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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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Program Director's Note: End-of-Year Checklist

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Updated: Monday, December 14, 2015

By Dale Albright

 

As the end of another year approaches, not only do a myriad of things pile up that need to be checked off an incredibly large and ever-growing to-do list, but year after year of doing these same things over and over again might make them start to feel routine, causing us to lose connection to why we do them. Here’s a new little checklist for you:


 TBA program director Dale Albright.

1.     Holiday greetings: However you send your holiday greetings (snail mail, social media, singing telegram) holiday greetings are a great way to stay connected to your personal and professional networks. I think it’s a great idea to keep in mind that a good rule of thumb in contacting folks in your professional network is always “Have something new to say.” In the context of the holidays, I certainly wouldn’t sign a holiday card saying, “Invite me to audition for XX show,” “Hope to see you at ZZ show” or even updating any of your contact information. However, it’s great to include a personal reference to something specific for which you are thankful to this person or organization for bringing into your world in the past year. You’re sending holiday thoughts to these folks for a reason—don’t lose sight of why!

2.     Holiday gifts: Businesses all over are inundated with cookies and various sweets over this holiday period. Everyone loves a good fruitcake (and those homemade sweets are always especially nice) but maybe take a moment and see what this person or organization could really utilize. Can you give the gift of time? Almost every organization, for example, is madly stuffing envelopes for their end-of-year donation campaign. Or maybe just spreading the word about organizations that are important to you through your own social media channels would be just as appreciated during this end-of-year rush. And remember, it’s the thought that counts!

3.     End-of-year campaigns: And speaking of end-of-year campaigns, remember the organizations that are important to you, especially at this time of year. Some organizations might be too underresourced to do a fancy mailing campaign, but this is certainly the time of year to support those organizations that are important to you in time to get that yearly tax write-off. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Theatre Bay Area’s own end-of-year campaign (check out http://theatrebayarea.org/donations). Whether you can support TBA this year or not, hopefully there are some in-need arts organizations on your donation list this year. Certainly if you are reading this, the arts are important to you. Take this opportunity to support those that have had a particular impact on you this past year. Speaking from experience, everything is always appreciated!

Let me leave you with a thought of how thankful Theatre Bay Area is to have you as part of our community. And I personally feel blessed to call you all colleagues! Happy holidays!

 

Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, as well as an actor and freelance director. 

 

 

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Job Opening: Managing Director

Posted By TBA Staff, Friday, December 11, 2015

Theatre Bay Area seeks an experienced managing director. Details below.  

About Theatre Bay Area
Theatre Bay Area, now entering its 40th year, is one of the largest and most respected regional performing arts service organizations in the nation. Theatre Bay Area is known for its innovative programs and services, and counts as its members more than 300 theatre companies and some 2,000 individual artists across the region.

Theatre Bay Area asserts the particular power of theatre to inspire empathy and understanding and create community. With a highly collegial and inclusive work environment, we are enlivened by our new strategic plan. We aim to make sure every individual and every community in the Bay Area experiences the transformative power of theatre by:
• Equipping theatre-makers for success
• Recognizing achievement among theatre-makers
• Building audiences for the future
• Advocating on behalf of the field
• Advancing theatre through research

Our Mission

Our mission is to unite, strengthen, promote and advance the Bay Area theatre community, working from our conviction that theatre and all the arts are an essential public good, critical to a truly prosperous and democratic society, and invaluable as a source of personal enrichment and growth.

About the Position
Theatre Bay Area seeks a managing director to serve on the organization’s leadership team, partnering to shape and execute its long-term goals. This individual will serve as the internal leader of the organization, responsible for directing the organization’s business life particularly in the areas of finance and administration. The managing director reports directly to the executive director and manages relationships with key stakeholders, including Theatre Bay Area’s board of directors, member theatre leaders, funders and donors and Theatre Bay Area’s staff.

