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Hello, Terry Boero.

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

This month's featured member is long-time Lemonade Fund supporter, ATLAS alum and playwright/educator Terry Boero talks about the dramaturg’s joy in nurturing creative impulses in others. 


Photo: Lisa Keating

Tell us about your work. Between teaching acting, directing, playwriting, and dramaturgy, how do you create space to help others’ new work development while having your own creative impulses? 

I asked my students at San Francisco State University’s School of Theatre & Dance to share their “A-ha!” moment—the moment they knew they had to be involved in theatre. The joy in the room was thrilling; that joy is my driving force. I teach a new play development class in which playwrights work with a director and actors to actualize their play from its formative idea—a script—into a 3D creation. We meet once a week, and the playwright sees how her/his play actually breathes on the stage. It’s akin to letting other people hold your baby: you worry if they’ll drop it, give it the flu, and surprise—the baby continues to thrive! Perhaps the infant even grows and responds in new ways.

The job of a dramaturg is to nurture a play without getting in its way. To paraphrase Paula Vogel, 90% of the people know there’s a problem with a script, but only 1%—the playwright—knows how to fix it. I firmly believe that the play must always return to its creator to impose ideas; fixes deaden the impulse[SS1] . When developing a new play we rely on listening, questioning, taking chances and pushing the boundaries. We ask ourselves about rigor and illuminating the play from within. Out of that work, the playwright and the play grow.

My “A-ha!” moment was when I wrote a stage adaptation of the game Clue, and the Marx Brothers insanity of the play made me happy. I thought, “Wow I created this! I gave someone joy.” Teaching keeps me connected to my creative heartbeat. Balancing the time between the two is still a work in progress.

 

You seem deeply connected to youth and the idea of burgeoning.

Aspects of my life that give me inspiration are my grandchildren and nature. Children ask questions, they want to comprehend the universe. They aren’t afraid to express their joy, be silly, cry when they need to; they remind me of all the things we adults are encouraged to “grow out of”. The playwright must stay in contact with her/his impulse, not rationalize it. That doesn’t mean we throw fits in the middle of the supermarket, but it does require artists to stay in touch with their kernel of joy. And nature, well, nature is creation. The Sierras are my favorite place to hike, and as I climb a trail through the ancient pine and along the walls of granite, frequently a new idea appears. The eternal is embedded in the mountains.

 

Are there misconceptions about your field that collaborators or emerging professionals don’t hear enough about?

Some view the dramaturg as the research assistant for productions, the continuity advisor, the person who writes the program, puts together the lobby display and sends out the teacher notes for student matinees. All of these are important aspects, and I’ve done them all. They welcome the audience into the world of the play and give the director, designers, and actors access to the givens of the story they are telling. But I also think dramaturgs have a responsibility to the art of theatre. We work with the core element: the play itself. In this world of changing technology, population, cultural and financial realities, theatre must change. Not only change but brazenly identify, address and meet the new ways we live our lives and seek theatrical forms that address our 21st century. I’m interested in combining theatrical aspects such as my drama/vaudeville shows A Small Life and Death on the Tracks, which use Road Runner cartoons and social media, to build community around a universal concern: teen suicide.

 

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

This community is generous with their time and support and inspires me every day. Just as I learned with my connection to the Lemonade Fund–we hold each other up. TBA’s fantastic ATLAS program provided me with the tools, the practical information and opportunity to work and share with fellow playwrights.

 

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

This fall, I’m the dramaturg and producer for Fringe Goes Long at SFSU, running November 7–13. I’m working on a comedy that weaves Julius Caesar with the Peyton Place atmosphere of a homeowner’s community, and my theatre collective Kintsugi is producing an evening of 10-minute plays February 13 and 14 at PianoFight.


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Featured Member: Megan Briggs

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

Since taking on producing the shows she wanted to see while in college, this month’s Featured Member and two-time Lemonade Fund benefit producer, Megan Briggs, exemplifies how a theatre artist can blow past the constraints placed on early actors to create her own play and develop works that support the field.

 

TBA featured member Megan Briggs. Photo: Quincy Cardinale

Tell us about your path into theatre, and a favorite project/production you were part of or inspired by.

