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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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Faces of Theatre Bay Area 40@40 Celebration

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2016

By Tyler Jeffreys, TBA communications intern

On Monday night, the Bay Area came together to support, strengthen and celebrate our theatre community on our 40th anniversary. The Faces of Theatre Bay Area 40@40 Celebration honored 40 theatre artists, leaders and supporters who are making the path to its vibrant future.

Faces of Theatre Bay Area honorees and guests tour A.C.T.'s Strand Theater. Photo: Sal Mattos

The evening began at A.C.T.’s Strand Theater with an enthusiastic welcome and introduction of our 40 honorees from executive director Brad Erickson. Attendees leaped at the chance to explore the Strand’s newly renovated theatre through backstage tours of the space. The party continued to another Market Street hot spot, the historic SHN Orpheum Theatre, with delicious tapas, wonderful performances from local artists and a seriously exciting backstage tour of the Orpheum. A timeline of curated decor displayed archival publications and show posters reaching far into the Bay Area’s theatre past.

During the performances, I sat next to playwright, actor and activist Luis Valdez (a pioneer of Chicano theatre and founder of El Teatro Campesino) and thought about how brave someone has to be to not only express themselves through art but to also express themselves through social movement. Because of him, people can come together and never be forgotten.

As Cassandra Carpenter (a representative from the theatrical designers union USA 829) reminded us, it takes a village of people and skills to put on a life-changing show. Emcee Ellen Sebastian Chang eloquently added, theatre is a "special way to create compassion within a diverse society." Thanks to the energy of attendees bidding on exclusive live and silent auction items like a tour of Pixar, sold-out tickets to Burning Man 2016 and show tickets to Broadway productions, along with a truly electric Fund-a-Need paddle raise, Theatre Bay Area raised thousands of dollars in support of these continued efforts.

The cast of Ray of Light Theatre's The Wild Party. Photo: Tyler Jeffreys

As theatre-makers in one of the most progressive regions in the world, we are in a special place to spread compassion and empathy through our art. Theatre allows the audience to see people who may or not be like them and feel a connection. Let’s keep up the surge of energy so that everyone may continue experiencing the stories of our Bay Area!


Tags:  40@40  Faces of Theatre Bay Area 

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Featured Member: Lisa Sniderman

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Updated: Friday, June 17, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

Lisa Sniderman’s Independent Music Awards-winning, quirky folk pop brings an element of youthful enchantment to all her work. Read about how a singer/songwriter who goes by the alias of “Aoede” goes from environmental scientist and graphic artist (who also records music videos and composes for TV) to adapting her musical audiobooks into full stage plays.


TBA featured member Lisa Sniderman.

Tell us about your artistic path and process. 

I chose Aoede, muse of song in Greek mythology, as my artist identity in 2006 to remember to inspire and be inspired. I create and record full-length fantasy musicals on audiobooks featuring dialogue, narration, character voices, songs, sound design and full instrumental score, and adapt them to musical theatre stage plays. I also create for young adults—teens and tweens. I’m drawn to young adult stories and adolescent struggles, as well as Greek mythology, and my musical stories reflect them. My journey bringing my musical and theatre worlds to converge has been a roller coaster, filled with artistic growth, accolades, industry recognition “ups,” and “downs” and the darkness of battling a rare, debilitating auto-immune progressive muscle weakness disease.

I have been battling dermatomyositis since 2008. I had an obsessive compulsion to get my music into the world from the time I left the hospital. During years of therapies and treatments, I’ve used music and art as a healing path. Unable to do live shows for several years, I’ve focused on writing, recording at home and licensing my music for film and TV. My story is persevering through this darkness through the creative process. Telling stories, creating recordings and turning them into theatre productions makes me feel most alive and deeply connected to others. 

