You May Already Be a Winner
The San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle gave out its annual awards in a ceremony at the Palace of Fine Arts on April 2, with Marga Gomez as emcee. A whopping 89 winners were announced in 81 categories, plus three special awards announced previously: The Paine Knickerbocker Award for an organization’s continued contribution to local theatre went to Shotgun Players. The Jerry Friedman Award for individual lifetime achievement went to James Dunn, who ends a 30-year run directing the Mountain Play this summer. The Gene Price Award for professionalism and passion for Bay Area theatre went to longtime Circle member Tom Kelly. (The Circle also awarded one of its own last year, giving the Jerry Friedman Award to its former president Jerry Friedman.) The nominations for the show-based awards are pulled from productions attended in 2011 by a quorum of the 28 members of the Critics Circle, representing a number of community papers and websites.
Why so many prizes? Well, the Circle gives the same awards for each of three venue sizes: 99 seats or fewer, 100 to 300 seats, and over 300 seats. Each of those levels is further subdivided into plays and musicals, which adds up to a lot of categories. There are anywhere from one to 10 nominees in any given categories, and ties are not uncommon: there were four winners out of 10 noms for principal male actor, 99 seats or fewer.
Big winners this year included Ray of Light Theatre’s “Assassins” (8 awards), American Conservatory Theatre’s “Tales of the City” (6), Thrillpeddlers’ “Vice Palace” (6), Shotgun Players’ “Beardo” (6), Berkeley Playhouse’s “Seussical the Musical” (5), Berkeley Rep’s “Ruined” (5) and Aurora Theatre’s “Metamorphosis” (5). The epic list of nominees and winners can be found at sfbatcc.org.
A Theatre for TheatreWorks?
Billionaire philanthropist and developer John Arrillaga is in the early stages of plans for a 60,000-to-80,000-square-foot theatre and a multistory office building next to a major transit center in Palo Alto, and the city council has allocated $250,000 for a preliminary design and environmental review. The theatre building is projected to become the new home of TheatreWorks. Arrillaga would develop the land and construct the shell of the theatre, and TheatreWorks would build out the interior of the venue.
Arrillaga is a key Stanford University donor who once gave the university a $100 million gift. Last year Stanford gave the city of Palo Alto $2.25 million to encourage the use of public transportation by connecting pedestrian traffic between the city and the campus. About $2 million was earmarked for a park and pathway near the University Avenue transit center. The goal is to create a vibrant, attractive urban destination for people arriving by transit to Palo Alto. A study of the site identified the area as a likely spot for a performing arts center consisting of an 800-seat theatre and a 300-seat experimental studio theatre, which is the dream of TheatreWorks. It would be the first time in the 42 years of its existence that the nationally renowned company would have its own home. The company currently rents space at both Palo Alto’s Lucie Stern Theater and the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.
The project is looking at a four-to-five-year timeline that includes zoning code amendments, the relocation of the historic MacArthur Park building, building height, heritage tree preservation and traffic. Fundraising for the theatre itself will also have to be addressed, but managing director Phil Santora declares that TheatreWorks is “more than up to the challenge.” —Lee Kopp
New Regime at DTC
The musical theatre company formerly known as Diablo Light Opera Company, Diablo Theatre Company has announced a whole new management team. The company’s marketing and business manager, Krissy Gray, has been appointed managing director. Gray has been involved with DTC since she was eight years old, as her parents have been supporters of the company for the last 30 years. The new artistic director is Equity actor Ian Leonard, recently seen in the company’s production of “Legally Blonde.” Leonard replaces recently departed AD Daren A.C. Carollo.
Accept the Challenge (Grant)
Bay Area Children’s Theatre has received an $8,000 challenge grant from the East Bay Community Foundation, part of the East Bay Fund for Artists matching grant program supporting artists developing new works for East Bay audiences. With this support, Min Kiang, lead director of BACT’s San Ramon teen musical theatre program, will create a new children’s musical based on Greek myths. The production will open in December 2012 and tour local elementary schools, providing exposure to theatrical performance and Greek literature to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience live theatre. May Update: BACT successfully raised the matching sum required by the grant. Find out more at bactheatre.org.
