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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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Top tags: Featured Member  Acting  Annual Conference  Community Events  #tbacon15  ATLAS Program  TBA Awards  TBA general auditions  actor  Membership  advocacy  BOB14  playwright  audience development  Auditions  casting  casting director  Director  Executive Director's Note  Gender Parity  volunteer  #tbacon14  arts education  auditor  Glickman Award  Intrinsic Impact  Titan Award  BAPAS  internship  marketing 

Featured Member: Rami Margron

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

From training in traditions from Stanislavsky to commedia dell’arte, from performing with companies from Woman’s Will to Mugwumpin, from teaching dance to cohosting local storytelling event The Shout, there’s very little Rami Margron isn’t willing to try. Learn more about this professionally polyglot performer!  

 


TBA featured member Rami Margron. Photo: Bethany Hines 


Tell us about your artistic path and process.

I was blessed to go to Camp Winnarainbow, a circus and performing arts hippie utopian summer camp, from age 10 to adult. We performed all day. We learned about social justice and possibility. That’s where I started doing improv comedy, playing broad characters, creating work, choreographing, appreciating absurdism, etc.

I have no degrees. I’m a high school dropout. I went to community college for a few years and took classes at the Bennett Theatre Lab, which taught the Stanislavsky Method of Physical Actions, voice and Shakespeare. (Funnily, my first acting job after my deep Stanislavsky training was doing broad, multicharacter children’s theatre tours!) I take workshops where and when I can; last year I took a commedia dell’arte workshop with Stephen Buescher. It was amazing. He is a Bay Area treasure, and you should all sign up the next time he offers a class! 

I had/have pretty low self-esteem (like so many of us) and I didn’t build up the courage to go to auditions until sometime in my 20s. I also used to be really hard on myself because I’m not a particularly analytical person. Acting school made me feel like I was lazy, inarticulate, and not smart because I couldn’t name my actions and objectives. My script isn’t full of markings. I don’t take lots of notes. It’s taken me years to accept that my more intuitive, less analytical way is equally valid.

I’m also a dabbler. I’ve probably studied 20 styles of dance. I travel a lot. I dance everywhere I go. I’ve been in a handful of dance companies over the years. In the 90s, my friends and I had an African Diaspora dance theatre troupe called Project Reconnect. We would kick it and make art together, sometimes doing educational assemblies in schools, sometimes performing after midnight in clubs. We traveled together and tried to teach ourselves as much as we could. We did traditional folkloric dance and music, as well as hip hop fusion. Good times! I am so lucky to have been a part of that extraordinary group of artists and historians.

I stopped dancing for a few years because it seemed like there wasn’t enough time to rehearse both dance and theatre. I am so glad I’ve found ways to reintegrate dance into my life. I still prioritize theatre, and I don’t dance enough, but I am blessed to have a couple of companies I work with, and I can often squeeze a dance performance into a window between plays!

Do you have any bucket-list roles?

I don’t have a role that I’ve always wanted to play. I don’t tend to think like that. I just like trying things. I am happiest when whatever I’m doing is totally different than whatever I did last.           

Favorite project/production that you were part of or inspired by?

Aaaah! So many. In my first show with Crowded Fire, my feet never touched the ground. My character lived on a basketball hoop and pole. (They gave me a couple of Chinese pole acro lessons.) I would exit up the pole and lie on a little black platform in the grid when I wasn’t in the scene. That was fun. I love the shows I’ve done with Mugwumpin. Future Motive Power (the remount of the remount) is one of my very favorites. All the shows I’ve done with Shotgun Players have been so dear to me, Precious Little being the sweetest of all. My two favorite entrances of all time were both in postapocalyptic plays by Liz Duffy Adams. Working with [all-female Shakespeare company] Woman’s Will taught me so much. I learned so much from my fellow actors about how to speak Shakespeare naturally in last year’s (almost) all-female Twelfth Night at Cal Shakes. And I just had a dreamy experience playing Moll Flanders at Pacific Rep. I could go on...

What off-resume skills or experiences have made a surprising contribution to your art?

Camp counselor. Losing my parents.

What do you like about the Bay Area theatre scene, and being a TBA member?

I love new work and weird plays. I love Crowded Fire and the other companies committed to these plays. I love that there are so many great playwrights among us.

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

I’m currently rehearsing Much Ado at Cal Shakes. At the time of this interview, I have no idea what it will be like! Can’t wait to find out.