I started acting at age eleven, inspired by a teacher who wrote original musicals for kids. The need to perform has never let go of me since, despite the bumpy ride. In college, the head of the acting program told me that I didn't have the drive or passion to make it as an actor. It made me more committed to my creative goals, and I transferred to University of the Pacific where they fully supported my theatre endeavors. I wanted to bring a dialogue to my campus about many of the issues women face, so I decided to produce, direct and perform The Vagina Monologues. We sold out every performance and I was able to present a check for over $20,000 to the Women’s Center of San Joaquin.

Last year I was lucky enough to co-produce and perform in The Desk Set. It’s a fantastic play set in the 1950s, and producing it posed a set of unique problems. For example, we had to build a large, era-appropriate computer that had flashing lights, produced printed pages, and could only be visible during the second act. Even though we had a limited budget, our amazing team of hardworking people was able to pull it all together, and the end result was nothing short of miraculous. Our computer frequently got its own applause when it arrived at the beginning of the second act!

What off-route attributes, hobbies or experiences made a surprising contribution to your art?

I’ve developed a love of gardening in recent years, and it’s taught me to have more patience in my theatre career. If I plant something in the fall, I have to wait until spring for it to bloom. It’s important to realize that things don’t always happen as quickly as I would like, and often it’s worth the wait!

I love listening to all kinds of music (including hip hop), and I enjoy rapping when I go to karaoke. Amazingly enough, I’ve been able to share this skill a few times on stage! One of my favorite single moments is playing a character that does a rap about working in an office. I love it when a director asks me to rap for them in an audition because it gives me a chance to stand out and have a little fun.

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

I really enjoy the sense of camaraderie that I feel with the people in the Bay Area theatre scene. TBA helps to support individuals to network with the community through training opportunities, grants, the Awards, and especially the Lemonade Fund. Last year I helped coordinate two productions as

fundraisers for the Lemonade Fund, and to know that I was helping to support theatre-makers in need means the world to me. I'm thankful for the time I served on the TBA Individual Services Committee because I got to learn so much about the organization and to work with my peers to support individual TBA members.

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

I’m going to play Regan in a thrilling new production of King Lear–opening at PianoFight on November 21–one of the final shows being produced by Theatre Pub. I’m also in the (very) preliminary stages of developing a new play based on my exciting (and sometimes harrowing) dating experiences in SF, and I’m so excited to see where that journey takes me.

 

  

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

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Featured Member: Selina G. Young

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

From NASA’s Future Forum and the Palo Alto Black and White Ball to San Jose Repertory Theatre, lighting designer Selina G. Young’s versatility goes beyond the stage. The founder of Tough Chicks Productions talks about working between live performance and corporate events, and how a specialized tax knowledge led to her uncommon position at the local IATSE. 

 

TBA featured member Selina G. Young

Tell us about your career path into lighting design and production. Does your process change between type of client or event? 

I started at age 5, as a dancing snowflake. In high school, I wanted to be a playwright, mostly writing about the Asian experience. In college, I began working backstage when I realized that minority voices had a more difficult time being heard. Thankfully, that seems to be changing. I started in costumes and, after my first daughter’s birth, switched to lighting because I thought there was less gear to travel with- haha.

I have been fortunate to continue working in many facets of theatre and am proud to be an AEA Stage Manager and stagehand with IATSE, Local 134. Tough Chicks Productions was a moniker from my ex-husband for me and two other female lighting designers I worked with years ago. When I started being asked to design more on my own, it seemed a fitting name for my company.

Corporate events don't allow things like color and texture because of broadcasting issues, but I've found ways to incorporate my favorite elements to create different moods. For NASA’s 50th Anniversary Ceremony at the Tech Museum, I added color in the truss and on the drape around the screens to accent their video footage. Sometimes I’ll add the company colors and gobos to plain drape covering building walls. For VISA's all-staff meetings (broadcast internally) I even created matching colors for conference banners.

In theatre I enjoy non-theatrical instruments, such as domestic floor lamps, industrial work lights, and lanterns. Once, I had a performer hold an under-cabinet light because she wanted the effect of a sunbeam coming from her hand. Dance calls for different angles and isolation of light to highlight a dancer’s body. Shadow is just as important as light. Different cultures have different requirements as well: Filipino dance calls for color and texture, whereas East Indian dance prefers full stage light to see the intricate hand movements. Iggy Pop didn’t want any light directly in his eyes, so lighting was more from above.

