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Welcome to Backstage: The TBA Blog! This is the place for Theatre Bay Area announcements, info on upcoming events, grant deadlines, ticket giveaways, shout-outs and special profiles of featured members. Visit early and often!


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In Memoriam

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, August 7, 2019

By Brad Erickson

It has become our practice at Theatre Bay Area, as notable members of our community pass away, to take a moment to remember their stories, their artistry, their contributions to our shared life. These past two weeks have brought a deluge of passings – some gentle, far too many others the result of horrific violence. The rapid-fire carnage in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton has stunned even the most news-weary among us. The quieter deaths of Harold Prince and Toni Morrison have left our nation’s cultural community bereft and heart-broken. Their lives and their work could not stand in greater contrast to the perpetrators of the recent massacres.

While we resolve to resist the virulent hatred and ferocious racism that drove the killers and that is ravaging our nation, let’s honor the memories of Morrison and Prince by committing ourselves to the same love of humanity that inspired them and permeates their artistic work. As story-tellers, Prince and Morrison have opened our eyes to see deeply inside our fellow human beings. As story-tellers ourselves, let’s remember the power of our work to bridge difference, to spark empathy, to crack open racist assumptions and reveal our shared humanity. Let our theatremaking, in its celebration of individual human stories, commemorate these two great artists and the many more we mourn this week.

Tags:  Executive Director's Note  Membership 

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Bay Area Stares Down White Supremacists

Posted By TBA Staff, Friday, August 25, 2017
Updated: Friday, August 25, 2017

Even as it appears that we have stared down the racist rallies this weekend, we urge you to speak up and stand up for the values that define us as a theatre community.
Brad Erickson, Rachel Fink
And Theatre Bay Area Staff

Read our full letter here.
Please Note: In light of the cancellation of both the Patriot Prayer rally and the No-to-Marxism event in Berkeley, the event times and locations listed below are subject to change. We recommend you follow the Facebook event or the organization sponsoring the offering directly for updates.

This is not a full list of offerings. Visit these sites for more info and details on all the activities this weekend:

KQED - One Right-Wing Rally Canceled as Bay Area Officials Push Back Against Fringe-Right Rallies

SFist - Here Are All The Counter-Demonstrations Planned During Saturday's Alt-Right Rally In SF

KPFA - Counter-Protests Planned for the Bay Area

SF Chronicle - Bay Area political events: SF, Berkeley rallies, counter protests


5:30 PM – 9:00 PM  San Francisco Interfaith Council ~ Interfaith Gathering Against Hate
Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street, San Francisco

7:00 PM  Anti-Hate Digital Light Vigil
Crissy Field, San Francisco


10:00 AM - 6:00 PM  March Against Hate
Starting at Marina Green, Crissy Field, San Francisco

12:00 Noon - 2:00 PM  Come Together – Juanita More
Speeches – Music – Art – No Politicians – Grass Roots
Harvey Milk Plaza, San Francisco

12:00 PM – 5:00 PM  Peace, Love and Understanding
Hosted by Michael Franti and Spearhead
Civic Center Plaza, San Francisco


11:00 AM  Resist Racist Violence & Hate in Berkeley with SURJ Bay Area
Ohlone Park – Meet at Hearst and Martin Luther King Blvd and march to Berkeley City Hall

12:00 Noon  Protest the White Supremacist Rally: Communities Against Racism & Fascism
Civic Center Park, Berkeley

12:00 PM – 5:00 PM  Bay Area Rally Against Hate
Crescent Lawn, UC Berkeley, near Addison & Oxford Streets, Berkeley

Tags:  advocacy  Community Events 

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Hello, Terry Boero.

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

This month's featured member is long-time Lemonade Fund supporter, ATLAS alum and playwright/educator Terry Boero talks about the dramaturg’s joy in nurturing creative impulses in others. 

Photo: Lisa Keating

Tell us about your work. Between teaching acting, directing, playwriting, and dramaturgy, how do you create space to help others’ new work development while having your own creative impulses? 

