could wrap their brains around having a game designer in new play development is a testament to how flexible they are.” For PianoFight, which works primarily in sketch comedy, it was both natural and fundamental to who they are to take an alternate route, by developing different kinds of pieces in a similar way. Mission Ctrl, the company’s resident sketch comedy group, begins each rehearsal process with what Rob Ready calls “a booze- and energy drink-infused tornado of ideas”: Someone will propose an idea for a sketch; the group will riff on it for a while; and then they’ll vote on whether it’s good enough to be developed further. “This will repeat until they have 10 sketches,” says Ready, at which point the group members will pair off and write, with each idea-holder responsible for shepherding his or her idea into a sketch. From there, says Ready, “the tornado subsides, and rehearsal acts as what traditional theatres would call a workshop process.” Ready says that their 2012 Duck Lake, a fulllength piece, used a similar process but was “a much bigger project,” requiring two writers to “put stuff into the script from the series of riff sessions.” In working with the playwrights William Bivins on ShortLived and Daniel Heath on A Merry Forking! Christmas, PianoFighters were also deeply involved in the shaping of the text. “When we come in with a playwright, we’re just going to be overbearing,” Ready jokes. “They need to have help. They should have help.” Of course, traditionally developed theatre isn’t going away any time soon. As Yalom says, “The standard model is still that a playwright goes into a room and writes a play and then has workshop. I can’t imagine that in the near future that is not going to continue to be the main model, because that’s the way [playwrights] are taught and because of the introspective nature of writing. It’s also more economically efficient.” Additionally, theatres that specialize in nontraditionally developed work face major challenges—explaining their processes to audiences, giving shows lives beyond their first productions, securing funding from relatively fewer funding sources. Despite these obstacles, for Yalom and many others, nontraditional new play development models—“new” and “nontraditional” as they might be—offer the best access to the myriad ways theatre has always made meaning: “The language of the stage is much broader than just the words,” he says. “Sometimes the right impulse or the next image doesn’t want to be language; it wants to be something else.”

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TONYS by the Bay



hen host Hugh Jackman kicks off this year’s Tony Awards ceremony from Radio City Music Hall on June 8, we’ll see a lively parade of what’s happening on Broadway. But for those of us in other parts of the country where a great deal of theatre happens, we like to note the local connections to what are arguably American theatre’s highest-profile awards. For instance, this year, we may see a Bay Area native nominated for a splashy Disney musical (hello, Hayward native James Monroe Iglehart in Aladdin). Or we might see a musical nominee that had its world premiere in downtown San Francisco (you’ve got a friend in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical). Such connections go way back, maybe not to the beginning of the Tony Awards in 1947, but the last nearly seven decades boast enough Bay Area ties to bolster local pride. Award-worthy theatre and theatre people are abundant here. Here’s how you can fall down the Tony Awards rabbit hole: San Francisco native Carol Channing said, “Hello, Tony” in 1964 when she won a best actress in a musical award for her now-legendary turn in Hello, Dolly! She would go on to win a special Tony in 1968 and a lifetime achievement award in 1995. In 1963, basso-voiced Ruth Kobart, a longtime San Francisco resident who began working with American Conservatory Theater in 1967 and continued off and on until the 36

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1990s, was nominated as best featured actress in a musical for playing Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Former ACT company member and San Francisco native Manoel Felciano received a Tony nomination for his featured turn as Tobias in John Doyle’s revival of Sweeney Todd in 2006, and Bill Irwin, a breakout star of San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus in the 1970s, received four Tony nominations for Largely New York—one of which (choreography) he shared with Kimi Okada, a founding member of San Francisco’s ODC. Irwin won the best actor in a play Tony in 2005 for a revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? San Francisco native BD Wong won the Tony for best featured actor in 1988 for M. Butterfly, and two actors born in San Francisco and raised in Oakland were both Tony nominees: Barry Nelson (featured actor in the 1977 Liza Minnelli vehicle The Act) and Kathleen Chalfant (featured actress in the 1993 Broadway production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, a play that had its world premiere at San Francisco’s Eureka Theatre). Whew. American Conservatory Theater was the first of three Bay Area theatres to win the Tony presented for excellence in regional theatre, an award category instituted in 1976, with win-

ners selected based on a recommendation from the American Theatre Critics Association. Bill Ball, ACT’s founder, accepted the award in 1979 for both theatre performance and training. ACT artistic director Carey Perloff says that award was meaningful at the time. “Very few theatres outside of New York received any kind of national recognition,” she says. “It’s like a Good Houskeeping seal of approval if you’re a Tony-winning theatre. Like any recognition, it’s very nice. It makes your board happy.” Ellen Richard, ACT’s executive director, says the Tony for regional theatres represents a significant moment “when New York finally decided that there’s theatre outside of New York. It’s a real point of pride for an institution and makes people who work there feel good.” Does being a Tony-winning theatre help you sell more tickets? “Probably not,” Richard says. “But it’s a nice honor. Most people would rather have one than not. It’s important to recognize national theatres because these days, so much of the product in New York is coming from these theatres.” Richard, who joined ACT in 2010, spent 22 years as the managing director of New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company, one of the country’s largest nonprofit theatres. During her tenure there, Richard won six Tony Awards for A View from the Bridge (1998 best revival of a play), Cabaret (1998 best revival of a musical), Side Man (1999 best play), Nine (2003 best revival of a musical), Assassins (2004 best revival of a musical) and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005 best revival of a play). She keeps most of her actual awards in the home she has in Connecticut, but she brought one with her to San Francisco to keep on her desk. “I can tell you that Tony Awards are never part of the conversation here at ACT,” Richard says. “But does a Tony make you feel good? Yes. That part is important.” The ACT Tony is displayed in a wall case in the stairwell from the lobby down to the basement bar. Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s regional Tony, won in 1997, is in a case in the lobby of the Thrust Stage. In New York for that year’s ceremony, Berkeley Rep’s then– artistic director Sharon Ott, along with Tony Taccone and Susan Medak, were in a town car arriving at the theatre. “As your car pulls up on the red carpet, a barker sticks his Leslie McDonel, Gabrielle McClinton, Krystina Alabado, Talia Aaron, Nicci Claspell and Jillian Mueller in the 2012 touring company of American Idiot at the Orpheum Theatre. The musical premiered at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2009 before picking up two design Tonys on Broadway. Photo: Doug Hamilton