I began writing and recording musical stories in 2012 as a way to keep my songwriter’s dream alive and connect my brand of bright, quirky folk pop with young adults. My producer encouraged me to make a children’s album after the debut of my music video for “Fairy Tale Love.” I decided to record a fantasy musical story for tweens/teens called Is Love a Fairy Tale?, melding magic, mythology and music, focused on adventures of a protagonist—Aoede—in a magical kingdom called Wonderhaven. 

I’ve found my niche and voice in the world of original musical theatre! I’ve recorded three award-winning full-length musicals on audiobooks, adapted two of them to musical stage plays, held two staged readings, and received more than 35 awards for my songwriting, audiobooks, music videos and stage plays. I absolutely love the process of conjuring characters and music, writing book and lyrics and collaborating on musical elements.         

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

From March to May 2014, I worked with San Carlos Children’s Theater (SCCT) to conduct a 10-week workshop, and held a staged reading performance of my second musical, What Are Dreams Made Of?. During Q&A, 14 dynamic sixth- through 12th-grade actors shared how being in my original musical and doing their first staged reading affected them. Most kids act in mainstream musicals (Annie, Little Mermaid) that have been done many times before, with character and music templates to follow. What was so neat about introducing them to WADMO? was their reaction to being part of something new and different, from being first to create their own characters to being in an “alternative” musical. WADMO? inspired my next musical, Do You Believe In Magic?, which I’m hoping to produce as a musical stage play in 2017. I’ll be conducting workshops in the fall in San Francisco modeled after my SCCT workshop.

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

[It’s] thriving, vibrant; something for everyone! [TBA’s] newsletter, networking, community and online resources. Completing ATLAS helped me craft my career map and introduced me to playwrights and directors, helping me feel more immersed in the Bay Area theatre scene. Attending TBA conferences keeps my finger on the pulse of the Bay Area theatre world.

What off-resume skills or experiences made a surprising contribution to your art?

Graphic art and design! My illustrator’s images sparked me to create Aoede products and marketing materials (e.g., bookmarks, ribbons, posters, postcards and lunch boxes). Living with a chronic disease: my path shifted from a dual career as environmental scientist and singer/songwriter to using art and music as a healing path, creating musicals to connect with and inspire young adults.

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

Conducting a 10-week original musical theater workshop for teens/tweens: “Bringing Magic to Musical Theater!” at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center from September 15-December 1, 2016. My vision is to involve, inspire and connect with participating teen/tweens as performers and crew, providing them opportunity to help shape a developing musical and give me feedback.


Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 

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Program Director Note: TBA's 2016 Titan Award Recipients

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, June 14, 2016

By Dale Albright

 TBA program director Dale Albright.

I’m always thrilled when we can directly support individual artists. A grant to a person, no matter what the amount, has immediate impact—and can propel someone to a completely different place in their life and career.

Theatre Bay Area’s Titan Award goes to an artist that has completed our ATLAS program (Advanced Training Leading Artists to Success). The award consists of a $1000 grant and a yearlong mentorship with a local professional.

This year, we’re delighted to give the Titan Award to two Bay Area actors whose work shows exemplary promise:
Carina Lastimosa Salazar and Melissa Quine. Congratulations to the winners!

In addition to the two recipients of this year’s Titan Award, three finalists will receive a mentorship. Visit our ATLAS page for more information about the program. Specific upcoming round information will be posted there and in the TBA Insider.

Here is some information about this year’s Titans, the award finalists and the panel that made this year’s decisions:

Titan Award Recipients 2016

Carina Lastimosa Salazar (Oakland)
Currently appearing in A Dream Play with Cutting Ball, Carina also has recently appeared in productions at Magic Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Custom Made Theatre Co. and others. Carina is a nonunion actor who has trained with Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s School of Theatre, Studio A.C.T. and A.C.T. Summer Training Congress, among others.

Titan Award for: Training costs, marketing materials
Mentor: Rami Margron

Melissa Quine
(San Francisco)

Melissa is an Equity actor who has appeared in productions at Aurora Theatre Company, California Conservatory Theatre, City Lights Theater Company, San Francisco Playhouse and Pear Theatre, among others. Melissa has a BA from the University of Vermont and was a recipient of a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award as a member of the ensemble of Trouble in Mind at Aurora.

