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TBA Online: News & Features: January 2016

Theatre News: January 4, 2016

Monday, January 04, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Bay Area Theatre News

  • New Peet’s Theatre is a Real Eye-Opener
  • Dramatic Developments at SF Opera
  • Zell Brings Wicked Smarts to CMT San Jose
  • A New Vision for Visión
  • Feeling the Impact 

State/National Theatre News

  • TCG Welcomes New Chief Development Officer
  • Americans for the Arts Lists Top Advocacy Wins for 2015
  • Chesley/Bumbalo Playwriting Competition Deadline January 16

International Theatre News

  • World Festival of Children’s Theatre Announces 2016 Lineup

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Bay Area Theatre News

New Peet’s Theatre is a Real Eye-Opener
Berkeley Repertory Theatre recently announced that, after nine months of renovations to its Thrust Stage, the Tony-winning company’s former main stage space will reopen this month as the Peet’s Theatre, after major donor Peet’s Coffee & Tea. The Rep will hold the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, January 7, followed by a public grand opening on Saturday, January 9 that will include food trucks and free activities from noon to 3 p.m., including hands-on workshops, “Meet the Playwright” conversations, a BRT costume photo booth, and a demonstration of the theatre’s new Meyer Sound system. Visit

Dramatic Developments at SF Opera
Across the Bay, the San Francisco Opera announced a February 2016 opening for its new Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera. The newly revamped 38,000-square-foot development, which occupies the 4th floor and basement of the War Memorial Veterans Building, will consolidate most of the company’s administration into a single campus, as well as house a 299-seat theatre with lobby and “canteen,” an education studio, rehearsal space, a costume studio, a SF Opera archive, and two exhibition galleries.

The historic Veterans Building, which was built in 1932 and hosted the signing of the United Nations charter in 1945, had recently undergone a massive, 26-month seismic retrofit and renovation completed in 2015 to update original building systems, improve ADA accessibility, and repair damage sustained in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. SF Opera footed the bill for the 4th floor improvements.

Zell Brings Wicked Smarts to CMT San Jose
Children’s Musical Theater San Jose has announced that Dana Zell, current director of strategy, will become the company’s new managing director in 2016. Zell, a Bay Area native with a MFA in theatre management, brings to the position a wealth of experience, including seven years representing two national tours of the Broadway musical, Wicked.

CMT board chair Joy Osborne said, “We are thrilled to have Dana join us as CMT’s managing director. In addition to her fresh focus on the CMT operation, she will explore new local and national relationships that we believe could be meaningful to future CMT endeavors. We have a lot of great work to do together.”

Artistic director Kevin Hauge added, “Dana Zell has been a valued and essential confidant to me for many years. Her leadership, drive, style, and compassion are some of the many positive qualities she brings to CMT as the new managing director.”

Outgoing managing director Michael Miller will remain involved with CMT as the company looks ahead to its 50th anniversary in 2018.

A New Vision for Visión
Another San Jose company making leadership changes in 2016 is Teatro Visión, which announced last week that veteran theatre-maker Leigh Henderson will join the company as its interim managing director. Henderson, who has 10 years’ tenure designing and building sets for Visión, holds a MBA in arts administration and a PhD in interdisciplinary theatre; her leadership experience includes positions as managing director and director of operations for the Mexican Heritage Corporation and as company manager for the Rocky Mountain Theater Company in Colorado. At Teatro Visión, Henderson will be responsible for the company’s fiscal and programmatic management, serving its lead grant writer and fund development coordinator.

Henderson replaces outgoing managing director Peter Allen, who is departing in order to focus on his campaign for a seat on the San Jose City Council. Allen will stay on part-time in order to facilitate the transition.

Feeling the Impact
The financial risks of producing intentionally affordable theatre created by fresh talents have claimed another victim: Impact Theatre in Berkeley. According to a breaking story by Sam Hurwitt earlier today, the spunky company—whose impressive roster of alumna, including Chris Chen, Desdemona Chiang, Josh Costello, Lauren Gunderson, and Reggie White, attests to its talent for scouting talent—will undergo major structural changes after its final scheduled production closes in mid-2016. Artistic director Melissa Hillman and managing director Cheshire Isaacs are reportedly investigating a number of possible formats for “Impact 2.0,” many of which center on the company’s passion for supporting early-career theatre artists. Visit

State/National Theatre News

TCG Welcomes New Chief Development Officer
Theatre Communications Group has announced that Joyce Friedmann, a theatre professional with nearly 30 years of arts and culture sector fundraising, marketing, and consulting experience, will join the organization’s executive leadership team as its chief development officer. Friedmann comes to TCG from the Pace School of Performing Arts, where she served as the school’s major gift officer; prior to that, she was the founder and principal of an agency providing fundraising, communications, and marketing services for clients such as The Public Theater, KCRW/NPR Radio, and the national tours of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella; Jekyll & Hyde; Seussical, the Musical; Riverdance; Tap Dogs; and Jelly’s Last Jam.

“Joyce brings a breadth of experience to TCG, having worked with a diverse array of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in academia, government, arts and culture, and more," said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. "In addition, she has deep, long-term relationships with artists and our member theatres around the country, empowering us to make better connections and garner greater resources to achieve our vision of a better world for theatre, and a better world because of theatre."

Americans for the Arts Lists Top Advocacy Wins for 2015
Americans for the Arts recently released its list of the “Top Eight Arts Policy Wins This Year” for 2015. The list—which trumpets victories such as the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” newly extended provisions for charitable giving to the arts, and the $2M boost to the budgets of both the NEA and the US Department of Education’s Arts in Education program—is an encouraging reminder that, even in a distressing economic climate, individuals who are committed to the arts can make a difference in the lives of students and other arts lovers across the country. Visit

Chesley/Bumbalo Playwriting Competition Deadline January 16
The annual Robert Chesley/Victor Bumbalo Foundation playwriting competition seeks to encourage LGBTQ-themed work that makes a substantial contribution to the theatrical repertoire and community. The Foundation underwrites a three-month residency for awardees at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico; awardees also receive a $1,000 stipend for personal expenses. Past recipients include Maria Irene Fornes, Lisa Kron, Robert Patrick, Christopher Shinn, and Paula Vogel.

Submissions for the 2016 competition must be postmarked no later than January 16, 2016 and be clearly marked “Chesley/Bumbalo Competition.” Awards will be announced by June 1, 2016. For more information, visit

International Theatre News

2016 World Festival of Children’s Theatre
For the first time since its launch in 1990, the prestigious World Festival of Children’s Theatre will hold its biennial celebration of theatre “for children, by children” in North America—Stratford, Ontario, in Canada, to be exact. The globe-trotting festival was founded in Lingen, Germany, with the mission to “bring the world’s young people together to share each other’s stories and culture through theatre.” This summer, from June 5-14, 2016, it will gather approximately 300 children between the ages of seven and 15 for workshops, academic events, and performances by 22 visiting companies of young theatre-makers representing 20 countries across six continents. The roster of performers for 2016 includes children’s troupes from Australia, Bangladesh, and China all the way to Zimbabwe, presenting works addressing this year’s theme: “My World, Our Planet.” Visit

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