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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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Featured Member: Min Kahng

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This exciting playwright and composer, Min Kahng, is our next featured member. Min's original musical The Song of the Nightingale turned a lot of heads when it premiered at Altarena Playhouse in 2013, and Bay Area Children's Theatre's production of his musical Where the Mountain Meets the Moon earned the "TBA Awards Recommended" nod from awards adjudicators. Min is very involved with us at Theatre Bay Area, and was one of the Titan Award recipients in the inaugural round for playwrights.

Update: Min was recently featured in "9 Musical Theatre Writers You Should Know" in the July 2014 issue of American Theatre magazine! Go, Min!

TBA Featured Member Min Kahng. 


Tell us a little about your theatre work.

I primarily identify as a writer for musical theatre, a composer/lyricist and a playwright. I have had the fortune to see the world premieres of three of my shows here in the Bay Area: Tales of Olympus: A Greek Myth Musical, The Song of the Nightingale and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon: A Musical Adaptation. I also work as the marketing manager for Bay Area Children's Theatre. 

Do you have a favorite play, or a favorite production you've seen? 

In the past year, the production that had the biggest impact on me was Hundred Days at Z Space. It was a brilliant piece of new musical theatre, combining elements of a rock concert with traditional Broadway-esque storytelling and using the stage in simple yet evocative ways. Through it all, there was such a deep and lively spirit in the work. I love it when a show can feel so fresh and new, and yet touch your heart in the most basic human ways.

What do you like about the theatre scene here in the Bay?

I love the open and collaborative spirit of the Bay Area theatre scene. More often than not, I have found that folks are willing to share thoughts or have a conversation over a cup of coffee. I think that's how the bulk of the creative work gets startedmaking a connection. There is also a broad range of theatre pieces being produced, running the gamut of classical to contemporary, commercial to avant-garde and everything else in betweenand all of this within a 50-mile radius. I'm very lucky to have this breadth of live theatre just beyond my doorstep.

Do you have a resource or piece of advice you'd like to share?

I have benefited greatly from reading Anna Deveare Smith's Letters to a Young Artist. It's like having Smith as your arts mentor, just in book form.

Anything coming up soon that you're excited about?

I just participated in the TheatreWorks Writers Retreat, where I began development of a musical based on an obscure comic book titled The Four Immigrants Manga. I'm excited to dive back into research and writing mode after ruminating on some insights that came from the retreat. Oh, and the TBA Awards! I am an adjudicator for the program, so I'm excited to see how the process plays out in the ceremony later this year.

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community.



Tags:  bay area children's theatre  Featured Member  min kahng  playwright 

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TCG Conference Takeaways

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, July 8, 2014

By Dale Albright

A strong Bay Area contingent attended Theatre Communications Group (TCG)'s National Conference, "Crossing Borders," a few weeks ago in San Diego. Made up of representatives of local companies and individual artists (as well as myself and Theatre Bay Area executive director Brad Erickson), these Bay Area artists were instrumental in a number of national conversations, either through participating in a panel or in some cases, leading panels.

In an effort to share as much information as possible with members of our community who were not able to attend, we asked our local attendees to share brief reflections on the conference. Here is what they had to say:

Marissa Wolf, artistic director, Crowded Fire Theater:
"I went to a session called Radical Outreach, and I was really moved by this idea: Rather than just expecting people to show up at your house, what are the ways you can go out to their houses? I.e., don't just invite community groups into your theatre with no sense of where they're actually coming from, but take the time to attend their community events, rallies, et cetera, in order to actually get to know folks and build a meaningful relationship. Further, how can you learn from and listen to the communities you want to engage with? Really rich!"

newplay on Broadcast Live Free

Mark Jackson, playwright/director:
"Diversity was the overwhelming theme of the entire weekend for me—naturally, given the 'Crossing Borders' title. The range of diversity topics up for discussion at TCG14 and the level of political engagement was striking. For example, I was very struck by how nervous many white people were to attend the 'White Allies' meeting, with its ambiguous title. 'White Allies'? Sounds like a White Supremacists group, though, of course, the intent was the opposite: white people who consider themselves to be or wish to be allies for the other races normally associated with the term 'diversity.' Three people asked me under their breath where it was taking place as I made my own way to the meeting. The room was packed and energized with many mixed emotions, and though an hour was far too short, it was an invigorating and useful hour that marked the start of several conversations over the weekend.