Titan Award for: Training costs, marketing materials
Mentor: Nancy Carlin

Titan Finalists 2016

Gemma Bulos (Mentor: Lily Tung Crystal)
Elena Ruggiero (Mentor: Tory Kelly)
Sheila Townsend (Mentor: Diana Torres Koss)

Titan Award Panel 2016

Rosie Hallett was a 2013-2014 Titan Award recipient for acting. She has performed locally with TheatreWorks, Marin Theatre Company, Shotgun Players, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Center Repertory Company and others, and is an associate artist at Word for Word Performing Arts Company, with which she has toured three times to France. Her upcoming shows include The Winter’s Tale with SF Shakes and Native Son at Marin Theatre Company. Hallett is a graduate of Stanford University, a company member of PlayGround and an active contributor to new works development at various theatres and institutions. For more information, visit

Leslie Martinson is the associate artistic director at TheatreWorks, where she is a director, casting director and administrator. Her upcoming projects include Calligraphy and a workshop of The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga; other directing credits include Proof, Water by the Spoonful, Time Stands Still, The Pitmen Painters and Superior Donuts. A graduate of Occidental College, Martinson has been a Watson Fellow in political fringe theatre, a member of Lincoln Center Directors Lab and a member of the La MaMa International Symposium for Directors. She has also served on Theatre Bay Area’s Theatre Services Committee since 2002, helping to develop the ATLAS career training program for actors, directors and playwrights.  She was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship in stage direction by the Arts Council of Silicon Valley for artistic achievement and community impact, and is a performance coach with Stand & Deliver Group.

Reggie D. White has appeared across the Bay Area and off Broadway in Shakespeare, musicals and new works. He will be seen next in the world premiere of The Last Tiger in Haiti at Berkeley Repertory Theatre this fall. In addition to his work as an actor, White has worked as a teaching artist for the past five years with Berkeley Rep, Atlantic Theater Company, StageWrite and many others. He is currently a TCG Fox Fellow, as well as a recipient of the Theatre Bay Area Titan Award (2012) and the RHE Foundation Artistic Fellowship (2013).


Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, as well as an actor and freelance director. 

Tags:  program director's note  Titan Award 

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From the Executive Director: Why Public Funding (Still) Matters

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, July 19, 2016

By Brad Erickson

Recently, I learned from Americans for the Arts (AFTA) that I will be presented the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award at AFTA’s upcoming annual convention in Boston. But it wasn’t too long ago that the idea that anyone from California would be highlighted for state arts advocacy would have seemed like a cruel joke. In recent years, we’ve seen exciting progress, but for over a decade, California’s investment in the arts was rock-bottom among the states, just three cents per person. Meanwhile, the national median then—and now—is more than one dollar. And this was California! Globally recognized as the center of the creative economy, with the world’s most innovative enterprises and its leading entertainment industry, it seemed incomprehensible that the arts could be so overlooked. But despite years of outcry and pleas and desperate case-making, the needle wouldn’t budge. Understandably, after time, many wondered: why bother?

After all, public investment in the arts from all sources (federal, state and local) only amounts to 9% of total revenue for arts organizations. What makes public support so important?

First, while the overall contribution from public agencies to the nonprofit arts sector as a whole may be modest, for certain arts groups and individual artists the support is substantial. Small-budget organizations might see 25% of their operating funds come from various public agencies. These groups tend to be closely tied to their communities and are far more diverse than major institutions. They typically lack deep-pocketed supporters and don’t have the same access to foundation grants that larger organizations do, and so for them, public agency support is crucial to their community-based work.

Second, public sector support reaches corners of our society missed by private philanthropy. Even with its still-limited budget, funds from the California Arts Council reach every county in the state. No private foundation or billionaire donor could say this. The same is true for the National Endowment for the Arts. Its funds, modest as they are, go to arts groups in every congressional district. And in our cities, local funds extend to neighborhoods, artists, and arts groups often missed by other funders.