Major Responsibilities


Finance: Serve as Chief Financial Officer

• Establish and maintain financial controls
• Prepare, manage, analyze and administer the Theatre Bay Area budget ($1.2 million annually)
• Prepare and present:
   - monthly financial reports to the executive director and finance committee
   - financial reports at meetings of the full Board of Directors
   - quarterly projections of TBA budget to the finance committee
• Manage cash flow and ensure sufficient funds to meet TBA’s operating needs

Administration: Serve as Chief Operating Officer

Business Operations
• Establish, maintain and enhance highly efficient and cost-effective operations
• Evaluate and participate in the development and implementation of new revenue-producing programs and businesses
• Provide strategic oversight to ensure the profitable operations of all programs
• Manage key vendor relationships including strategic partners, insurance providers, Web design and maintenance, technology support, software and equipment
• Manage risk, evaluate and maintain appropriate insurance policies

Staff Management and Human Resources
• Serve as the internal leader for the organization, establishing and maintaining an organizational culture that promotes the highest standards of performance and execution among all staff members
• Serve as chief human resources director ensuring full compliance with California labor laws and parity with industry standards
• Manage payroll and benefits; maintain employee records

Information Technology and Facilities Management

• Manage and plan for all the organization’s information technology needs working with vendors and contractors as well as staff
• Manage and plan for organization’s facilities needs

Development
• Prepare budgets for grant proposals and reports
• Partner with executive director, director of advancement and development staff in conceiving and executing fundraising goals and strategies, for both institutional donors and individual contributors

Leadership Role
• Participate in strategic planning with executive director, senior staff and board
• Serve as a leadership figure for membership, attending advisory committee meetings as needed
• Represent Theatre Bay Area to the larger community by attending select business events, conferences and theatre performances
• Participate in regular meetings of the board of directors, executive committee and finance committee


Qualifications, Salary, How to Apply

Qualifications
The successful candidate will have at least seven years’ experience in a similar position or other senior position with broad organizational responsibilities, including a strong focus on financial management, income development, people management, marketing and strategy. S/he will have a demonstrated track record in developing new methods of engaging stakeholders and building revenue; the ability to motivate and lead a team; a curiosity about and knowledge of the uses of technology and social media; a knowledge of and passion for theatre and/or performing arts field more generally. BA degree required.

Minimum four-year degree in a relevant field; formal accounting training
Minimum of seven years of related professional experience
Strong analytical abilities and management skills
Excellent organizational skills
Strong interpersonal skills
Demonstrated supervisory ability
Demonstrated leadership ability
Demonstrated ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing
Strong marketing expertise and experience
Strong knowledge of accounting software
Financial expertise and experience

Salary
Competitive compensation (DOE) with excellent benefits package.

How to Apply
Submit cover letter and resume to:
Brad Erickson, Executive Director
Theatre Bay Area
brad@theatrebayarea.org

Deadline: Until filled



Theatre Bay Area has a collegial, inclusive work environment and actively embraces a diversity of people, ideas, talents, and experiences. We highly encourage people of color, individuals with disabilities, and other historically underrepresented groups in our community to apply.



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Lemonade Fund Variety Show

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2015

By Connery Morano


When it comes to accomplishing any goal–big or small–perhaps no one understands the value of working together more deeply than theatre practitioners. Last night at PianoFight, Bay Area artists came out to support each other at the Lemonade Fund Variety Show, a fundraiser for the Mary Mason Memorial Lemonade Fund; the fund provides confidential support to theatre practitioners suffering from terminal or life-threatening illnesses. 


Magician Ken Sonkin performs at the Lemonade Fund Variety Show, a fundraiser for the Mary Mason Memorial Lemonade Fund held on Dec. 8 at PianoFight. Photo: Connery Morano

 

As Meryl Shaw, one of the evening’s special guests, so eloquently put it, “Bay Area Theatre is not just a community, but a tribe.” Shaw went on to remind us of the critical time in Bay Area history that led to the formation of the Mary Mason Lemonade Fund; many in attendance reflected on our own loved ones who have lost their lives to AIDS, breast cancer and other illnesses. We were touched by the stories of those we’ve lost, and inspired to celebrate them, and to lend a hand to our fellow theatre practitioners currently fighting their own battles.
 