 

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

 

Tags:  Acting  california shakespeare theater  crowded fire theater  Featured Member  shotgun players 

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Theatre Bay Area CA$H Grantees Announced

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Theatre Bay Area is delighted to announce that the following organizations and individual artists have been selected as recipients of CA$H grants to fund their groundbreaking work.
 

Organizations:

Bindlestiff Studio, San Francisco
Bindlestiff Studio is presenting Tagalog: A Festival of One-Acts (a TBA Editors’ Pick), written in the Philippine national language, Tagalog. The three plays, by Filipino playwrights Maynard Manansala, Juan Miguel Severo and Eljay Castro Deldoc, feature universal themes of love and chasing dreams. The show will be presented with the aid of projected text and images to fully immerse the audience.
CA$H (artistic project): production and administrative costs

Klanghaus, Oakland
A Play About Leaving is a continually evolving multimedia theatrical work that examines the commonalities between the struggles of artists working in different environments and cities. The piece addresses why people leave home, from immigrants leaving their countries to longtime urban residents faced with insurmountable rises in the cost of living. 
CA$H (artistic project): artists’ fees and marketing costs

Leela, San Francisco
San Francisco improvisational theatre company Leela will mount the third annual Femprovisor Fest, which showcases diverse female-identified improv ensembles, comics and sketch groups, both local and national. The festival features innovative artists who are committed to increasing the visibility of women in all areas of improvised performance.
CA$H (artistic project): rehearsal and performance space

The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc., Oakland
Collected Acts is an evening of one-act plays by local playwrights and company members of the Lower Bottom Playaz, including world premieres from Cat Brooks, Khy Whiginton, and Terry Bisson. The plays, covering themes such as incarceration, mental health, homelessness, racism, and body image, will open in August at the Flight Deck in Oakland.
CA$H (organizational development): artists’ fees and marketing costs

Individual Artists:

Diane M. Barnes, performer, San Rafael
My Stroke of Luck is a solo storytelling performance that shares performer Diane Barnes’s journey of medical catastrophe, recovery and metamorphosis. The piece is a personal look at love, family and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
CA$H: artists’ fees and videography

Sophie Becker, Kristen Rulifson, Hien Huynh, performers, Oakland
Using imagery and text from mythology, the movement-based theatre piece Theseus’ String in the Underground is an exploration of the labyrinths of daily life. The work, which is heavily inspired by the personal and family histories of the performers, will premiere at Safehouse Arts in July. 
CA$H: artists’ fees, marketing costs and equipment rental

Andrea L. Hart, playwright/director, Berkeley
The second production of playwright collective 6NewPlays, Andrea L. Hart’s dark is a different beast is a suicide-bomber love story. Using wearable kinetic sculptures designed by visual artist China Tamblyn that attach to the performers’ bodies, by expanding and contorting them, the piece explores individual choice in the face of tyranny. 
CA$H: artists’ fees and materials

Congratulations, one and all! We encourage all TBA members to check out these projects and artists. 

 

Tags:  Acting  CA$H Grants 

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Career Workshops Offering Drop-in Slots

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hello, theatre-makers!

Have you ever wanted to know how to manage your time more effectively? How to set personalized, achievable career goals? How to balance your work with the rest of your life? Of course you have! Many, if not most, artists face these challenges.

As part of its commitment to equip Bay Area theatre-makers for success, TBA is offering workshops addressing these exact topics this month. Normally, these 90-minute skill-building sessions are available only to participants in the ATLAS career training program, but TBA is making a limited number of seats available to the public on a drop-in basis.

Read below to see what you’ll learn in each, and register today!

 

Workshop: Time Management

Instructor: Morrie Warshawski
Saturday, Feb. 20 (9:30-11:00 a.m.)


Ah, time. We all wish we had more of it—and artists, as a rule, consistently express frustration about how to utilize it best. This 90-minute workshop will help you identify what motivates you, accept what’s out of your control, and find out what the heck a circadian rhythm is—and why it might just be the breakthrough you need. This key career-boosting session, part of the 2016 round of our ATLAS for Actors career training program, is available to artists of any discipline on a drop-in registration basis.