I asked my students at San Francisco State University’s School of Theatre & Dance to share their “A-ha!” moment—the moment they knew they had to be involved in theatre. The joy in the room was thrilling; that joy is my driving force. I teach a new play development class in which playwrights work with a director and actors to actualize their play from its formative idea—a script—into a 3D creation. We meet once a week, and the playwright sees how her/his play actually breathes on the stage. It’s akin to letting other people hold your baby: you worry if they’ll drop it, give it the flu, and surprise—the baby continues to thrive! Perhaps the infant even grows and responds in new ways.

The job of a dramaturg is to nurture a play without getting in its way. To paraphrase Paula Vogel, 90% of the people know there’s a problem with a script, but only 1%—the playwright—knows how to fix it. I firmly believe that the play must always return to its creator to impose ideas; fixes deaden the impulse[SS1] . When developing a new play we rely on listening, questioning, taking chances and pushing the boundaries. We ask ourselves about rigor and illuminating the play from within. Out of that work, the playwright and the play grow.

My “A-ha!” moment was when I wrote a stage adaptation of the game Clue, and the Marx Brothers insanity of the play made me happy. I thought, “Wow I created this! I gave someone joy.” Teaching keeps me connected to my creative heartbeat. Balancing the time between the two is still a work in progress.


You seem deeply connected to youth and the idea of burgeoning.

Aspects of my life that give me inspiration are my grandchildren and nature. Children ask questions, they want to comprehend the universe. They aren’t afraid to express their joy, be silly, cry when they need to; they remind me of all the things we adults are encouraged to “grow out of”. The playwright must stay in contact with her/his impulse, not rationalize it. That doesn’t mean we throw fits in the middle of the supermarket, but it does require artists to stay in touch with their kernel of joy. And nature, well, nature is creation. The Sierras are my favorite place to hike, and as I climb a trail through the ancient pine and along the walls of granite, frequently a new idea appears. The eternal is embedded in the mountains.


Are there misconceptions about your field that collaborators or emerging professionals don’t hear enough about?

Some view the dramaturg as the research assistant for productions, the continuity advisor, the person who writes the program, puts together the lobby display and sends out the teacher notes for student matinees. All of these are important aspects, and I’ve done them all. They welcome the audience into the world of the play and give the director, designers, and actors access to the givens of the story they are telling. But I also think dramaturgs have a responsibility to the art of theatre. We work with the core element: the play itself. In this world of changing technology, population, cultural and financial realities, theatre must change. Not only change but brazenly identify, address and meet the new ways we live our lives and seek theatrical forms that address our 21st century. I’m interested in combining theatrical aspects such as my drama/vaudeville shows A Small Life and Death on the Tracks, which use Road Runner cartoons and social media, to build community around a universal concern: teen suicide.


 What do you like about the Bay Area theatre scene, and being a TBA member?

This community is generous with their time and support and inspires me every day. Just as I learned with my connection to the Lemonade Fund–we hold each other up. TBA’s fantastic ATLAS program provided me with the tools, the practical information and opportunity to work and share with fellow playwrights.


Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

This fall, I’m the dramaturg and producer for Fringe Goes Long at SFSU, running November 7–13. I’m working on a comedy that weaves Julius Caesar with the Peyton Place atmosphere of a homeowner’s community, and my theatre collective Kintsugi is producing an evening of 10-minute plays February 13 and 14 at PianoFight.

Tags:  Featured Member 

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Featured Member: Megan Briggs

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

Since taking on producing the shows she wanted to see while in college, this month’s Featured Member and two-time Lemonade Fund benefit producer, Megan Briggs, exemplifies how a theatre artist can blow past the constraints placed on early actors to create her own play and develop works that support the field.


TBA featured member Megan Briggs. Photo: Quincy Cardinale

Tell us about your path into theatre, and a favorite project/production you were part of or inspired by.