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TONYS by the Bay head in the window to see who is in the car and shouts to the army of photographers who is in the car,” says Taccone, who has been Berkeley Rep’s artistic director since Ott’s departure in 1997. “When our barker looked in and discovered who we were, he lifted his head and announced to the gathering: ‘NOBODY!’” Medak, Berkeley Rep’s managing director since 1990, says Tony recognition is a nice validation for a company’s years of work. “But in the end, the reason the Tony was valuable and the reason we are careful to affix our name to any of our productions that go to New York is that it increases awareness of what we do here—the eclecticism and quality that is our trademark,” she says. “That awareness helps us attract projects and artists and plays that we can, in turn, produce here in Berkeley.” Two examples Medak cites are the Green Day musical American Idiot, which premiered at Berkeley Rep in 2009 and went on to win two Tony Awards (for Christine Jones’s scenic design and Kevin Adams’s lighting design), and last year’s star-studded No Man’s Land starring Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, which recently concluded its Broadway run (in rotating repertory with Waiting for Godot, which was not seen in Berkeley). Those projects, Medak says, were the direct result of producers having seen other work Berkeley Rep sent to New York. American Idiot producer Tom Hulce saw the Stew musical

Passing Strange, which debuted at Berkeley Rep in 2006 and went on to nab seven Tony Award nominations (winning one for best book), and that led him to think Berkeley Rep might be a good fit for American Idiot. “We’ve built a reputation for doing a really wide range of work, with shows like Sarah Jones’s Bridge and Tunnel, Sarah Ruhl’s In the Next Room or Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak’s Brundibar,” Medak says. “When they go to New York, they serve to illustrate just how expansive our taste is. They also are proof that we have a capacity to give those shows a longer life in other theatres. That makes us a very attractive place to originate new work.” On a more personal note, Medak says she remembers the Berkeley Rep staff marching in the How Berkeley Can You Be? parade around the time of the company’s Tony Award. “We were forced to stop at an intersection to allow traffic to pass,” Medak says. “The police officer handling traffic stopped all the cars and asked everyone within hearing distance to give a shout out to our ‘Tony Award–winning theatre.’ I loved that in Berkeley, even our police officers were taking pride in our achievement.” ACT has also hosted pre-Broadway runs of Tony-nominated shows such as David Hirson’s play Wrong Mountain (nomination for Daniel Davis as best featured actor in 2000), the Cole Porter musical High Society (1998 nominations for featured actors John McMartin and a young Anna Kendrick, who went on to be an Oscar-nominated movie actor), David Henry Hwang’s play Golden Child (1998 nominations for best play, featured actress Julyana Soelistyo and Martin Pakledinaz’s costumes) and August Wilson’s drama Seven Guitars (1996 award to featured actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson and nominations for best play and featured actors Roger Robinson, Viola Davis and Michele Shay as well as Scott Bradley’s sets, Christopher Akerlind’s lights and Lloyd Richards’s direction). With its MFA program in acting, ACT can also boast students who go on to Tony glory, including Annette Bening (best featured actress nomination in 1987 for the play Coastal Disturbances), Christopher Fitzgerald (best featured actor in a musical nomination in 2010 for Finian’s Rainbow) and Anika Noni Rose, who won the Tony for best featured actress in a musical in 2004 for Caroline, or Change. The third and perhaps most surprising Bay Area company to win the regional theatre Tony is the San Francisco Mime Troupe. The surprise factor has nothing to do with the level of work the storied company has accomplished since its founding Multiple Tony winner Wicked premiered at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre in 2003 before its Broadway debut. Photo: Joan Marcus


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TONYS by the Bay

Pickle Family Circus veteran and frequent American Conservatory Theater performer Bill Irwin, who won a 2005 best actor Tony for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Photo: Santos Irwin

in 1959 but rather from its revolutionary, nonestablishment stance. The Mime Troupe’s award came in 1987, and the collective voted to send members Sharon Lockwood and Eduardo Robledo to accept it on national television (unlike recent years, the regional theatre Tony presentation was included in the CBS telecast). In true Mime Troupe fashion, Lockwood and Robledo’s speech garnered boos as well as cheers. “What we said now seems so tame,” Lockwood says. “Eduardo made a dedication to Ben Linder, an engineer who was doing work in rural Nicaragua setting up hydroelectric power and was the first American killed by the Contras, the Reagan-backed, CIA-funded rebel group. I think, from what I understand, most of the boos came from the Andrew Lloyd contingent. But there were also a lot of people from the Royal Shakespeare Company there doing Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway, and they congratulated us.” Lockwood and Linder were also required to thank American Express, who donated the $25,000 that accompanied the award. “We thanked AmEx for taking some of its money out of South Africa—there was still apartheid at the time—and giving it to us. We were able to thank them and criticize them at the same time.” Ed Holmes, who is now in his 28th year of working with the Mime Troupe, remembers hearing news of the Tony Award followed by cheers and a few grumbles. “Wait a minute. We’re supposed to be outside the mainstream and this award is so mainstream,” he recalls. “Does this blow our revolutionary street cred?” But after the question was asked, he says a re-

sponse quickly followed: “Ah, f– it. The Troupe deserves this.” “We got some flak from old-time Mime Troupe folks saying we had sold out,” Holmes says, “but it felt good to have our work recognized on a national level. I remember watching the broadcast that year. Kathleen Turner introduced a montage about us, then after Sharon and Eduardo accepted the award, they were followed by a musical number from Les Misérables with people waving giant red flags.” Keiko Carreiro, who was among a new wave of young Troupe members in ’87, took photos holding the award once it arrived back in San Francisco and, like so many of her cohorts, took great pride in the award. “It’s a badge of legitimacy,” she says. “For me personally, it has felt like something we have to continue to earn with each season, each show, each new audience. Really the audience is the test. If they don’t stay until the end of the show and put money in the hat because they appreciate what they see, no number of awards will keep the company going.” In the realm of commercial theatre, the Bay Area has its share of major players as well. For instance, Deborah Taylor, an East Bay–based producer, won a Tony as one of multiple producers on the most recent revival of La Cage aux Folles and scored nominations for American Idiot and One Man, Two Guvnors. This season she is represented on Broadway with the Idina Menzel musical If/Then and the revival of The Glass Menagerie. But the Bay Area’s queen of the Tonys is indisputably Carole Shorenstein Hays, founder of SHN, the region’s largest forprofit theatre company. As a producer, she has been scoring

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TONYS by the Bay

Michael Sullivan, Kevin Rolston, Velina Brown, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Victor Toman and Ed Holmes in the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s Making a Killing, 2007. SFMT won a regional theatre Tony in 1987. Photo: Courtesy the San Francisco Mime Troupe