Sarah Judge performing original songs at the Dec. 8 fundraiser. Photo: Connery Morano

 

Last night’s variety show, the latest event in the Lemonade Fund’s 20-year history, was a show to remember. The artists that generously donated their time included Juliana Lustenader and Sarah Judge, who each treated the audience to moving acoustic performances of original songs. In boisterous fashion, Dalia Vidor brought us a truly one-of-a-kind clown act, coaxing Theatre Bay Area’s own executive director Brad Erickson on stage for an informative lesson in where baby balloon animals come from. Ken Sonkin pulled some magic tricks out of his trunk, eliciting both laughs and gasps—even putting a sword through the neck of one brave audience participant (who, thankfully, left the stage unscathed). Bay Area puppeteer Nick Knave gave us a rousing narrative of a puppet that took the wrong path in life, in a performance with no end of twists and turns. Florida Larkin and Samuel Prince gave us an exciting sneak peek into Musical Cafe’s Ladykillers, with an anxious yet sweet song about worst-case scenarios. The evening came to a poignant close with a preview of Custom Made Theatre Co.’s Voices of the Quilt—a new musical inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The three songs performed by LaMont Ridgell gave attendees an exciting glimpse of what promises to be an emotionally charged show.

 


LaMont Ridgell performing songs from Custom Made Theatre Co.'s upcoming production of Voices of the Quilt. Photo: Connery Morano

 

It was an evening that highlighted the diversity and talent of the Bay Area, as well as a true display of the devotion our little tribe feels for one another. Thanks to the guest artists who gave their time and hosts Megan Briggs and PianoFight who brought us together, audience members reached into their pockets and donated hundreds of dollars for the Mary Mason Lemonade Fund.

 
The Mary Mason Lemonade Fund is always accepting donations. If you’d like to donate, or to get more information about the fund, click here

Connery Morano is an intern at Theatre Bay Area, and an undergraduate at San Francisco State University. 

Tags:  Mary Mason Lemonade Fund 

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Executive Director's Note: Risk Capital

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 2, 2015

By Brad Erickson

 

It’s the beginning of December, we’re nearing the close of 2015, and Theatre Bay Area stands at the brink of a huge milestone—our 40th anniversary year. Four decades ago, a group of theatre artists and leaders of local companies came together to launch an organization with the express purpose of uniting, strengthening, promoting and advancing the theatre community here in the Bay Area; Theatre Bay Area was created by this community, for this community. Forty years later we are honored to serve more than 300 theatre company members, 2,000+ theatre artist members and literally tens of thousands of theatre patrons located all around the region.

As our 40th year quickly approaches, we are excited to mark this anniversary by embracing a bold new strategic plan. Our goal is to see every individual and every community in the Bay Area experience the particular power of theatre. To that end, we have committed ourselves to focus our efforts on three major areas: 

• Equipping theatre-makers for success: We support the theatre-makers of the Bay Area with essential services and resources, programs that put grants into the hands of artists and companies, that assist theatre-makers in forwarding their careers and that empower theatre companies to better their work and reach new audiences.

• Recognizing artistic achievement: We celebrate the region’s artists and companies through an exciting new program, the TBA Awards, now entering its third year. The TBA Awards culminate each November with the glittering TBA Awards Celebration, hosted for the past two years by A.C.T. at the historic Geary Theater.

• Developing audiences: We work to bring more people, more fully reflecting the diversity of the Bay Area, to be more deeply engaged with theatre through a number of one-of-a-kind programs that link thousands of Bay Area residents and visitors to the dazzling variety of theatre offerings all around the region.

Now, with 40 just around the corner, we are readying ourselves for the future by launching an unprecedented campaign to create our first-ever Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund will enable us to create forward-looking new programs and enhance legacy services. Our aim is to offer the best possible services to help theatre-makers successfully approach the realities of today’s Bay Area.  

How? New ideas abound. To become real they need resources—“risk capital,” as angel investors would say. Theatre Bay Area needs risk capital to support our region’s theatre-makers in times of enormous change.

Our Innovation Fund Campaign takes flight today. With five levels of participation, starting at just $40, we aim to include our whole community in building a Theatre Bay Area for the next 40 years. A Theatre Bay Area created by our community for our community. Watch for more on our Innovation Fund Campaign coming soon. 