I started acting at age eleven, inspired by a teacher who wrote original musicals for kids. The need to perform has never let go of me since, despite the bumpy ride. In college, the head of the acting program told me that I didn't have the drive or passion to make it as an actor. It made me more committed to my creative goals, and I transferred to University of the Pacific where they fully supported my theatre endeavors. I wanted to bring a dialogue to my campus about many of the issues women face, so I decided to produce, direct and perform The Vagina Monologues. We sold out every performance and I was able to present a check for over $20,000 to the Women’s Center of San Joaquin.

Last year I was lucky enough to co-produce and perform in The Desk Set. It’s a fantastic play set in the 1950s, and producing it posed a set of unique problems. For example, we had to build a large, era-appropriate computer that had flashing lights, produced printed pages, and could only be visible during the second act. Even though we had a limited budget, our amazing team of hardworking people was able to pull it all together, and the end result was nothing short of miraculous. Our computer frequently got its own applause when it arrived at the beginning of the second act!

What off-route attributes, hobbies or experiences made a surprising contribution to your art?

I’ve developed a love of gardening in recent years, and it’s taught me to have more patience in my theatre career. If I plant something in the fall, I have to wait until spring for it to bloom. It’s important to realize that things don’t always happen as quickly as I would like, and often it’s worth the wait!

I love listening to all kinds of music (including hip hop), and I enjoy rapping when I go to karaoke. Amazingly enough, I’ve been able to share this skill a few times on stage! One of my favorite single moments is playing a character that does a rap about working in an office. I love it when a director asks me to rap for them in an audition because it gives me a chance to stand out and have a little fun.

What do you like about the Bay Area theatre scene, and being a TBA member?

I really enjoy the sense of camaraderie that I feel with the people in the Bay Area theatre scene. TBA helps to support individuals to network with the community through training opportunities, grants, the Awards, and especially the Lemonade Fund. Last year I helped coordinate two productions as

fundraisers for the Lemonade Fund, and to know that I was helping to support theatre-makers in need means the world to me. I'm thankful for the time I served on the TBA Individual Services Committee because I got to learn so much about the organization and to work with my peers to support individual TBA members.

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

I’m going to play Regan in a thrilling new production of King Lear–opening at PianoFight on November 21–one of the final shows being produced by Theatre Pub. I’m also in the (very) preliminary stages of developing a new play based on my exciting (and sometimes harrowing) dating experiences in SF, and I’m so excited to see where that journey takes me.



Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

Tags:  Featured Member 

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From the Executive Director: Dirty Words

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, September 14, 2016

By Brad Erickson

In the overheated political atmosphere of this election season, certain words have morphed from virtues to vices. They've been transformed from compliments into epithets hurled by one side and the other. Among them are once respectable notions like "dialogue" and "compromise." Ardent partisans, true believers in a cause, often paint any discussion with the other camp as a traitorous retreat from principle. We've seen this in Congress, in City Hall, on the campaign trail. And we've seen it in our field.

We live–and make theatre–in a time when issues, long buried, have sprung vigorously to life. We've seen this especially in the arena of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Patience has run out. For many, incremental change isn't good enough or quick enough. The demands of "justice now!" thrill some and catch others by surprise. Considering themselves good people, many are perplexed, hurt, insulted when they are cast as being insensitive or worse. The challengers are just as mystified that injustice is not obvious–particularly after it's been plainly identified–and can only conclude that anyone standing in the way of reform must be motivated by prejudice or at least a callous desire to hold onto their own privilege. In this atmosphere, dialogue and constructive compromise is not only difficult, it is considered capitulation.

Here in the Bay Area we have seen an inspiring exception to this trend.

Early in the spring, conversations began to circulate around a local upcoming production of The Mikado by Lamplighters Music Theatre. In the past few years the Gilbert and Sullivan favorite has become a touchstone for protest and controversy. A Seattle production in 2014 inflamed and bitterly divided the city's artistic community, drawing attention from the national press. A 2015 New York City presentation of the show was pulled after heated complaints forced the G&S society there to cancel the run. Here in the Bay Area, the issues were the same as Seattle and New York. The operetta, set in a fantastical Japan, encompasses dozens of characters, all of them Asian, most of whom, if not all, are traditionally played by Caucasian actor-singers dressed and made-up in extravagant "Oriental" style. Once considered simply an old chestnut from the Victorian era, now the show to many could only be seen as being inherently racist, rife with Orientalism, and promoting a flagrant use of yellow-face. It was, some said, irredeemable, and should be retired from the canon, never to be done again.