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

One of my favorites was AlterBoyz at San Jose Stage Company. I created a concert setting in a 200-seat theatre, right down to throwing on the “work lights” at the end, just like at an arena show. Not only was it my first show for them, but also the most cues I’ve ever written for a show. For Cabaret, at the same company, I turned the entire theatre into the KitKat Klub. Working with very little budget cements in my mind that money is not a necessary part of the work. Sometimes it makes you more creative when you have nothing to start with.

What off-route attributes, hobbies or experiences made a surprising contribution to your art?

I love taking photos of the world as I see it. I try to transfer those aesthetics to my designs. A more unusual asset has been attaining an “enrolled agent status” for tax preparation. Since I specialize in entertainment personal tax, it gives me an alternative way to contribute to the industry. It opened the door for me to become interim treasurer for the IA Local, giving me a chance to be a more integral member of the union.

I have two teenage girls who are amazing and keep me honest. They remind me how fortunate I am to work in this industry and the amazing people I get to meet and work with on a regular basis.

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

The creativity. There is any type of show you want here: musicals, straight plays, concerts, dance. Even the corporate world is getting into the game, adding more moving lights and video to the presentations. I work on shows ranging from traditional to avant-garde/experimental. With AlterTheater Ensemble, we worked in storefronts in downtown San Rafael, leaving the windows uncovered so passersby could see what we were doing, hopefully enticing them to see the performance.

I don’t have time to see a lot of theatre unless I’m working on the production. The TBA website and email updates help to keep up on trends, companies, artists and opportunities.

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

I am taking a break as I move my daughter to New York for school, but I am in discussion about some upcoming shows starting in November. I hope to keep working on creative and inventive projects. From theatre to corporate events and parties, while knowing the boundaries of the box are required, working outside the box is fun.

  

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

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Featured Member: Jerome Gentes

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

Playwright and producer Jerome Gentes previously has wielded his MFA from Columbia University as a book reviewer, managing director of Classical Ballet of Western New York, teaching artist and writer for Children’s Hospital Oakland Foundation and Research Institute. These days, when he isn’t creating UX/CX content strategy for the likes of Meyer Corporation US, Gentes can be spotted serving on TBA’s Individual Services Committee and on the board of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco. 

 

TBA featured member Jerome Gentes. Photo: Colin Hussey

What are some of the inspirations for your polymorphic career?

Major props to Buffalo, New York, and its poetry and theatre communities. Especially Just Buffalo Literary Center, where I was a K-12 teaching artist; kids are some of the bravest and freest risk-takers I know. In 2007, I helped start the Elmwood Writers Group there, which is still going. Buffalo’s grassroots, collaborative, what-have-you-got-to-lose attitude and practices changed my life, especially after years of trying to build a New York City writing career the wrong way. I’d wanted to make a big, career-launching splash. My MFA wasn’t even in playwriting or theatre, but writing creative nonfiction. When I broke up with the idea that I had to be successful [in New York] with a creative nonfiction project, I freed myself to find the way back to poetry and theatre, my first passions. Four years in Buffalo gave me humility and taught me that art is about effort, not results, and that what we call failing is actually learning. Tech takes credit for the fail-faster-learn-more ethos, but local and regional arts have lived and thrived by that approach for years.                          

Favorite project/production that you’ve been part of—or inspired by? 

The Fall 2012 Playwrights’ Center of SF 24-Hour Fest rebooted my involvement in theatre. My second Fest resulted in Schrödinger’s Christmas, a 10-minute musical I cowrote with Jon Rosen and really cherish. More recently, I was one of the facilitators for Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field at Berkeley Rep, and the people and communities we engaged with have opened my mind and heart even more broadly. I’m constantly inspired—Megan Cohen’s The Horse’s Ass, Katie May’s Abominable, Hamilton, and David Byrne’s Here Lies Love, the efforts of so many worthwhile projects and creatives.