Tony nominations since 1981 (Woman of the Year) and counts among her awards two wins for August Wilson’s Fences, the original production in 1987 (the year of the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s award) and its revival in 2010 starring Denzel Washington, a former ACT student, who also scored a best actor award. Among Shorenstein Hays’s other wins are Proof; The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?; Take Me Out; Doubt and War Horse. Her SHN season has also hosted out-of-town tryouts for big, Tony-winning hits like Wicked. Palo Alto–based TheatreWorks got into the business of big Broadway hits with the rock ’n’ roll musical Memphis, a show that started in the company’s 2002 New Works Festival and then received its world premiere on its main stage in 2004 Memphis came out of TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival and played its main stage season in 2003 before heading to Broadway, where it won the 2010 Tony for best musical. Photo: David Allen


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(a coproduction with the now-defunct North Shore Music Theatre). Under the guidance of producer Randy Adams (TheatreWorks’ former managing director), the show made its way to Broadway, where eight Tony nominations resulted in four awards, including best musical, in 2010. “We were thrilled that the five leads of our original production stayed with the show all the way,” says TheatreWorks’ founding artistic director, Robert Kelley. “Its success validated our commitment to new works as a core value of TheatreWorks. Our belief in Memphis and our pride in helping it grow remain primary accomplishments of the company, memories that will never fade.” It seems that TheatreWorks is one of several Bay Area companies, along with California Shakespeare Theater and Magic Theatre, primed for a regional theatre Tony. Would Kelley mind such recognition? “It would be the thrill of a lifetime to share a regional Tony with the dedicated artists and supporters of TheatreWorks throughout the Bay Area,” he says. “There are very few theatres outside major cities that have achieved such recognition. I’m sure it would attract even more extraordinary writers, composers, actors and designers to inspire our work and share their own.” You can watch the Tony Awards live at Theatre Bay Area’s Blushing Orchid Ball at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco on June 8. Visit Chad Jones has been writing about Bay Area theatre since 1992. He blogs at

auditions Audition listings are free of charge for company members of Theatre Bay Area. Individual members, associate members & students w/current registration pay $10 per listing per month. All others pay $20 per listing per month. Please indicate whether actors are paid & the union status of the production. The deadline is the first working day of the month preceding. The deadline for the July/August issue is 10AM on June 2. Listings submitted after the deadline are not guaranteed to be included in the magazine. All notices are accepted at the editor’s discretion & may be edited for space. Unless otherwise indicated, ages & other characteristics in parentheses refer to the role, not the actual actor. Productions w/a possible union contract of one type or another are indicated by a . It is the policy of Theatre Bay Area to print audition listings for the current month & the following month. For future auditions, please visit the members-only section at VALLEJO SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William

Shakespeare; dir: Clinton Vidal). All ethnicities encour. Prep Shakespearean monologue, 2 min max. Non-AEA. $150 stipend. Auds 5/3-4 2PM at Hanns Park Amphitheater, 198 Skyline Rd., Vallejo. Callbacks 5/7. Rehs begin 6/9. Perfs 7/26-8/10 in Vallejo, Martinez & Oakland. Appt/info: AAAAHZ YOUTH THEATRE: Miss Saigon

(Schönberg, Boublil, & Maltby, adptd from Puccini). For summer day camp. M & F (18-21). Prep 32 bars B’way song. Accomp prov; no karaoke or CDs. Prep to dance. Auds 5/10 9AM-4PM. Callbacks 5/12. Discovery International Church, 38891 Mission Blvd., Fremont. Camp 6/16-8/1 Mon-Thu 9AM-4PM. Perfs 8/1-10. Info: (510) 358-1249; aaaahz@; AAAAHZ YOUTH THEATRE: Seussical (Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, adptd from Dr. Seuss). For summer day camp. M & F (512). Prep 32 bars B’way song. Accomp prov. No CDs or karaoke. Prep to dance. Non-AEA. Auds 5/10 9AM-4PM. Callbacks 5/12. Discovery International Church, 38891 Mission Blvd., Fremont. Camp 6/16-7/25 Mon-Thu 9AM-4PM. Perfs 7/25-27. Info: (510) 358-1249; aaaahz@; ARABIAN SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL:

Othello (William Shakespeare). Prep 1 Shakespearean verse monologue. AEA (BAPP) & non-AEA. $100-200/wk. Auds 5/10 10AM-3PM in Santa Clara. Callbacks 5/17. Rehs begin 10/19. Perfs 11/13-23 at Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa St., SF. HS/ resume: wjbrown3@arabianshakespearefestival. org. Info: BREACH ONCE MORE THEATRE: General

Auds for coming season: Bug (Tracy Letts; dir: Steve Bologna) & TBD. Prep 2 contrasting contemp monologues, 4 min max. Non-AEA. Stipend. Auds 5/16-17 12-5PM. San Francisco State University, Creative Arts Building, 1600 Holloway Ave., SF. Perfs Jul & Oct. Appt:

ROSS VALLEY PLAYERS: Old Money (Wendy Wasserstein; dir: Kim Bromley). 1M (60s-70s), 2M (40s-50s), 1M (16-20s); 2F (30s-50s), 1F (30s-40s, Asian), 1F (16-20s). Some characters sing/dance. All ethnicities encour. Cold read. Non-AEA. Stipend. Auds

5/17 1-4PM; 5/18 7-10PM. Callbacks 5/20. Rehs begin 6/3. Perfs 7/17-8/17. Barn Theatre, Marin Art & Garden Center, Ross. Appt/info: Maureen,; (415) 2358800. Info: BROADWAY WEST THEATRE COMPANY: The Unexpected Guest (Agatha

Christie; dir: Paula Chenoweth & Larry Voellger). 5M (30-60); 3F (30-65). Prep 2-min dramatic monologue. Auds 5/18 11AM-1PM. Callbacks 5/18-19. Broadway West Theatre, 4000 Bay St., Fremont. Appt/info: (510) 6839218. NOVATO THEATER COMPANY: Leading

Ladies (Ken Ludwig; dir: Kris Neely). 5M (1860s); 3F (18-50s). All ethnicities encour. Cold read. Non-AEA. Small stipend. No appt. Auds 5/31 1-4PM; 6/3 7-10PM. Callbacks 6/5. Rehs begin 6/30. Perfs 8/21-9/14. 5420 Nave Dr., Novato. Info:


Broadway with Kurt Weill (dir: Ellen Brooks). 4M (tenor & baritone); 4F (soprano & alto). Prep 2 contrasting songs, 1 by Weill. Bring sheet music in key. Non-AEA. No pay. Auds 6/1-2 7PM. Callbacks 6/4. Rehs begin early Jun. Perfs 8/22-9/20. Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Pl., Point Richmond. Appt: Arthur Atlas, Info:

EACH ONE REACH ONE: General auds (dir: Dave Garrett). Seeking actors and mentors for plays by at-risk & incarcerated teens. All ethnicities encour; actors who can play teens of color strongly encour. Cold read. AEA & non-AEA. $50-$75 (actors, single-day staged readings); $350-$500 (mentors, 2-wk programs). Auds 6/10 5-7PM. Creativity Theater, 221 4th St., SF. Perfs ongoing. Info/appt: mallory@eoro. org. Info: THOSE WOMEN PRODUCTIONS: Just Deserts (Carol S. Lashof; Elizabeth L. Vega). 1M (18-30); 2F. All races & ethnicities encour. Prep sides. AEA ($1,225) & non-AEA ($875). Auds 6/29 1-5PM; 6/30 7-9PM. Callbacks 7/1. Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland. Rehs begin 8/3. Perfs 8/29-9/7 at Metal Shop Theater, Berkeley; 9/8-9 at LeFevre Theater, Moraga. Info/appt/sides: Elizabeth Vega, elizabethlvega@ MAGIAN PRODUCTIONS: The Red Priest of Venice (Lisa Murphy; dir: Murphy). 2M (22-50);

1F (20-38). Non-AEA. Parking & commute stipend during rehs; $150/perf. Rehs begin early Aug in SF. Perfs begin 8/23 & run 4 wknds at Queen Anne Hotel Salon, 1590 Sutter St., SF. HS/resume: BROADWAY BY THE BAY: Dreamgirls (Tom

Eyen & Henry Krieger; dir: Angela Schiller). Non-AEA. Stipend. Rehs begin late Jun. Perfs 8/15-31 at Fox Theatre, Redwood City. HS/resume: Info:

FRINGE OF MARIN: Let Me Go (Shai Regan; dir: Gary Green). 1M (25-35); 1F (20-25). Prep sides. Non-AEA. Travel stipend. Auds by appt in Berkeley. Perfs 5/23-6/1 in San Rafael. HS/resume/appt/sides/info: Gary Green, HAMLET 3.2.1 PRODUCTIONS: Seeks vocalists to record works of classic American poets for poetry website. No pay. Info: (510) 527-0297; MARIN THEATRE COMPANY: Seeks aud

readers for auds thru Jun on voluntary basis. Apply:


Cabaret (John Kander & Fred Ebb; dir: John DeGaetano). Prep song; accomp prov. Prep to dance. Non-AEA. Rehs begin May. Perfs 7/25-8/10. Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Rd., Santa Rosa. Info: info@;





let’s be

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Job bank listings are free of charge for company members and associate members of Theatre Bay Area. Individual members & students w/current registration pay $10 per listing per month. All others pay $20 per listing per month. The deadline for the July/August issue is 10AM on June 2. Listings submitted after the deadline are not guaranteed to be included in the magazine. All notices are accepted at the editor’s discretion & may be edited for space.

For Dial M for Murder (Frederick Knot; auds in Jul; perfs begin 10/17) & Don’t Dress for Dinner (Marc Camoletti; perfs begin 4/17). Pay. Interviews 6/24. Resume/appt: (707) 746-1269; Info:

ACTING LECTURER: UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. For applicant pool, should openings arise. Subject areas include acting fundamentals, intermediate acting, movement for stage, voice & speech, public speaking & reh techniques. Req’d: Graduate degree &/or professional acting exp. Pref’d: Exp teaching acting in university or conservatory setting. 1-2 classes/semester. $45,975. Info/apply: Info: Marni Davis, EOE.

DIRS: Bindlestiff Studio. Seeks LGBTQ/GNC dirs for The Bakla Show 3, which explores exps of “LGBTQ F/Pilipin@” youth. Perfs begin Jun. Resume/availability thru May: baklashow@ Info:

ASM: San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. For The Taming of the Shrew. Rehs begin 6/3. Perfs 6/21-9/21 (matinees & eves, Fri-Sun), touring to 5 locations. Duties: Asst AEA SM during rehs; run backstage crew during tech rehs & perfs; attend strike, load-in & prod meetings. 16 EMC wks avail. SM exp req’d. Pay. Resume: Rebecca J. Ennals, Artistic Director, rennals@ DANCE TEACHER: King’s Academy. To prov classroom instruction in Christian school to junior high & high school students. Choreographing musicals & instructing color

guard poss. Req’d: Commitment to Christianity; exp teaching dance in a studio setting to teens; ability to teach variety of dance genres: ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop, tap &/or supervise teachers in those areas; bachelor’s degree in dance or equiv exp. Info/apply: DESIGNERS: Northside Theatre Company. For 2013-14 season. Flexible hrs. Resume: Meredith King, Associate Managing Director, Northside Theatre Company, 848 E. William St., San Jose, CA 95116; DIR/CHOREOGRAPHER: UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. For applicant pool, should openings arise. To dir or choreograph within annual prod season. Poss of teaching directing & choreography courses. Req’d: Graduate degree &/or professional directing or choreography exp. Pref’d: Prod & teaching exp in university or conservatory setting. 1-2 classes/semester. $45,975. Info/apply: Info: Marni Davis, EOE. DIRS: Benicia Old Town Theatre Group.

DRAMA TEACHER: San Carlos Children’s Theater. Seeks high-energy, self-motivated drama instructor w/passion for early childhood education. Duties: Creating & implementing lesson plans; assting w/dvlpmnt of long-term theatre program for children ages 3-6. Req’d: Exp teaching children in theatre; excellent communication skills; strong classroom mngmnt skills; flex schedule & comfort working w/parents; sense of play & caring nature. PT. Cvr ltr/hrly pay reqs/resume: SCCT Theater Manager Donna Avanzino, donna@ FRONT DESK RECEPTIONIST: Circus Center. Duties: Greeting & checking in clients, customers & staff; mnging client accounts & requests; processing payments; answering phones & emails; scheduling appts; opening &/or closing building; maintaining



• •


*Acting degree program is currently not offering online courses. Visit to learn more about total costs, median student loan debt, potential occupations and other information.