"One thing Taylor Mac said struck me in particular: 'Give me a date and I will make a play for you, and it will be amazing. And if it's not, oh well; half your shows aren't amazing anyway.' Got a huge laugh, of course. I would guess, though, that most people laughing won't follow through and adopt what Mac is suggesting in terms of hiring artists. Too bad. His suggestion is basically that if someone has a good track record, and you'd like to work with them, and you suspect they'll be interesting and do something 'good,' then hire them to do it. There really is nothing to suggest that the usual means of hiring artists—auditions, plays going through a development industry check list—guarantees a show is going to be good in the end.

"'I'd like to work with you, but my audience isn't ready for your work,' is another thing Mac says he's been told, to which his reply is, 'How are they ever going to be ready if you never hire me?' Again, if you're a producer, director, artistic director or anyone in the hiring position, if you like the artist's work and believe in it yourself, trust that and go forward. Most productions at most theatres are mediocre. We all know it. If the usual systems by which we hire each other aren't guaranteeing our success, why not abandon them? Or at least explore other means? Why not hire actors based on a chat over coffee, a look at their resume that shows what they've already been entrusted with doing, a Google search of their past reviews and a phone call or email to a couple of people who have worked with them before? Why not commission a playwright because, for whatever reason, you yourself feel intrigued by them and want to see their work on stage? 

"Loved the provocative question about how theatre might draw on aspects of gaming, not to 'pander' to young audiences, as we in theatre so often fear this would mean, but to find new ideas about engaging audiences of any age. My Biomechanics teacher, Gennadi Bogdanov, referred to everything we did as a game. An exercise is a game. Three Sisters is a game. Working out a scene is a game. This session on gaming was also a good general reminder to us in the theatre that the new digital era is something not to be feared but to be understood, that we simply must let go of the idea that the Internet is our enemy. We're at the dawn of an era without precedent. It's not going away and it doesn't need to go away. It needs to be understood and put to good use. And the theatre can do this as much or as little as any other sector."

Watch live streaming video from newplay at

Suzanne Appel, managing director, Cutting Ball:
"My big takeaways were:

1. Gaming is about more than escaping reality and zoning out; it's about building resilience and often community—something our field should be learning from.
2. Arts funders are hearing about the big challenges we are having in San Francisco with income inequality and tough-to-solve social problems in the Tenderloin.
3. Steppenwolf has a really awesome financial dashboard that I am going to steal. 
4. All conferences should be held in San Diego. Sometimes you can learn as much from your colleagues sitting by the pool with a cocktail in your hand as you can in a conference breakout session." 


While I myself had some issues with Taylor Mac's interview, I was struck by his comment that if he sees an audience member that is disengaged from one of his performances, he will actually stop and say something like, "You are really hating this, aren't you?" and invite him "back" to the show by talking about it. It's a brave thing, and it could really backfire. But how can we translate that thought into the bigger picture—inviting those who aren't engaged with our work?

In addition to attending many great sessions, Brad Erickson and I were funded by grants to represent TBA in leading two breakout sessions. Brad led a panel with Tori Bailey from Theatre Development Fund, Diane Rodriquez from Center Theatre Group, Miriam Weisfeld from Woolly Mammoth and Marissa Wolf from Crowded Fire about the exploration of the relationship between theatres, audiences and generative artists (Theatre Bay Area's Triple Play program). I led a session with playwright Elizabeth Gjelten, playwright/director Mark Jackson and actor Reggie White about Theatre Bay Area's ATLAS program, sharing steps on how artists can define success for themselves and articulate steps to realize their goals. 

As is often the case, conferences are as much about the networking, casual interactions and being able to meet with colleagues in a new light as anything else. As Barbara Hodgen, executive director at New Conservatory Theatre Center said, "My favorite thing was seeing Brad Erickson in flip flops for the whole conference!"           

Want more reports from this year's TCG Conference? Click here for mini-blog posts, daily recaps, summaries and photos!

Dale Albright is Theatre Bay Area's director of field services. His dog, Gus, is one of the most adorable creatures on the planet. 


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TBA Does SF Pride

Posted By Heren Patel, Marketing Resources Intern, Wednesday, July 2, 2014

As a Theatre Bay Area intern, I spent this last bright and sunny Sunday staffing the TBA booth at San Francisco's Gay Pride Festival. It was a lot of fun—I was excited to help out at Theatre Bay Area's first time at SF Pride. Our booth was located in the heart of the festival; I spent the day handing out show postcards, talking about different shows, and helping Pride-goers learn more about Theatre Bay Area. A lot of people were really interested in the Bay Area theatre scene—especially those who came from New York. Since New Yorkers tend to consider it the theatre capital of the world, I was surprised that many appreciated the theatre scene of the Bay Area. Most of those I spoke with said that the Bay Area is more of a community than New York is.