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

The scene is a never-ending, geographically challenging festival in a constant cycle of growth and change. TBA membership gives a relative newbie like me a kind of all-access ticket to that. I savor the chance to attend and adjudicate shows, volunteer for them, support them. I’m still eager to get up to Sonoma County and down to the South Bay to see what orgs there are doing. I’ve gone to the TBA Conference each year since joining, and that’s always great for connecting and reconnecting. Individual Services Committee participation focuses this into a once-monthly exchange with other committee members on critical issues like gender parity and diversity.

Are there misconceptions about the theatre field that emerging professionals dont hear enough about?

A misconception I’d really like to shatter for creatives of all kinds is [that of] theatre as an insider’s game. It’s too anarchic for that, so plunge in and get going. Meet people. Play with them. The rewards of getting in there and helping others, learning from them, are real. I come across many emerging playwrights who can’t let go of their work, so I’d like to encourage them to do this. The sooner any artist tests and absorbs this fundamental, the more fun they’ll have.

What off-resume skills/experiences have made unusual contributions to your art? 

I worked in restaurants for a long time. Each meal service is simultaneously product, performance, promotion and production—a loosely scripted immersive experience with a participating, highly expectant audience. The goal from point to point is to deliver consistency, seamless and scalable perfection, but the success may be in how and where it falls short and having to incorporate that on the fly. Sometimes you do this together; sometimes someone simply does their offstage, underappreciated task. Also, exploring cultural matter far outside my comfort range. Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down, for example, isn’t the sort of book I reach for reflexively, but he takes us so far inside the battle of Mogadishu that I could feel the combat experience. 

Anything coming up soon that excites you?

As part of the Musical Cafe Showcase Series production team, I’m excited about our upcoming Fall Showcase at PianoFight in November. On October 16, we are cohosting a daylong event on getting plays and musicals produced and self-produced in collaboration with Play Cafe, our parent organization. Musical Cafe will host a mixer for writers and composers and other creatives, so maybe some great projects will come from that someday—maybe the next Hamilton or Fun Home!

  

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

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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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Featured Member: Antoine Hunter

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

Urban Jazz Dance Company founder Antoine Hunter, an African American Deaf choreographer/dancer/ambassador/model/actor/poet, shares his remarkable story in working across social spheres and languages of expression.  
 


TBA featured member Antoine Hunter. 


Tell us about your artistic path and process.

The Oakland Ensemble Theatre were the ones who told me I have a huge voice in writing plays. I began writing plays there while I was at Skyline High School [where] I was known as “Black Shakespeare” because someone always died in my scripts. My first script, Fly Away, was presented by OET, directed by Donald Lacy, and later Love Life Foundation [again] under Donald Lacy. Fly Away was about two teenagers, a Deaf boy who had a beautiful hearing girlfriend, who’d both just entered high school. Even with all the years they’d been best friends, the hearing girlfriend is being pulled away and in the middle of their troubles, there is a gang fight; one of them dies. This play was meant for people to understand we are all seeking love, that we all die and feel pain, that we need to stop the hate and find a way to coexist. These roles were meant for Deaf and African American [performers], however, they have been performed by hearing people of many races. My writing has been performed all over California.

After many years, I decided to focus on dancing. I performed in Peru, London, Cuba, Africa and much more. It was easier; I didn't have to work eight times as hard to read someone’s lips. I used to [memorize] the whole script, but sometimes fell into embarrassment because someone forgot their line, or changed [it], and I ended up looking bad. Being the only deaf actor in plays is just insanely unfair to me, but in dance I had a fighting chance. I danced with numbers of dance companies while I would randomly go see theatre plays. My joy for dance grew larger and larger while I was wishing it was me performing at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre or Beach Blanket Babylon. A few people thought I was too brilliant not to act, so I began doing short and long films, plus music videos, as an actor, dancer, choreographer, director and producer.

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

I performed leading roles in John Henry, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Raisin in the Sun, School Daze, Black Nativity and more. No matter where, I loved doing plays that had roles for people of color. There are not enough roles for people of color. I used to refuse playing white man roles because I wanted the director or writer to make it fit my ethnic culture. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

What advice would you like to share with an emerging theatre professional (or an earlier you)?

Stay true to yourself and don’t lose hope. You don’t have to look for companies that fit your need, you can create companies that fit your need. 