T H E AT R E B AY A R E A M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4

LEAD INSTRUCTORS & ASST INSTRUCTORS: Pied Piper Players. For after-school theatre program in Burlingame. Theatre background pref’d. Salary DOE. Resume: Info: LECTURER - TECH THEATRE & PROD, SM & LIGHTING DESIGN: UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. For applicant pool, should openings arise. To teach Introduction to Technical Theatre & Production, Stage Management, Lighting Design for Theatre. Req’d: Graduate degree &/or professional exp in tech theatre prod; proficiency in current practices in SM, lighting design &/or tech prod, including scenery, costume, props & lighting. Pref’d: Prod & teaching exp in university or conservatory setting. $47,584. Info/apply: Info: Wil Leggett, Production Manager, EOE. MAKEUP DESIGNER: Berkeley Playhouse. For Shrek the Musical. Rehs begin 5/17. Perfs begin 6/21. Must be avail for 2 meetings w/ direction, design presentations, application/ teaching actors week of & opening night. $100 stipend. Resume/portfolio: matthew@ MUSICAL DIR, DIRS, CHOREOGRAPHERS, TECH DIR, ASSTS, TECH DIR, MASTER CARPENTER, SET DESIGNER, LIGHTING DESIGNER: Pied Piper Players. For summer conservatory theatre camp &/or main stage prods. Theatre background pref’d. Salary DOE. Resume: piedpiperplayersorg@ Info: MUSICIANS: Circle of Life Theatre. Seeks a cappella singers, vocal percussionists/beatboxers, songwriters & music arrangers for newly forming group to perf contemp covers & mash-ups as well as orig songs. Perfs will take place wkly at variety of night spots in downtown SF. Voice parts will be doubled & tripled to allow for occasional

PRODUCING DIR: Berkeley Playhouse, Julia Morgan Theatre. To help lead company’s strategic artistic & financial growth & direction, serving as face of company to community. Duties: Serve as artistic line producer; help dvlp budgets, calendars & fundraising goals; help dvlp new education & new works programs; hire staff; further & create strategic partnerships. Ideal candidate is lover of musical theatre, new works & education; an innovative problem solver & inspirational leader who can help take company to next level. Salary DOE + benefits. Cvr ltr/resume/salary reqs: judithbmckoy@yahoo. com. Info: RESIDENT SM/PROD ADMIN: Berkeley Playhouse. Non-AEA. Set wkday admin hrs Mon-Fri. Choice of shows to SM. Apply: Info: SET DESIGNER, LIGHTING DESIGNER, COSTUME DESIGNER, TECH DIR, CARPENTERS, SCENIC ARTISTS, ASMS: Marin Shakespeare Company: For 2014 season, starting in Jun. Cvr ltr/resume: Lesley Currier, management@ Info: SM & BOARD OPS: Northside Theatre Company. For 2013-14 season. Flexible hrs. Resume: Meredith King, Associate Managing Director, Northside Theatre Company, 848 E. William St., San Jose, CA 95116; kingmeredith@ SOUND TECH: San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. For Taming of the Shrew. Perfs 6/219/21 (matinees & eves, Fri-Sun), touring to 5 locations. Duties: Set up, run & tear down sound system, including wireless mics & recorded sound, for all tech rehs & perfs; attend strikes, load-ins & prod meetings; work w/ sound designer & intern crew. Req’d: Exp w/ live sound mixing. Pref’d: Exp w/outdoor venues. Pay. Resume: Rebecca J. Ennals, Artistic Director,

T B A AwA r d s

INSTRUCTORS: Peninsula Youth Theatre. For Theatre in the Park summer day camps in Mountain View, Saratoga & Hillsborough. To teach students ages 6-15 as they design sets & costumes, rehearse & perform. $850-1200/2wk session. Resume: Katie O’Bryon, kobryon@ Info:

time off. Apply: Fritz Lambandrake, (415) 3855055;

Honoring Excellence.

cleanliness & organization of office; participating in special events. Req’d: Excellent written & oral communication skills; prior customer service exp; strong attention to detail; ability to multitask & work independently; ability to complete tasks on short deadlines. PT. Shifts are 5-8 hrs. Must be avail for Sat or Sun shift. Apply:


WORKSHOP COORDINATOR: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. To organize & coordinate various functions of acting workshop for 20-30 participants during 8-day summer acting intensive created by Anna Deavere Smith. Duties: Advertising, organizing apps & payment, contracting workshop instructors, working w/donors, training mngmnt & support staff & mnging workshop’s public perf. Ideal candidate is professional & customer-servicefocused w/attention to detail. Req’d: Excellent communication skills, sense of humor & flexibility. 20-40 hrs/wk. Compensation DOE. Cvr ltr/resume: No calls. EOE.

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4 T H E AT R E B AY A R E A 




For complete submission guidelines, contact the contest or theatre company. Opportunities that require a submission fee or other fee are marked by a icon. VICTORY GARDENS THEATER: Seeks

plays for 2014 Ignition Festival of New Plays. Winners get staged readings 7/21-27 in Chicago & poss workshops & inclusion in future season. Deadline 5/15. Info:


5-20-min plays on theme “The Cafetorium Chronicles: Lost & Found” for Playwrights Cagematch. Must be set in high school cafetorium in Anywhere, USA. 4 characters max. 5 plays get selected for staged reading in audiencejudged competition on 7/13 at Douglas Morrisson Theatre in Hayward. Deadline 5/30. Info:


LUCKY PENNY PRODUCTIONS: Seeks original, unprod 10-min plays for festival Jan-Feb 2015. Musicals OK. 4 characters max. $15 suggested donation app fee. Deadline 5/31. Notification 7/15. Info:

PLAYWRIGHTS FOUNDATION: Seeks unprod full-length plays (60-120 pp) for Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Rough Reading Series, Inkubator Workshops & producing partnership & commissioning programming. No translations; adaptations ok. Bay Area writers, emerging writers & writers of color strongly encour. $20 submission fee. Submissions accepted 7/189/18. Info:

SOUTHERN RAILROAD THEATRE COMPANY: Seeks plays for “Independence: Do Tell!