New ED for NCTC
New Conservatory Theatre Center has a new executive director—the company’s first: Barbara Hodgen. Hodgen, who will also be taking over the duties of former managing director Julie Johnson, holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and formerly served as interim managing director for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and company manager for Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. Her Bay Area experience includes the roles of conservatory administrator for American Conservatory Theater and assistant managing director for Berkeley Repertory Theatre; she has also served on Theatre Bay Area’s Theatre Services Committee.
When You Wish upon a Star
On March 6, Broadway San Jose partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to provide front-row seats for the national tour of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” to six-year-old Miniyha Bochum of Napa. The seats were made available for the girl by BSJ patrons. “We are honored to partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make Miniyha’s wish come true,” said BSJ’s general manager Ruth Pangilinan, who added, “This is our first Make-A-Wish experience, and we hope to be able to fulfill others’ dreams in the future.”
It may have been a while since Subterranean Shakespeare staged a full production of a play, but it’s been keeping busy with reading series of the complete works of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Now the company’s released another side project, “Folkspeare,” a CD of 22 songs based on 21 of Shakespeare’s plays, plus one song covering all the Henry plays. Playing the tunes is the Sub Shakes house band, the Rude Mechanicals: Lori Higa, Kevin Moore, Geoffrey Pond and Cindy Weyuker. Released on April 23, the disc is available at folkspeare.com.
It’s Miller Time
Michael Miller, musical theatre veteran and former executive director of San Jose Jazz, has recently been appointed managing director of Children’s Musical Theater San Jose. Miller, whose career managing resident and touring musical theatre productions spans 25 years and both coasts, will be joining CMT mid-season. Says Miller, “I’m thrilled to be joining Children’s Musical Theater, and excited about jumping in as ‘Legally Blonde’ opens and ‘9 to 5’ goes into rehearsal.”
The annual Humana Festival of New American Plays selected Nicholas C. Pappas’s short play “The Ballad of 423 and 424” as one of only three winners of its National Ten-Minute Play Contest and the sole winner of its 2011 Heideman Award, out of more than 1,300 submissions. Pappas, a former Bay Area resident, holds an MFA from SF State and is an alumnus of the PlayGround writers’ pool. The Humana Festival, produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville, ran February 16 to April 15; the contest winners were staged Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1.
Going for Bolingbroke
ODC Theater recently announced the appointment of Christy Bolingbroke as its new director. Bolingbroke, former director of marketing for Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, has served as ODC’s associate director since January 2011 and has been responsible for managing the theatre and implementing former director Rob Bailis’s programming since his departure. Bolingbroke has also brought innovations to ODC, including this summer’s Walking Distance Dance Festival-SF, which will coincide with the national 2012 Dance/USA Conference, held this June in San Francisco.
Film Festival Finalists
Bay Area new play incubator PlayGround, partnering with Oakland film production company Dances with Light, has announced the finalists for the first ever PlayGround Film Festival. Each film is an adaptation of a play previously produced in one of PlayGround’s annual Best of PlayGround festivals, and all six will be screened as part of this year’s festival in May. Each team will also receive $1,500 as “seed funding” for their films.
Finalists are: “The Beginning” (Tom Swift, screenwriter/producer; Brian Tolle, filmmaker), “Ecce Homo” (Jonathan Luskin, screenwriter; J. Luskin/Mark Leialoha/Flying Moose Pictures, filmmakers), “O Happy Dagger” (Crish Barth, screenwriter; Chad Blevins, filmmaker), “Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero” (Katie May, screenwriter; Seth Podowitz, filmmaker), “Reunion” (Kenn Rabin, screenwriter; Gregory Runnels and Mark Runnels, filmmakers) and “Wednesday” (Daniel Heath, screenwriter; Jennifer Arzt, filmmaker). More info at playground-sf.org.
Christopher Haas (center), Visual Design award winner for the set of “Triangle of the Squinches,” performed by Alonzo King Lines Ballet at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Photo: RJ Muna
And the Envelope, Please...
Bay Area modern dance maverick Anna Halprin always had mixed feelings about awards. Several years ago, when she was invited to help host the Bay Area’s annual Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (the “Izzies”), she expressed trepidation about the competitive nature of awards but remarked, “I’m always glad when some dancer somewhere is getting an award!”
Acknowledgement is increasingly important as the performing arts struggle to remain visible in a culture spellbound by media and technology. The Izzies are the one time all year when leading San Francisco Ballet ballerinas rub shoulders with the city’s cutting-edge modern dancers. Where else can you see artists from every segment of the dance community assembled all in one night? The 26th Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, held in March, were no exception. ODC Theater’s lobby and auditorium were filled to capacity, and this year the crowd even included ballet legend and former New York City Ballet star Edward Villella as one of the presenters.