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

One of the great things about living in the Bay Area is its value toward arts and the people who share and create art. I had performed in a number of theatres, and from small companies to big companies, all agree: without the arts, the world would lose its own atmosphere to breathe, to live free. Life onstage taught me so much for life offstage. Oddly enough, my theatre people don’t know I am a dancer, my dance people don’t know I am also an actor, both don’t know me as songwriter-playwright. My values remain the same in all cases: to bring arts alive. I let people know in my bio I did them all.  

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

Today I am happy to say I am finally getting back to my love of theatre. I am the founder of DeVinci’s Deaf Loud Dance Theatre. All performances will be Deaf cast. I’ll be working on Othello and a few other things; we did a few shows already and people love us. We will be performing for Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival, the opening weekend of San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, [as well as at] the Green Show at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, East Side Arts Alliance and so much more. I am excited because I am at place where my vision can come freely, fitting all kinds of roles but making more work and roles for Deaf people and people of color.

 

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

 

Tags:  actor  Choreography  dance  dancer  deaf  Featured Member 

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Featured Member: Tanya Telson

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng


With a decade of experience in theatre work, a degree in scenic design and membership in an organization of gamers, AEA stage manager Tanya Telson is an unabashed proponent for her craft and others hooked on the rush of rallying their wits to ensure that the show goes on.


TBA featured member Tanya Telson. 


Tell us about your career path—how did you choose to go into stage management?

There was a program at my local community college called the Young Actor’s Workshop. A friend of mine wanted me to audition, and when I did not get into the program, that same friend encouraged me to sign up for their theatre tech program. I had just turned 13 and had nothing to do that summer, so it seemed like a good idea. From that program, I was exposed to the range of work it takes to put on a show from backstage and decided to strive for a career in theatre.

What did joining AEA change for you? 

Joining AEA was a specific goal I had, and I was thrilled to achieve it. I am a firm believer that my work has merit both artistically and as support for a production. Calling myself a professional is something I don’t take lightly, as it has a great amount of responsibility and expectation. When a show runs smoothly, I know my work has paid off.

Favorite project/production that you’ve been part of?

It is common superstition in theatre to claim that the “Scottish Play” (Macbeth) is cursed. It was one of the first shows I stage managed, as a teenager stage earning college credit. The theatre department had upgraded their lighting console system just before the performances started—and the night before our closing matinee, something went wrong, and the dimmer system was not operational. Rather than cancel the show, the director decided that we were going to use the college’s outdoor amphitheatre and do our final performance outside. I went from calling light and sound cues to learning foley—creating live sound effects from teacups, bells, sword fragments and wooden dowels. I had one chance to get the cues right, and rose to the occasion. That experience is what I look back to when people say, “the show must go on.” That urgency—to give a performance despite the obstacles—is what makes theatre endure and is a memory I have kept as a life lesson.

Favorite activities outside of theatre?

I am part of an organization of Live Action Roleplay (LARP) gamers. This type of gaming is actually a close cousin of theatre, in the way it encourages dress-up (costuming), creating characters (acting) and integrating those characters into a story through scenarios crafted by a “storyteller” (improv). I also like to provide atmospheric items (props and scenery) to give people a sense of location. This activity has helped me understand the importance of designated spaces to express and create characters organically. Gaming has made me aware of how important the comfort and safety of rehearsal spaces are to the artistic process of an actor.

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

I grew up in the Bay Area; this is the place that gave me the concept that stage managers are theatre artists. There is a sense of “can-do” with the community here that is not always about going above and beyond the call of duty, but asking for what you need and figuring out creative ways to get it. I initially joined TBA because it had the most comprehensive and relevant job postings for stage management. When I started reading the articles, I found it to be informative about local shows and people I have worked with, or hope to work with in the future.

Anything coming up soon that you’re excited about?

Recently, 3Girls Theatre Company has taken me on as its resident stage manager. Not only does this give me the opportunity to stage-manage new works, it has increased my interest in reaching out to other stage managers and aspiring stage managers in the area. Since 3GT is a relatively new company, I am trying to foster relationships with educational programs that include stage management in their curriculums. My goal is to create a place in which we can train up-and-coming stage managers by having them work with the AEA stage managers involved in their shows. Giving people the chance to learn on their feet is something I believe is useful.