 

 
About the instructor: Morrie Warshawski has worked in the nonprofit arts and culture sector for more than 30 years, bringing a commitment to the core values of creativity, thoughtful¬ness, transparency and tolerance. He has served as the executive director of three nonprofit arts organizations, including the Bay Area Video Coalition in San Francisco. Since 1986, he has been a consultant specializing in strategic planning with nonprofit organizations, individual artists, state arts agencies and a local arts council, as well as community cultural planning with cities and counties. He served for six years as a consultant and regional coordinator for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Advancement Program, which provided 15 months of planning support for arts organizations. 

As a writer, Morrie has created A State Arts Agency Toolkit for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and Lessons Learned, a website on planning for the NEA. He is the author of two books on fundraising: The Fundraising Houseparty: How to Party with a Purpose and Raise Money for Your Cause and Shaking the Money Tree: The Art of Getting Grants and Donations for Film and Video. Morrie is also the originator and moderator of the Strategic Planning for Nonprofits Group on LinkedIn (with over 50,000 members worldwide). 

Workshop location: Theatre Bay Area offices, 1119 Market St., 2nd Floor, SF
Cost: Theatre Bay Area members: $40; nonmembers: $65
Register today!


Workshop: Personalized Goal Setting

Instructor: Velina Brown
Saturday, Feb. 20 (11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) 


In this 90-minute session, Bay Area theatre luminary and Business of Show Business columnist Velina Brown will help you articulate what is important to you in your life and career, turn these important values into a framework for developing your own personalized goals and, finally, identify the steps that you can take to get there. Participate in this “dream big” workshop and emerge with the beginnings of steps to move to another level. This crucial career-transforming session, part of the 2016 round of our ATLAS for Actors career training program, is available to artists of any discipline on a drop-in registration basis.

About the instructor: Velina Brown is a singer, director, award-winning actor and career columnist for Theatre Bay Area. With a passion for challenging herself and her audience with socially relevant theatre, Velina is committed to fostering new works on stage and screen, and to supporting those vibrant voices shaping theatre and film, and that will change the world. Velina has appeared with many local theatres, such as American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, Shotgun Players, Magic Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Eureka Theatre, TheatreWorks, The Willows and Thick Description as well as national companies Denver Center Theatre Company, Oregon Cabaret Theatre and many others. Velina is also a longtime member of the Tony and OBIE Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe, where she has been a principal actor in over a decade and a half’s worth of world-premiere musical comedies and dramas, touring throughout the United States and internationally. Velina is a two-time winner of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle award as Outstanding Supporting Actress. Velina has credits in film, television, radio commercials and industrial films and has also voiced several computer games. 

Velina also graduated Magna Cum Laude from San Francisco State University, and has a Master’s Degree in counseling. Combining that training with her skill and experience as a working actor has developed her career and life coaching service, The Business of Show Biz. She also has a monthly column of the same name with Theatre Bay Area, where she shares her talent and advice with both novice and experienced actors as they strive to share their passions, becoming the brave, challenging artists they want to be.

Workshop location: Theatre Bay Area offices, 1119 Market St., 2nd Floor, SF
Cost: Theatre Bay Area members: $40; nonmembers: $65
Register today!


Workshop: Navigating Your Life as an Artist

Instructor: Valerie Weak
Monday, Feb. 29 (6:30-8 p.m.)

Individual artists usually wear many hats: stage actor, director, teaching artist, voice-over artist…the list goes on and on. How can artists establish a framework for themselves that allows them to search for work, negotiate agreements, complete the work effectively and balance their own individual needs? What kind of work should artists be looking for? What’s a job, as opposed to a career, as opposed to a calling? And what tools might you need for each?

About the instructor: Valerie Weak is an actor and theatre educator with a 15-year history in the San Francisco Bay Area with performing and teaching credits at theatres throughout the region, including San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Center REP, Word for Word and California Shakespeare Theater. Valerie also works on-camera and in voiceover, appearing in commercials, industrials and independent films. She stars in the irreverent indie comedy, The Snake, which was presented at SXSW by Patton Oswalt and can be streamed on Netflix. Valerie also uses her acting skills to train California police officers and medical students at UCSF and Stanford in communication and rapport building. 

Workshop location: Theatre Bay Area offices, 1119 Market St., 2nd Floor, SF
Cost: Theatre Bay Area members: $40; nonmembers: $65
Register today!