Brad Erickson is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.

Tags:  Executive Director's Note 

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Featured Member: Celia Maurice

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Interview by Laura Ng 

Meet our newest featured member, Celia Maurice! Before breaking out to Bay Area theatre audiences, this witty Brit’s acting and music career was already blooming across the pond. Her Bay Area stage journey has leapt and bounded since her early appearances at TBA’s General Auditions—most recently, she received a TBA Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Principal Role in a Play, recognizing her stellar turn in a play by fellow English national Harold Pinter.


TBA featured member (and TBA Award recipient!) Celia Maurice. Photo: Ben Krantz

 

You’ve had a wealth of work onstage, not only in the theatre, but also a career as a violist (among mastery of other instruments and languages) and volunteer-administering the Braille Transcription Project. How have these experiences/endeavors influenced your path?

Each time I have had a job outside of the theatre, it is a reminder that I’d rather be on stage. That having an exhausting, annoying, fed-up day in the theatre world is many thousands of times better than having a mediocre day stuck behind a desk listening to people prattle on about, well, whatever Excel spreadsheet or flavored latte is of desperate importance that day.

Working with Braille, I initially had hoped to have a job that would make a difference in people’s lives. My father was a corneal researcher, so this made sense. I have never taken a job in order to discover how people think, react or behave in order to inform my acting. Afterwards, though, I can use snippets. However, working with the Braille project only made me realize that I have an easy life. Can’t think it informed me much otherwise. I know it would educate or elucidate if I said that now I have a basic understanding of what it is to navigate the world, sightless, but I don’t.

As for the viola and piano—music is the one thing I really deeply know.  And the practice, daily, of scales and the repetition of phrases within a piece has, indeed, been of massive use when translated into theatrical terms. Actors don’t really have the same sort of daily work unless we are actively preparing for a part (at least that’s my m.o.).  On my first day at the Neighborhood Playhouse, Sandy Meisner’s question to our class was whether any of us played an instrument. When I bravely (since I was innocent enough not to be terrified of him at that point) put up my hand, he asked me what I had to do to get to (the proverbial) Carnegie Hall, I gave the answer—practice. Every day. If one can’t manage to play a scale in every key/mode, train your fingers and the bow hand, every day, you’ll have no foundation at all on which to grow. He agreed and then proceeded to tear every notion of “acting” out of our angst-ridden, ego-laden heads.

Still hot off the 2015 TBA Awards, we have to congratulate you on your award for Outstanding Performance in a Principal Role in a Play! It’s fascinating that you were previously nominated for this same role portraying Meg in Pinter’s The Birthday Party just last year. Did that come up when you joined the new cast/production? What was it like to reprise the role so soon?

Thank you! So, last year was funny that way—I did Breaking the Code with Theatre Rhino twice, interspersed by two different productions of Birthday Party. When I joined Off-Broadway West’s production, I was asked some questions about staging and acting styles. But it felt as though we all started from scratch, which made our Finalist nomination for Ensemble feel so happily deserved. The only real benefit was that the lines came back in a snap, so I could really just concentrate on discovering Meg in a deeper, rougher way. Anyway, I love Pinter, and coming from the same area of North London, the words just fit.

You started performing in London, or as you put it, north of “Ye Olde Thames.” Tell us more about coming to the Bay Area, why you chose to be here and growing into the TBA community.

Did I really say “Ye Olde Thames”? How embarrassing. Remove it immediately! Otherwise, next thing you know I’ll be belting out “Consider Yourself” and wearing ragged trousers with a Union Jack embroidered on my bum.

Ah, well, moving here. That’s far too long a story. I didn’t choose to come here. We moved from London when I was a teen. Of course, now I feel as though I have been embraced, and am really a part of the community. 

What is your favorite part of being a Theatre Bay Area member?

Having a family that speak the same language, can play together and cheer for each other.

Having lived so many lives, what are your dreams for the future? Is there anything else you’d like to tell our TBA readership, as an actor or otherwise?