I also have been applying to grad school because I have skills that need some brushing up. It is a little intimidating admitting that, in my mid-30s, I still have much to learn about my craft. My undergraduate degree is in scenic design, so going back to specialize in stage management will give me additional perspective, especially since I have been working in the Bay Area for the past 10 years. I would like to take my experience and learn how to mold it for future productions—both locally and in other places. I am interested in touring productions; I would like to stay with a show for a long run and see how different spaces frame the shows.

 

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

 

Tags:  3girls theatre company  Featured Member  stage management 

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Featured Member: Davied Morales

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Updated: Friday, February 19, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng 

With credits that include performance on stage as well as in film, rap and web series, Davied Morales’ animated presence at the 2016 General Auditions easily caught the attention of theatre-makers in even the farthest corners of the expansive Marines’ Memorial Theatre. Read more about this week’s TBA featured member before his rising career takes off. 



TBA featured member Davied Morales.

 

You’ve accomplished a lot of interesting crossover work—not only acting onstage, but also counting experience in film, app commercials and web series. Tell us about what’s gratifying and/or challenging about working in such a range of disciplines? 

Honestly, I feel theatre chose me, because growing up I always wanted to be an actor. I started taking drama classes in 7th grade at Castillero Middle School after seeing my friend on stage perform during an assembly the previous year. Since then, I’ve never stopped taking classes. In college, opportunities started presenting themselves, especially with the De Anza Film Department and being a part of the Theatre Program at Foothill College, where I received my AA. Something I find challenging about being involved in such a wide range of work is figuring out where to devote my time. Each platform of acting has a special place in my heart, but unfortunately, I can’t do everything at the same time. The most satisfying part of working in these different fields would be the relationships I have built with the various casts and crews I’ve worked with. I mean, what’s better than people coming together to work on something they believe in?
 

Favorite project/production that you’ve been part of or inspired by?

My favorite project I have worked on so far would be First Person Shooter at Foothill College, directed by Tom Gough. Prior to this show, I’d been in many plays and played main characters on film, but this was my first lead in a stage production. The character I got to play, Daniel Jamison, was a complete stretch for me—but thanks to a great director who had faith in me and a great cast, it was an unforgettable experience and I enjoyed performing the show every night.
 

Your resume lists a wide range of skills as well, including juggling, hip-hop dance, IPA, Indian dialects, recording and mixing vocals—and the culinary arts! Has being versatile made any surprising contributions to your art?

Each one of my special skills has definitely added to my acting. Whether it was cooking in the kitchen with my mom, playing sports with teammates, or taking a dance class, they have all helped me grow as a person and gain life experience. A secondary passion of mine that is constantly contributing to my success would be my love for music. I am a rapper and songwriter (stage name Dav @activepoet) and I believe these acquired skills have given me a new level of confidence while performing, keep me busy creating, and eager to learn more about this entertainment industry I want a career in. 

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

I love the Bay Area theatre scene. It seems like every day I am finding out about more theatre companies, thanks to Theatre Bay Area, and I’m finding more and more opportunities within this community. Even though I am a new member of Theatre Bay Area, I enjoy being informed about all that is going on in the Bay and in the whole theatre world. It’s really encouraging seeing and being a part of community of so many working artists. 

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

I am currently working with TheatreWorks on a school tour this March of Oskar and the Countless Costume Changes, which is all about gender expression and encouraging children to be whoever they want to be, no matter what others believe. I’m also excited to announce that I will be playing the part of Anthony in the South Bay premiere of I and You at City Lights Theater Company in downtown San Jose this May-June.


Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 


Tags:  Featured Member 

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Featured Member: Carl Jordan

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng 

From directing drama and technical theatre to choreography, multiple SFBATCC Award- and TBA Award-winning theatre-maker Carl Jordan talks about transforming a spark of fear into stage pictures, and how a collaborative environment can challenge artists to push their visions of possibility. 


TBA featured member Carl Jordan. Photo: Sarah Nelson

 

Your CV includes work as director, choreographer and technical director—multiple facets for which you’ve received a number of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards, plus two TBA Awards just this past season. Does one part of your brain tend to jump first when cracking open a new project? 