 

Tags:  Acting  ATLAS Program  time management  workshop 

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Backstage at the TBA General Auditions

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, February 2, 2016

By Connery Morano


This past weekend marked yet another successful round of Theatre Bay Area’s General Auditions in San Francisco. One of the keystone events of our organization, it’s an essential tool for Bay Area actors and theatre companies alike. With nearly 100 auditors in attendance this year, actors had the unique opportunity to show off their favorite pieces in front of casting directors from all around the bay and beyond; auditors had the opportunity to see and take note of a wide sample of actors to call in for auditions throughout their seasons. 

The TBA General Auditions weekend is the biggest event of its kind in Northern California, drawing even Los Angeles-based actors to attend. This year, the auditions drew auditors representing the nationally recognized California Shakespeare Theater and the prestigious American Conservatory Theater, as well as San Francisco Playhouse, Aurora Theatre and many other well-respected companies. They were joined too by casting directors and independent directors.

The first two days, Jan. 30 and 31, consisted of the auditions of qualified Theatre Bay Area members, selected by lottery; on Feb. 1, the auditors saw members of Actors’ Equity Association. Throughout the process, actors participating in our Advanced Training Leading Artists to Success (ATLAS) program began their training by receiving invaluable, detailed feedback from all the auditors present at their auditions. 

On Actors’ Equity members’ day, I arrived in the morning, excited to see what these professional actors had prepared. Auditors began arriving, chatting and snacking. After two long days of watching actors give it all they had, the atmosphere was buzzing. TBA staff worked with my fellow volunteers to keep all the moving parts of this chaotic and exciting day running smoothly. 

As the actors arrived and checked in—some running through their monologues and songs one last time—the volunteers’ work had already begun. We arranged over 80 head shots and resumes per person into packets for the auditors in the theatre; every 15 minutes, in between sets of auditions, we would fan out into the theatre, distributing packets of photos to the auditors. TBA staffers James Nelson and Laura Ng led actors up and down the flights of stairs from the check-in to the green room dozens of times throughout the morning.  

I was able to watch several rounds of the auditions, and the actors were formidable. One actress’s portrait of a drunken woman begging a man to marry her had me nearly in tears. I was struck with envy every time an auditioner perfectly struck a note with our pianist, and happy to laugh along with the auditors whenever someone collectively tickled us. 

On one of our breaks, I had a chance to talk to auditor Jon Rosen from Landmark Musicals, who told me how pleased he’d been with the audition process. He told me he’d found plenty of people to contact for Landmark’s upcoming auditions for Boy from Oz and that he’d been impressed by the level of talent he’d seen all weekend. After all I’d just seen, I can’t say I was surprised to hear it!

After a long morning, I was exhausted, and as a new group of volunteers, excited to take on the afternoon, began arriving, I made my exit. I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity to see the General Auditions this year. I’d been too intimidated to apply to audition myself, but after seeing the upbeat, positive, atmosphere and feeling the excitement from everyone around me, I’ve already started to think about what monologue I might want to bring in next year. 



Connery Morano is an intern at Theatre Bay Area, focusing on arts administration; he's also a Theatre Arts major at SF State with his degree expected May 2016.

 

Tags:  Acting  actor  ATLAS Program  Auditions  auditor  casting  casting director  TBA general auditions  training 

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Program Director's Note: Last-Minute Audition Tips

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Updated: Friday, January 22, 2016

By Dale Albright

 

The 2016 Theatre Bay Area General Auditions are coming up soon! Below is a list of last-minute tips for those of you attending the auditions—and lots of them are applicable for any audition. Of course, there are no black-and-white answers to any casting question; ask 10 different people the same question and you will get 10 different answers. This is the general consensus of my interaction with casting directors, and is not meant to be an “instruction”—these are truly “tips.”


 TBA program director Dale Albright.


1. Plan on using less than your allotted time.

For example, non-Equity actors are allotted two minutes at the Generals—why not do two 45-second pieces? Equity actors (who get three minutes at the Generals)—why not do two one-minute pieces? By using less than the allotted time, you succeed in several important things:

You ensure that you will avoid that dreaded call of “Time!” This is especially useful if you are doing a comic piece—who can time for the laughter you might get? And who knows what else might happen that might put you over the allotted time? Why take the chance? (By the way, if they do call “time” on you, it is not the end of the world. Be gracious and always close with a “thank you.”)

You leave the auditors wanting more. If you plant the seed that you are an interesting actor and “tease” them with your piece(s), then they might be more inclined to call you back.

