After 35 years of promoting and advancing the Bay Area theatre and dance community, we've touched a lot of people—and a lot of people have touched us. Today’s honoree: Leslie Martinson, advocate for the ATLAS Program.
Who are you? Can you give a little bit of background about how you got to where you are today?
I'm a director, casting director and administrator at TheatreWorks. We're now a nationally-recognized professional theatre, but when I first came to work for the company over 25 years ago, we were just about to turn semi-pro. Having worked for TheatreWorks when we had a tiny staff, I've done lots of different jobs for the company. For the past dozen years, I've been the associate artist and am delighted to focus on our artistic planning and producing. In addition to directing for TheatreWorks, and casting our mainstage productions, I'm one of the coordinators of our New Works Festival, and am involved with season selection. I also do freelance directing, a little teaching, and can bake a serious chocolate soufflé.
What is your history with Theatre Bay Area?
I'd been attending the general auditions for many years, so first got involved with Theatre Bay Area about ten years ago when they were doing some work revamping the auditions guidelines. Soon after that I joined the Theatre Services Committee, which is a standing committee that can serve as a think-tank, a focus group, an incubator--whatever the staff and the current TBA projects might need. I'm always invigorated by the variety of perspectives around the table at the TSC, since the group includes some fabulous folks with an amazing array of ideas and priorities. I've also enjoyed writing for the magazine, planning roundtables for the annual convention, participating in casting directors' Town Hall meetings, and adjudicating on selection and award panels.
You are being honored particularly for serving on the ATLAS selection committee. Please tell us about your association with that aspect of Theatre Bay Area.
We came up with the ATLAS program when we realized we wanted to help actors develop more tools to make a satisfying artistic life in Bay Area Theatre. People were either leaving the area, or leaving the art form altogether. I'm so proud of the difference it has already made for the participants in the first three years. They have such clarity and confidence now, as well as a network of peers. The ATLAS classes attend to everything except acting--time management, financial tools, marketing strategies, goal-setting. It's been invigorating to see these folks take the reins on their own careers. They get the logistics well in hand and the artistic growth does follow.
Why is theatre important? What do you think your role is keeping it a vital part of civilization? How does Theatre Bay Area help?
There's a line from the play “The Pitmen Painters” which sums up my current thinking: "We go to art to learn about ourselves." What's vital to me about theatre is the scope--we can ask big questions about a culture or observe tiny moments between two people. Theatre is a way we figure out how we are put together, both as communities and as individuals. I particularly admire Theatre Bay Area's commitment to treating theatre as a conversation with many voices. In planning any event or program, they balance what each choice will mean for an individual theatre artist, for an arts organization, for the region and for the craft of live theatre.
Click here for more information about the 35 Years, 35 Faces campaign.
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Click here to RSVP for the 35 Years, 35 Faces Celebration on April 30, 2012.