I love the collaborative aspect of theatre. My background includes training in dance, drama and technical theatre, and having extensive knowledge in all of these areas gives me the ability to communicate well with the technicians and artists I am working with, and to visualize stage pictures. What gets my juices flowing is a great story—that’s what jumpstarts my brain and informs my choices. I know that I should go ahead with a project when my imagination is sparked, and also when I encounter challenges that provoke a little fear. Fear can be a great motivator!  

Favorite play or production that you were part of or inspired by? 

My favorite production is usually whatever I am currently working on, which right now is One Man, Two Guvnors, which just opened at the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa. But I also love directing shows that people say could never work. I was told Return to the Forbidden Planet—a mashup of rock and roll, sci-fi and Shakespeare—was just too weird, and had too many difficult technical elements. It had a great story, though, and I used the naysaying to deeply challenge me. It went on to win Best Overall Production and Best Director at last year’s SFBATCC Awards. Clybourne Park has very intense and painful themes that have to be balanced with humor, plus incredibly difficult set design demands. The script is brilliant—incredibly profound and challenging. This play pushed me hard to bring my "A" game to rehearsals. Luckily, I also had a brilliant and receptive cast to work with. The show won Best Overall Production, Best Director and Best Ensemble at this year’s TBA Awards. The key to making both of these productions work was doing a lot of homework and casting fearless and honest actors.

I’m inspired by artists that push the limits of what’s possible: Bill Irwin’s reinvention of physical comedy, the smartness of William Ball’s directing at A.C.T. and how he approached each piece with a unique vision, Lin-Manuel Miranda and how he is creating new forms of musical theatre.

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

The Bay Area is rich with amazing and fantastic theatre companies. I’m a freelance director, which gives me the ability to work anywhere—and I would love to work with even more companies, so contact me!

TBA is a great resource for me on many levels. I’m a TBA Awards adjudicator, which gives me the chance to see great work at so many different theatres. I’ve used the Talent Bank and I attend General Auditions when I’m casting shows; I love networking at events like the TBA Awards and connecting with other theatre professionals.


What advice would you give an emerging theatre professional (or an earlier you)?

Here’s what works for me: follow what sparks you and don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers when exploring your take on a project. Start with a great story, hire great artists and approach each production as if it is the last one you will ever do. It’s really important to listen to actors, and I like when they bring ideas to the table. The actor is living the part and brings a unique vision, and guiding that vision inspires me. Also, never yell, and always treat others with patience, respect and grace. At the end of a show, I tell my companies that if they’ve enjoyed working in a positive and kind environment, pay it forward in their next production.


Anything coming up soon that you are excited about? 

After One Man, Two Guvnors, next up is Venus in Fur, with TBA Awards finalist for Best Actress Melissa Claire and Scott Coopwood, who’s currently in Macbeth at Berkeley Rep. It’s being produced by Marin Onstage in May and moving to the Sonoma Theatre Alliance in June. Then, The Comedy of Errors with the Curtain Theatre in August. It is so much fun to do Shakespeare in a fantastic redwood grove—Old Mill Park, Mill Valley. 

 

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 


Tags:  Featured Member 

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Featured Member: Cathleen Riddley

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Interview by Laura Ng 

Appearing to national audiences in the feature film LA Mission and PBS’ Trauma, Cathleen Riddley is ever committed to the arts and welfare of the Bay Area community. This PlayGround company member and associate artist with AlterTheater also moves crowds with her spirited vocals in local bands Sweetie Pie and the Doughboys and Burnsy’s Sugar Shack as well as working to foster goodwill with San Quentin Prison’s No More Tears and Healing Circle programs. This past November, Riddley added two TBA Awards to an already dazzling roster of accomplishments.


TBA featured member Cathleen Riddley.

 

You've worked in a wide array of mediastage, film, television, voiceover and singing in bands. What are some aspects you consider when choosing a project?

When a movie, TV show, voiceover, or commercial is presented, one often needs to go with what one’s agent chooses. That being said, I did turn down, without a second thought, a well-paying voiceover that took a religious stand against gay marriage. I realized that it would deeply hurt my heart and wound so many people I loved if I stood for something–even if not as anything but a voice–that I know is wrong.

When considering a project in the theatre, which is where about 90 percent of my work is, I look at the role, the director, the text itself, and why is it important that this play be done at this time. It matters so very much to me what the play is addressing in the tumultuous times that we are living in now. I must admit that I also am excited to work on projects that challenge me beyond what I have ever done before, and that will grow me as an artist and a collaborator.