You show that you have an understanding of the general audition casting process. This solidifies your standing as a professional actor who knows how much you need to give the casting director in order for them to make a callback decision. (Casting directors can often make their decisions on this in the first 10 seconds of an audition!) It also shows that you understand that the General Auditions are not only grueling for the actors, but for the auditors, who have three days of back-to-back auditions, which is surprisingly draining. 

2. Be prepared for the space you are going into.
Will you see the auditors, or will they be hidden in a dark house? (At the Generals, you will see the auditors—but do not let this lull you into a sense of intimacy that might lead to a loss of vocal projection. Marines’ Memorial is a large theatre.)

Where do you need to go when you get there? (At the Generals, the path to the backstage area leads up and down stairs. You will have time to do any last-minute makeup/hair adjustments when you arrive at the dressing rooms backstage.)

Will you have access to a chair on the stage if you need it? (At the Generals, you will.)

What is the traffic flow? (At the Generals, all actors enter and exit at stage left—the same side as the piano.)

3. Arrive in a timely manner, ready for your audition.
Please, please check out the traffic/transit/parking situation in advance. (For the Generals, the link for parking information is http://www.marineclub.com/location.php.)
• Arrive no later than 30 minutes before your scheduled time.
• Arrive warmed up.
• Arrive ready to give us your headshots/resumes: 100 for non-Equity, 60 for Equity. (While we’re on the subject, check out these thoughts from actor and career coach Velina Brown about headshots: “The Business of Show Biz: Help with Headshot Hype.”)
• Do not leave the waiting area once you check in—you will potentially affect all five to seven other people in your audition group if audition staff cannot find you.
• Bring anything you think you need: pencil, pen, business cards if you have them, snacks, comfortable shoes, breath mints and—most importantly—water!
• Don’t bring anything you don’t need; we will not have space to store personal items and they won’t be “guarded.”
• If you will be singing, be sure that your music is prepared so that it’s easy for the accompanist to use: no plastic sheets (to prevent glare), etc.
• If you are in the final group of the day (4:45 p.m.), it is vital that you arrive on time—the auditors could be going home if you check in late!

Here are some further thoughts from Velina Brown on day-of audition preparation and self-care: “The Business of Show Biz: The Highly Sensitive Actor.”

4. Have realistic expectations for the audition.
One of the most difficult messages to get through to actors is that the General Auditions are the equivalent of a casting handshake. The purpose of the Generals is to get a callback. Callbacks are not part of the TBA Generals, but casting directors interested in your work will save your headshot/resume and call you back at a later time.

If a company or casting director wants to call you back, when should you expect to hear back from them? At the Generals, you could hear from them anytime from immediately after the audition to years down the road—yes, literally, years. So if a month goes by and you haven’t heard anything, it does not mean you “blew it.” This is an investment.

And remember—the companies in attendance come with a variety of different casting scenarios. Some are casting for a particular season; some are just on the hunt for who’s in town for future needs. Many of the factors in their decisions are just plain out of your control. Do you fill a need for something on their list that they are looking for? Does your resume show something of interest to them? There’s no way to know, so that’s basically one thing you can cross off your worry list, if you have one. Come to the auditions, do your best and then go treat yourself to the treat of your choice (no judgment here on what that is!).

5. Let someone know if you aren’t going to make it to a scheduled audition.
Always. For the Generals, call (415) 430-1140, ext. 20 (never call the Marines’ Memorial) to notify TBA staff if you are not able to make your audition slot. This number will be checked during all three days of the auditions, so even if no one is in the office, your message will be received. Note: If the TBA staff doesn’t hear from you at all, your name will still appear on the schedule, all of the auditors will know that you are a no-show and you will be excluded from next year’s Generals.


6. Have fun.
Yes, there are a lot of things to think about and remember...whatever! Ultimately, have fun!

 

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

 

Tags:  Acting  actor  ActorTBA general auditions  Atlas  Auditions  auditor  TBA general auditions  volunteer 

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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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Featured Member: Justin Gillman

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Interview by Sal Mattos

Our next featured member is actor and ArtistRepSF company founder Justin Gillman. As an ATLAS alumnus, Titan Award winner and TBA Awards adjudicator, he’s been one of our most active members since he moved to the Bay Area in 2011. Many actors dream of making it to L.A. or NY to work, but it was landing in San Francisco that really got Gillman’s career started. 


TBA featured member Justin Gillman. Photo: Lisa Keating

 

Tell us a little about your background in theatre.