Being a native of San Francisco, arguably the LGBT Mecca of the world, I was captivated by the Pride festival. I have never been close to such an experience before; it was amazing. While talking to people at the TBA booth, I met Pride-goers from Scotland, London, and many other countries. I found it fascinating that participants would fly thousands of miles just to take part of a weekend event. There were so many things going on: extravagant costumes, drag queens, rave dancers, public kissers, bare bodies, and my favorite: bacon-wrapped hot dogs! All in all, my first time at Pride was a colorful and vibrant experience, and I was proud to be promoting TBA pink. 

We've got SF Pride: Lily Janiak, Katharine Chin, Emma Jaster and Brad Erickson at TBA's new event booth! You'll be seeing a lot more of us. 

Heren Patel
, an actor and Bay Area native, is Theatre Bay Area's marketing resources intern. 


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A Big "Bridge the Gap" Thank You!

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hello there, everybody.
Today's the first day of our brand new fiscal year. And the outlook is good, thanks to you. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us to count pennies and trim expenses, we want to say a huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to every single one of you who contributed to our efforts to "Bridge the Gap" in our budget.
Without getting into lots of jargon, we can say that, because of your help, Theatre Bay Area was able to move to what the numbers people call "positive net assets." This in itself is a tremendous triumph, and it is literally because of you.
But you've actually done something more. Your enthusiastic and generous support has re-affirmed our faith that there are many people out there who, like us, believe in the power of the arts; believe in nurturing creative, hard-working theatre-makers; and believe that their efforts can make a difference. You have definitely made a difference.
Thank you, from everyone here at Theatre Bay Area—and from our members, who look to us to support them in their craft and careers.
Alan, Argo, Brad, Brandi, Carina, Dale, Dana, Emma,
James, Katharine, Kendra, Laura, Lily, and Sam


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Summer Book Blowout Sale—50% Off!

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Looking for some sexy beach reading? Look no further! To help us meet our fiscal year-end goals, we're having a blowout book sale—50% off our most popular publications! Prices good through July 31, 2014

Summer Book Blowout Publications:

• Actor Training Guide (Available in Print or PDF)
Features a wealth of programs, schools and instructors offering training to actors in the Bay Area. Available in PDF or print format. 

• Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art (Print only; no PDF)
The pioneering study on Intrinsic Impact, released by Theatre Bay Area, represents a nationwide collective effort to measure the true value of art.  
Featuring a foreword by Ben Cameron, arts program officer at Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; 20 interviews with prominent artistic directors across the country; essays by leaders in the field Arlene Goldbard, Clayton Lord, Rebecca Novick and Diane Ragsdale and compelling wordclouds generated from conversations with artistic leaders.

• Sources of Publicity, May 2013 Edition (PDF only)
The premier guide to print, web, radio, television and (with this edition) social media sources of publicity in the Bay Area. Features information on 270 media contacts in the Bay Area. Includes contact info for the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle members, the Glickman Award members, a deadline guide and indexes by alphabetical order and by geographic region. Also includes advice on common publicity mistakes, photography best practices, social media etiquette with journalists and more.

• Preorder Sources of Publicity, Fall 2014 Edition (Print or PDF; same low price!)
We're updating our immensely popular publicity guide this Fall. Order your copy now—preorder customers will be the first to receive it! This edition will include updated information for hundreds of media contacts in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle members and the Glickman Award committee members. Also included is a deadline guide and indexes by both alphabetical order and geographic region—plus advice on common publicity mistakes, photography best practices and social media etiquette with journalists. Special foreword to the Fall 2014 edition: "How to Get Me to Come to Your Show" by theatre critic and TBA listings editor Lily Janiak.

• Theatre Bay Area Magazine – Blowout Issues (Print only; no PDF)
TBA magazine is one of our members' favorite benefits of membership—and no wonder! It contains news and feature stories about the topics and people central to the Bay Area theatre community. We're offering discounts on three of our most popular issues—or you can buy the whole set!

January/February 2014: Contains the full text of Octavio Solis' play, Se Llama Cristina!
November/December 2013: Contains popular article "A Whole New Game in Arts Hiring" by Lily Janiak, examining the lack of gender and race diversity in American theatre leadership
July/August 2013: Contains the full text of Christopher Chen's award-winning play, The Hundred Flowers Project!

You can also order all three and save on shipping! 

