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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: 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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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: Celia Maurice

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

Interview by Laura Ng 

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


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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

Tags:  actor  Featured Member  TBA Awards 

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TBA Welcomes New Interns

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

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

Actor Natalie Brice. 
Photo: Bridget Homer  

Natalie Brice

Tell us a bit about your background in theatre?

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

What are your theatre goals?

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

Why did you choose TBA for your professional internship?

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

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

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

 


Actor Connery Morano.
Photo: Paul Mauer

Connery Morano

Tell us a bit about your background in theatre?

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

What are your theatre goals?

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

 Why did you choose TBA for your professional internship?

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

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

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

 

Actor Kirsten Peacock. 
Photo: Benjamin Drews  
Kirsten Peacock

Tell us a bit about your background in theatre?

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

What are your theatre goals?

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

Why did you choose TBA for your professional internship?

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

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

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

 

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


Tags:  actor  internship 

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Featured Member: Lily Tung Crystal

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Interview by Sal Mattos

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



TBA Featured Member Lily Tung Crystal. Photo: Stuart Locklear

 

Tell us a little about your background in theatre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you tell us a little more about the BAAAAC?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

 

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

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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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Welcome TBA's Newest Staff Member, Sal Mattos

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, July 14, 2015

 

Sal Mattos is the newest employee at Theatre Bay Area, where he now stars in the role of “members and event associate.” Sal is one of the friendly gents who cheerfully answers the phone—and your member questions—here at TBA. 
 



So, Sal, where are you from, and how long have you been in the Bay Area?


I am a rare San Francisco native and have lived here my entire life. This no doubt explains my decidedly Californian demeanor (read: why I’m always running late and why my words have extra syllables.)

How long have you been involved in theatre? Any specialized training or experience?

I’ve always been a performer and a storyteller, making short movies with my parents’ camcorder and directing my toys in elaborate storylines, but it wasn’t until high school that I really tapped into the world of theatre. The bulk of my training came during high school where my director, Francine Torres Kelly, treated us with (and expected from us) professional standards from day one. She trained us in improvisational technique, both long and short form, which to this day I count as one of my most valuable skills both on stage and off. Some might call me a “character actor” but I’m genuinely just fascinated with the strange, the odd and the extraordinary people in our world and how they tick. I’m also really into stage combat and jump at any chance to wield a sword or wrestle across a stage. 

What do you consider your specialty in theatre-making now? 

When not performing, I’ve spent the last five and a half years studying play and screen writing at San Francisco State. While I undeniably spend more time on stage than I do behind the scenes, it is ultimately the telling of stories that I find most fulfilling in life. I hope to grow my writer’s resume as much as my actor’s, and create as many, if not more, characters as I have had the privilege to embody. 

What's the biggest theatre catastrophe you've ever faced?

The biggest theatrical catastrophe I have ever faced was without a doubt my first professional audition. Being quite the Spring Awakening fanboy, I was ecstatic to learn that during the national tour’s SF leg they would be holding open auditions. I chose to sing a song from Rent, not realizing that the producers were so tired of hearing Rent that they had explicitly requested that no one ever sing Rent for them ever again. So I sang Rent…and badly. Very badly. Great start to my career.

If you could collaborate on a project with any theatre artists, living or dead, whom would you choose, and why?

So many brilliant playwrights I’d love to work with. Paul Rudnick is, for me, one of the funniest writers of all time. I quote The Addams Family almost daily. For all of his crazy, I’d love to just sit in a room with David Mamet and watch him work; his plays were some of the first ones to really grab me. Suzan-Lori Parks is another one whom I’d jump just to meet, but to collaborate with her would be a literal dream come true. It’s not even just her brilliant writing, but the way she speaks about writing that I find so inspiring. And if I can ever sneak my way into a production of Dreamgirls I will consider all of my theatrical career goals fulfilled.  


Do you have membership or event questions, or just want to say hello? Contact Sal at tba@theatrebayarea.org

Tags:  Actor 

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