My first week of freshman year in high school, I was a loner and had nowhere to sit for lunch. I found this little room tucked away at the edge of campus with some friendly and lively people in it, and soon realized that I had inadvertently crashed a Drama Club meeting. Sign-ups were going around for auditions for the fall production, As You Like It. I signed up simply so I could blend into the crowd, eventually got cast as Silvius, and the rest is history!

I love all kinds of theatre, and I make it a goal to always try to switch it up whenever I can—new works, modern, classical, musical, experimental, etc. I have a lot of really great training from UC Santa Barbara and Columbia University, and one of the best things I’ve learned is to always strive to build theatrical muscle and to never settle for the expected or the ordinary. Though acting will always remain my first love, this sensibility has also led me to branch out into other theatrical arenas (writing, directing and producing).

You’re an ATLAS alumnus, as well as a Titan Award winner. Tell us what that experience was like, and how it’s affected your career. 

ATLAS was an incredible experience for me on many levels. It was beautiful to see so many artists participate in the program, and to be able to feed off of everyone’s passion and love for Bay Area theatre. The program also allowed me to focus on what was truly important to me as an actor. Prior to ATLAS, I felt like I was just jumping from show to show, without any sort of goal setting or plans for the future. ATLAS helped me to create my career road map; I refer to it every day now as a rubric for all my theatre-related decisions. For instance, I didn’t know how important it was for me to join Equity until I actually wrote it down. Now, I have a plan and I’m sticking to it! Also, I am so grateful to have received the Titan Award. Money is always tight, and to be able to pay for new headshots (thanks, Lisa Keating!), business cards, and a website will allow me to make the next leap in my career. And getting to have Liam Vincent (an accomplished and fabulous Bay Area actor) as my mentor has been such an enlightening experience.

How has your journey this last year held up to the career map you devised in ATLAS?

Acting can be a frustrating profession, and a lot of my own personal frustration comes from the fact that there is so much that is out of my hands (getting through the right doors, having the right look, getting that part you think you deserve). What I can sometimes forget is how much is in my hands! Some answers to my daily frustrations: My headshot is five years old and doesn’t even look like me any more. (Answer: Get a new one!) There’s never enough time in the day to feel accomplished. (Answer: Wake up earlier!) Why am I even submitting for this audition? It’s not like they’re going to seriously consider me. (Answer: You won’t know if you don’t try!) I know these seem like logical answers, but it can get very crowded in an actor’s head. Especially mine.

You’re a fairly recent transplant to the Bay Area. What was the transition like, and what advice might you give to those just moving here, looking for work?

I moved to the Bay Area from NY in 2011. And even though NY was a nightmare for me in many ways, I was still worried that the Bay Area would not provide me with as many opportunities. Boy, was I wrong. 

I think the most important part of my transition to the Bay Area was that, in NY, I had been labeled as a recent graduate student with a particular set of skills taught to me by my university; the Bay Area simply treated me as an actor. While labeling and typecasting still go on, there is such a plethora of opportunities that are truly within your grasp here. And if you’re not getting the parts you want, put on your own play and rent out space at the Exit and do it yourself! I did that this past winter with a friend of mine, with a small but well-received production of Rabbit Hole (in a role I would probably never have been cast in, but was crucial for me to attempt for my own growth)—that quickly transitioned into a full-fledged theatre company, ArtistsRepSF! That never would have happened for me as quickly in NY. Here in the Bay Area, I can go from my day job to a commercial audition to an industrial shoot to a musical theatre audition to rehearsal for a Restoration comedy, and I never feel like I’m a particular kind of actor. I’m simply an actor. The Bay Area is here to help you find out who you are as an artist. 

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

Everyone is doing great and daring work here—the huge companies, the midsize companies and the small-but-fierce companies. It’s a pretty incredible town if you’re able to see The Pillowman, The Mystery of Irma Vep, and Company all in one summer season. Also, word-of-mouth is an explosively potent tool here, so if you see a show and like it, scream about it on social media. People will listen! I know I do!

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

I just played Katurian in The Breadbox’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman this summer, and it was truly the highlight of my acting career thus far. McDonagh’s play is one of the most vital pieces of literature on the topic of the importance of art. The production itself was hilarious, brutal, violent and pretty scary. And the process was guided by the firm, intuitive and graceful hand of Ariel Craft, one of the best directors working in the Bay Area today. It was a perfect storm of awesomeness!