Third, public agency support is leveraged many times over. The NEA calculates that each dollar it grants is matched by another nine dollars from other sources. Public sector grants carry a cache that attracts additional support from private sources. Ask any theatre fortunate enough to receive one how an award from the NEA inspires confidence in private donors and foundation program officers alike.

More philosophically, public support of the arts says a great deal about who we are and what we value as a people. Many urgent needs press our elected officials. We need to pave our streets, to pay our police, to educate our children, to protect our environment and our nation, just to name a few. How can the arts hold a candle to these?

Theatre Bay Area’s director of field services, Dale Albright, relates a story. Several years ago, Dale went to City Hall on behalf of Theatre Bay Area to testify at a budget hearing of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The recession was hitting hard, and the city, looking at a steep deficit, was eyeing cuts to a wide swath of programs, including the arts. I was in DC and warned Dale that the hearing room would be packed with advocates of all kinds; the testimony was sure to be impassioned and heartbreaking. And indeed, Dale reports that hundreds of people turned out to tell story after story of the need for continued city support for the elderly, for the sick, the hungry, the unemployed. Dale remembers feeling his resolve wavering as he waited in line for his turn to speak, each story was so moving. “I almost left,” he says. And then, just as he almost reached the microphone, the woman in front of him pleaded with the supervisors not to cut funding for the city’s homeless children. “Remember,” she urged them, “one of these kids could be the next Mozart!” And Dale’s case was made. We need to feed our children, of course; we need to feed their souls as well, in a way that only the arts can. So often, it’s the public sector that provides the critical support our artists need to nourish us all.

Brad Erickson
is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.

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Featured Member: Rami Margron

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

From training in traditions from Stanislavsky to commedia dell’arte, from performing with companies from Woman’s Will to Mugwumpin, from teaching dance to cohosting local storytelling event The Shout, there’s very little Rami Margron isn’t willing to try. Learn more about this professionally polyglot performer!  


TBA featured member Rami Margron. Photo: Bethany Hines 

Tell us about your artistic path and process.

I was blessed to go to Camp Winnarainbow, a circus and performing arts hippie utopian summer camp, from age 10 to adult. We performed all day. We learned about social justice and possibility. That’s where I started doing improv comedy, playing broad characters, creating work, choreographing, appreciating absurdism, etc.

I have no degrees. I’m a high school dropout. I went to community college for a few years and took classes at the Bennett Theatre Lab, which taught the Stanislavsky Method of Physical Actions, voice and Shakespeare. (Funnily, my first acting job after my deep Stanislavsky training was doing broad, multicharacter children’s theatre tours!) I take workshops where and when I can; last year I took a commedia dell’arte workshop with Stephen Buescher. It was amazing. He is a Bay Area treasure, and you should all sign up the next time he offers a class! 

I had/have pretty low self-esteem (like so many of us) and I didn’t build up the courage to go to auditions until sometime in my 20s. I also used to be really hard on myself because I’m not a particularly analytical person. Acting school made me feel like I was lazy, inarticulate, and not smart because I couldn’t name my actions and objectives. My script isn’t full of markings. I don’t take lots of notes. It’s taken me years to accept that my more intuitive, less analytical way is equally valid.

I’m also a dabbler. I’ve probably studied 20 styles of dance. I travel a lot. I dance everywhere I go. I’ve been in a handful of dance companies over the years. In the 90s, my friends and I had an African Diaspora dance theatre troupe called Project Reconnect. We would kick it and make art together, sometimes doing educational assemblies in schools, sometimes performing after midnight in clubs. We traveled together and tried to teach ourselves as much as we could. We did traditional folkloric dance and music, as well as hip hop fusion. Good times! I am so lucky to have been a part of that extraordinary group of artists and historians.