That's it, folks! Make sure to tell your friends who publishes your sexy beach reading—Theatre Bay Area!


Tags:  Actor Training Guide  Intrinsic Impact  Sale  Sources of Publicity  TBA Magazine 

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Featured Member: Will Giammona

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Our Featured Member for Pride Month is a face you may recognize—Will Giammona has performed major roles in over 40 productions over the last decade. We've seen a lot of his work at New Conservatory Theatre Center, where he'll appear in the upcoming remount of Avenue Q, but he's impressively active on stages throughout the Bay Area.

Featured TBA member Will Giammona.

Tell us a little about your theatre work?
I've been performing principal roles in four or five major productions a year for the past decade or so all over the Bay Area. I've never really settled into working at one theatre—I think I just crave more variety than that. Working at so many theatres means constantly meeting new people and seeing how different organizations are run. I'm as comfortable doing plays as musicals, and try to make sure I do a healthy balance of each. I love a challenge, that's for sure. I love to work hard and dive into interesting and complex material. I also love digging through the repertoire and just finding what resonates with me. 
Favorite play, or favorite production you've seen?
It's hard to narrow it down, although seeing The Light in the Piazza at Lincoln Center immediately comes to mind. Of the shows that I've done, both Parade and The Story of My Life stand out as two favorites. Both are very challenging in their material as well as their emotional content. Avenue Q is another, but more for the challenge of the puppetry and the pure joy that it brings to the audience.
What do you like about the theatre scene here in the Bay Area?
There is a tremendous variety of opportunity here and you can connect with amazingly talented people all over the Bay (although figuring it all out can be daunting when you are new to the scene). 
Do you have a piece of advice you'd like to share?
Always be as diligent and professional as you possibly can; eventually it always pays off. It's easy to get upset at any given audition that doesn't go your way, but you just don't know what other opportunities are coming down the road. If you've shown that you prepare well, work hard, and are respectful of both people and material, you'll eventually reap the rewards. I became a lot happier once I started asking myself "What can I learn from this?" when encountering less-than-ideal situations, and focused on playing the long game.
What's coming up for you that you're excited about?
I'm playing Franklin Shepard in Merrily We Roll Along in Pinole during the month of June. Frank is often thought of as a pretty unsympathetic character, but if you listen carefully you learn that actually he's just trying too hard to please the people he loves, and he tragically loses sight of what he wants for himself. To add to the challenge, we have a piano on stage and I'm playing all of the music Frank composes live.
Later this year, we'll be remounting our production of Avenue Q at New Conservatory Theatre, after having a completely sold-out run last year. 
On a personal note, I'm very excited that next summer I will be marrying my amazing partner of 12 years (and local theatre director), Dennis Lickteig. We've had the opportunity to work together on projects and I've learned more about theatre from him than anyone else. 

Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community.


Tags:  Acting  Featured Member  NCTC  Pride Month 

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Blushing Orchid Ball Thank You!

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What an amazing evening! Thank you to all who made the Blushing Orchid Ball such a success. The costumes were dazzling, the formalwear was dashing, and the pink pink pink everywhere lit up the whole party! 

Special thanks to our generous sponsors, the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco and San Francisco Media Company!

Sincere thanks to our treasured supporters who hosted virtual tables: the Gensler VIP Table, the Moonalice 
VIP Table, Kathy King & Jerry Cahill's VIP Table, the Harden Partners Table and the Artist Table. Bringing people together like this really made the party!

To our fabulous celebrity costume judges, special guests Brian Boitano, Franc D'Ambrosio, Davis Gaines, Sharon McNight and Lee Roy Reams - a heartfelt thank-you for your support and great good will!

To Valerie Weak, who not only ran the paddle-raise donation auction with aplomb, but became a donor herself - thank you! Your support means so much! 

And last, but certainly not least, a Blushing Orchid thank you to all of our honorees: Eddy Chambers (San Francisco Playhouse), Jerry Deruntz and Katherine Ingold (Foothill Music Theatre), Robert Estes (PUS Theatre), Frank Wu (Just Theater), Rita Nolan (Ray of Light Theater), Everett "Alx" Alexander (African-American Shakespeare Company), Eric Chazankin (6th Street Playhouse), Stefin Collins (Custom Made Theatre Co.), Laurie Gossett (Douglas Morrisson Theatre), Cheshire Isaacs (Impact Theatre), Catherine Brannigan (Theatre Rhinoceros), Nancy Livingston (American Conservatory Theater), Dugan Moore (Crowded Fire Theater Company), Jennifer Rainin (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), Stephanie Alyson Henderson, Megan Cohen, Dawn Monique Williams, Aldo Billingslea, David Ford, Catherine Castellanos, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Torange Yeghiazarian and Leslie Martinson. You and your hard work make our community the thriving, exciting arts hub that it is!

