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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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Featured Member: April Green

Posted By TBA Staff, Monday, March 17, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2015


It may still be March, but we'd rather talk about April! We're delighted to announce April Green as our first featured member. She's currently taking part in our ATLAS program for actors, and she was the absolutely first person to add a headshot and résumé to her bio on our new website! TBA staffer James Nelson interviews this proactive professional. 

 

 
TBA Featured Member April Green.

Tell us a little about your theatre work.

I'm a diligent student. If I'm not learning on the job, I'm taking classes. I've done long-form improv with Freefall Improvisational Theater and have performed full-length unscripted plays for over eight years. Recently I started doing more devised, experimental and physical theatre. As far as what I'd like to do with performance—I am interested in the intersections where story, movement and music meet, which can be very powerful when they are done successfully.


What's a favorite production you've seen?

Aurelia's Oratorio, which came to Berkeley Rep a few years ago. I just felt so lifted by the magic in that show—I remember dancing down the street after walking out of the theatre that night. The first Mugwumpin show I saw blew my mind—Future Motive Power at the Mint. It was an incredible devised work by really smart people and a great use of the space. I love everything I see at Shotgun and the work I've seen directed by Mark Jackson because it's surprising, subtle, and poetic. And I love Lauren Gunderson's plays, of course—they're full of heart. There's so much great stuff going on here in the Bay Area.


What do you like about the theatre scene here in the Bay? 

I just moved here recently and have been overwhelmed by how supportive and approachable the theatre community here is. The work I've seen in the Bay Area has tremendous heart and guts. I see artists here doing what they love and taking risks—it's exciting to see the boldness that comes out of the work here.

Do you have a resource or a piece of advice you’d like to share?

If you get a chance to work with Jeffrey Bihr, do it. Take a class with him over at Berkeley Rep or do some one-on-one coaching. He is wonderful to work with—fun, supportive and specific.

Be kind. To others and to yourself. There's a blog I love called "The Follies of God." It has all of these beautiful and poignant quotes from famous playwrights and actors (a lot of Tennessee Williams) about what it means to be an artist and how you can actually embrace the struggle. As one of my newfound actor friends said to me the other day, "this is a crazy business we are in—you might as well be an optimist."



April Green is a Bay Area actor, with a career that includes shows at Pear Avenue Theater, Rapid Descent Physical Theatre, Stanford Theater and Ragged Wing Ensemble. Learn more about her work at castaprilgreen.com

Tags:  Featured Member 

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How to Use the Member Forums

Posted By James Nelson, Membership Associate, Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014

By James Nelson


I don't know if you've noticed, but here at TBA we're pretty jazzed about the launch of our brand-new website. Not only does this site represent a sleek visual overhaul, but it greatly expands upon what the previous site could do, and also allows us to offer features that were never possible before. This includes our brand-new member forums!

A brief explanation for those of you who haven't used forums before: "forums," or message boards, are a type of social media where people can engage in discussions (called "threads") by posting individual messages ("posts") to that thread. You can reply to posts that others have made in an existing thread, or even start a new thread yourself if you have something you want to talk about. Since threads are temporarily archived on the Member Forums page, participants can check in and respond at their own convenience, allowing interesting discussions to carry on for hours or even days. The threads are ranked on the page according to the amount of activity each thread is generating, so the topmost threads are those with the most people posting the most comments. When a discussion finally winds down, it will slowly drop from the front page, leaving more recent and lively threads in its place.


Here's a sneak peek at a draft of the Member Forums webpage (sorry it's so small!):




So basically, a Forum is an organized way for our members to engage the TBA community in conversation about our Bay Area theatre and arts scene. (Forums are not for publicizing any potentially revenue-generating activity—see "Member Forum Rules and Guidelines" below.) Imagine all the fascinating discussions you have in real life about theatre with your friends, family, and fellow artists—everything from post-show mingling to post-audition commiserating to wailing over the dinner table about the injustice of "August: Osage County" being made into a movie. Now, how about having those same conversations with an entire community of artists and theatre lovers, and being able to continue the discussion for the entire week?


See how different people can respond to questions like the one asked by my test persona, "J. McTester":




This all gets even more exciting when you consider that the Member Forums can be an alternative home for the awesome social media conversations we're already having. Have you seen any fierce theatre debates pop up in your Facebook Newsfeed? Riveting back-and-forths on Twitter? Those are the kind of conversations the Forums are designed for—because when conversations are public and inclusive, more members of the community can jump in and take it up a notch.

Theatre makes people want to talk. Some of us want to keep talking long after everyone else has lost interest, and some of us don't even know who to talk to in the first place. These awesome Member Forums are for all of us who want to talk more, listen more and be more connected to each other and our community.

Theatre Bay Area has always been about bringing the Bay Area theatre community together. With these Forums, we invite you, as our members and friends, to connect to each other directly and instantly. February 12 is quickly approaching—what do you want to talk about first?



Theatre Bay Area Member Forum Rules and Guidelines - Please Read

Thanks for joining the discussion in our new online community, the TBA Member Forums. Before you post, take a gander at the following guidelines for using the forums.

1. No commercial listings are allowed. This includes announcing, promoting or advertising shows, services, or products, or linking to commercial websites. There are specific places on our website for this kind of material. Our forums are not it.

2. No listing of jobs or auditions in the Forums. As you know, we have the Job &Talent Bank on our main site to post new auditions or job openings. These are not permitted on the forums.

3. Be respectful to all members, moderators and administrators. We are dedicated to promoting a respectful and safe community, and as such we ask that you post professionally and courteously. Personal attacks, strong language or aggressive posting will be moderated as needed. Let's take care of each other, even when we don't agree.

