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Welcome to Backstage: The TBA Blog! This is the place for Theatre Bay Area announcements, info on upcoming events, grant deadlines, ticket giveaways, shout-outs and special profiles of featured members. Visit early and often!


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Stuff We Love: Tweets from #TBACon14

Posted By TBA Staff, Thursday, April 17, 2014
Updated: Thursday, April 17, 2014

By TBA Staff    

We're still glowing from the greatness that was #TBACon14. Bathe in its lingering glory with our Top Ten Conference Tweets!

Conference-goers networking up a storm. Did we mention there was free coffee all day? Photo: Cheshire Isaacs

1. Plenary Advice from Meredith McDonough:

2. On Bay Area Theatre, Compared to New York [quoting panelist Rob Melrose]:

3. Heather Kitchen Lays It Down:

4. On Lively Breakout Sessions:

5. Repeat Offenders:

6. On Business Partnerships: 

7. On Technology:

8. On Gender Equality As, You Know, A Real Thing:

9. Lean In, Actor Edition [quoting panelist Desdemona Chiang]:

10. And, In Closing:

Honorable Mentions

Most Philosophical:

Sassiest and Baconiest:

"A" for Effort!:

Tags:  #tbacon14  Annual Conference 

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Meet the Plenary Speakers

Posted By Katharine Chin, Saturday, April 12, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014
The 2014 Theatre Bay Area Annual Conference is fast approaching! Prep yourself for the big day by reading up on our most excellent plenary speakers. This year our plenary session topic is "What is the Ideal Theatre Community?" Share your two cents on the ideal theatre community on Twitter by using the hashtag #tbacon14.

Plenary Speakers:

Desdemona Chiang is a stage director based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle. Cofounder of Azeotrope. Directing credits include Playmakers Repertory Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Crowded Fire Theatre Company, Azeotrope, Impact Theatre, FringeNYC, Playwrights Foundation, Golden Thread Productions, Washington Ensemble Theatre, SF One- Minute Play Festival, Unicycle Collective, SIS Productions, Ohio Northern University, University of Washington and Cornish College of the Arts, among others.

New play development and assisting credits include: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Intiman Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, Mark Taper Forum, Magic Theatre, Theatreworks, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, among others. Intersection for the Arts Triangle Lab Artist-Investigator.

Alumnus: SDC Sir John Gielgud Directing Fellow, Drama League Directing Fellow, TCG Young Leader of Color, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and Directors Lab West. 2012 Gregory Award Recipient for Outstanding Direction.

Member: Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC). BA, Integrative Biology and Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies: University of California at Berkeley. MFA Directing: University of Washington.

Desdemona in the news: 
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Heather Kitchen
has more than 36 years of professional experience in performing arts management, planning, financial analysis, education, fundraising, board development, advocacy, policy formulation, union negotiations and program planning.

Prior to joining Dallas Theater Center in 2011, Ms. Kitchen served as executive director of American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco for 14 seasons where she grew the organization from an operating budget of $11 million to more than $19 million. Ms. Kitchen successfully led ACT's first endowment campaign of $31 million. She served as General Manager of The Citadel Theatre in Alberta, Canada, Production Manager at Theatre New Brunswick, and worked as a stage manager at many major regional theaters across Canada including: The Stratford Shakespearean Festival, The Neptune Theatre, and Canadian Stage Company.

Ms. Kitchen holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Waterloo and a Masters of Business Administration from The University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. She has been an active community leader, serving on the board of directors of Big Brothers and Sisters of San Francisco and the Peninsula, the Commonwealth Club of California and on the San Francisco leadership board of the American Red Cross.

Heather in the news: 
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Meredith McDonough is associate artistic director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where she has directed brownsville song (b side for tray), Noises Off, The Whipping Man, and The Delling Shore

Previously, Ms. McDonough was the Director of New Works at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA, where she directed the world premieres of Laura Schellhardt's Upright Grand and Auctioning the Ainsleys, as well as Silent Sky, Now Circa Then[title of show], and Opus (Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards: Best Director and Best Production).

Other San Francisco credits include A Steady Rain at Marin Theatre Company,The Lily's Revenge and the premiere of Anna Ziegler's Another Way Home at the Magic Theatre. Regionally, favorites include Fair Use (Steppenwolf Theatre Company), Eurydice (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Hazard County (Actor's Express), and the Washington, D.C. premiere of the musical Summer of '42 (Roundhouse).  

In New York City, Ms. McDonough has developed work with Roundabout Theatre Company, Atlantic Theater Company, Keen Company, and Ars Nova. She was the associate director of The Orchard Project and was the new works director for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, a Drama League Fellow, an alum of The Women's Project Director's Lab, and a Kesselring Award Panelist.

Ms. McDonough received her BS from Northwestern and her MFA in directing from the University of California, San Diego.

