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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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Titan Award Winners Announced

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Updated: Monday, January 11, 2016

Happy 2016! TBA is delighted to announce the winners of TBA’s Titan Awards!

About the Titan Awards

The Titan Awards honor individual artists in the Bay Area who have completed Theatre Bay Area’s ATLAS program, during which they received 17 hours of training on the business side of their careers. The participating artists then submitted a personalized career map where they outlined their goals for the coming year and beyond. Based on this career map, each of the following artists was selected by a review panel of theatre professionals to receive a $1,000 grant for the implementation of this map, as well as a yearlong mentorship. 

Titan Award Director

Ariel Craft, Albany
Ariel has a BFA in theatre from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts and is the founding artistic director of the Breadbox here in San Francisco. Her directing credits in the Bay Area include Breadbox, Cutting Ball Theater, Wily West Productions, Impact Theatre, San Francisco Olympians Festival and others. She is currently directing Of Serpents and Sea Spray for Custom Made Theatre Co. 

Titan Award for
: Training costs
Mentor: Mina Morita

Titan Award Playwrights

E.H. Benedict, Muir Beach
E.H. has had plays performed as part of Bay Area Playwrights Foundation’s FlashPlays, as well as at Z Space, UWAC 36 Hour Playfest, Golden Thread, Lark Play Development Center and the SF Fringe Festival. E.H. has a BA in speech and drama from American University and is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Actors’ Equity Association. 

Titan Award for: Writing time and training
Mentor: Elizabeth Spreen

Barry Eitel, Oakland
Since arriving in the Bay Area in 2011, Barry has self-produced plays in bars; been published in play anthologies; participated in the SJREAL program at San Jose Rep and become the head writer for Boxcar Theatre’s The Speakeasy, a 3.5-hour immersive theatre experience. His plays have also been produced with Arabian Shakespeare Festival, San Francisco Theater Pub and San Leandro Players, among others. Barry has a BA in theatre and philosophy from Loyola University Chicago.

Titan Award for: Writing time
Mentor: Peter Sinn Nachtrieb

Austin Zumbro, Oakland
Austin’s commission for Bay Area Children’s Theatre, Lemony Snicket’s Lump of Coal, is currently in preproduction. BATC was the producer for his previous work, The Day the Crayons Quit, the Musical, which was a TBA Awards Finalist. Austin has also had work presented with Contra Costa Civic Theatre.

Titan Award for: Software costs, workshop costs
Mentor: TBD 


In addition to the Titan winners noted above, the panel would like to acknowledge the following three finalists, each of whom also receives a mentorship. 

Emma Nicholls (Mentor: Evren Odcikin)

Bridgette Dutta Portman (Mentor: Anthony Clarvoe) 
Noelle Viñas (Mentor: Mark Jackson)

Tags:  ATLAS Program  Director  playwright  Titan Award 

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ATLAS Playwrights: Making a Craft into a Career

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, September 9, 2015

By Laura Brueckner

TBA’s ATLAS (Advanced Training Leading Artists to Success) program started in 2008 as a way to give actors crucial training in time management, goal setting and other professional skills necessary to turn a craft into a career. Seven years later, the program has expanded to address the needs of directors and playwrights as well—and a book on the ATLAS process, edited by TBA program director Dale Albright, is slated for publication soon!

The Summer 2015 round of the ATLAS program, for both directors and playwrights, is something special; both groups have been training together since Aug. 15, getting to know one another’s work as they refine their approaches to their own. For playwrights, whose work can sometimes be a little lonely, ATLAS provides an instant network of colleagues who share similar goals and struggles.

We asked the Summer 2015 ATLAS playwrights a few questions about their careers, and how ATLAS was preparing them to take their next steps. Check out the responses from five of our delightfully determined dramatists!

1. How long have you been writing plays?

E.H. (Elizabeth) Benedict: I have been writing plays pretty steadily for the past 10 to 12 years.

Tiziana Perinotti: Since 2008.

Lisa Sniderman: Three years.

