Keeping It Local
Monday, January 5, 2015
By Sam Hurwitt
Easily one of my favorite parts of editing this magazine is choosing a new play by a Bay Area playwright to publish every January. We publish two plays a year in Theatre Bay Area, but the one in the July/August issue is the winner of the Glickman Award for best play to premiere in the Bay Area the previous year, which may or may not be by a local writer. (Last year's winning play, Ideation,
| Editor-in-chief Sam Hurwitt.
was, as it happens, by the East Bay's own Aaron Loeb.) The January/February play doesn't have to have premiered in the Bay Area, necessarily, but it does have to be written by someone from the local community. Fortunately, we're blessed with some terrific writers in the Bay Area, so it's usually a question of trying to narrow down whose play to publish rather than struggling to come up with something.
This time it wasn't a difficult call to choose Marisela Treviño Orta's The River Bride. I was enchanted by the bittersweet loveliness of the San Francisco playwright's new fairy tale incorporating elements of Brazilian folklore when I saw it in a San Rafael storefront last January, in AlterTheater's world premiere production, and I'm thrilled to be able to share it with our magazine readership. I also interviewed Orta about the play, in a Q&A that you'll find directly before the script.
In the January/February issue I also examine the strange coincidence that there are three different new versions of Antigone being produced by Bay Area companies in February and March. African-American Shakespeare Company premieres Nambi E. Kelley's Xtigone, the Cutting Ball Theater has a new translation of Antigone by Daniel Sullivan, and Shotgun Players is producing Anne Carson's Antigonick. Is there something in the air that calls for a resurgence of this 2,500-year-old tale of a young woman speaking truth to power? I talk to the directors and writers to see what they make of all this.
Antigonick kicks off Shotgun's just-announced 2015 season entirely made up of works by women playwrights. The world premiere of one of Marisela Orta's plays, Heart Shaped Nebula, follows directly after Antigonick in May. The rest of the season, curiously enough, is mostly made up of some of the handful of plays by women that get produced a lot—Caryl Churchill's Top Girls, Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap—plus a very old one that's often neglected, Aphra Behn's The Rover. Personally I'd hoped for more new plays by some of the contemporary playwrights whose work we get to see much less often, which would do more to address the gender inequity in whose work is getting produced in the American theatre, but it's still a step in a positive direction, and I'm hoping this proves to be a trend. (And if you want to see more works by women right now, there are a few promising ones in my Editors' Picks.)
Inside you'll also find a short report on the inaugural TBA Awards, and digital content manager Laura Brueckner interviews costumer Callie Floor, who runs the costume rentals program in the American Conservatory Theater costume shop, directly below the Theatre Bay Area offices. It's always good to get to know the neighbors!
Speaking of what the neighbors are up to, the March/April issue will be both the spring/summer season preview issue and the youth issue, listing shows from March through August at TBA member theatres all over the Bay Area, and also listing summer camps and year-round youth classes offered by member companies. You'll want to check that one out for sure.
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.