I stopped dancing for a few years because it seemed like there wasn’t enough time to rehearse both dance and theatre. I am so glad I’ve found ways to reintegrate dance into my life. I still prioritize theatre, and I don’t dance enough, but I am blessed to have a couple of companies I work with, and I can often squeeze a dance performance into a window between plays!

Do you have any bucket-list roles?

I don’t have a role that I’ve always wanted to play. I don’t tend to think like that. I just like trying things. I am happiest when whatever I’m doing is totally different than whatever I did last.           

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

Aaaah! So many. In my first show with Crowded Fire, my feet never touched the ground. My character lived on a basketball hoop and pole. (They gave me a couple of Chinese pole acro lessons.) I would exit up the pole and lie on a little black platform in the grid when I wasn’t in the scene. That was fun. I love the shows I’ve done with Mugwumpin. Future Motive Power (the remount of the remount) is one of my very favorites. All the shows I’ve done with Shotgun Players have been so dear to me, Precious Little being the sweetest of all. My two favorite entrances of all time were both in postapocalyptic plays by Liz Duffy Adams. Working with [all-female Shakespeare company] Woman’s Will taught me so much. I learned so much from my fellow actors about how to speak Shakespeare naturally in last year’s (almost) all-female Twelfth Night at Cal Shakes. And I just had a dreamy experience playing Moll Flanders at Pacific Rep. I could go on...

What off-resume skills or experiences have made a surprising contribution to your art?

Camp counselor. Losing my parents.

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

I love new work and weird plays. I love Crowded Fire and the other companies committed to these plays. I love that there are so many great playwrights among us.

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

I’m currently rehearsing Much Ado at Cal Shakes. At the time of this interview, I have no idea what it will be like! Can’t wait to find out.


Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 


Tags:  Acting  california shakespeare theater  crowded fire theater  Featured Member  shotgun players 

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Program Director Note: Getting Clarity

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2016

By Dale Albright

 TBA program director Dale Albright.

Time. It’s the one thing that I hear, over and over again, that artists wish they knew how to deal with better. It is the nature of our lives as artists that we, arguably more than many outside of our world, need to be masters of juggling numerous commitments in order to do and support our work. Other obligations to work, family, laundry, dishes, pets, health, sanity and many other factors too numerous to mention are all plates being tossed in the air hoping not to be the one to drop crashing to the ground.

As I write this, I am feeling that pain—I am in tech week for a show I am directing at the Douglas Morrison Theatre in Hayward (Lanford Wilson’s Book of Days, starting May 19). As my plates spin and I juggle many of the things listed above, I can’t help but observe my own struggles and those of the artists around me. My first interchange at every tech has been with our lighting designer and with our technical director, who compare notes on whose two-year-old woke them up first that morning. One of our actors, a single mom commuting from San Francisco to the show in Hayward, often gets to bring her (wonderful!) daughter to rehearsal. Another actor is losing hours daily, constantly fighting what sounds like one of the worst commutes I have ever heard of: from work in the North Bay to rehearsal in Hayward, then back home to SF. Three other actors, who commute from the South Bay, are also launching their own theatre project (not to mention other theatre- and non-theatre-related jobs) at the same time that they are getting this show off the ground. The list goes on and on.

People often ask me how I manage to juggle my work at Theatre Bay Area with outside artistic projects, but I look at these examples (and many others I hear), and know how lucky I am. Not only do I have a full-time job, but it’s incredibly supportive to boot. This job allows me take vacation during tech week—although, of course, I am writing this note in the middle of said “vacation.” I have a sympathetic partner at home. The theatre at which I’m currently working is a two-minute drive from my house.

But you know what else has been incredibly helpful to me? The kind of thinking taught in Theatre Bay Area’s ATLAS career development program, which I have administered for a number of years. For example: when I take on an outside artistic project, I know why I am doing it—the part it plays in what I want to accomplish in terms of my larger life and work goals. I know which things in my life come first. I limit the number of projects I do each year. I know to plan ahead as best I can to see when I need to take time off—and when I need a dog-sitter to help out. I have examined my own work (and distraction) patterns to have a better idea of how to formulate my day for maximum effectiveness. And I don’t beat myself up for taking some time to make sure my DVR doesn’t explode or to just take a nap. And it works.