E. Hunter Spreen (Elizabeth Spreen): 20 years.

Austin Zumbro: I think the first true stage play I wrote was Rudolph the Ugly Duckling and Other Cracked Up Holiday Tales for Bay Area Children’s Theatre in 2011. Before that, I’d written a few short screenplays and a few comedy sketches, but for these purposes, I don’t think they count.

2. What made you choose to participate in ATLAS training?

EHB: I chose to do the ATLAS program this year because I am sorely in need of the kind of psychological kick in the butt the program offers. It’s all too easy to let oneself off the hook, and ATLAS provides the time, space and tools to be proactive about the career, rather than moaning and being defeated. It helps me get back on my “front foot,” as the Brits are fond of saying. I have had readings of my work and two productions of short plays, but I really do want to go to the next step; for me, that would be having the full length plays produced locally and perhaps some commissioned work as well. My hope is to work in the Bay Area; I submit all over the country, but I really want to work here

TP: To learn about available resources, connect with the local theatre community [and] expand my artistic network; to find job opportunities, mentors, and supporters of my work.

LS: [I] wanted tools, training and resources to help me define my career path as an artist, including being a playwright; wanted to get immersed in the Bay Area theatre community, to meet and work with other playwrights and directors.

ATLAS playwright
E. Hunter Spreen.

EHS: It’s time to plan and dream for the next stage of my artistic life. Short-term, I want to create a plan that maximizes my residency with Playwrights Foundation. Long-term, I want a map out larger projects and goals that shift the course and scope of my work over the next 10 to 15 years.

AZ: I didn’t feel like I had a model of what it means to be a “successful” playwright in the Bay Area. Or anywhere, really. I had no examples of how people balance their writing schedules, what would be realistic goals and expectations for making a living as a writer. I didn’t actually know much about how new work is pitched or developed. ATLAS seemed like it would provide me with a skillset and a vocabulary to treat writing as a true career, and not simply “a fun thing I sometimes get to do for money.”

3. What are some of the best discoveries or insights you’ve had so far in the ATLAS program?

EHB: My number one realization so far is that I want Elizabeth Spreen’s career— she is being produced by smaller, scruffier (ATLAS uses the word “edgy”) theatres. She has had a play in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival (a goal of mine), where she is also a playwright in residence, and she has done commissioned work. Maybe she should be my mentor?

The other lightbulb insight has to do with the idea of success and what that looks like in my life. It has a lot to do with not finking out on my commitment to getting my work out there, which includes using all the current tools. I am not so good on anything technological; it’s baby steps for me. And I am a dunce about social media. All this I knew, but it was new to realize that, for me, success means doing everything I can do to get my work produced, and not backing away when I get anxious or frustrated.

ATLAS playwright
Tiziana Perinotti.

TP: 1. [ATLAS is a] good way to connect to other playwrights/artists;
2. [ATLAS is a] good way to learn how to apply for grants;
3. ATLAS uses a career map tool similar to what I have learnt as a student in ACT (American Conservatory Theater)’s music theatre program.

LS: Having dedicated time to work on my 80-year/five-year plan while in our session was such a gift and a blessing! During the session, I had insights into what I wanted (by [noting] what I didn’t include), and also realized I need to really start planning now financially to get to where I want to be in five years. Another insight was my biggest resistance for goals session and finding ways to keep that in check through my advisory board.

EHS: 1. My commitment to sustainable work/life practices has deepened and I have more clarity about how that translates into how, where and with whom I make work.
2. I’ve been slapped upside my head with the ways I sabotage myself (past and present). Just dealing with that has been difficult, and I’ve wanted to take time to absorb it before I try to develop tactics for dealing with it. 
3. “Where” is a big issue right now. [In] the last workshop, we focused on local theatre companies, identifying the types of work that gets produced locally, and where I fit into the overall picture. It’s a big unknown right now—and that’s also been something I’ve wanted to hang out with, instead of creating solutions in the midst of panic and fear.
Bonus: I’ve enjoyed connecting with other playwrights and directors. This isn’t a surprise or a discovery…it’s more of a side benefit of going through the program. 

