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TBA Online: News & Features: June 2015

Newsfeed: June 15, 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Laura Brueckner
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By TBA Journalism Staff

This week:

• Four New Hires at Berkeley Rep 
• Theatre Bay Area member Martha Richards Published in American Theatre 
• American Theatre Magazine Names New Editor
• Santa Cruz Shakespeare Commits to Gender Parity on Stage for 2015
• Cutting Ball Receives $55K Grant
• SHN Partners with St. Anthony Foundation
• Coastal Rep Partners with Community Groups to Sponsor Dog Adoptions
• Roasting is Such Sweet Sorrow
• CA$H: Spring 2015 Theatre Grantees
• IIE Launches Program to Aid Imperiled Artists
• Oakland Ballet Celebrates 50th Anniversary
• In Memoriam—Christopher Jenkins

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Four New Hires at Berkeley Rep

Berkeley Repertory Theatre has recently filled four central positions in the organization: general manager Theresa Von Klug; director of marketing, communications and patron engagement Polly Winograd Ikonen; associate managing director Sarah Williams; and artistic associate Sarah Rose Leonard.

Von Klug replaces Karen Racanelli, Berkeley Rep’s general manager of 21 years. She hails from New York, with substantial experience in the nonprofit performing arts sector including serving as production manager at New York City Center and as general manager/line producer for Theatre for a New Audience. 

Ikonen succeeds Robert Sweibel, now director of marketing and audience engagement at Roundabout Theatre Company in New York; her experience in nonprofit arts marketing includes work for the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the New York Philharmonic. 

Williams last held the position of associate managing director of Yale Repertory Theatre, with previous experience at Huntington Theatre Company and Boston Symphony Orchestra. She is also on the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) Recruitment Subcommittee, a division of the LORT Diversity Initiative. Williams takes over from Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll, new general manager of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. 

Leonard replaces Mina Morita, now artistic director at Crowded Fire Theater. An alumna of Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre and the first Teen Council class, Leonard has worked as the literary associate at Signature Theatre, associate agent at AO International and literary resident at Playwrights Horizons. 

Theatre Bay Area member Martha Richards Published in American Theatre

American Theatre recently published an article by Martha Richards, TBA member and executive director of WomanArts, on the subject of gender parity. The article, titled “7 Steps for Achieving Gender Parity in the Theatre,” presents an action plan outlining concrete ways to promote gender parity goals. 

This action plan sprang from a strategy meeting at a gender parity conference in Toronto, organized by WomenArts in collaboration with New York’s Women in the Arts & Media Coalition and Equity in Theatre (a coalition of nine Canadian organizations). Also in attendance at the conference were authors of key gender parity studies from San Francisco (TBA member Valerie Weak, who, with Richards and USF associate professor Christine Young, also a TBA member, wrote Not Even: A Study of Gender Parity in Bay Area Theatres), Los Angeles, Boston and Canada, as well as representatives from well-known gender parity advocacy organizations League of Professional Theatre Women, the International Centre for Women Playwrights and Teatro Luna. 

American Theatre Magazine Names New Editor

Speaking of American Theatre, the mostly monthly print magazine published by national arts nonprofit Theatre Communications Group (TCG) will be helmed by a new editor-in-chief, Rob Weinert-Kendt, the organization recently announced. Following the decision of founding editor Jim O’Quinn to leave the magazine, TCG conducted a nationwide search—only to find the perfect candidate was already under their roof. Weinert-Kendt, who has served as American Theatre’s senior editor for the past six years, brings a wealth of other experience to the position as well, having served as the founding editor-in-chief of Back Stage West, content manager for Theatre Development Fund, and cofounder of StageGrade; He also writes about theatre frequently for the New York Times and America magazine. 

“I am profoundly honored to follow Jim, a true publishing pioneer and a tireless champion of two great, often embattled arts—theatre and good journalism,” said Weinert-Kendt.