Stories of Independence and Interdependence with a Little Taste of the South” inspired by prompts “Freedom,” “Liberation” or “Independence.” Submissions must include at least 1 French word or phrase, at least 1 ref to food, at least 1 bad joke & at least 1 ref to nature. 5-10 pp. Winning entries get staged reading on 7/14 (Bastille Day). Deadline 6/1. Info: Susan Jackson,


by writers under the age of 19 for 30th annual California Young Playwrights Contest. Winners receive support of professional dramaturg, director & actors. Winners 15 & older get full prods at professional theatre in San Diego; winners 14 & younger get staged readings. 10 pp min. Deadline 6/1. Notification in Oct. Info:


Seeks female playwright for yrlong Shakespeare’s Sister Fellowship. Winner receives $10,000 & residencies & dvlpmnt support from A Room of Her Own Foundation, Hedgebrook & Lark Play Development Center. Deadline 7/1. Info/apply: SANTA CRUZ ACTORS’ THEATRE:

Seeks 10-min plays for perf in Jan-Feb 2015. $10 app fee. Deadline 7/1. Info: RAW (ROSS ALTERNATIVE WORKS):

Seeks original, previously unprod one-act plays (15-45 pp) by Bay Area residents for Oct prod. Deadline 7/15. Info:


PLAYGROUND: Seeks members of 201415 Writers Pool. Members must write for at least 5 of 6 Monday Night PlayGrounds; those plays are eligible for selection in annual Best of PlayGround Festival. Submissions accepted 6/17/31. Notification Oct. Info:

T H E AT R E B AY A R E A M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4

unpublished, previously unprod full-length plays by US citizens for Sky Cooper & David Calicchio Prizes. No musicals or translations. Sky Cooper winner gets $10,000 prize & dvlpmntl workshop. David Calicchio winner gets $2,500 prize & 2 staged readings. Submissions accepted 7/1-8/31. Info:

THE ACTOR’S PROJECT NYC: Seeks submissions of one-act or full-length plays for potential Actor’s Project prod. $35 entry fee. Info:

 THE ACTOR’S PROJECT NYC: Seeks 1-5-min scenes & monologues for showcase writing contest. $20 submission fee covers up to 5 submissions per writer (extra $20 for 6-10 submissions). Info:

 CENTRAL WORKS: Seeks proposals on ongo-

ing basis for plays to be dvlpd via Central Works Method. Info:


Accepts full-length plays on ongoing basis. Eligibility: Plays by Middle Eastern writers on any topic; plays about the Middle East written by anyone. Areas of interest: Comedies, especially satire; translations of contemporary Middle Eastern plays; adaptations of classical texts; exploration of Middle Eastern perf trads & experiments w/nonrealistic forms. Info:

 HORIZON THEATRE: Accepts unsolicited resumes, treatments, samples & summaries of plays by writers w/roots in the American South whose work is concerned w/that region. No unsolicited full-length scripts. Response time 12 months. Women & African American writers especially encour. Info:

IMPACT THEATRE: Seeks full-length,

unpublished scripts that have not previously been produced in the Bay Area. Info:

MAGIC THEATRE: Seeks plays from local

writers on an ongoing basis. Info: NEW MUSICAL THEATER OF SAN FRANCISCO: Seeks original, accessible,

small-venue musical theatre pieces on ongoing basis. Plays must have 8 characters or less. Music should be arranged for solo piano or as highquality digital recording. Info:

PEAR AVENUE THEATRE: Accepts apps from serious playwrights for Pear Avenue Playwright’s Guild, which meets on ongoing basis to examine writing techniques, analyze plays & read from members’ works-in-progress. Fulllength plays can be given staged readings and dramaturgical assistance; often, further dvlpmnt results in inclusion in a future season. Guild members are also eligible to submit short plays for full prod in annual Pear Slices showcase. Info:

 PLAY CAFE: Seeks playwrights to participate in monthly scene-reading night in Downtown Berkeley. Playwrights may have up to 10 pages of scene-in-progress read by combination of professional actors & fellow participants. $10 fee to participate. Meetings are 2nd Thurs of month, 7-10PM. Info:

 REPURPOSED THEATRE: Seeks submissions including 10-min plays, solo shows, one-acts, full-lengths or musicals for Hot Box Sessions on ongoing basis. Chosen works produced at Repurposed Theatre, SF. Info:
 SATURDAY WRITE FEVER: Seeks playwrights to participate in monthly pop-up theater festival at the Exit Theatre Café. Playwrights write monologues from prompts; actors are cast from the crowd. Meetings are 2nd Saturday of month, 8:30-11PM. Info: TRADE A PLAY TUESDAY: Seeks 10-min

plays for wkly online play exchange. Must be willing to prov feedback to 1 other playwright within 24 hrs. Exchange is every Tuesday. Info:


Area playwrights interested in long-term relationships. Scripts of less than 15 pages encour; 85 pp max. Must be previously unprod. Info:



For complete submission guidelines, contact the organization. Opportunities that require a submission fee or other fee are marked by a icon. PAUL DRESHER ENSEMBLE: Seeks

early-to-mid-career Northern California artists working in time-based arts for Dresher Ensemble Artist Residency program. Residencies last 1-4 wks in West Oakland; residents get access to large reh studio, fabrication shop, support staff & equipment for lights, sound, projection & recording. Deadline 5/23 for 2014-15 cycle. Info:

HEADLANDS CENTER FOR THE ARTS: Seeks artists for residencies of 4 to

10 wks in Marin Headlands. $35 processing fee. Deadline 6/6 for 2015 program. Info:


staged in domestic residences to be part of (International) Home Theater Festival. Perf(s) must take place before July. Info:

RECOLOGY: Seeks artists who work w/

recycled materials for residency w/studio,

stipend, access to discarded materials, 24/7 scavenging privileges, class lectures, 2-day onsite exhibition & permanent offsite exhibition. Applicants from theatre, dance & perf art encour to explain how their work could be documented. Deadline 8/29 for residency in 2015. Info: BINDLESTIFF STUDIO: Seeks proposals

for prod in spring & summer 2015. Areas of interest: prods that advance Bindlestiff Studio’s mission; prods that represent diverse art forms & styles & that use black box theatre creatively, effectively & resourcefully; prods relevant to contemp Filipino & Pilopino communities; partnerships w/individuals & groups who demonstrate innovation in form & substance. Deadline 8/31. Info:

SF SKETCHFEST: Accepts submissions from sketch comedy groups, solo sketch/character performers, solo shows, improv groups, “short sketchy self-prod plays,” alternative comedy acts, musical comedy acts, live comedy podcasts &

stand-up comedians for 14th annual festival. Perfs 1/22-2/8 at variety of Bay Area venues. Submissions accepted 6/1 thru mid-Oct. Notification by 12/15. Info: THE GARAGE: Seeks artists on ongoing

basis for 12-wk Resident Artist Workshop (RAW), which offers 4-6 hrs free reh space that culminates in 2-eve perf. Info:


organizations & projects to share Innovation Studio coworking space; proposals for perfs & exhibitions; & artists & arts organizations for membership in Incubator, which offers fiscal sponsorship & other services—all on ongoing basis. Info:

SAN JOSE REPERTORY THEATRE: Seeks local theatre artists, especially those from the South Bay, to participate in its Emerging Artists Lab, SJREAL, on ongoing basis. Participants get reh space, mentorship & perf venue in conjunction w/main stage shows. Info:

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acting VERNA WINTERS STUDIO. One on one with acclaimed teacher/ coach Verna Winters. ACTING (Stage/ Camera), AUDITIONING, VOICE, SPEECH, SINGING, MUSICAL THEATRE, MOVEMENT. Serious, supportive. Beginners, advanced, professionals. (510) 524-1601. Berkeley. H NANCY CARLIN (ACT, BRT, Cal Shakes, UCSC) offering private audition/acting/voice coaching. (510) 290-8552 or yellowdoor@ H AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATER – STUDIO A.C.T. & YOUNG CONSERVATORY. Dynamic, rewarding classes for all levels—all taught by the finest theater artists in the industry. Studio A.C.T. is designed for adults; the YC serves students ages 8-19. Sessions are available throughout the year. Visit or call (415) 439-2350. PRIVATE COACHING WITH LINDA AYRES-FREDERICK Artistic Director, Phoenix Theatre SF. Available for preparing auditions, monologues, sides, scenework and for editing (scripts and grantwriting). Reasonable rates. (415) 336-1020 or

AUDITION AND LIFE COACHING WITH MERYL SHAW. Identify your strengths and find the best material to showcase them. Improve auditions by learning tools to sharpen skills and increase confidence. Define goals and create action plans to achieve them. Former A.C.T. Casting Director and life coach offers private coaching. www. meryl@ KEVIN SIMMERS – PRIVATE COACHING FOR THE ACTOR: Monologue, audition prep, scene study. 30 plus years experience. Graduate of the Drama Studio London, MA Direction SFSU, currently on faculty at Skyline College – Drama/Acting. 75 minute session. Very reasonable rate. TBA Discount (415) 474-1066. H AMY POTOZKIN – AUDITION COACHING: Berkeley Repertory Theatre Casting Director available for private audition coaching. (510) 484-4280. MONOLOGUE MAKEOVERS. Private audition prep and coaching with customized, handpicked fresh selections that casting directors haven’t heard 10 times in a row. Stand out and stand up with first-rate showcase material and audition techniques for success. Complimentary evaluation from stage/TV/film actress

Cynthia Roberts. Contact: (415) 9944678 or BERKELEY REP SCHOOL OF THEATRE. Youth, teen, adult classes for all levels offered Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Financial aid available. (510) 647-2972. H W. ALLEN TAYLOR - AUDITION COACHING. Private sessions in San Rafael and at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. 35 years experience, ACT/MFA and reasonable rates. (510) 390-3192 or dramagriot@

voice VERNA WINTERS STUDIO – SINGING, SPEECH, STANDARD AMERICAN, PHONETICS, MUSICAL THEATRE, AUDITIONS Technique/ performance for singers/actors/ speakers. Superb, supportive teacher/ coach. (510) 524-1601. Berkeley. H LEE STRAWN VOICE STUDIO. Vocal technique and performance preparation for the singing actor. Active performer with 25 years teaching experience: breathing; posture; smoothing register breaks; extending range; freedom from tension. My students perform in national tours and regional theatres. (415) 378-8556. H

CYNTHIA BASSHAM, MASTER TEACHER OF FITZMAURICE VOICEWORK®, is offering ongoing classes (group and private). Free your speaking voice of habitual tensions while gaining power and variety. Contact for Group Intro dates. (510) 303-2701. NAIL THAT AUDITION! AUDITION & PERFORMANCE COACHING FOR MUSICAL THEATER. Great singing on the stage requires much more than just a great voice! Learn the keys to great song acting with professional NY/SF/LA actor-singer and accomplished teacher, Pierce Brandt (Menlo Park and San Francisco). www.PerformanceSinging. com, (415) 683-0455, pbrandt@

playwriting SCRIPT CONSULTANT/ DRAMATURGE – ANNE NYGREN DOHERTY One-on-one support for plays, screenplays, musicals from experienced dramaturge and former Hollywood story analyst. (415) 3857293/


$1.10/word; $1.50/word for nonmembers and individual members. 15-word minimum. Ads must be submitted and paid for by the deadline, which is the first business day of


the month prior to publication. Please indicate which section you’d like your ad to appear in. Contact Lily Janiak,, or (415) 430-1140 x17. See for more info. H Advertisers who give discounts to Theatre Bay Area members.


T H E AT R E B AY A R E A M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4


and nonprofit theatres. Hundreds of costumes available (Into the Woods, Music Man, Little Women, A Chorus Line, The King and I, Camelot). View inventory online at www.dmtrentals. org. Costume appointments: John Lewis (510) 881-6760. Props, furniture: Larry Jeane (510) 888-0160.

space REHEARSAL STUDIO AVAILABLE IN WEST OAKLAND 40’X50X17’ (ceiling). Light & sound, piano, wifi, phone. In secure bldg with parking & loading dock. Daily, weekly, monthly rentals available. Discounted rates for non-profits. (510) 834-4102.

EXIT THEATRE. 156 Eddy, downtown SF. Four intimate, equipped theatres, from 25-80 seats. Call Christina Augello, (415) 931-1094. STUDIO 210 Available for Rehearsals, Classes, Performance. Centrally located, clean, mirrors, wood floors, reasonable rates. (415) 267-7687. Seating, sound, and lights for shows. H SF REHEARSAL SPACE AVAILABLE: In Civic Center. 250 Van Ness @ Grove. Great space for theater/dance rehearsal or classes. $25-35 per hour (20 hr min.) + Key deposit. 35 x 70-foot room with 22 x 50 dance floor & mirror. Safe, clean, public trans., wi-fi, security buzzer, piano. (415) 255-8205 or

SPACE AVAILABLE Downtown SF for performances, classes, workshops, auditions, and rehearsals at the PHOENIX THEATRE and PHOENIX ANNEX at 414 Mason (at Geary). Seats 49-70. Reasonable rates. Contact Linda at (415) 336-1020 or to see by appointment only. BERKELEY CITY CLUB THEATER: intimate 60-seat performance space in beautiful landmark building. AVAILABLE FOR RENT, $800/WEEK, $3000/MO. FULLY EQUIPPED LIGHTING AND SOUND. Contact gary@ STAGE WERX 70+ seat theatre with 20x23 stage. Rehearsal studio. Great location on Valencia St. 1.5 blocks from

16th St. BART info@ PERFORMANCE AND REHEARSAL SPACES AT A.C.T. The Costume Shop theater, a 49-seat black-box theater located at 1117 Market Street. Hastings Studio Theater, up to 99-seat black-box theater, and 10 rehearsal studios at 30 Grant Avenue, Union Square. Contact: PERFORMANCE VENUE FOR RENT Live Oak Theatre, Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley: a 140 seat venue available for theatre performance, rehearsals, classes, award ceremonies, presentations, etc. Please phone (510) 981-8150 for more information.