AZ: Honestly, just increasing my awareness of grants and development opportunities has really opened my eyes. That kind of thinking—funding a project in chunks during the development process, rather than struggling through in my “free time” to create something that I could maybe sell to someone at the end—is a radical change for me. In addition to making life a little easier with some money behind it, that kind of development model also provides an external structure to the development process—one that isn’t just me berating myself for not working on something to meet a relatively arbitrary deadline.

4. What do working playwrights need most right now?

EHB: I consider myself a working playwright because I write every day. I am not, however a produced playwright. In my opinion, all playwrights need to find their “tribe.” And commissions and productions wouldn’t hurt as well.

TP: More opportunities for staged readings, easier access to directors and producers, mentorship, support networks and financing.

ATLAS playwright
Lisa Sniderman.

LS: Access to submission opportunities and someone to do footwork/a searchable database to identify all the theatre companies that do the kind of work we are doing to make the search less daunting and more purposeful—e.g., I would love a list of all national theatre companies who: 1. take original new work, 2. take musicals, 3. take full-length and 4. take youth or TYA.

EHS: Time and space to make work. Some kind of artistic home where we can be supported. Ideally, that involves getting their work onstage in some format (lab, reading, production or all of the above). 

AZ: For me, personally, I think what I need most is a sense of external structure, although one of the things I’ve been thinking about in ATLAS is how I can generate that for myself. That external structure would be timelines and goals dictated by programs outside the playwright with an eye towards development. So, things like grants, or readings, or workshops. We need both deadlines and the support—money, time and manpower—to meet those deadlines.

5. To which playwright, living or dead, would you most like to be compared?

EHB: A cross between Caryl Churchill and Bruce Norris—if my work could be compared to either of those writers I’d be thrilled.

TP: I don’t like to be compared to anyone. I write straight from my heart and soul, and strive to be my own original voice. 

LS: Dennis Kelly (Matilda) or Winnie Holzman (Wicked).

EHS: I don’t want my work compared to anyone’s. But if this is useful, two of my favorite living playwrights are Toshiki Okada and Kate Ryan.

AZ: Tim Minchin?


TBA’s ATLAS program offers several of training rounds per year. Check back often to see when the next round begins!

Tags:  ATLAS Program  career  Director  playwright  training 

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Toast the Toast of the Town at the TBACon Closing Reception!

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, April 7, 2015

By TBA Staff

This year's Annual Conference will close with a very special plenary session, where Theatre Bay Area will be delighted to present two prestigious awards to members of our creative community: the Glickman Award and the RHE Fellowship. And then there will be wine!

The Will Glickman Award for Best Play to Premiere in the Bay Area in 2014, will be presented to playwright (and Bay Area native) Marcus Gardley, for his stirring drama The House that will not Stand. The Glickman award comes with a $4,000 prize, and garners national recognition in the field. Berkeley Repertory Theatre, which produced the world premiere production, will receive the affiliated Horty Glickman Award.



TBA, in partnership with the RHE Foundation, will also be applauding actor Sarah Moser, recipient of the 2015 RHE Fellowship. The fellowship, which comes with a $10,000 grant and a year's worth of professional mentoring, is designed to make a significant investment in an individual artist that allows for learning and experimentation, and enables them to focus on specific areas of learning they otherwise might not have the opportunity to explore.


Directly following the closing plenary, you can toast these talented artists and our community at the complimentary wine reception! We'll close the conference day by gathering for light refreshments and camaraderie in the upstairs Roda lobby.

Go to main TBACon information page

Register for TBACon today!


Tags:  #tbacon15  Annual Conference  Glickman Award  playwright  RHE Fellowship 

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Playwright Cabaret at the 2015 TBA Annual Conference

Posted By TBA Staff, Friday, February 6, 2015

Want to present your work in the Playwright Cabaret?

Submit your script today!


The Playwright Cabaret is, quite simply, a place at the TBA Annual Conference (April 13, 2015) for writers to have their work read and seen by colleagues. See below for how to submit your work for consideration.



Photo: "Cafe Flambe" by user Brain Toad on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license. 

The Playwright Cabaret "Lucky Thirteen" (i.e., how it all works):


1. Membership. Playwrights must be TBA individual members in good standing through April 30, 2015 to present their work at the conference. Monthly membership holders are eligible. There is no membership requirement for the cast or production assistant (PA). Playwrights who present their work at the Playwright Cabaret will receive free admission to the conference.