There is plenty more theatre I want to do. Restoration and Jacobean isn’t done much, and I’ve barely done any Shakespeare and would love to do so. I’m now interested in new pieces as well (thanks to Jeffrey Lo)—updated classics, etc. I can’t really do anything else, so I’m happily stuck with you lot. There are a couple of actors and directors I’d love to work with, and if I had any sense of how to market myself, I’d list them here, in bold. Next up, I’ll be reunited with director Susan Evans as Mrs. Warren at the Douglas Morrisson Theatre.

What to say—I’ve been very lucky to have had near-constant work in the last four years. One's time does come. As I stumble into my dotage, I hope to meet many more of you out there in the trenches and continue the lively exchange of humanity in all its forms. And if there’s a lot of giggling, count me in fer sure*.

*“Fer sure” was in an American accent just so y’all know I can do one.

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

Tags:  actor  Featured Member  TBA Awards 

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From the Executive Director: Morning After

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, November 17, 2015

By Brad Erickson

 

It’s the morning after the second annual TBA Awards Celebration and the cheering—three nonstop hours of cheering—from last night’s event is still ringing in my brain (I’m pretty sure it’s the cheering and not the hangover from the way-too-much-fun after-party at PianoFight). The first reaction this morning is, “Thank God we made it! We can relax!” and the second, like on the day after Christmas, is that we’ve got 364 long days before next year’s event. 

The production values that our producers Nick Olivero and David Gluck brought to the evening were so high that I am tempted to review the celebration as if it were one of the productions highlighted at last night’s ceremony. Five stars, huge applause, falling-out-of-his-chair-Little-Man for MC Ron Campbell; for scriptwriter Allison Page; for announcer Carrie Paff; for the Killing My Lobster crew’s satirical opening number; for the show-stopping performances from Broadway By the Bay, San Jose Stage Company and Altarena Playhouse; and for the moving musical tribute led by Amy Lizardo and Teresa Attridge. We not only talked about theatrical achievement, we saw it live and on stage.

And what a stage. The Geary Theater is our community’s Notre Dame, and for this event American Conservatory Theater throws open the cathedral doors. Not only does ACT waive the usual rental fee, the company donates countless hours of staff time, from the box office, to the production crew to the executive offices. Watching hundreds of theatre artists, dressed to the nines and hailing from theatre companies of all sizes around the region, pouring into that burnished and glowing house and greeting each other so exuberantly (so very exuberantly that we had to hold the curtain a full 15 minutes) makes real the notion of a theatre “community” that we at Theatre Bay Area talk about so often.

Like last year, I was struck by the jubilation that rang out all night long, from the finalists as they appeared on stage, from the award recipients, from their friends and colleagues in the house and from those who may have been completely unfamiliar with an artist or a company until the names were announced. I heard no murmuring over those who might have been passed over. There was no need for a “triage for bruised egos,” as Ron Campbell joked—instead I sensed an extraordinary collective clap on the back for all the artists and their work.

What I did hear, many times, were comments like this from one veteran artistic director: “Who is that new company? I keep hearing their name over and over!” Or, “Wow, that number was terrific. I really need to go to [fill in the blank] Theatre more often!” Or even, “I’ve been in the Bay Area for years and I’ve never seen [fill in the blank]’s work. I’ve got to go!”

This might be the sweetest outcome of this program—if we are encouraged to explore the true depth and breadth of this theatre community we call home, and discover for ourselves the wealth of artistic achievement flourishing so joyfully on our stages night after night.


Click here for the full list of 2015 TBA Awards Recipients. 

Brad Erickson is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.

Tags:  Executive Director's Note  TBA Awards 

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Program Director's Note: Send Us Your 2016 Annual Conference Ideas

Posted By Dale Albright, Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, November 10, 2015

By Dale Albright

 

It’s hard to believe—as the TBA staff launches into final TBA Awards Celebration preparations (do you have your tickets?), continues to work on the 2015-16 TBA Awards cycle, begins to accept registrations for the General Auditions and plans for those pesky holidays—that it is already time to begin planning for the 2016 Theatre Bay Area Annual Conference. But it is!


 TBA program director Dale Albright.

