Something Old, Something New
Monday, November 3, 2014
By Sam Hurwitt
There's a whole lot to be excited about at Theatre Bay Area right now. First and foremost, of course, is the inaugural TBA Awards. Our legion of adjudicators—the proverbial "jury of your peers"—has been out seeing shows all season; the finalists for the awards were announced in September; and the gala awards ceremony is coming up fast and furious on November 10 at American Conservatory Theater. If you haven't bought your tickets yet, hie thee to tickets.act-sf.org/online/tba, because you won't want to miss it. We've provided a pull-out "ballot" in the center of the magazine listing all the finalists, so you can make predictions and place your bets (not that we endorse gambling). Awards program manager Robert Sokol also provides an insider's perspective on launching the awards in his year one report.
NEW AND OLD by Flickr user Teddy Kwok. Used under Creative Commons license.
November/December is our academic training issue, in which we cover college and graduate theatre programs around the Bay Area, and this time we look at two courses of study that may be outside the usual drama track. Jean Schiffman explores the discipline of drama therapy, with a special focus on the program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Lisa Drostova rounds up the various playwriting programs at local colleges and universities, which may just as easily be in the English departments as the theatre ones.
Velina Brown contributes a great feature about juggling parenting with being a theatre artist, interviewing many actors, directors, playwrights and other creative types who are also raising children about how they make it all work. And David Templeton profiles now-retired veteran fight director Richard Lane, recently honored with the rare title of Fight Director Emeritus by the Society of American Fight Directors.
But one thing I'm especially excited about is tucked away in the back of the book. Longtime readers will remember that there used to be show listings in every issue of the magazine. They were removed in the fall of 2011 amid budget cuts to the magazines and the launch of our new website (not our current site—the one before that). The logic was that our online listings would be more up-to-date and comprehensive than the ones in print, and that remains true (you can check them out here). And of course we were able to use that space for additional features. But I really missed having them in the magazine, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. There's something special and irreplaceable about being able to thumb through show listings on paper. Theatre Bay Area has long had the most comprehensive theatre production listings in the Bay Area, and that's something we should really celebrate in all our media.
So now the show listings are back! The section is now called "What's Playing" instead of "Playbill," because it's not the 19th century anymore, which is also why we've added previously absent details like URLs for theatre companies' websites. New features will be rolling out in upcoming issues, such as paid "enhanced listings" to make your show really stand out in the crowd.
I feel this change also makes an important point about the role of Theatre Bay Area magazine. Because Theatre Bay Area is a theatre service organization, there's a possible misconception of the magazine as some kind of high-class newsletter for our membership. I have never seen it that way—not as a reader, not as a writer, and not as the editor of the magazine—and I don't think my predecessors did either. Theatre Bay Area is a magazine (the magazine) about, by and—yes—for the Bay Area theatre community. Our primary audience is theatre-makers, and we try to tackle issues, trends and vital information for performing artists and everyone involved in the stage. But it's also a magazine for theatre lovers of all kinds, whether or not they're actually in the business called show, and we've always written and edited it with the non-professional reader in mind. And if it's a magazine for audiences as well as artists (which it is), not having show listings in it is just crazy talk. If we're going to explore and celebrate Bay Area theatre, letting our readership know about the wealth and breadth of theatre that's going on in the Bay Area right now is an absolute must.
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.