2. Selection process. All Playwright Cabaret slots will be filled by lottery, with a short waiting list in the event of cancellations, lapsed memberships, etc. Scripts must be received by by 4 p.m. on March 15, 2015. The selected and waitlisted writers will be notified via email by 5 p.m. that same day. Specific time slots cannot be guaranteed, but cabaret playwrights may trade spots with one another.

3. Venue and length. The Playwright Cabaret will be held in the Berkeley Rep bar, which will be open for business during that time (expect noise and very honest audience reactions!). Each slot is 20 minutes long. Each team has 5 minutes to set up, 10 minutes to read, and 5 minutes to reset the stage for the next team. If you set up and clear quickly you may use the rest of the time however you wish, including announcing your reading verbally to draw a crowd. Common-sense caveat: Do Not Do This During Another Writer's Reading. You Will Go To Playwright Hell, Where You Will Be Forced to Write "Disney On Ice" Adaptations of Epicoene, By Ben Jonson, For All Eternity.

4. Timeliness. If a playwright's full team fails to arrive on time, start on time, or clear the stage for the next team on time, s/he will become ineligible for the following year's Playwright Cabaret.

5. Participation. Playwrights are not to act in their own plays, read their own stage directions, or participate in any technical or logistical capacity. The whole point is to be free to feel the audience taking in your work. 

6. Stage directions. TBA will provide a production assistant (PA) to read stage directions. However, the TBA PA will not be available to rehearse or even read through the script before the reading. So if your stage directions have complex vocabulary or timing, you will want to rehearse and bring your own PA.

7. Cast. Maximum cast size is 6, plus one PA (optional). Playwrights are responsible for casting their shows, furnishing their teams with scripts, and ensuring that their teams register for the conference. Actors and PAs will receive 50% off conference admission. We encourage writers to share actors, to reduce the danger of "no-shows." (This has happened; it was an incredible drag for the playwright.)

8. Stuff on Stage. Music stands and chairs will be provided. Props are heartily discouraged; the space is tiny

9. Sound. Microphones and sound equipment will not be available (nope, not even a CD player). Unplugged singing or instrumental music is fun, sure, but remember: simplicity always wins. 

10. Choice of material. You must present the same script you send to TBA. You may send more than one script to TBA, but no writer will get more than one slot. Script format may be whatever you like: one short play, several very short plays, or an excerpt from a longer piece. It can obviously address any topic in any style. TBA will not censor, edit, or even correct the spelling in scripts we receive, unless and until the script is published. About that...

11. Publication. Cabaret playwrights may be offered the opportunity to have their short play published on the TBA website and promoted via TBA's social media channels. This is totally optional; playwrights may absolutely choose to decline. TBA may also decline to publish a script if we have concerns about super disturbing content, but only after a conversation about these concerns with the playwright.

12. Promotion. The Playwright Cabaret readings will be promoted in the conference program, likely as an insert. Please feel free to do your own promotion outside of the conference (email, social media, postcards) to invite people, but if you bring promotional materials to the conference, be prepared to carry and hand them out yourself. There will be no room for postcards at the conference registration table, which is the most hectic spot at the entire event. Postcards left there, even accidentally, will be cleared and probably recycled.

13. Share the Love. Please cross-promote and watch the other playwrights' readings! Support them the way you'd like them to support you.



Email Laura Brueckner

Tags:  #tbacon15  Annual Conference  playwright  reading 

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Featured Member: Patricia Milton

Posted By TBA Staff, Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Updated: Monday, October 13, 2014

For our latest featured member, we're excited to announce Patricia Milton, a prolific and talented Bay Area playwright. We're continuously impressed by her active involvement in the community as well as her talent for stirring up the conversation on social media (seriously, you have to follow @PatriciaMilton on Twitter). Hats off to Patricia!


 TBA Featured Member Patricia Milton.