Departing editor O’Quinn said, “AT is in great hands. Working with Rob on staff these past 6 years, and for many years before that as a freelance writer, I’ve learned what a pro he is—a top-of-the-line journalist and a sharp, discerning observer of the theatre.” O’Quinn will stay on to share editorial duties for the September issue, but will then participate as a contributing writer from his new city of residence, New Orleans.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare Commits to Gender Parity on Stage for 2015

Santa Cruz Shakespeare has announced its 2015 summer repertory season, and along with it, a brand-new casting policy of gender equity, introduced by artistic director Mike Ryan. The season will feature two Shakespeare plays, Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth as well as The Liar, a new spin on the 17th century French classic. SCS will also continue their tradition of a fourth “fringe” play produced by the interns; this year it will be Aphra Behn’s The Rover

Ryan’s new casting policy is fairly unique: not only does he plan to cast an equal number of male and female actors, SCS will actually reimagine specific male roles as female characters, versus casting female actors as men. “Shakespeare was writing roles for an entirely male acting company,” says Ryan, “but there is no reason to suppose that he wouldn’t want his plays to resonate as strongly as possible for a 21st century audience. Opening casting opportunities for women invites us to tell the same brilliant stories in a much more inclusive way.” 

In order to introduce new audiences to their work, SCS will also be giving free youth tickets (18 and under) to the company’s first production of the season, Much Ado About Nothing. Visit

Cutting Ball Receives $55k Grant

Congratulations to TBA member company Cutting Ball Theater, which was recently selected to receive a substantial Arts Innovation and Management (AIM) grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The AIM program, which will provide the acclaimed Tenderloin-based theatre company with $55,000 in grant money over two years, is unusual in that it provides unrestricted general operating funds to arts organizations—a welcome change from the many grants that fund only short-term special projects and may not address core needs. Cutting Ball plans to use its funds to rebrand the company and update its website. 

 “We are honored to receive this generous operating grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies as they pursue the same capacity building approach in San Francisco that has produced such stellar results for small and mid-sized arts organizations in New York City,” said Cutting Ball managing director Suzanne Appel. 

Over the next two years, the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ AIM program will provide $30 million in support over two years to nearly 300 small- and mid- sized nonprofit arts organizations in six US cities.

SHN Partners with St. Anthony Foundation

Mid-Market neighbors Shorenstein Hays Nederlander (SHN), which operates the Curran, Golden Gate and Orpheum theatres, and the St. Anthony Foundation, which provides shelter, housing, meals, medical care, and other necessities to San Franciscans living in poverty, recently announced a yearlong partnership to benefit the foundation’s services. For the 2015-2016 season, a percentage of proceeds from all SHN tickets will be donated to help fund St. Anthony’s network of services for people in need. The organizations will also work together to create community programs that will provide the foundation with additional volunteers and support. The first of these began with SHN’s production of Annie; the cast members for that show volunteered at St. Anthony on June 11. Also, at all performances of Annie, SHN will also be collecting new socks as part of St. Anthony’s “Socks in the City” program, to donate to homeless men and women in San Francisco. 

“This partnership is an exciting opportunity for SHN to give back to our wonderful city,” said SHN Chief Executive Officer Greg Holland. “We’re honored to join such a vitally important organization in giving back to those in need.”

Coastal Rep Partners with Community Groups to Sponsor Dog Adoptions

Another theatre working with a local nonprofit to benefit the community, Coastal Repertory Theatre has partnered with the Half Moon Bay Veterinary Clinic, Coastside Pets, SFSPCA and the Peninsula Humane Society to support animal adoption events throughout June. Adoption events will follow every Sunday matinee performance of Coastal Rep’s production of Sylvia (runs through June 28); individual events will be hosted by: The Family Dog (June 7), Muttville (June 14), Companion in Waiting (June 21) and the Silicon Valley Pet Project (June 28).