If this kind of clarity sounds good to you, check out our career guide, ATLAS: Charting an Artist’s Career Map—especially the chapter on time management! The ATLAS manual is also available as part of the enhanced student membership, available now through June 30, perfect for the theatre majors and grads in your life.

Plates will still spin and—such is life—some will undoubtedly drop…hopefully no more than once in a while. We’re only human. But we do what needs to be done. The show (and life) must go on!


Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, as well as an actor and freelance director. 

Tags:  ATLAS Program  program director's note  rehearsal  time management  training  workshop 

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From the Executive Director: Making Change

Posted By TBA Staff, Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, May 3, 2016

By Brad Erickson

We in the Bay Area like to think of ourselves as living in the epicenter of innovation. And for good reason. Our region is home to a host of the most forward-thinking enterprises on earth. Those enterprises are platforms from which some of the most creative individuals on the planet are changing the way billions of people live, work and play.

That quality of innovation is characteristic of Bay Area theatre-making, where new works develop and thrive, where new takes on classic texts abound and where new approaches to creating art and building community are vigorously embraced.

Merriam-Webster defines innovation as doing “something in a new way; to have new ideas about how something can be done.” The term derives from the Latin innovare: to renew, to restore, to change.

Over the past four decades, Theatre Bay Area has gained a national reputation for constantly innovating to provide the most impactful and meaningful services to theatre-makers in our region. Think of our intrinsic impact research, our ATLAS career development program and our latest research project, Triple Play. Look a little further back to Free Night of Theater, and further yet, to our CA$H grants program, even to our General Auditions, still the largest of their kind on the West Coast. And our popular TBA Awards, while not a novel concept, were uniquely tailored to create a one-of-a-kind program expressly for the Bay Area.

Innovation is at the center of how we work. Now, as we celebrate TBA’s 40th anniversary, we are readying ourselves for the future by launching our Innovation Fund Campaign, a multiyear initiative to equip Theatre Bay Area with the resources required to execute a “rapid response” to the shifting needs and opportunities in the field.

The need is great. The Bay Area theatre community is experiencing urgent pressures from a soaring cost of living, displacement of artists and arts groups and the critical need to address issues of equity and inclusion. Too many of our neighbors never engage with theatre—whether they are newcomers flocking to tech jobs or members of long-underserved communities. Theatre Bay Area stands ready to address these issues, and more—but only if we have the necessary resources at hand to create an effective response.

You can help. Our new Innovation Fund, launching this week, will enable us to address the most urgent needs facing artists and theatre companies as we work to equip theatre-makers for success, increase audience engagement, strengthen our advocacy efforts, recognize achievement and advance our groundbreaking research and development projects, which have impacted not only theatre-makers in the Bay Area but across the United States. Contributions to the Innovation Fund will allow us to create forward-looking programs to benefit theatre-makers, theatre companies and theatre audiences here in the Bay Area—and beyond.

Watch for more on the Innovation Fund, and consider if your theatre-making—or the work of your company or any of your colleagues—has been strengthened by the impact of Theatre Bay Area over the last 40 years. If so, we ask that you help us to keep innovating for the needs of tomorrow—and the next 40 years.

Brad Erickson
is executive director of Theatre Bay Area.

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Theatre Bay Area CA$H Grantees Announced

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Theatre Bay Area is delighted to announce that the following organizations and individual artists have been selected as recipients of CA$H grants to fund their groundbreaking work.