Meredith in the news: 

Rob Melrose is the artistic director and cofounder of the Cutting Ball Theater and works nationally as a freelance director. He has directed at The Guthrie Theater (Happy Days, Freud's Last Session, Pen, Julius Caesarwith the Acting Company); The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Troilus and Cressidain association with the Public Theater), Magic Theatre (An Accident, World Premiere); PlayMakers Rep (Happy Days); Black Box Theatre (The Creature, World Premiere, BATCC Award for direction), as well as Actors' Collective, The Gamm Theatre and Crowded Fire Theater, among others.

His directing credits at Cutting Ball include Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night (world premiere), Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep, Pelleas & Melisande, the Bay Area Premiere of Will Eno's Lady Grey (in ever lower light), The Tempest, The Bald Soprano, Victims of Duty, Bone to Pick and Diadem (world premiere), Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Hamletmachine, As You Like It, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World among others.

His translations of Woyzeck, Ubu Roi, and Pelleas & Melisande have been published by EXIT Press.  He has taught at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, USF, the University of Rhode Island and Marin Academy.

Rob in the news:


Reggie D. White is an actor/singer/teaching artist. Reggie grew up in Southern California and attended California State University, East Bay where he studied Theatre and Political Science. He has worked all over the San Francisco Bay Area with with Marin Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Crowded Fire Theater Company, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Intersection for the Arts, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and others.

In addition to his acting work, he also works as a teaching artist
teaching everything from acting to theatre-based literacyand has worked with Berkeley Rep, California Shakespeare Theatre and StageWrite. 

Reggie is also a Theatre Bay Area Titan Award winner, and the current recipient of the 2014 RHE Foundation's Artistic Fellowship. In addition to all of his artistic and education work, he hosts a comedy podcast, called "What's The Tea?"

Reggie in the news:

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Ben Yalom is the founder and co-artistic director of foolsFury Theater Company, a dynamic ensemble based in San Francisco. He has directed many foolsFury productions, including the world premiere of Sheila Callaghan's collaboration with foolsFuryPort Out, Starboard Home (Z Space and La Mama), Doug Dorst's Monster in the Dark, the US premiere of Fabrice Melquiot's The Devil on All Sides (which he also translated), Don DeLillo's Valparaiso, the West Coast premiere of Martin Crimp's seminal avant-garde work Attempts on Her Life and others.

With Inverse Theater he directed the controversial musical Bangers' Flopera in the New York Fringe Festival ("One of the top three musical of the NY Fringe" American Theater Web; "Outstanding New Musical" Talkin Broadway). With Traveling Jewish Theatre he directed Naomi Newman's award-winning one-woman show Fall Down Get Up. Ben has also worked with A.C.T., the Playwrights Foundation, the Magic Theatre, Playground, the Aurora Theatre, and Encore Theatre (San Francisco), The Cell (New York), and Théâtre Ange Magnétique (Paris).

Ben has taught playwriting, directing and physical performance at many colleges and universities throughout the country, most recently at UC Riverside. He has also taught at the Lee Strasberg Institute (NYU/Tisch), the La Mama Umbria Director's Symposium, Stanford University, the National Theater Institute, Brown University, Connecticut College, Vassar College, and the Berkeley Repertory School of Theatre.

Ben holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His fiction, essays and translations of plays have appeared in magazines nationwide. He was recently elected to the board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters
. Ben is the proud servant of a bouncing baby boy.

Ben in the news:

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Tags:  #tbacon14  Annual Conference 

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Playwright Cabaret at Annual Conference

Posted By Laura Brueckner, Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Bay Area has one of the hottest new play scenes in the country, and we're not afraid of showing off. The Playwright Cabaret is a new event at the Annual Conference that says, "Wilkommen, Bienvenue!" to all local writers interested in showing their work. There's nothing too rough, too challenging, or too strange for this showcase – bring it and sing it, you mad genius, you!

Photo: "Burn After Reading" by Stuart Crawford on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

The Annual Conference is on April 14, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Playwright Cabaret will run from 12:45-4:45 p.m. in the new Berkeley Rep bar, which has a divine little postage-stamp stage ideal for intimate readings. Participating writers must provide all actors (there's no limit on cast size, but space limitations/safety/sanity suggest a max of six bodies onstage). Writers must also field a production assistant to read stage directions (this is important, seriously), and bring enough printed copies of the script for your cabaret team. There will be no printer or copier available onsite. Special note to writers: you are heartily encouraged to watch the reading rather than participate as a reader, in order to take full advantage of the presence of a live audience watching your work.

Each writer and team will get exactly 30 minutes' worth of stage time: five minutes to enter and set up, 20 minutes to read, and five minutes to clear the stage completely for the next team. These times are not flexible, out of respect for all participating cabaret teams, and our fabulous conference staff will be present to keep the stage running on time. So avoid stage fail by drilling your entrance and exit with your cast and timing your selection before the big day!