Tell us a little about your theatre work.
I'm a playwright, librettist, and lyricist. I specialize in comedy, as that's my orientation to life and the world. Locally, I've worked with Central Works, New Conservatory Theatre Center and Wily West Productions, and my short plays have been seen at places like PianoFight, Woman's Will, and the Exploratorium. I've also had works produced around the country, including several I co-wrote with Indianapolis-based playwright Andrew Black. As a resident playwright with Three Girls Theatre—a company that puts women's work onstage, where it belongs—I've been developing Moments of Truth, a new musical, with music and lyrics by Caroline Altman. I'm also active with Playwrights Center of San Francisco, including teaching workshops for them. 

Do you have a favorite play, or a favorite production you've seen? 
I was hooked on the theatre after my parents took me to see King Lear. I was 13. To me, it remains "the play about the wronged daughter." I love all things Caryl Churchill and Tom Stoppard. Some memorable local favorites include: Fräulein Else, adapted and performed by Francesca Faridany at Berkeley Rep, Aurora Theatre Company's production of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance, and the original production of Angels in America, by Tony Kushner, at the Eureka Theater.

What do you like about the theatre scene here in the Bay? 
As a San Francisco native, I'm very proud of our theatre scene: the number of companies and the variety are enormous. The indie theatre scene is flourishing. And we are blessed with so many talented actors, writers, directors, and tech folks! I feel very fortunate to be working—and attending theatre—in the Bay Area. 

Not to be a suck-up, but Theatre Bay Area is a valuable local resource. I've reaped wonderful benefits as a Titan finalist in the 2013 ATLAS program for playwrights, particularly from the mentorship of Michael Butler. I'm grateful to be a part of two women-specific groups: "Yeah, I Said Feminist" and "Works by Women." They offer support for Bay Area women in theatre and advocate to further gender parity onstage and backstage. 

Do you have a resource or piece of advice you'd like to share? 
Work hard and show up with a generous spirit. That, and—Rewrite

Anything coming up soon that you're excited about?
My new play, Enemies: Foreign and Domestic, opens in February 2015 at Central Works. It's a darkly comic play in which a reunion between a prodigal daughter and her mother goes terribly awry. It has been a challenge and a joy to see that play come to life in the intimate Central Works space at Berkeley City Club. Big shout-outs to a fantastic cast of four: Maura Halloran, Desiree Rogers, Danielle Thys and Jan Zvaifler, as well as our director, Gary Graves. 



Theatre Bay Area members: Creative. Committed. Community.

Tags:  Featured Member  playwright 

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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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Playwright Cabaret at Annual Conference

Posted By Laura Brueckner, Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Bay Area has one of the hottest new play scenes in the country, and we're not afraid of showing off. The Playwright Cabaret is a new event at the Annual Conference that says, "Wilkommen, Bienvenue!" to all local writers interested in showing their work. There's nothing too rough, too challenging, or too strange for this showcase – bring it and sing it, you mad genius, you!

Photo: "Burn After Reading" by Stuart Crawford on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

The Annual Conference is on April 14, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Playwright Cabaret will run from 12:45-4:45 p.m. in the new Berkeley Rep bar, which has a divine little postage-stamp stage ideal for intimate readings. Participating writers must provide all actors (there's no limit on cast size, but space limitations/safety/sanity suggest a max of six bodies onstage). Writers must also field a production assistant to read stage directions (this is important, seriously), and bring enough printed copies of the script for your cabaret team. There will be no printer or copier available onsite. Special note to writers: you are heartily encouraged to watch the reading rather than participate as a reader, in order to take full advantage of the presence of a live audience watching your work.

Each writer and team will get exactly 30 minutes' worth of stage time: five minutes to enter and set up, 20 minutes to read, and five minutes to clear the stage completely for the next team. These times are not flexible, out of respect for all participating cabaret teams, and our fabulous conference staff will be present to keep the stage running on time. So avoid stage fail by drilling your entrance and exit with your cast and timing your selection before the big day!

Interested writers should email Laura Brueckner. We hope to accommodate all writers who apply, and will accept applications until all slots are filled. In the event that there are more folks than slots by April 10, we'll roll like the General Auditions and select by lottery. Playwrights will receive a 50% discount on their conference registration fees. All writers, selected or not, will be notified by 6 p.m. on April 10. 

Tags:  #tbacon14  Annual Conference  playwright  reading 

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