That was one side. Another saw the show as full of sharp humor that pilloried not one particular culture, but universal foibles. They considered the work a classic full of beautiful music, rooted in its time but with deep and lasting meaning and relevance.

With positions like these, it would be difficult to imagine real dialogue. But that is exactly what transpired. Here in the Bay Area, the critics of the piece sat down with the producers of the show and both groups laid out their perspectives. They spoke their truths. The conversations were hard but candid and respectful. I know because I was there for that first meeting in my office with Lily Tung Crystal of Ferocious Lotus, an Asian American theatre company dedicated to showcasing the diverse realities of our world, and Sarah Vardigans of Lamplighters.

What ensued was a continuing discussion, involving many more in the community, with back-and-forths that were heartfelt and passionate. The dialogue could have devolved into mere name-calling (and to be honest, feelings were sometimes hurt when particularly pointed thoughts were expressed). The larger arts community was brought into the conversation at a convening hosted by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. There a vigorous exchange was facilitated by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and relayed across the country on HowlRound. Being in dialogue wasn't easy. For anyone. But remarkably, both sides and their allies and folks in between stayed in the game. They talked. They listened. They heard one another. And change happened.

This summer, Lamplighters Music Theatre, a company that has an international reputation and has been dedicated to presenting Gilbert and Sullivan classics for 64 years, produced a reimagined version of the classic, "The New Mikado," as they dubbed it. They set the action not in Japan but in a mythical Renaissance Italy. They utilized Asian-American dramaturgs to root out Orientalism and offensive humor. What they presented was not just a scrubbed up piece that could welcome everyone, but a new and gorgeous work of art.

After seeing the show, Mina Morita, a Ferocious Lotus company member, posted this on Facebook:

"Lily Tung Crystal, Phil Wong, and I saw Lamplighters Music Theatre's The New Mikado Saturday, and it was full of heart, grace, artistry, and made my soul sing. As Lily says, 'They did such wonderful work with the libretto, making only minor changes, staying true to the script, while opening it up to a wider, more diverse audience. It was clever and hilarious, and the music and singing were great.' Please support this important step towards inclusion while pushing for artistic innovation.... Congratulations, Leontyne Mbele-Mbong, Sarah Vardigans and Ellen Brooks and the entire cast, crew and creative team (Miriam R. Lewis for fabulous costumes)! And thank you immensely for being in conversation with us these past few months."

The courage and perseverance of Bay Area theatre makers that brought to life The New Mikado upends the current paradigm of hopeless division. Our theatre artists have shown that difficult discussions and the willingness to compromise doesn't have to result in some washed-out middle. They have demonstrated that dynamic tension and openness to change can spur a vibrant creativity powerful enough to move thousands and just possibly preserve a classic for another hundred years.


Brad Erickson
is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.

Tags:  Executive Director's Note 

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Featured Member: Selina G. Young

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

From NASA’s Future Forum and the Palo Alto Black and White Ball to San Jose Repertory Theatre, lighting designer Selina G. Young’s versatility goes beyond the stage. The founder of Tough Chicks Productions talks about working between live performance and corporate events, and how a specialized tax knowledge led to her uncommon position at the local IATSE. 


TBA featured member Selina G. Young

Tell us about your career path into lighting design and production. Does your process change between type of client or event? 

I started at age 5, as a dancing snowflake. In high school, I wanted to be a playwright, mostly writing about the Asian experience. In college, I began working backstage when I realized that minority voices had a more difficult time being heard. Thankfully, that seems to be changing. I started in costumes and, after my first daughter’s birth, switched to lighting because I thought there was less gear to travel with- haha.

I have been fortunate to continue working in many facets of theatre and am proud to be an AEA Stage Manager and stagehand with IATSE, Local 134. Tough Chicks Productions was a moniker from my ex-husband for me and two other female lighting designers I worked with years ago. When I started being asked to design more on my own, it seemed a fitting name for my company.

