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TBA Online: News & Features: May 2013

Editor’s Note May/June 2013: It’s Just a Stage

Thursday, April 25, 2013  
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By Sam Hurwitt



Has it really been a year already since our last Youth Issue? Where does the time go? It seems like you turn away for just a minute and you’ve missed it. That acting class you thought little Timmy might benefit from to help get over a fear of public speaking? Well, next thing you know it’s 20 years later and Timmy’s skulking the back alleys of Moon Colony 6, stealing people’s jetpacks and helper robots with all that excess energy he could have used on the stage. If only there had been a handy resource listing theatre classes for kids, he might never have had to become a space pirate at all.



Photo: "De Diepvriesdames @Diligentia” by Sytske Roskam on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license. 

But wait! There is such a resource! It’s right here in the Youth Issue of Theatre Bay Area magazine. Do your kids like to sing and dance? Would they like to learn to create convincingly gory zombie makeup? Maybe they want to learn clowning or improv comedy? How to design costumes? Sing opera? Build sets? Perform Shakespeare or Gilbert and Sullivan? Whatever their theatrical inclinations, there’s bound to be something offered in our listings of theatre classes and camps for kids by Theatre Bay Area member companies all around the Bay Area.

I haven’t acted since high school and don’t particularly miss it, but I can’t imagine who I’d be today without the theatre classes, camps and workshops I took when I was a kid from East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Bay Area Youth Theatre, Cal Shakes (then the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival), George Coates, the San Francisco Mime Troupe and others. There were even some circus and modern dance classes in there somewhere, but it’s all a blur. The point is, if that first drama camp is your ticket to stardom someday, that’s a wonderful thing, but even if you don’t go into theatre, the skills and confidence you pick up in that early training may last you a lifetime. Not that I’m saying that every kid should take a theatre class, at least once, but—okay, maybe that’s exactly what I’m saying. So, parents, you know what to do. Don’t let your babies grow up to be space pirates.

In related youth theatre news, the May/June issue also offers a Company Spotlight by Nirmala Nataraj on Marsh Youth Theater and an Encore interview with New Conservatory Theatre Center artistic director Ed Decker conducted by Laura Brueckner. But not everything in this issue is devoted to the tiny tots and towering teens. We have a potpourri of assorted features for your reading pleasure. As a follow-up to Velina Brown’s article on feminism in theatre in the March/April issue, Valerie Weak contributes a report on her own Counting Actors Project, a running tally comparing paying gigs for female and male actors in Bay Area theatre productions. Velina is back in this issue as well, not just with her usual advice column, The Business of Show Biz, but with a feature asking a variety of directors for their advice for aspiring directors who are just starting out. Michaela Goldhaber gives her personal account of relearning to direct after a stroke. And Emily Wilson looks at the perennial question for actors of whether to be or not to be a Bay Area actor—whether to stick around or just chuck it and go to New York—talking to people who have chosen either path, or both at different times.

Coming up in July/August is the full text of Christopher Chen’s Glickman Award–winning play, The Hundred Flowers Project. You can read it at your leisure when the kids are away learning iambic pentameter and trapeze this summer.

Sam Hurwitt is editor-in-chief for Theatre Bay Area. He is also the author of The Idiolect, a blog about theatre, movies, comics, media and the decline and fall of Western civilization. E-mail