A massive, once-a-year event, the Annual Conference (held each spring) is the chance for every kind of theatre-maker from all over the Bay Area to get together with colleagues to hear the latest trends, discuss pressing issues, connect with the community and get energized for another year of fantastic work.

Generally, the conference is formatted with a plenary session (or two) for everyone to gather in one room, followed by many breakout sessions for deeper, more in-depth discussions around particular topics. Topics are brainstormed at our advisory committee meetings, at regional meetings and through input from our members.

In addition to topic-based discussions, we also have sessions that are more experiential (like speed consulting, discipline-to-discipline speed dating—we’ve even had a headshot photographer doing free photos!).

Here’s where you come in. We would love to hear from you—what you would like to see at the 2016 Annual Conference? Send us your thoughts about any or all of the following:

1.     The biggest challenges you are facing right now. Maybe you can’t put in the form of a suggested discussion. Just let us know the challenge and we can take it from there, based on the variety of feedback that we receive.

2.     Speakers whom you would like to hear at the conference.

3.     Particular topics that you would like to have addressed.

4.     Things that you would like to see happen at the conference (maybe you have an idea for an experience you would like to have, for example).

5.     Would you like to actually put a session together? Tell us about it! What would the topic be? Who would you invite to be a part of it? What format would it take?

6.     What bright spots have you seen this year that you would like our community to celebrate?

Please send your thoughts to dale@theatrebayarea.org. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

 

Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, as well as an actor and freelance director. 

 

 

Tags:  Annual Conference  Community Events 

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Job Opening: Finance and Administration Manager

Posted By TBA Staff, Friday, November 6, 2015
Theatre Bay Area seeks a finance & administration manager to partner with the organization's executive director and senior staff in meeting its long-term goals. This position acts as the chief financial, HR and administrative resource for the organization, reporting to the executive director. The position is full-time (salaried, exempt) with an excellent benefits package.

Click here to learn more about the position and apply!

Tags:  job opening 

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TBA Welcomes New Interns

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, November 3, 2015

We recently welcomed a fabulous cohort of interns into the Theatre Bay Area family—actors Natalie Brice, Connery Morano and Kirsten Peacock—and we want you to know all about them! Read on about these audacious, awesome up-and-comers:

Actor Natalie Brice. 
Photo: Bridget Homer  

Natalie Brice

Tell us a bit about your background in theatre?

I started acting in Pleasanton when I was around eight years old. I started off on the stage in fun children’s theatre shows at the Pleasanton Civic Arts Stage Company. I enjoyed it so much that I continued performing and decided to major in theatre at SFSU. I have been in The Laramie Project, Our Town, The Skriker, James and the Giant Peach, and Cinderella, among other plays. SFSU stages a lot of brand-new plays as a part of its Fringe theatre festival, and I enjoy partaking in those to support the new playwrights. I’m currently rehearsing for one, premiering in the middle of December, called Forever Chasing Smart. When I’m not in school, I teach acting and singing at the Young Actors’ Theatre Camp, an amazing and fun overnight theatre intensive program where I was once a student.

What are your theatre goals?

I want to find a well-rounded approach to theatre. I would love to continue acting, but recently, I’ve enjoyed discovering all the different parts of working in theatre that aren’t acting. I’d like to partake in casting at some point, for the art of it as well as experiencing a casting director’s relationship with actors.

Why did you choose TBA for your professional internship?

Initially, I heard that TBA offered its interns the opportunity to observe the General Auditions, which immediately caught my interest. I then started learning about all of the useful administrative experience I would get from being an insider at this respectable organization. I have been here for a few weeks, working on planning the annual awards ceremony, and I’ve been learning so much about current theatre events across the Bay Area. It’s been very useful for gaining knowledge about what’s happening in the community.

What has been your favorite theatre triumph (or disaster) thus far?

I studied abroad to England last year, and struggled to get cast in anything for a while, probably due to the difference in my accent and slight cultural differences having to do with sense of humor, particularly in auditions. I finally found a theatre student at my University who was directing her own new play; she cast me in it, and it ended up being performed at the town’s environmental festival. A lot of people in the Norwich community were happy to come and see it. It was an extremely gratifying part of my journey!