Corporate events don't allow things like color and texture because of broadcasting issues, but I've found ways to incorporate my favorite elements to create different moods. For NASA’s 50th Anniversary Ceremony at the Tech Museum, I added color in the truss and on the drape around the screens to accent their video footage. Sometimes I’ll add the company colors and gobos to plain drape covering building walls. For VISA's all-staff meetings (broadcast internally) I even created matching colors for conference banners.

In theatre I enjoy non-theatrical instruments, such as domestic floor lamps, industrial work lights, and lanterns. Once, I had a performer hold an under-cabinet light because she wanted the effect of a sunbeam coming from her hand. Dance calls for different angles and isolation of light to highlight a dancer’s body. Shadow is just as important as light. Different cultures have different requirements as well: Filipino dance calls for color and texture, whereas East Indian dance prefers full stage light to see the intricate hand movements. Iggy Pop didn’t want any light directly in his eyes, so lighting was more from above.

Favorite project/production that you were part of or inspired by?

One of my favorites was AlterBoyz at San Jose Stage Company. I created a concert setting in a 200-seat theatre, right down to throwing on the “work lights” at the end, just like at an arena show. Not only was it my first show for them, but also the most cues I’ve ever written for a show. For Cabaret, at the same company, I turned the entire theatre into the KitKat Klub. Working with very little budget cements in my mind that money is not a necessary part of the work. Sometimes it makes you more creative when you have nothing to start with.

What off-route attributes, hobbies or experiences made a surprising contribution to your art?

I love taking photos of the world as I see it. I try to transfer those aesthetics to my designs. A more unusual asset has been attaining an “enrolled agent status” for tax preparation. Since I specialize in entertainment personal tax, it gives me an alternative way to contribute to the industry. It opened the door for me to become interim treasurer for the IA Local, giving me a chance to be a more integral member of the union.

I have two teenage girls who are amazing and keep me honest. They remind me how fortunate I am to work in this industry and the amazing people I get to meet and work with on a regular basis.

What do you like about the Bay Area theatre scene, and being a TBA member?

The creativity. There is any type of show you want here: musicals, straight plays, concerts, dance. Even the corporate world is getting into the game, adding more moving lights and video to the presentations. I work on shows ranging from traditional to avant-garde/experimental. With AlterTheater Ensemble, we worked in storefronts in downtown San Rafael, leaving the windows uncovered so passersby could see what we were doing, hopefully enticing them to see the performance.

I don’t have time to see a lot of theatre unless I’m working on the production. The TBA website and email updates help to keep up on trends, companies, artists and opportunities.

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

I am taking a break as I move my daughter to New York for school, but I am in discussion about some upcoming shows starting in November. I hope to keep working on creative and inventive projects. From theatre to corporate events and parties, while knowing the boundaries of the box are required, working outside the box is fun.


Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

Tags:  Featured Member 

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Theatre Bay Area Rallies for SF Arts and Family Ordinance Act

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

By Tyler Jeffreys

On July 11, Theatre Bay Area staffers showed their support for the San Francisco Arts and Family Ordinance Act at a rally atop the steps of City Hall, along with representatives of dozens of other local organizations and citizens. The ballot measure, which seeks to relink San Francisco’s Hotel Tax to the arts and affordable housing, required only 9,500 signatures in order to win a place on the 2016 election ballot; the people of San Francisco submitted an incredible 16,000 signatures to City Hall, securing the measure a spot on the ballot for a direct vote this November. 

TBA staffers join the crowds at the rally for the San Francisco Arts and Family Ordinance Act, SF City Hall, Monday, July 11. Photo: Tyler Jeffreys

For those who haven’t heard of it, San Francisco’s Hotel Tax was created in 1961 to support the city’s arts industries, convention centers and low-income housing. Ten years ago, arts programs received 7.7% of the Hotel Tax’s revenues, but in 2013, the city repealed this specific allocation. Since then, Hotel Tax revenue has increased 135%—while local artists, arts organization and families struggle to make rent. The San Francisco Arts and Family Ordinance Act would restore funding for the arts and solutions to family homelessness from Hotel Tax revenue, increasing to 6.6% beginning in 2017 and 7.5% in 2020. At a time when local artists are refraining from taking auditions or jobs in San Francisco because of the high expense of being in the city, an increase in Hotel Tax revenues distributed to arts programs would go a long way toward keeping San Francisco’s culture and character alive and thriving.