What’s been your most memorable theatre moment thus far: good, bad, proud achievement or total embarrassment?

My family and my boyfriend’s family (who had not yet met) decided to come to the same performance of The Pillowman, and I had the pleasure of listening to them meet for the first time as they were taking their seats, while I was blindfolded onstage for 15 minutes during the pre-show. #OnlyInTheatre

Any upcoming projects to share with TBA’s members?

My next show, Aphra Behn’s The Rover, runs Oct. 15-Nov. 22 at Shotgun Players! I also highly recommend going to The Breadbox’s season-closer, Medea (directed by boyfriend extraordinaire Oren Stevens), playing Oct. 2-17 at Exit Stage Left.

A big shout-out to my theatre company, ArtistsRepSF, whose next show, Peer Gynt, runs Jan. 22-Feb. 6, 2016 at Exit Stage Left!

You can also see me later this season in Born Yesterday at Center Rep (Jan. 29-Feb. 27) and Will Eno’s Middletown at Custom Made Theatre Co. (Mar. 24-Apr. 23).

After that, I’m taking a long nap.

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

 

Tags:  Acting  Actor  Adjudicator  ATLAS Program  Auditions  career  Featured Member  TBA Awards  Titan Award 

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Program Director's Note: South Bay Regional Auditions Recap

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Photo: "Speakers Auditions for TEDx Beirut 2012" by TEDx Beirut/Nada Zanhour on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

 

By Dale Albright

At the end of June, Theatre Bay Area held the latest South Bay Regional Auditions at City Lights Theater Company in San Jose. Much like the TBA General Auditions held in San Francisco, this was an opportunity for a large number of actors to do a short audition for a variety of theatre companies in one fell swoop. (If this sort of audition is interesting to you, please keep an eye on theatrebayarea.org/?page=GeneralAuditions for announcements of similar opportunities.)

Following these auditions, TBA surveyed audition participants, both actors and auditors. A few comments were repeated often enough that it seemed appropriate to share some thoughts on them with the greater community.

 


TBA program director Dale Albright.

Audition time limit. A few actors mentioned that they wished they could have had more time. This is one of the most common comments in all of our group auditions. Equity actors who get three minutes at the General Auditions wish it was four (I have even heard five). Speaking as an actor, I completely understand the desire to have more time for your audition for a variety of reasons. However, more time will not help answer the needs of the casting directors for the purposes of this kind of audition.

The purpose of a general audition is a virtual handshake: to introduce yourself to the auditors in such a way that intrigues them to call you back for a more in-depth audition, should they have a role for which you are a potential match. A large portion of the information that they need to determine whether/when to call you back is provided simply by you showing up (as in, whether or not you fit a “type” that they are looking for, based on what they see in you and/or your resume). The rest of what they need to know (Do you sing? If they are casting for a large, outdoor venue, for example, can your voice fill the space? Did you have a polished and prepared introduction that shows that you are someone with whom they’d be willing to work?) is generally supplied to them in the first 30 seconds of your audition.

Knowing in advance which auditors will attend. Another common question was “Why can’t we know which casting directors or companies are there in advance?” Companies often don’t know if they will be able to attend the general or regional auditions (let alone who their reps will be and at what time they will be there) until the relatively last minute. Since sharing advance information that is inaccurate or incomplete doesn’t help anyone, we don’t do it. We do publish a list of who specifically was at the previous year's year’s general and regional auditions to give auditioners a sense of who may be there this year. This is not the kind of audition to select a monologue for any particular company or show. This is intended to help you cast your acting net widely. Do the pieces that showcase you the best and let the specific monologue tailoring happen in that company’s own general auditions, if they hold them.

Knowing immediately after the audition which auditors attended. We’re also asked, “Why can’t we know who was there and what times they were there immediately after the event?” We always make this list available as soon as possible after any regional or general audition. A few days after this year’s audition, we emailed all participants that the auditor list for the 2015 South Bay Regionals was available online, at theatrebayarea.org/?page=GeneralAuditions. Check it out!

Side note: Even if you didn’t attend the auditions, we think this list would be of use to anyone interested in working in the South Bay and Peninsula. Which companies are looking for people? Which directors are working with the companies that were in attendance? This is all helpful information.