Parenthood can be a challenge for theatre professionals. When a company like AlterTheater—where you are an associate artist—invites actors to bring their children into the rehearsal process, it generates interest. How has having a daughter impacted your perspective on the field?

There is nothing more immediate than the needs of one’s children, and if an ensemble like AlterTheater can not only accommodate but embrace the sometimes fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants reality that is having children in the process, there is amazing beauty and messiness and collaboration and group parenting that happens nowhere else on earth. In a piece that is all about the African American church like The Amen Corner, it would be inconceivable that this church would exist without children: crying babies who are passed between whoever was available to rock and cradle and feed them (often the teens in the church), kids who palmed their quarters given them to put in the collection plate so they could buy candy after church... Having children in the theatre helps it to reflect real life.

Because I thought that the worst thing that could happen was that someone could say “No,” I started asking to bring my daughter to rehearsals from the time she was four years old. I was shocked to find that often I was the first person who had ever done that, and pleased to be told that she would be welcome almost all of the time. Consequently, she is an awesome theatregoer, critic, supporter, positive energy bringer, fan, and well-rounded 13-year-old. And she made her theatre debut in The Amen Corner, which thrilled her mama to no end. Let’s assume that the answer will be “Yes,” and ask to bring our children into our world of theatre.

Congratulations on your 2015 TBA Awards for both Outstanding Performance in a Principal Role in a Play and Direction of a Play Score for The Amen Corner! What it like to shift between two roles on the same production? 

First, the awards were a great honor. Thank you. It was an adventure to be doing a scene where I had a major event take place for my character, where I really had to be in the moment, but at the same time be thinking, “This song is too loud for this part of the play,” or “The tempo of this song is so fast that it’s going to finish before the end of the scene." The great blessing of this play was that I had the most amazing people to work with. Their musicality was awesome, their ability to learn a part by ear in a short time and sing it in four-part harmony was something miraculous, and their support of me in my dual role was so amazing that I realize now I never would have been able to do it without this exact group of ensemble-minded, heart-driven, musically-inclined, risk-taking precious souls.

How else has being a Theatre Bay Area member impacted your career?

Theatre Bay Area provides me with so much that I can’t get anywhere else. I look to it for auditions; for what I should go see; for artists to keep an eye out for; to enlighten me about aspects of the theatre that I know very little about, like puppetry, sound design, and stage combat; and to provide me with fabulous full scripts of current plays. And I cannot tell you how many times I have had questions in my mind about the business and Velina’s column, “The Business of Show Biz,” provided answers and insight.

Tell us about your involvement with the violence prevention program No More Tears/Healing Circle.

No More Tears is a program in San Quentin State Prison whose mission is “[t]o curb violence and detrimental behaviors within targeted communities by utilizing the specialized knowledge and experience of former perpetrators of violence and crime. These former perpetrators hold themselves accountable to bring solutions to the communities where they once contributed to the problem.” The Healing Circle actually brings together family members (mostly mothers) who have lost children to violence to meet with former perpetrators of violence, in order to begin the healing and forgiveness process that is vital to all involved. 

It’s no surprise that I came to [these programs] through theatre. An incarcerated man wrote a play about a hardened young man, starting from when he committed the murder that got him into prison, through the healing process brought about through No More Tears/Healing Circle.

I performed in this play in San Quentin, and after it was over, shared my desire to support this organization. These incarcerated men, having heard this from many who had come inside their walls, were naturally skeptical, as so many had vowed to support their organization and were never seen again. I took their challenge and started working as a sponsor for them. I am more than proud to be a part of this healing.

Any other exciting happenings on the horizon you’d like to share with our TBA readers?
 

I am thrilled/terrified to be a part of Shotgun’s upcoming season, where I’ll be performing in Hamlet Roulette, where every night we’ll pick from Yorick’s skull which character we’ll be playing on that particular night. Shaking with fear, tingling with excitement. I’ll also have the pleasure of performing in a gem of a show called Grand Concourse in the season, where I’ll get to stretch my muscles by playing a nun. Challenges await–the lifeblood of the theatre!

 

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

Tags:  Featured Member  TBA Awards 

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