 Executive director Brad Erickson on
the steps of City Hall for the San
Francisco Arts and Family Ordinance
Act on July 11. Photo: Tyler Jeffreys

 Jonathan Moscone, chief of civic engagement at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, speaking at the rally on Monday, July 11. Photo: Tyler Jeffreys















Obtaining the necessary signatures was only the first step to getting the Act passed; the bill will need a two-thirds majority vote this November. TBA is a part of the coalition to support the campaign, which has approximately three months left to gather close to $1 million. TBA executive director Brad Erickson says, “We need everyone to do what they can, if that means individual artists giving five bucks or theatre companies giving 50.” You can donate to the San Francisco Arts and Family Ordinance Act campaign here

Most of all, TBA urges all members to go out and vote “yes” on the San Francisco Arts and Family Ordinance Act on November 8. The full text of the San Francisco Arts and Family Ordinance Act initiative can be found here.


Tyler Jeffries is a communications intern at Theatre Bay Area.


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Featured Member: Jerome Gentes

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

Playwright and producer Jerome Gentes previously has wielded his MFA from Columbia University as a book reviewer, managing director of Classical Ballet of Western New York, teaching artist and writer for Children’s Hospital Oakland Foundation and Research Institute. These days, when he isn’t creating UX/CX content strategy for the likes of Meyer Corporation US, Gentes can be spotted serving on TBA’s Individual Services Committee and on the board of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco. 


TBA featured member Jerome Gentes. Photo: Colin Hussey

What are some of the inspirations for your polymorphic career?

Major props to Buffalo, New York, and its poetry and theatre communities. Especially Just Buffalo Literary Center, where I was a K-12 teaching artist; kids are some of the bravest and freest risk-takers I know. In 2007, I helped start the Elmwood Writers Group there, which is still going. Buffalo’s grassroots, collaborative, what-have-you-got-to-lose attitude and practices changed my life, especially after years of trying to build a New York City writing career the wrong way. I’d wanted to make a big, career-launching splash. My MFA wasn’t even in playwriting or theatre, but writing creative nonfiction. When I broke up with the idea that I had to be successful [in New York] with a creative nonfiction project, I freed myself to find the way back to poetry and theatre, my first passions. Four years in Buffalo gave me humility and taught me that art is about effort, not results, and that what we call failing is actually learning. Tech takes credit for the fail-faster-learn-more ethos, but local and regional arts have lived and thrived by that approach for years.                          

Favorite project/production that you’ve been part of—or inspired by? 

The Fall 2012 Playwrights’ Center of SF 24-Hour Fest rebooted my involvement in theatre. My second Fest resulted in Schrödinger’s Christmas, a 10-minute musical I cowrote with Jon Rosen and really cherish. More recently, I was one of the facilitators for Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field at Berkeley Rep, and the people and communities we engaged with have opened my mind and heart even more broadly. I’m constantly inspired—Megan Cohen’s The Horse’s Ass, Katie May’s Abominable, Hamilton, and David Byrne’s Here Lies Love, the efforts of so many worthwhile projects and creatives.

What do you like about the Bay Area theatre scene, and being a TBA member?

The scene is a never-ending, geographically challenging festival in a constant cycle of growth and change. TBA membership gives a relative newbie like me a kind of all-access ticket to that. I savor the chance to attend and adjudicate shows, volunteer for them, support them. I’m still eager to get up to Sonoma County and down to the South Bay to see what orgs there are doing. I’ve gone to the TBA Conference each year since joining, and that’s always great for connecting and reconnecting. Individual Services Committee participation focuses this into a once-monthly exchange with other committee members on critical issues like gender parity and diversity.