4. No offensive material/posting is allowed. Material or posts that are deemed explicit, offensive, hateful, sexist, discriminatory, obscene, racist or otherwise inappropriate will be moderated and appropriate action will be taken.

5. You must have copyright ownership of all material you post. This one is fairly self-explanatory.

6. Don't spam. Please do not repeat identical messages, post messages with no content, "bump" threads, or post unnecessarily or redundantly.
 
7. Don't post off-topic. These boards are about the Bay Area theatre scene and topics of relevance to it. Please don't post messages that are blatantly off-topic. "Who do you use for headshots?" is a great post. "Did Shakespeare write his own plays?" is stretching it, but sure. "What's your favorite cat video?" is not relevant.

8. Use your judgment. Help us make this a great place to keep the conversation going!

Tags:  discussion  forum  post  thread 

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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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Refining the Path to Success

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Monday, May 12, 2014
This week, Theatre Bay Area is proud to publish an essay written by Paulina Guerra, a student in San Francisco State University’s "Writing about Theatre" class. Ms. Guerra is the winner of a competition instituted by course instructor Lily Janiak and TBA associate editor Laura Brueckner to encourage students to produce skilled and thoughtful arts writing.



SFSU student, actor and arts writer Paulina Guerra.


Refining the Path to Success
By Paulina Guerra


I moved to San Francisco in August of 2009 from Monterrey, Mexico, ready to start as a freshman at San Francisco State University. I declared a Theatre Arts major and eagerly looked forward to my classes. As the years went by, I began noticing an improvement in my acting skills and sustained amazement at my professors' knowledge. When the time came to graduate and I began reflecting on my journey, I realized I loved my experience at the school yet wished some things had been different.

The Theatre Arts Department at SFSU is impressive: it has teachers with vastly different backgrounds, students from all around the world, and facilities that are always being improved. Although the theatre performance program at SFSU is not the conservatory type, I strongly believe that it would improve the education of each and every student majoring in it if the University added two required courses. First, I propose adding an audition prep class with two sections: one for straight acting students and another altered for musical theatre. In this class, students could profit by preparing for mock auditions of a professional production every week. I further propose the University add an internship at a Bay Area theatre company to its curriculum, so students can learn what it's like to work in the professional theatre world.

The preparation for auditions class would be a three-unit class that would meet twice per week: the Monday class would hold auditions, and the Wednesday class would be the instructor's lecture. At the beginning of the semester the instructor would teach the students how to prepare professional audition binders. These binders would include the proper headshots for television or film, straight theatre, or musical theatre and typical Disney headshots. These binders would also contain contrasting monologues: contemporary drama and comedic ones as well as classical versions to serve as the students' repertoire. Section two of this class, musical theatre audition prep, would have not only acting auditions, but dance and singing auditions as well. In the binders for this class, the students would carry the items mentioned above but would also incorporate sheet music for songs they are comfortable singing. Students would need to have both up-tempo and ballad songs, of both contemporary and classical genres, since contrast is key. Once students have finished their binders, they would hand them in as a project for grading. There would also be class lectures on resume building, and occasional discussions of tricks like printing resumes on the back of headshots so that the people students are auditioning for don't lose their information or forget their names.

For the lab component of both class sections, the instructor would hold weekly mock auditions. Each week on a Friday night, the instructor would email the students information about the show they're auditioning for on Monday. The email would contain the appropriate audition information: sides to become familiar with, songs to learn, or a play synopsis or entire play for students to read and analyze. In some cases, the instructor might send nothing, and require the students do all of the play research by themselves, just as they would in order to prepare for a professional audition. At the end of each audition class period, the instructor, would play the role of casting director, and would lead the students in a class discussion about what they liked in the auditioners' auditions, why some things worked or didn't work, and if needed, offer constructive criticism. This feedback could really help students in the class know what tactics their peers used that worked, and can that way learn from each other. For the course's final, a guest director would be invited into the audition panel to give feedback to the entire class once all auditions have been completed.

The other added course would involve getting an internship at a theatre company in the area. This would also be a three-unit class that would ask the students to attend their internships once a week for sixteen sessions throughout the semester. Every week, the students would complete a journal entry on an online assignment tracking application, like iLearn, and explain what the week was like at their internship. Topics may include difficulties they had during the week, areas where they succeeded or need to work on more, etc. This journal would help the students keep track of their experiences there and be proof to the instructor that they were fulfilling their class duties.

These internships would benefit students by allowing them to make connections with people who are employed in the field, and see how it all actually works in the real world. At SFSU, the professors have all worked in the industry, so they do a great job of making up real-life scenarios for students to go through, but actually being out there would be even more valuable for students. Besides making connections, student interns would learn about and be immersed in more aspects of theatre that classes usually just skim over. Also, they would hear firsthand about upcoming auditions and other job opportunities at the company.

It's no secret that getting a job in the theatre world can be challenging. Having the opportunity to intern would make it easier for the student to get a theatre job after graduating, since he or she would have more experience than others who applied for the job with no experience whatsoever. Additionally, theatre companies would benefit from having student interns, as it would provide them with free labor. Another huge part of being successful in this industry is about having connections, so, at the end of the internship, each student's supervisor would write a recommendation letter for him or her and send an addressed copy to the class instructor.

I believe that if San Francisco State University incorporated both of these courses into the theatre performance major's graduation requirements, students would know more about what goes on behind the scenes of theatre companies, know more people in the business, and be a lot more prepared to do their jobs. The addition of these two courses would enrich the experiences of performance students in the theatre arts department, deepen their education, and provide them with more room for success.


Paulina Guerra is an actor and theatre writer from Monterrey, Mexico. She has studied theatre with a performance concentration at San Francisco State University. Catch up with her on Twitter @pauguerrae or on Facebook.

 

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