The festivities were led by San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli and Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program’s Denise Pate-Pearson. Would that the awards themselves had proved more representative of the Bay Area’s regions, as most of this year’s nominations and actual awards went to artists and performances based in San Francisco.
Three Sustained Achievement awards were given through the course of the evening. Dr. James Garrick was awarded for his founding of the unique Dance Medicine practice at Saint Francis Hospital. WestWave Dance Festival directors Cathleen McCarthy and Joan Lazarus were recipients for their commitment to presenting new choreography. Villella was on hand to award Deborah DuBowy for her interview series, “Words on Dance.” Referring to traditional dance, Villella said, “Dance is a mute art form. ‘Words on Dance’ gives stars a personal offstage identity. Dance is a human art form and this program gives us an ongoing sense of who we are and what lies before us.”
There were three special awards. Nina Menendez/Bay Area Flamenco Partnership expressed delight that she was awarded as a producer of the 2011 Festival Gitano. Choreographer Carlos Carvajal gave a heartfelt reflection on Bay Area dance in the 1970s in honoring lighting designer Patty-Ann Farrell for her work with the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Five San Francisco Ballet ballerinas were acknowledged for their individual dancing of the title role in “Giselle”: Lorena Feijoo, Maria Kochetkova, Yuan Yuan Tan, Sarah Van Patten and Vanessa Zahorian.
It was a Lines Ballet sweep in several categories for their performances at the Novellus Theater. Zakir Hussain won for his music (Music/Sound/Text category) for a new version of “Scheherazade.” In a three-way tie, architect Christopher Haas took the Visual Design prize for “Triangle of the Squinches.” He tied with the Lines Ballet team of Axel Morgenthaler (Lighting), Robert Rosenwasser (Set, Costumes) and Colleen Quen, also for “Scheherazade.” The tie was completed by choreographer Enrico Labayen for Costumes/Visual Design for his own production of “En-Gulfed” at Dance Mission.
The dancers of “Terra Incognita, Revisited,” presented by WestWave Festival, were awarded Company Performance while the choreographers of that same piece—Alex Ketley, Kara Davis, Katie Faulkner and Manuelito Biag—received the coveted Choreography prize. Faulkner was also the recipient of the Ensemble Performance award along with Brandon “Private” Freeman for “Until We Know for Sure” at ODC Theater.
San Francisco Ballet won in two categories: Sofiane Sylve won the Performance award for “Symphony in C” at Stern Grove Festival and Antoine Vereecken won for Restaging/ Revival/Reconstruction for Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma.” —Kathryn Roszak
Peggy Ford, a leader in the Bay Area circus community, passed away in January after several years’ struggle with illness. Ford was one of the first female clowns to graduate from the famous Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, completing the program in 1974 alongside colleague Bill Irwin. After touring with Ringling Bros. as part of its notorious “clown alley” and serving as artistic director for Make*A*Circus, Ford became program director for San Francisco’s Circus Center and helped establish its Clown Conservatory, which became one of the premier training grounds for clowns in the U.S. Members of the Bay Area circus community held a benefit performance featuring Jeff Raz, Sara Moore and other clowning luminaries on March 13 at Z Space in San Francisco; proceeds went to defray unpaid medical costs and establish the Peggy Ford Award for young women pursuing careers in clowning.
Newark musician and conductor Blair Barrett passed away on March 17. A graduate of the Armed Forces School of Music, Barrett worked with Newark Junior High School and local elementary schools to rebuild their music education programs, and he was instrumental in restoring the drama department at Newark Memorial High School. He also served as music director for Stage1 Community Theatre.
Longtime theatre supporter Marilyn Shaw died March 29 at her home in San Francisco’s Marina District, surrounded by family and friends. She was 88. Originally from Iowa by way of Southern California, Shaw spent the last three decades in San Francisco volunteering for companies such as the Eureka Theatre, Z Space and AfroSolo, in various capacities such as publicist, producer and board member, most recently serving on Magic Theatre’s literary committee.
Anna Ishida, Critics Circle award winner for her performance in “Beardo.”
Photo: Pak Han
Newsfeed: May-June 2012 by / Theatre Bay Area StaffPublished 2012-05-24
You May Already Be a Winner
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