 


Actor Connery Morano.
Photo: Paul Mauer

Connery Morano

Tell us a bit about your background in theatre?

I began studying intensive black-box ensemble-style performance in high school. I then decided to pursue a theatre degree from San Francisco State University, including studying Viewpoints with Mark Jackson. The most rewarding aspect of my work thus far has been collaborating with my directors in student productions.

What are your theatre goals?

To pursue and achieve dynamic and engaging roles in the professional Bay Area theatre scene.

 Why did you choose TBA for your professional internship?

I chose TBA out of admiration for the resources they provide to theatre artists, as well as interest in learning more about the theatre community. 

What has been your favorite theatre triumph (or disaster) thus far?

My favorite triumph has been the fulfilling work I’ve done studying the Meisner Technique with Barbara Damashek, and the growth it has helped me to achieve as a performer.

 

Actor Kirsten Peacock. 
Photo: Benjamin Drews  
Kirsten Peacock

Tell us a bit about your background in theatre?

I’ve been performing since I was a wee bairn. I graced the stage in a fantastic, red sparkly tutu in preschool and never looked back. I grew up in Norway, then went to the University of Kent in England to study drama for my undergraduate degree. I did a year abroad at UC Berkeley and fell in love with the Bay Area. I returned to the UK to complete my undergraduate masters in theatre directing. Since then I have been jumping between the UK, Norway and here—acting, choreographing, creating and directing. I’ve worked in a lot of styles from classical to musical to devised theatre.

What are your theatre goals?

I would like a daytime job in theatre—working in arts administration or education—and then to found my own immersive/interactive, site-specific theatre company (ideally with a tight-knit ensemble of multi-talented players who take on different roles for each performance). I would love to have a barn or a shelter of sorts out in nature that we can use as a base for rehearsals, and then take the shows on international tours. Dream big.

Why did you choose TBA for your professional internship?

I returned to the Bay Area to gain as much experience as possible in theatre. First thing I did before moving back in 2014 was sign up for TBA, and it has been the most valuable resource for me while searching for acting and directing work. Now that I am focusing on broadening my skills in the arts, I started searching for opportunities in arts administration. TBA is a flagship of a theatre organization; why wouldn’t I aim for an internship with a company that can give me the most dynamic experience, train me across a variety of fields and expose me to almost all of the theatre happening in the Bay Area?

What has been your favorite theatre triumph (or disaster) thus far?

Oh, I am the worst at choosing favorites. I have been fretting about this answer for five minutes. And I reckon it’s a tad too inappropriate to mention disastrous, accidental, indecent exposure on a family-friendly website.

 

Well, that's a wrap! Please say hello to these fantastic folks when you see them out and about. 


Tags:  actor  internship 

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Featured Member: Lily Tung Crystal

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Interview by Sal Mattos

Our latest featured member is a theatrical powerhouse. Learn more about this ATLAS alumnus, Titan Award winner, newscaster, off-Broadway performer, founder of Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company (a TBA Awards Recommended company), feature film actor, mother, George Takei entertainer (is there anything she can’t do?)—in short, one of the busiest pros in the business: Lily Tung Crystal     
                                                                 



TBA Featured Member Lily Tung Crystal. Photo: Stuart Locklear

 

Tell us a little about your background in theatre.

I always thought I was more of a singer in the beginning, even though now most people know me as an actor. I started singing lessons when I was seven and did musical theatre in grade school and high school. In college, I was in an a capella group and also did some theatre. After college, I moved to Shanghai and worked as a freelance foreign correspondent. While there, I sang in a couple of rock and blues bands and did one play—I played Amanda in Private Lives. When I moved back to the US, I got a job at KRON 4 News, and on the side, decided to pursue performing more seriously. I started taking singing classes at Jazzschool and acting classes at Studio ACT. There, I was inspired to pursue a professional career by my teacher/director Frances Epsen Devlin, who seemed to be one of the few people here that actually encouraged their students to turn Equity.

You’re quite a multifaceted artist: actor, writer, producer and company founder. Do you primarily identify as one of those over the others—and if not, how would you describe your body of work?

