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TBA Online: News & Features: July 2015

Newsfeed: July 20, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Laura Brueckner
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Bay Area Theatre News

• Companies on the Move
• Shotgun Players’ MAD World
• Appel Leaves the Ball for the Dance
• PlayGround Accepting Applications for Writers Pool
• YANC Names New Executive Director

National Theatre News

• National Arts Marketing Project Conference Announced
• 2015 Dramatists Guild Conference with Tony Winner Lisa Kron

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Bay Area Theatre News 

Companies on the Move

Several TBA member theatre companies are moving to new venues this summer:

CounterPulse, which will bid farewell to its longtime home at 1310 Mission Street this July, plans to launch its fall season in its new venue at 80 Turk Street in San Francisco this September. The move comes at a fortuitous time; the company’s 10-year lease is about to expire, leaving it vulnerable to eviction or severe rent increases. Instead, CounterPulse has secured a lease-to-own agreement for the new venue by partnering with the Community Arts Stabilization Trust [], a newly formed nonprofit that purchases and leases space for the exclusive use of nonprofit arts organizations. Visit

Custom Made Theatre Co., previously based at 1620 Gough Street in San Francisco, recently announced its impending move to 533 Sutter Street in SF’s Union Square theatre district. The company will open its fall season at the 99-seat space, former home to SF Playhouse and Tides Theatre, on Sep. 18, 2015. In order to meet moving and renovation costs, Custom Made is currently running a donation drive. Visit

The Pear Avenue Theatre is also moving house, leaving its first home on its namesake Pear Avenue in Mountain View for a brand-new, purpose-built theatre at 1110 La Avenida, also in Mountain View. The soon-to-be-christened “Pear Theatre,” which will provide the company with 4,000 square feet of space (up from the previous venue’s 1,500 sf), will open its doors on Sep. 18 for the first show of the company’s season. Visit

Shotgun Players’ MAD World

Berkeley-based Shotgun Players has announced a new program it calls “Make a Difference” (MAD), which aims to share the company’s wealth of experience and resources with young audiences, novice theatre-makers and fledgling theatre companies. One component of the program, “MAD Tickets,” offers $5 tickets to anyone 25 or younger, on a walkup basis or via reservation (Thursday performances only); a “MAD Subscription” for all five plays in the season is $25. Another component comes in the form of partnerships with schools that bring theatre students from Berkeley High School, Laney College, San Francisco State and other institutions to assist on—or perform in—Shotgun shows. The students are paid for their work; they also gain professional experience and connections; breaking the “chicken-and-egg” dilemma that young theatre-makers often face upon graduation: gigs require experience, but experience requires gigs. The third major component, “MAD Theatre,” offers company-level mentorship and resources to freshly-launched theatre troupes. Support has included director mentorship by Shotgun artistic director Patrick Dooley, Shakespearean diction coaching, port-a-potty advice and rehearsal time in Shotgun’s new Shotgun Studios (in exchange for basic building cleaning and maintenance). Shotgun has also flexed its marketing muscle on behalf of its MAD Theatre partners, inviting its regular patrons to attend their productions.

Dooley said, “I never could have imagined how my love for theatre would be continually reignited by these passionate young innovators. We offer structure, wisdom, and a legacy of community activism through art. They bring in radical ideas, endless energy, and the intoxicating belief that anything is still possible. It's the classic win-win.” Visit

Appel Leaves the Ball for the Dance

The Cutting Ball Theater recently announced the departure of managing director Suzanne Appel at the end of July. Appel, who joined Cutting Ball directly after earning her MFA/MBA in theatre management from the Yale School of Drama, has accepted a position as director of external affairs for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

“Suzanne was our first managing director and an instrumental part of the company’s growth,” said Cutting Ball founding artistic director Rob Melrose. “We wish her all the best. She will be greatly missed.”

During her four years with Cutting Ball, Appel secured the company’s first-ever corporate funding (from Twitter, ZenDesk, Yammer and Wells Fargo); built relationships with neighboring Tenderloin organizations, such as Glide Memorial Church and the Tenderloin Community Benefit District; and grew the company’s annual operating budget from $360K to $600K. Appel was also instrumental in securing major grants from The Andrew F. Mellon Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

“Cutting Ball has never been in better shape, with great shows, a strong foundation, and popular support,” says Board Vice president Erik Blachford.

The company has already launched a search for an interim managing director, and will follow that with a national search for a permanent replacement. Visit

PlayGround Accepting Applications for Writers Pool

New-play incubator PlayGround is now accepting playwright applications for its 2015-2016 season. PlayGround, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, accepts approximately 30 playwrights into its writers’ pool annually; writers make a six-month commitment to create short plays every month on themes supplied by PlayGround. The season culminates in the fully-staged “Best of PlayGround” festival in May. Notable alumni include Erin Bregman, Garrett Jon Groenveld, Aaron Loeb, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Evelyn Jean Pine, Geetha Reddy, Andrew Saito and Lauren Yee. The application deadline is July 31. Visit

YANC Names New Executive Director

San Francisco-based Young Audiences of Northern California (YANC) has announced the appointment of Bay Area native Emily Garvie to the position of executive director. Garvie, an opera singer who performed nationally and internationally before transitioning into arts administration, has worked with YANC for the past four years in fundraising and development, recently serving as the company’s interim executive director.

YANC’s board president Annie Rohan said, “Emily's deep roots in the Bay Area and knowledge of the arts education community will support and guide this exciting new chapter in Young Audiences' story.”

Garvie also serves on the executive committee of the Arts Providers Alliance of San Francisco, as well as the development and executive committees of YANC parent organization Young Audiences National Network. Visit


National Theatre News

2015 Dramatists Guild Conference with Tony Winner Lisa Kron

Dramatists Guild recently held its 2015 conference, “Writing the Changing World,” on Jul. 16-19 in La Jolla, California. This was the third-ever conference for Dramatists Guild, a nationwide professional association of playwrights, composers and lyricists that offers its members educational resources, legal and business advice and journalism on key topics in the field.

This year’s conference featured prominent speakers such as Tony Award-winning book writer and lyricist Lisa Kron (Fun Home) and Grammy- and Oscar-winning lyricist and composer Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Wicked). It also included legal and business sessions, such as “The Artist as CEO” and “Mock Negotiations,” and workshops and panels on playwriting and musical theatre writing, such as “Comedy Across Mediums” and “Creating Unforgettable Villains.” Visit

National Arts Marketing Project Conference Announced

The 2015 National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) has announced that its annual conference will be held Nov. 6-9 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NAMP, a project of Americans for the Arts, serves professionals engaged in arts marketing and audience engagement by providing best-practices journalism and training, professional development resources and workshops for arts marketers and networking opportunities. Conference programming will follow three main interest tracks: “Intensifying Engagement,” “Energizing Technology” and “Stimulating Revenue.” Among the speakers scheduled to present are Theatre Bay Area executive director Brad Erickson, nonprofit social media guru and author Beth Kanter and marketing and branding specialist Alli Houseworth. Visit


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