Roasting is Such Sweet Sorrow

California Shakespeare Theater has announced that it plans to bid farewell to its visionary artistic director Jonathan Moscone after over a decade with a roast. The June 28 event, which will also raise funds for Cal Shakes’ artistic and education programming, is a $150-per-person affair that promises barbecue by Cochon Volant, country line dancing, and the opportunity to mix and mingle with Cal Shakes artists. The best entertainment of all may be the roast itself, however; with any luck, someone will create a Storify for those who can’t make the event. 

CA$H: Spring 2015 Theatre Grantees

Eye Zen Presents (San Francisco) — The Charlip Project is being developed as a transdisciplinary ensemble performance about the life of seminal New York and Bay Area artist Remy Charlip (1929-2012).

The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc. (Oakland) — The Lower Bottom Playaz will be the first theatre company to present August Wilson’s entire American Century Cycle in the order of the decades represented in the 10-play cycle.

Red Ladder Theatre Company (San Jose) — Emerging from the closure of San Jose Repertory Theatre, they will continue its outreach working with disenfranchised populations (homeless and runaway youth, incarcerated youth and adults, among others).           

Individual Artists
Delina P. Brooks, playwright, director, performer (Oakland) — A cast of six women weave poetry, text, song and dance to unveil the relationship between several daddy-daughter pairs. Open Love Letter to Black Fathers will show at the Flight Deck in June 2015.

Christine Crook, costume designer (Oakland) — Hawk Moon is an experimental costume design-driven project. This is a glimpse into the theatre designer’s process presented in a style that likens itself to a “happening” or art installation.

Min Kahng, playwright/composer (Alameda) — The Four Immigrants Manga: An American Musical Extravaganza is based on a unique documentary-style comic book written by Henry Kiyama, a Japanese artist who came to study in the United States in the early 20th century.

Lisa Marie Rollins, playwright/director (Oakland) — Seven unique women’s stories of reproduction are adapted in Untold, based on the narratives of Sea Change’s anthology Untold Stories: Life, Love and Reproduction. Untold will receive a workshop production in fall 2015 at Brava.

CA$H (Creative Assistance for the Small and Hungry) is a grants program of Theatre Bay Area in a partnership with Dancers’ Group.

Congratulations to these amazing CA$H Grantees!

IIE Launches Program to Aid Imperiled Artists

The Institute of International Education and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently announced the launch of a pilot program for artists experiencing persecution in their home countries. A three-year pilot program, the Artist Protection Fund (APF) is supported by a $2.79 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will provide life-saving fellowship grants to artists from any artistic field facing harassment, violence, imprisonment and even death as a direct outcome of their artistic endeavors. These fellowships secure these artists’ placement at host universities and arts organizations in areas where they can continue their creative work and plan for the future in safety.  

The IIE is currently seeking partner arts organizations to serve as hosts, including university art education programs, artist residencies and performing arts organizations, as well as less traditional arts communities. Hosts are asked to match the fellowship’s support by providing some necessities, such as housing, studio space and art supplies. For more information about participating, visit

Oakland Ballet Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Oakland Ballet Company reached their 50th anniversary season this year with a weekend of celebration on May 23-24, that included two dance events: Five Decades of Dance and East Bay Dances. Five Decades of Dance, headed by artistic director Graham Lustig, celebrated past works of the company and looked to the future with several new pieces. Historical works on the program included Diaghilev-era ballets, along with revivals of other important pieces and newly commissioned works. A part of the company’s ongoing outreach and education programs, East Bay Dances featured an assortment of East Bay dance companies and smaller performance groups to close the spring season.

In Memoriam—Christopher Jenkins

Written by Brian Katz: "Christopher was my associate artistic director until he moved to New York. He was also a mentor, a trusted and giving colleague who taught Custom Made the ropes as we transitioned from doing a few shows a year to full seasons. If you were his friend, there was no end to his generosity, and he loved to share the knowledge he acquired over the years – he helped us with all aspects of producing and kept us from making needless errors. He also was one of the people you could turn to for brutal honesty, when no one else would be straight with you. Custom Made brought Christopher back out from the East to remount his production of The Book of Liz two summers ago, and I am now so grateful we got to spend this time with him. RIP, my friend."