I feel like I have a true dual career. On one side, I’m an actor/singer, and on the other, I’m a writer/producer. It’s only been in the last five years that I’ve become an artistic director and only in the last year that I did my first directing job. So those are newer to me.

You’ve been involved in a number of TBA programs over the years. As an ATLAS alumnus, as well as a Titan Award winner, would you tell us how it’s affected your career path?

In a nutshell, ATLAS and the Titan Award changed my life. When I first started in ATLAS, I was afraid to identify myself as an actor. But ATLAS taught me to embrace that identity and stand in the knowing that I was a performing artist. 

Winning the Titan Award helped me gain even more confidence in myself as an artist. It helped me found the Bay Area Asian American Actors Collective (BAAAAC) and, ultimately, Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company. It not only helped my career, but helped me and my theatre company support the careers of many Asian American theatre artists. For the full story, please refer to my chapter in the ATLAS book.  

[Note: Lily’s full ATLAS story can be found in the new guide, ATLAS: Charting an Artist’s Career Map, now on sale in PDF.]

Would you tell us a little more about the BAAAAC?

The BAAAAC was a group I founded with Asian American Theatre Company (AATC) to offer support, networking, education and mentorship to Asian American actors. We meet occasionally, have a Yahoo! group where we post audition and show announcements and have offered a couple workshops. It was established as a way for Asian American actors to connect with and support each other. Early on, however, it morphed into Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company. Although we still run the BAAAAC Yahoo! group, we now accomplish much of that mission through Ferocious Lotus, especially since AATC has gone into hiatus. 

Even though I had thought the BAAAAC could perhaps eventually become a theatre company, I hadn’t intended for that to happen for at least five years. I was a new mother, and if you had told me then that I would birth a baby and a theatre company in the same year, I would have thought you were crazy. 

What’s something you really like about the theatre scene here in the Bay Area? Anything happening here that really excites you?

The Bay Area is diverse, and I’m excited that theatre here seems to be growing in diversity. I’m hoping that this is the wave of the future, and not just a temporary trend. If any region is going to lead the American theatre to diversity, it’s the Bay Area. It has that history of tolerance and acceptance.

I especially love that the Bay Area theatre industry people are so supportive of each other. When we started Ferocious Lotus, we got so much support from people of all cultures and backgrounds in the community—both mainstream and smaller, diverse theatres. It was touching and inspiring and helped give us the confidence to continue our work. For that, I’m incredibly grateful. 

What’s one of your favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

In 2006, I played Mrs. Park in Jay Kuo’s new musical, Homeland. It was a watershed role for me—my first lead, and a character that I loved. It’s difficult for Asian American actors sometimes to find substantial roles, but here was a character who made people both laugh and cry; as an actor, you can’t ask for much more than that. That show was quite pivotal for me, as it propelled me to start thinking of myself as an actor/singer.

Then, in 2009, I got to do a fundraiser for Jay Kuo’s next show, Allegiance (which is now on Broadway), and got to perform with one of my favorite actors, George Takei. A month later, I went to New York with the workshop of Homeland and got to experience performing with some of my favorite Broadway actors. It was unbelievable; I felt like I needed to pinch myself. George Takei actually came to that performance, and after the show, he said to me, “Lily, you should be taken to jail!” I had no idea what he meant. Then he laughed and said, “You stole the show!” To get that enthusiastic response from an actor whom I’ve long idolized, who helped pioneer Asian Americans in entertainment, was a huge moment for me. 

[And] on Monday, as part of Intersection for the Arts’ 50th anniversary, Ferocious Lotus presented a staged reading of Christopher Chen’s I Mean to Do You Harm. We were honored to be included as “artists and thinkers who will help define Intersection for the next 50 years!” 

Any upcoming projects that you’d like to share with our readers? 

Right now, Ferocious Lotus is trying to do one production a year, so after the [Intersection] reading we’ll need to look at what production we’re going to do next.  

 

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

 

Tags:  Acting  actor  Atlas  ATLAS Program  director  Featured Member  Ferocious Lotus  producer  Titan Award 

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