Not in response to any particular question or comment, but I would like to say that the South Bay Regional Auditions serve a range of purposes for a lot of different companies. Some are hiring now. Some will be hiring in the future. Some are just looking to expand their talent pool in general. Not being able to attend this year’s auditions shouldn’t preclude you from taking advantage of other opportunities throughout the year. Not all of our South Bay or Peninsula companies are able to attend this one-day event, and those that do often will have other auditions. Certainly no one should put all of the casting eggs in this (or any) general or regional audition. Stay informed of and rigorously pursue current auditions throughout the year—one great place for audition listings is TBA’s Job & Talent Bank (theatrebayarea.org/networking/).

Notes for actors from the auditors. We also asked the auditors in attendance: “If you could give just one piece of feedback to all of the actors who participated, what would it be?” The most popular replies were:

Enter confidently and with purpose
Take a moment between pieces
Time your material so you don’t go over your allotted time
Make clear distinctions between the characters you play if doing two monologues


We’d love to hear your additional comments about this or other regional auditions. Feel free to comment below, or email us at tba@theatrebayarea.org or dale@theatrebayarea.org.


Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, and a Bay Area actor and director.


Tags:  Acting  Actor  Auditions  auditor  casting  casting director  Director  South Bay Regional Auditions  TBA general auditions 

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2015 Titan Award Winners!

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It is with enormous pride that we announce the winners of the 2015 Titan Awards: Bobby August, Jr., Caitlin Evenson and Justin Gillman

Each of these fabulous actors has completed TBA's ATLAS (Advanced Training Leading Artists to Success) program, where they created a career map that would guide them in their next professional steps. August, Evenson and Gillman will each receive an award of $1000 and a yearlong professional mentorship to implement this career map.

Read more about our amazing Titans below!

Bobby August, Jr. (Fremont) has a MFA in Acting from University of California, Davis, where he was seen in The Bacchae, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and The Way of Water. In the Bay Area, he has appeared with Shady Shakespeare, Savage Wilde Players and others. He is a non-Equity actor and is currently a cast member of Made Up Theatre. Visit BobbyAugust.com.

August will use his Titan Award funds for training costs. 
His professional mentor is L. Peter Callender.

Caitlin Evenson (Berkeley) has performed at California Shakespeare Theater, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Cutting Ball Theater, Ragged Wing Ensemble, Town Hall Theatre, Tides Theatre, Douglas Morrison Theatre and many others, and will be appearing with the Breadbox in Medea later this fall. A non-Equity actor, Caitlin has a BA from University of California, Berkeley.

Evenson will use her Titan Award funds for training costs. 
Her professional mentor is Jennifer Le Blanc.

Justin Gillman (San Francisco) - In the four years since arriving in the Bay Area, Justin has appeared with San Francisco Playhouse, 42nd Street Moon, Custom Made Theatre Co., New Conservatory Theatre, the Breadbox and others. He has an MFA in acting from Columbia University, is a non-Equity actor and will appear later this year in The Rover with Shotgun Players. 

Gillman will use his Titan Award funds for marketing costs.
His professional mentor is Liam Vincent.


Titan Finalists: In addition to the winners noted above, the Titan panel also selected two finalists, each of whom will receives a professional mentorship, Teressa Foss and Rowan Rivers.


Congratulations to all of our Titans, and best wishes for career success!

Tags:  Acting  ATLAS Program  Titan Award 

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Resource Expo at TBA Annual Conference

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 9, 2015

 

The TBA Annual Conference is right around the corner, and it's going to be great! United under the theme (and the increasingly clear imperative to) "Be the Change" are panels and roundtables on topics for every role in theatre—onstage or offstage—a Playwright's Cabaret of new short works, and now—a Resource Expo!

 


Photo: "Clock - Success" by Flazingo Photos (www.flazingo.com) on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.   



The Resource Expo is going to be a space packed with people and organizations who help theatre-makers boost their careers. Does this describe you? Sign up for a table in the Resource Expo!

Space is now available for anyone who provides career-related services to theatre artists, including:

• audition coaches 

• career advisors

• headshot photographers

• voice and movement teachers

• website designers

 

...as well as representatives of actor training programs, circus arts programs, graduate programs, internship programs, improv groups, and organizations offering playwright opportunities!

New! TBA has relocated our conference food depot inside the Resource Expo to ensure friendly mingling. Full and half resource tables are available here in our online store

 


Questions?

Contact conference contact Kimberley Cohan


Tags:  #tbacon15  Acting  Actor Training Guide  arts education  Auditions  casting director 

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