Are there misconceptions about the theatre field that emerging professionals dont hear enough about?

A misconception I’d really like to shatter for creatives of all kinds is [that of] theatre as an insider’s game. It’s too anarchic for that, so plunge in and get going. Meet people. Play with them. The rewards of getting in there and helping others, learning from them, are real. I come across many emerging playwrights who can’t let go of their work, so I’d like to encourage them to do this. The sooner any artist tests and absorbs this fundamental, the more fun they’ll have.

What off-resume skills/experiences have made unusual contributions to your art? 

I worked in restaurants for a long time. Each meal service is simultaneously product, performance, promotion and production—a loosely scripted immersive experience with a participating, highly expectant audience. The goal from point to point is to deliver consistency, seamless and scalable perfection, but the success may be in how and where it falls short and having to incorporate that on the fly. Sometimes you do this together; sometimes someone simply does their offstage, underappreciated task. Also, exploring cultural matter far outside my comfort range. Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down, for example, isn’t the sort of book I reach for reflexively, but he takes us so far inside the battle of Mogadishu that I could feel the combat experience. 

Anything coming up soon that excites you?

As part of the Musical Cafe Showcase Series production team, I’m excited about our upcoming Fall Showcase at PianoFight in November. On October 16, we are cohosting a daylong event on getting plays and musicals produced and self-produced in collaboration with Play Cafe, our parent organization. Musical Cafe will host a mixer for writers and composers and other creatives, so maybe some great projects will come from that someday—maybe the next Hamilton or Fun Home!


Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

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From the Executive Director: The Big Win

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2016

By Brad Erickson

For those who have been following arts funding in California over the past 20 years, the news out of Sacramento last week was stunning. The California Arts Council (CAC) was able to trumpet that its budget had just been increased by another $10.8 million, for a total topping $18 million for the upcoming year. Just four years ago—and for a decade before that—the CAC could scrape together only $3 million from all sources ($1 million from the legislature, $1 million from the National Endowment for the Arts and $1 million from arts license plates and voluntary contributions).

Advocates, like those of us at Theatre Bay Area and Californians for the Arts, have been hammering away for over a decade to move California out of last place in the nation, in terms of per-capita investments in the arts—a figure that, for a dozen years, stood at just three cents per person. Our aim has been to restore (and even surpass) the CAC’s one-time $30 million appropriation in 2000, which placed the Golden State’s arts funding firmly at the national median of one dollar per person. Last week’s announcement that the Governor had signed the $18 million appropriation still moves California’s arts investment to only 50 cents per capita, but the jump was significant enough to be celebrated as a major victory for artists, arts groups and communities of all kinds around the state. Yes, we still have a long way to go to appropriately resource the CAC in order to fully support effective and equitable funding for arts programs around California, but we have also just had a very big win, and it’s right to celebrate.

Here in San Francisco, we stand on the cusp of a potentially game-changing development: a broad coalition of arts groups (of which Theatre Bay Area is part) has joined with advocates for ending family homelessness to place an initiative on the fall ballot. This ballot measure would restore funding for the arts and affordable housing that had for decades been supported by the San Francisco hotel tax, historic allocations that were severed several years ago by the City Attorney in an attempt to preempt a potential lawsuit over legal technicalities surrounding uses of the tax. This ballot measure would not only preclude any future litigation, it would reestablish a stable (and growing) source of funding for the arts while dedicating more than $20 million to provide housing for the more than 2500 homeless children in San Francisco and their families. For the arts, the restoration of the hotel tax allocation will mean an additional $21 million a year in funding within four years, and that total is set to increase annually as receipts from San Francisco’s booming tourist and convention industry continue to rise.