Bindlestiff Studio, San Francisco
Bindlestiff Studio is presenting Tagalog: A Festival of One-Acts (a TBA Editors’ Pick), written in the Philippine national language, Tagalog. The three plays, by Filipino playwrights Maynard Manansala, Juan Miguel Severo and Eljay Castro Deldoc, feature universal themes of love and chasing dreams. The show will be presented with the aid of projected text and images to fully immerse the audience.
CA$H (artistic project): production and administrative costs

Klanghaus, Oakland
A Play About Leaving is a continually evolving multimedia theatrical work that examines the commonalities between the struggles of artists working in different environments and cities. The piece addresses why people leave home, from immigrants leaving their countries to longtime urban residents faced with insurmountable rises in the cost of living. 
CA$H (artistic project): artists’ fees and marketing costs

Leela, San Francisco
San Francisco improvisational theatre company Leela will mount the third annual Femprovisor Fest, which showcases diverse female-identified improv ensembles, comics and sketch groups, both local and national. The festival features innovative artists who are committed to increasing the visibility of women in all areas of improvised performance.
CA$H (artistic project): rehearsal and performance space

The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc., Oakland
Collected Acts is an evening of one-act plays by local playwrights and company members of the Lower Bottom Playaz, including world premieres from Cat Brooks, Khy Whiginton, and Terry Bisson. The plays, covering themes such as incarceration, mental health, homelessness, racism, and body image, will open in August at the Flight Deck in Oakland.
CA$H (organizational development): artists’ fees and marketing costs

Individual Artists:

Diane M. Barnes, performer, San Rafael
My Stroke of Luck is a solo storytelling performance that shares performer Diane Barnes’s journey of medical catastrophe, recovery and metamorphosis. The piece is a personal look at love, family and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
CA$H: artists’ fees and videography

Sophie Becker, Kristen Rulifson, Hien Huynh, performers, Oakland
Using imagery and text from mythology, the movement-based theatre piece Theseus’ String in the Underground is an exploration of the labyrinths of daily life. The work, which is heavily inspired by the personal and family histories of the performers, will premiere at Safehouse Arts in July. 
CA$H: artists’ fees, marketing costs and equipment rental

Andrea L. Hart, playwright/director, Berkeley
The second production of playwright collective 6NewPlays, Andrea L. Hart’s dark is a different beast is a suicide-bomber love story. Using wearable kinetic sculptures designed by visual artist China Tamblyn that attach to the performers’ bodies, by expanding and contorting them, the piece explores individual choice in the face of tyranny. 
CA$H: artists’ fees and materials

Congratulations, one and all! We encourage all TBA members to check out these projects and artists. 


Tags:  Acting  CA$H Grants 

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Featured Member: Antoine Hunter

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Interview by Laura Ng

Urban Jazz Dance Company founder Antoine Hunter, an African American Deaf choreographer/dancer/ambassador/model/actor/poet, shares his remarkable story in working across social spheres and languages of expression.  

TBA featured member Antoine Hunter. 

Tell us about your artistic path and process.

The Oakland Ensemble Theatre were the ones who told me I have a huge voice in writing plays. I began writing plays there while I was at Skyline High School [where] I was known as “Black Shakespeare” because someone always died in my scripts. My first script, Fly Away, was presented by OET, directed by Donald Lacy, and later Love Life Foundation [again] under Donald Lacy. Fly Away was about two teenagers, a Deaf boy who had a beautiful hearing girlfriend, who’d both just entered high school. Even with all the years they’d been best friends, the hearing girlfriend is being pulled away and in the middle of their troubles, there is a gang fight; one of them dies. This play was meant for people to understand we are all seeking love, that we all die and feel pain, that we need to stop the hate and find a way to coexist. These roles were meant for Deaf and African American [performers], however, they have been performed by hearing people of many races. My writing has been performed all over California.

After many years, I decided to focus on dancing. I performed in Peru, London, Cuba, Africa and much more. It was easier; I didn't have to work eight times as hard to read someone’s lips. I used to [memorize] the whole script, but sometimes fell into embarrassment because someone forgot their line, or changed [it], and I ended up looking bad. Being the only deaf actor in plays is just insanely unfair to me, but in dance I had a fighting chance. I danced with numbers of dance companies while I would randomly go see theatre plays. My joy for dance grew larger and larger while I was wishing it was me performing at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre or Beach Blanket Babylon. A few people thought I was too brilliant not to act, so I began doing short and long films, plus music videos, as an actor, dancer, choreographer, director and producer.