Interested writers should email Laura Brueckner. We hope to accommodate all writers who apply, and will accept applications until all slots are filled. In the event that there are more folks than slots by April 10, we'll roll like the General Auditions and select by lottery. Playwrights will receive a 50% discount on their conference registration fees. All writers, selected or not, will be notified by 6 p.m. on April 10. 

Tags:  #tbacon14  Annual Conference  playwright  reading 

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Find Your Soul Mate at TBA's Annual—Your Space Soul Mate

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Here's the scenario, friends: 


Spacey Spaciopolis owns a rockin' dance studio, but it's lonely a lot of the time. It's a shame to let it just sit there, and she knows she could make some extra loot by renting it out whenever she isn't Turkey Trotting in it herself, but she can’t pay for publicity (obviously). Plus she wouldn't know where to advertise it anyway, and she sure as Zeus doesn’t have time to design some spiffy ad, especially when she could be doing the Kangaroo Hop!


Across town, Thespis McThespian has been using the same black box for years to teach his "Find Your Voice Through Mime" classes, but the usurious landlord has just jacked up the rents, summarily ending McThespian's tenure. He's not familiar with the rental market any more (where's his phone book?), and every Google search he does just turns up porn theaters & Wikianswers pages.


Before Bay Area Performing Arts Spaces (BAPAS), the story might have ended here: a tragedy of the perfect match whose paths never cross. 


But sometimes, all a match needs is a matchmaker. Behold: the Space Rental Lab at Theatre Bay Area's Annual Conference on April 14!


Do you want to advertise your space for rental, but never seem to get around to it? Need to find a cheaper, more convenient venue for your next performance? At the Space Rental Lab, you'll work with our crackerjack team from BAPAS, a searchable database of 467 performing arts spaces in 11 Bay Area counties. We match spaces with renters for free! 


Stop in any time during the conference and Duck Waddle (real dance name) away with a complete, live, beautiful profile that's synced to your organization's calendar, highlighting your unbooked rental times. Or drop by to get a list of spaces that you didn't already know about and that meet your needs for your next rehearsal, audition, performance or self-help-through-mime seminar. 


Already got a BAPAS profile? You rock. Visit our lab and we'll help you make your profile even more appealing to potential renters. We just made some of the site's most popular features free! More about that here


If you're a theatre person of any stripe, you can't afford to not use this resource! Your match is out there waiting for you. Let us help you find it!

Oh, and you can register for the conference here. See you at the Space Rental Lab!

Tags:  #tbacon14  Annual Conference  BAPAS  performance  rehearsal  rental  space 

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2013 Conference For the Win!

Posted By Dale Albright, Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014

By Dale Albright        

When we set out to program our Annual Conference, it is always our mandate to provide programming, speakers and information that meet the diverse needs of the expected attendees. Not an easy feat, considering the size and scope of our theatre community, with its numerous companies, varied disciplines and hundreds of individual artists.

Conference attendees filling Berkeley Rep's Roda Theatre to hear the opening plenary. Photo: Laura Brueckner

This year's conference—named "Impact! Make Your Splash!"—was the result of massive community input. In part because of input from regional company meetings, advisory committees, social media, ad hoc community groups and rabid volunteers, this year's programming brought together almost 100 speakers from our own community, as well as Cleveland, New York, Seattle, Washington DC and Ireland (!) to address issues and concerns facing our community.

This year's "Director/Designer/Tech Speed Dating" was a very popular breakout session. Many designers brought their portfolios, and one production stage manager showed up looking for an ASM to hire on the spot! Photo: Laura Brueckner

Framing the discussion in terms of how we can maximize the impact of what we do helped not only to focus the day on big-picture issues but also to ground the conversations with practical, day-to-day takeaways. Over 400 people attended this year's Annual Conference, the only one of its kind on the West Coast, with still more theatre folks across the country avidly following tech-savvy attendees' Twitter streams using our tasty-sounding hashtag, #tbacon (read the entire day's Twitter feed here).

Raymond Bobgan, Deborah Cullinan, Ed Decker and Jessica Robinson Love speaking during the opening plenary, "Engaging Communities: What, Where, How—and Why?" Photo: Laura Brueckner

Of course, the programming is only a fraction of the "impact" the Annual Conference has on attendees. It's the one event all year where Bay Area theatre professionals of all stripes can come together as colleagues to share best practices, catch up with old friends and make new friends and colleagues. I am pleased to thank everyone referred to above for making this conference one of the best ever, and am already looking forward to the next one!

Between sessions, attendees got outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather, relax and catch up with friends in Berkeley Rep's courtyard. Photo: Laura Brueckner

Designer and actor Diego Gomez getting some fresh air. You may (not) recognize him from the cover of our March/April magazine issue! Photo: Laura Brueckner

A very special thanks to our 2013 Conference Sponsors:

Interested in attending our 2014 Annual Conference? Click here for more information about our 2014 Annual Conference. 

Interested in sponsoring our 2014 Annual Conference? Contact Katharine Chin for more details. 

Tags:  #tbacon14  Annual Conference 

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