As impressive as that figure is, the consensus over the allocation of the funds is almost more astounding. With a coalition drawn from a number of San Francisco’s largest arts organizations (the Opera, the Symphony, the Ballet) along with American Conservatory Theater, Theatre Bay Area and a number of smaller and multicultural groups (Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, the Queer Cultural Center, the Chinese Cultural Center, Root Division and the Center for New Music), the measure has been written so that two-thirds of the hotel tax funds would be directed to Cultural Equity Grants and arts in the neighborhoods, while one-third would fund the city’s Grants for the Arts, the original arts recipient of the 55-year-old hotel tax. That such a diverse cohort of arts groups could agree on arts appropriations—and move together to place this measure on the November ballot—is a new high-water mark in trust and cooperation between artists and leaders from across the city’s arts ecosystem. 

What’s next? Statewide, advocates will focus on the next legislative cycle. The new appropriations are only for the new fiscal year, so legislators and the Governor alike will need to be actively persuaded to renew or increase these appropriations for 2018. In San Francisco, the ballot measure campaign will take off in earnest once the necessary number of signatures are submitted (as expected) on July 11. The measure requires a two-thirds majority of the electorate to pass (always a high bar), and proponents will be working to motivate friends and neighbors to support a vision for the city that links community vitality to retaining San Francisco’s artists and arts groups while finding a way to end family homelessness.

For more on the ballot measure and an upcoming rally on Jul. 11, click here.

Want to add your signature to the ballot initiative? View a list of venues and dates here.

If you’d like to make a donation to support the campaign effort, click here.


Brad Erickson
is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.

Tags:  arts advocacy  californians for the arts  Executive Director's Note 

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Theatre Bay Area at SF Pride 2016

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2016

By Tyler Jeffreys, communications intern

On June 26, a sunny Sunday afternoon, Pride was in the air throughout most of the downtown San Francisco area. The San Francisco Pride Festival began 46 years ago to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of New York, one of the first gatherings against the oppression of the LGBT community. People from all walks of life came to Pride to celebrate this year’s theme of racial and economic equality: drag queens, heterosexual couples and even older women in their Sunday clothes—who held up signs that read “Church ladies for Gay rights” to show their support.

Photo: Tyler Jeffreys

Theatre Bay Area staffers arrived at our booth on a bustling Larkin Street with free candy and our very own go-go dancer, and a haul of theatre news and zeal. We asked Pride attendees passing by if they liked live theatre; some responded by admitting they do not go as often as they would like. A number of visitors from different parts of the Bay even believed there was a limited amount of live theatre where they lived. One fellow from San Jose expressed concern that there was no theatre near him; after showing him some listings of productions taking place in San Jose next month, he excitedly thanked us and departed clutching show postcards.

Photo: Tyler Jeffreys

We met movie buffs, bookworms, and story lovers in general who did not realize how easy it is to attend live theatre in the Bay Area. Most visitors showed great interest in the upcoming show posters and asked questions about TBA’s Audience Membership program, which gives members a new way to access discount theatre tickets. TBA membership and events associate Laura Ng said, “We launched a new Audience Membership to bring more people to theatre, so it was great to hear folks of different tribes excited to realize they can support the community in these alternative ways.”

TBA staffers Kim Cohan and James Nelson chat up a Pride attendee about the wonders of Bay Area theatre.
Photo: Tyler Jeffreys

TBA staffers were able to answer membership questions in person, which solidified and reconnected relationships with members. Several bright-eyed actors who were not yet TBA members eagerly introduced themselves to us; they were especially thrilled about our members-only general and regional auditions held three times a year. TBA’s listings editor Kim Cohan had the chance to talk to a wonderful number of local theatre technicians and said, “They [the technicians] were super excited to find out about job listings and the fact that they can directly reach companies through our theatre company directory.” Family and friends of theatre-makers were more than happy to nab information for those who could not attend Pride. James Nelson, our membership and programs coordinator, said, “It was exciting to see some old friends of TBA and have them be reminded that we are still here helping the community.”

Enthusiastic crowds filled the streets for the 2016 Pride Festival. Photo: Tyler Jeffreys

As the Pride Festival came to a close, the contagious spirit and enthusiasm lingered in the crowd. Those of us staffing the TBA booth were happy to have directed some of that energy toward Bay Area theatre. Hope you had a happy Pride, and see you all next year!


Tags:  Membership  pdn  sf pride 

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