This monthly Chatterbox column features members of the Bay Area theatre community discussing a favorite Theatre Bay Area magazine cover, which is really a great excuse for dipping into the rich history of Bay Area theatre and talking to wonderful theatre artists about their peers and memorable productions.
Theatre artist: Aldo Billingslea, Actor
Favorite Theatre Bay Area cover: February 2006
As busy as Aldo Billingslea has been in the theatre world—from seven seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to shows at nearly every major Bay Area Theatre from Shakespeare Santa Cruz in the south to Marin Theatre Company in the north—it’s kind of surprising that the busy actor has never been on the cover of Theatre Bay Area.
But when asked about his favorite cover of the magazine, Billingslea has no trouble answering. It’s the February 2006 issue featuring his friends Lisa Mallette and Kit Wilder. The photo, by Marcia Lepler, features the husband-and-wife duo in full King and Queen of the Fairies makeup as Titania and Oberon from a 1994 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the California Theatre Center.
Though Billingslea admires the cover photo for artistic reasons—“You can sense the story just from seeing the photo”—he also connects it to a larger story about making a life in the theatre.
“The photo captures a couple and helps make a statement about the possibility of theatre, about the work we do,” he says. “We are such underdogs, especially economically. The odds are against us ever being able to perform. Reason and rationality are against us when we try to mount a production. And yet even though so many things say it’s impossible, we pull off these miracles.”
Billingslea is referring to the success of San Jose’s City Lights Theater, where Mallette serves as executive artistic director and Wilder is associate artistic director and production manager.
“Kit and Lisa are a couple and have remained a couple while being able to do some amazing things in South Bay theatre,” Billingslea says. “They can do the picket fence with their daughters while they’re doing theatre, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
Billingslea is no stranger to the family/theatre track himself. He and his wife, Renée, have a daughter, Trinity, and while Billingslea keeps a busy acting schedule (he just wrapped a stint in California Shakespeare Theater’s “Spunk”), he also works as an assistant professor in Santa Clara University’s Theatre Department.
When asked to do some blue-sky dreaming about how he’d like to appear on a magazine cover, perhaps Theatre Bay Area magazine, he riffs on an idea espoused by Joy Carlin in the July edition of this column.
“If I was on a cover, “ Billingslea says, “I’d want it to be because I had worked in a grass-roots effort with other members of the community to help Joy Carlin achieve her dream of directing a 30-actor epic that was completely and totally cast with local actors at one of the major theatres. I’d like the curtain call of that production to be the cover. Bringing all those actors out would make an audience weep to see something they never thought they’d see again.”
Chad Jones has been writing about Bay Area theatre since 1992. He blogs at theaterdogs.net.
The views represented in this Chatterbox Art & Opinion post are those of the individual author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Theatre Bay Area or its staff.