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

 

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Program Director Note: TBA's 2016 Titan Award Recipients

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, June 14, 2016

By Dale Albright


 TBA program director Dale Albright.

I’m always thrilled when we can directly support individual artists. A grant to a person, no matter what the amount, has immediate impact—and can propel someone to a completely different place in their life and career.

Theatre Bay Area’s Titan Award goes to an artist that has completed our ATLAS program (Advanced Training Leading Artists to Success). The award consists of a $1000 grant and a yearlong mentorship with a local professional.

This year, we’re delighted to give the Titan Award to two Bay Area actors whose work shows exemplary promise:
Carina Lastimosa Salazar and Melissa Quine. Congratulations to the winners!

In addition to the two recipients of this year’s Titan Award, three finalists will receive a mentorship. Visit our ATLAS page for more information about the program. Specific upcoming round information will be posted there and in the TBA Insider.

Here is some information about this year’s Titans, the award finalists and the panel that made this year’s decisions:

Titan Award Recipients 2016

Carina Lastimosa Salazar (Oakland)
 
Currently appearing in A Dream Play with Cutting Ball, Carina also has recently appeared in productions at Magic Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Custom Made Theatre Co. and others. Carina is a nonunion actor who has trained with Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s School of Theatre, Studio A.C.T. and A.C.T. Summer Training Congress, among others.

Titan Award for: Training costs, marketing materials
Mentor: Rami Margron
 


Melissa Quine
(San Francisco)

Melissa is an Equity actor who has appeared in productions at Aurora Theatre Company, California Conservatory Theatre, City Lights Theater Company, San Francisco Playhouse and Pear Theatre, among others. Melissa has a BA from the University of Vermont and was a recipient of a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award as a member of the ensemble of Trouble in Mind at Aurora.

Titan Award for: Training costs, marketing materials
Mentor: Nancy Carlin

Titan Finalists 2016

Gemma Bulos (Mentor: Lily Tung Crystal)
Elena Ruggiero (Mentor: Tory Kelly)
Sheila Townsend (Mentor: Diana Torres Koss)

Titan Award Panel 2016

Rosie Hallett was a 2013-2014 Titan Award recipient for acting. She has performed locally with TheatreWorks, Marin Theatre Company, Shotgun Players, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Center Repertory Company and others, and is an associate artist at Word for Word Performing Arts Company, with which she has toured three times to France. Her upcoming shows include The Winter’s Tale with SF Shakes and Native Son at Marin Theatre Company. Hallett is a graduate of Stanford University, a company member of PlayGround and an active contributor to new works development at various theatres and institutions. For more information, visit roselynhallett.com.

Leslie Martinson is the associate artistic director at TheatreWorks, where she is a director, casting director and administrator. Her upcoming projects include Calligraphy and a workshop of The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga; other directing credits include Proof, Water by the Spoonful, Time Stands Still, The Pitmen Painters and Superior Donuts. A graduate of Occidental College, Martinson has been a Watson Fellow in political fringe theatre, a member of Lincoln Center Directors Lab and a member of the La MaMa International Symposium for Directors. She has also served on Theatre Bay Area’s Theatre Services Committee since 2002, helping to develop the ATLAS career training program for actors, directors and playwrights.  She was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship in stage direction by the Arts Council of Silicon Valley for artistic achievement and community impact, and is a performance coach with Stand & Deliver Group.

Reggie D. White has appeared across the Bay Area and off Broadway in Shakespeare, musicals and new works. He will be seen next in the world premiere of The Last Tiger in Haiti at Berkeley Repertory Theatre this fall. In addition to his work as an actor, White has worked as a teaching artist for the past five years with Berkeley Rep, Atlantic Theater Company, StageWrite and many others. He is currently a TCG Fox Fellow, as well as a recipient of the Theatre Bay Area Titan Award (2012) and the RHE Foundation Artistic Fellowship (2013).

 

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

Tags:  program director's note  Titan Award 

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Titan Award Winners Announced

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Updated: Monday, January 11, 2016

Happy 2016! TBA is delighted to announce the winners of TBA’s Titan Awards!

About the Titan Awards

The Titan Awards honor individual artists in the Bay Area who have completed Theatre Bay Area’s ATLAS program, during which they received 17 hours of training on the business side of their careers. The participating artists then submitted a personalized career map where they outlined their goals for the coming year and beyond. Based on this career map, each of the following artists was selected by a review panel of theatre professionals to receive a $1,000 grant for the implementation of this map, as well as a yearlong mentorship. 

Titan Award Director

Ariel Craft, Albany
Ariel has a BFA in theatre from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts and is the founding artistic director of the Breadbox here in San Francisco. Her directing credits in the Bay Area include Breadbox, Cutting Ball Theater, Wily West Productions, Impact Theatre, San Francisco Olympians Festival and others. She is currently directing Of Serpents and Sea Spray for Custom Made Theatre Co. 

Titan Award for
: Training costs
Mentor: Mina Morita

Titan Award Playwrights

E.H. Benedict, Muir Beach
E.H. has had plays performed as part of Bay Area Playwrights Foundation’s FlashPlays, as well as at Z Space, UWAC 36 Hour Playfest, Golden Thread, Lark Play Development Center and the SF Fringe Festival. E.H. has a BA in speech and drama from American University and is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Actors’ Equity Association. 

Titan Award for: Writing time and training
Mentor: Elizabeth Spreen


Barry Eitel, Oakland
Since arriving in the Bay Area in 2011, Barry has self-produced plays in bars; been published in play anthologies; participated in the SJREAL program at San Jose Rep and become the head writer for Boxcar Theatre’s The Speakeasy, a 3.5-hour immersive theatre experience. His plays have also been produced with Arabian Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Theater Pub and San Leandro Players, among others. Barry has a BA in theatre and philosophy from Loyola University Chicago.

Titan Award for: Writing time
Mentor: Peter Sinn Nachtrieb


Austin Zumbro, Oakland
Austin’s commission for Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Lemony Snicket’s Lump of Coal, is currently in preproduction. BATC was the producer for his previous work, The Day the Crayons Quit, the Musical, which was a TBA Awards Finalist. Austin has also had work presented with Contra Costa Civic Theatre.

Titan Award for: Software costs, workshop costs
Mentor: TBD 


Finalists

In addition to the Titan winners noted above, the panel would like to acknowledge the following three finalists, each of whom also receives a mentorship. 

Director:
Emma Nicholls (Mentor: Evren Odcikin)

Playwrights:
Bridgette Dutta Portman (Mentor: Anthony Clarvoe) 
Noelle Viñas (Mentor: Mark Jackson)

Tags:  ATLAS Program  Director  playwright  Titan Award 

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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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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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