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

I performed leading roles in John Henry, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Raisin in the Sun, School Daze, Black Nativity and more. No matter where, I loved doing plays that had roles for people of color. There are not enough roles for people of color. I used to refuse playing white man roles because I wanted the director or writer to make it fit my ethnic culture. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

What advice would you like to share with an emerging theatre professional (or an earlier you)?

Stay true to yourself and don’t lose hope. You don’t have to look for companies that fit your need, you can create companies that fit your need. 

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

One of the great things about living in the Bay Area is its value toward arts and the people who share and create art. I had performed in a number of theatres, and from small companies to big companies, all agree: without the arts, the world would lose its own atmosphere to breathe, to live free. Life onstage taught me so much for life offstage. Oddly enough, my theatre people don’t know I am a dancer, my dance people don’t know I am also an actor, both don’t know me as songwriter-playwright. My values remain the same in all cases: to bring arts alive. I let people know in my bio I did them all.  

Anything coming up soon that you are excited about?

Today I am happy to say I am finally getting back to my love of theatre. I am the founder of DeVinci’s Deaf Loud Dance Theatre. All performances will be Deaf cast. I’ll be working on Othello and a few other things; we did a few shows already and people love us. We will be performing for Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival, the opening weekend of San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, [as well as at] the Green Show at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, East Side Arts Alliance and so much more. I am excited because I am at place where my vision can come freely, fitting all kinds of roles but making more work and roles for Deaf people and people of color.


Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community. 


Tags:  actor  Choreography  dance  dancer  deaf  Featured Member 

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Program Director Note: What If?

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2016

By Dale Albright

 TBA program director Dale Albright.

Warriors fever! Even people who are not necessarily basketball fans (or even sports fans) can find themselves swept up in rooting for and following the Golden State Warriors’ record-setting season and push for the NBA title. This enthusiasm permeates conversations everywhere. While I am certainly not a sports fan (I’m just happy I knew that the Warriors play basketball), it was the one thing that my barber and I could talk about last week during my haircut. It’s the lead story of almost every newscast or newspaper. You would quickly lose count if you tried to count items of Warriors merchandise that you pass on the street. Folks from both ends of the political spectrum can agree that the home sports team is worth rooting for—not only because it brings people together, but also because it encourages hometown pride, functions as an economic engine in and of itself and just plain is a source of excitement and fun. And who can argue against that huge parade, should they win the championship?

I can’t help but think how great it would be to have just a fraction of that for theatre in the Bay Area. In an age of decreasing arts coverage in print and virtually no mention of the arts in other media (save a lot of dedicated bloggers), theatre checks every box mentioned above and then some. Why does it always feel like we are begging for scraps of attention in the media and from the public at large?

This month, I had the pleasure of hearing Todd London present a moving keynote address at the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO) convening in Seattle. (Check out his frequent and glowing shout-outs to Theatre Bay Area!) The very first item on London’s list of favorite lessons learned from the artists in his life is, “Begin with ‘what if?’” He goes so far as to say that that question “may be the best question around.” But earlier in his address, he asks probably the largest “what if” of all: “What if we in the arts are the people standing between the fall and survival of a civil society?” Talk about blowing sports out of the water on the relevance spectrum.

I’m fascinated by that question: “what if?” I hope that you are too. It’s the beginning of the creation of every piece of art, isn’t it? It’s imbedded in the heart of Theatre Bay Area’s strategic plan (which itself was fueled by a listening tour throughout the field, asking the question “What if you were starting a theatre service organization today?”).  It’s a vital and powerful beginning to question what we assume to be true.

What if our local theatre scene carried the same weight in the general population as the Warriors?

What if?



Dale Albright is program director for Theatre Bay Area, as well as an actor and freelance director. 


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