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Interview with Heren Patel: Actor, Bollywood Enthusiast and Theatre Bay Area Intern

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, August 19, 2014
By Anna Hecht

Q: How did you hear about Theatre Bay Area?
A: At school. And I used to work for New Musical Theatre of San Francisco. I worked for them on a show last year as an assistant director, and they were talking about how they wanted to get people down from Theatre Bay Area. I asked them, "Oh, ok, who are those guys?" They told me, "It's this whole big, huge organization that helps promote theatre" and I was like, "Oh wow, I didn't even know about that!"
"Magnificent One - Great Blue Heron in Breeding Plummage" by Andrea Westmoreland on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

Q: What is your internship at Theatre Bay Area, and what are your duties?
A: Marketing intern. I've been entering and transferring data for PDN [Postcard Distribution Network], our marketing and our advertising. I make sure that everything—the little things—are organized. I've been having fun here; one of the events I got to attend was the Blushing Orchid Ball at the Hyatt Regency. It was really fun! I got to see a lot of people from different organizations and different theatre communities come together to watch the Tony Awards.

Q: You also represented TBA at SF Pride?
A: Yeah, Pride was wonderful. It was one of the weirdest things I've ever been to. It's something I'm used to because I grew up in this town, but it's different seeing it from the inside: all kinds of people just out there, people from all different parts of the world.

Q: What have you gained from this internship so far?
A: I think it's really great. I've learned a lot from the staff about how the professional world works in the Bay Area. What is the etiquette here, and what's the tone? What kind of plays are being developed and produced? Who are they looking for in terms of auditions? It's been really cool.

Q: Are you from San Francisco originally?
A: Yes, I'm from San Francisco, born and raised. My mom came here in around 1975 when she was 15, and then my dad came here in 1982. I grew up in the Mission District, then moved out to the Inner Richmond District around the avenue areas.

Q: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the city?
A: I don't necessarily have a least favorite, but [some favorites are] Baker Beach, which is really nice, Golden Gate Park, Union Square. San Francisco is just a great city to be in.

Q: You attended SF State. How was that?
A: Yeah, I graduated in May. It was wonderful. I was in Brown Bag Repertory Theatre class; we put on a play every week. Rehearsal time is four weeks to put on a show—it's really intensive. You learn a lot about theatre and you grow as an actor, and it was really fun doing that at SF State.

Q: Do you have many mentors in the field?
A: I have teachers who are part of the professional world. My first acting teacher at SF State was Lauren English—she's the casting director for San Francisco Playhouse—so I know her pretty well. Bill Peters is a great guy; I would consider him the master of theatre. He's a professor in acting, directing and all kinds of things. There's a lot of great people at that school. They mentored me in getting me out of my own way, because once I started acting, I was one of those people who thinks a lot. I thought too much about doing what I wanted to do and that really messed up my acting.

Q: Are you continuing your work as an actor?
A: I am in a show right now that's going to be at ACT. It's new in the works and titled Love Junkies. It's going to be playing the first week of October through the weekend. It's a musical, so you get a chance to hear me sing [laughs], which I desperately hate doing.

Q: What are your interests outside of theatre?
A: I like watching Indian movies a lot. That's actually what inspired me to become an actor. In a lot of Bollywood movies, they have musical numbers; it's basically a musical on film. I love song and dance mixed with acting, and I was like, "Oh, theatre does this too, so why not?"

Q: Where do you see yourself, career-wise, after your TBA internship ends?
A: Right now, I don't know where this career might take me. I do have a long-term goal of going to India and doing theatre and film over there. But right now I'm here for the experience.



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