See you next year - and keep on Blushin'!

Tags:  BOB14 

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Blushing Orchid Ball Auction Items

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Updated: Monday, June 2, 2014

The Blushing Orchid Ball will feature an intimate auction of items guaranteed to appeal to theatre buffs, music fans and general culture vultures! Select lots include:

BENANTI BONANZA: Dazzle, the 2014 Pride concert featuring the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and Tony Award winner Laura Benanti at Nourse Auditorium on June 25-27, 2014. Auction lot includes four premium seats, an autographed copy of the CD I Am Harvey Milk (featuring Benanti and SFGMC), a signed poster from Dazzle and a post-concert visit and photo opp with Ms. Benanti!

Tony Award winner Laura Benanti

STAR SIGNS: Programs, posters, books, CDs and other collectibles autographed by Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Alice Ripley, Brian Boitano and other celebrities!

BEHIND THE PUBLIC TELEVISION SCENES: In one auction lot, a private tour of KQED studios for you and a baker’s dozen of your closest friends. In a different lot, lunch for just you and Scott Shafer, host of KQED's The California Report and KQED Newsroom.

Learn More

Tags:  BOB14 

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Honorees of the Blushing Orchid Ball

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Honorees of the Blushing Orchid Ball

A celebration of our vibrant theatre community would not be complete without saluting the people who make it sparkle. As a kickoff to the TBA Awards, we're excited to honor our outstanding audience members, backstage heroes, philanthropists and 
2013-2014 Eye On and Encore individuals featured in Theatre Bay Area magazine.

Audience Members
Eddy Chambers (San Francisco Playhouse)
Jerry Deruntz and Katherine Ingold (Foothill Music Theatre)
Robert Estes (PUS Theatre)
Frank Wu (Just Theater)
Rita Nolan (Ray of Light Theater)

Backstage Heroes
Everett “Alx” Alexander (African-American Shakespeare Company)
Eric Chazankin (6th Street Playhouse)
Stefin Collins (Custom Made Theatre Co.)
Laurie Gossett (Douglas Morrisson Theatre)
Cheshire Isaacs (Impact Theatre)

Catherine Brannigan (Theatre Rhinoceros)
Nancy Livingston (American Conservatory Theater)
Dugan Moore (Crowded Fire Theater Company)
Jennifer Rainin (Berkeley Repertory Theatre)

Eye Ons
Stephanie Alyson Henderson
Megan Cohen
Dawn Monique Williams

Aldo Billingslea
David Ford
Catherine Castellanos
Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Torange Yeghiazarian
Leslie Martinson

Join us on June 8th, 2014 as we raise our glasses to the honorees! 

Honorees should RSVP to to confirm for their complimentary ticket to the Blushing Orchid Ball.

Learn More

Tags:  BOB14 

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Blushing Orchid Ball Costume/Fashion Contest Judges Announced

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2014

UPDATE (June 2, 2014): Announcing our final celebrity judge: Davis Gaines, Broadway star best known for The Phantom of the Opera

Davis Gaines, Broadway star (The Phantom of the Opera), concert (Sweeney Todd) and recording artist. Mr. Gaines is appearing in An Homage to La Cage on June 9 at the Castro Theatre.

May 27, 2014)We're thrilled to announce the addition of Broadway star Lee Roy Reams and Tony nominee Sharon McNight 
as celebrity judges of the Blushing Orchid Ball costume/fashion contest! 

Lee Roy Reams, Broadway star (Applause, 42nd Street-Tony nomination). Mr. Reams is appearing in An Homage to La Cage on June 9 at the Castro Theatre.

Sharon McNight, Tony nominee (Starmites), cabaret star, and recording artist soon to be seen in San Francisco Opera's Show Boat

Big news in Blushing Orchid Ball land! We have confirmed two of our judges for the evening's costume/fashion contest. Please give a warm welcome to two of our special guests and celebrity judges, Brian Boitano and Franc D'Ambrosio

Brian Boitano, Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater, author and Food Network celebrity chef
Franc D'AmbrosioBroadway and film star (Sweeney Todd, Godfather III
), singer, recording artist and painter

We're over the moon about Brian and Franc joining our soiree as our special guests. More exciting announcements to come, so stay in touch and spread the word!

Learn More

Tags:  BOB14 

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