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M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4 T H E AT R E B AY A R E A 






Photo: Bethanie Hines

arc Bamuthi Joseph, originally from Queens, NYC, is the director of performing arts at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. As a dancer, poet, actor and writer, he’s won international recognition. As an administrator, he’s worked to increase public access to art and art-making through programs such as YBCA’s low-cost dance class series 50 Cent Tabernacle, YBCAway microcommissions for local artists, and productions like the upcoming ’93 ’Til, featuring young Bay Area emcees. Passionate about community building, he cofounded Youth Speaks, a local nonprofit fostering civic engagement and personal growth through spoken word performance, and helped build Life is Living, originally an Oakland community festival, into an urban phenomenon in five cities across the country. His acclaimed touring show red, black and Green will return to YBCA in fall 2015.


What brought you here?

I got a fellowship to teach English and West African dance at a small, independent school in Marin for two years. In that second year I started integrating more of a performance sensibility, conT H E AT R E B AY A R E A M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 4

textualizing what we were reading in our literature classes. There were a bunch of well-connected families who sent their kids there. I guess one of the kids went home raving to somebody, and the next thing I knew George Soros contacted me and was like, “I’ve heard about your techniques. Will you come to Bosnia and work with Kosovar gypsies, Croats and Serbian kids and figure out some middle ground through poetry and spoken word?” James Kass and I did this work in the former Yugoslavia for a month and change, then we said, “Let’s do this in the States.” That’s how Youth Speaks got developed. I have worked with, I don’t know, half a million kids since then. I don’t think that’s much of an exaggeration, actually. [Laughs.] You were pretty young when you started performing professionally.

I grew up on Broadway. In the fourth and fifth grade, the Minskoff Theatre was my second home. You haven’t lived till you’ve played hide-and-go-seek in an empty Broadway house, but that’s a whole other story. [Laughs.] When I was an understudy, I’d show up to the theatre, and if somebody didn’t have a broken leg, then I got to leave and go see some other show. You know, I was this cute 10-year-old. The people at the stage door couldn’t say no to me. Who was the first artist whose work really moved you?

I definitely had an Alvin Ailey moment. I definitely had a Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing moment. But the artists that first taught me about art were rappers. Especially Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions, because their work was so politically charged, and in their work is this sense of accountability—the connection of what we were building in New York to global movements. The articulation of divestment from South Africa as not only a political strategy,

but as a political imperative. The introduction of a Black Nationalist ethic. I didn’t know who Louis Farrakhan was until I heard Public Enemy speak his name. That was my introduction, because it certainly wasn’t in history [class], it wasn’t in the newspapers that I was reading. Collaboration is central to your work, both politically and aesthetically. What do you look for in collaborators?

Inspiration and humility—but first be inspired. The way I collaborate leaves all parties in the dark for some period of time; my choreographer, Stacey Printz...I don’t know if she’s choreographed to music yet. [Laughs.] We’ll be in the studio, and I’ll say, “Okay, there’s going to be four sections, and one is the gospel according to race and one is the gospel according to possession and one according to New Orleans...” You know, make some shit up. And she’ll say, “All right.” Or, she’ll do some movement and I’ll be like, “Keep doing that!” But all that comes energetically from being inspired. All these collaborative processes are affirmations of public intellect in common space that is tethered by a desire to make the world better and bigger. Is there anything you wish you got to do more of?

I don’t get to sleep as much as I’d like, that’s about it. I do these spot residencies where performance happens. Red, black and Green still tours. I’m writing a libretto for the Philadelphia Opera and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra right now, and a play for South Coast Rep. And I’m really turned on by intentional community design; it’s a great creative outlet. Again, it’s all a by-product of belief. Nothing feels extraneous, including when I veg out and play Words with Friends on my future machine. I am full-time me. It doesn’t feel like I’m part-time anything.

Thank you for causing a scene with us! Theatre Bay Area would like to extend a special thank-you to Pat Paulsen Vineyards for their generous suppor t.

June 23-August 1 A 6-Week Intensive Summer Training Program. Only 28 students accepted!


Susan Egan, Broadway’s Belle of “Beauty and the Beast”

March 22 and May 3, 2014 DVD or online auditions due April 30 n Master Classes with Broadway Performers n Seminar with Professional Casting Director n Drop in career talks with leads drawn from Broadway

and National Companies of Avenue Q, Memphis, Sister Act, West Side Story, and Phantom of the Opera

n College Credit and Campus Housing Available

Read what the graduates say: “This program provided the tools I needed to be the performer I want to be.” “One of the most challenging aspects about MTC is its incredibly high standards.” “MTC has changed my life! I’m not only prepared but thrilled to audition anytime.” A joint project of Notre Dame de Namur University Musical Arts Department and Hillbarn Theatre

Photo by: Joan Marcus


Master Class with

theatre bay area periodical

1119 market st., 2nd floor san francisco, ca 94103


The Young Actors’ Theatre Camp presents


Summer of Broadway AMAZING TEACHERS (& more to come!!)

LAURA BELL BUNDY Tony Nominee “Legally Blonde” & Country Music Sensation


Tony Nominee “Spring Awakening” “Glee,” and HBO’s “Looking”




NBC’s “Smash” Composer of Tony Nominee, “Sean Saves The “Avenue Q” Obie Award-Winner, Composer of Disney’s World” “Book of Mormon” & star of HBO’s “Frozen” & Broadway’s “The Newsroom” “Winnie The Pooh” & Disney’s “Frozen” “Wicked” & “9 to 5”

Session 1: June 24 - July 3 Session 2: July 7-17 Session 3: July 20-30 Session 4: August 1-11 Ages 8-18, All Levels Encouraged

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who are interested in exploring the Performing Arts, including Acting for the Camera, Scene Study, Singing, Dancing, and SO MUCH MORE!

Call (925)



858-3548 or (855) Go-2-YATC to Register.

Profile for Theatre Bay Area

Theatre Bay Area Magazine 2014-05/06 (May/Jun)  

Theatre Bay Area Magazine 2014-05/06 (May/Jun)