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TBA Online: News & Features: July 2016

Crowded Fire and Golden Thread Partner on New Office and Rehearsal Space

Monday, July 11, 2016   (0 Comments)
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By Lily Janiak

Today Crowded Fire Theater Company and Golden Thread Productions announced that, on July 1, the two companies moved into a new shared office and rehearsal space called the Annex, a 1,100-square-foot facility located in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, at 1695 18th St. In that same building is the 80-seat theatre Thick House, where both companies will continue to mount work. Crowded Fire has been in residence at Thick House for four seasons, and Golden Thread has been performing there since 2001 (though they’ve also performed in many other venues in their 20-year history).

The main office space t the Annex. Photo: Evren Odcikin

In a statement, Golden Thread founding artistic director Torange Yeghiazarian said, “This is a huge step towards achieving our strategic goal of securing a long-term artistic home for performance, rehearsal and administration. This move will help us gain experience in managing our own facility and provide our community with a central gathering location.”

In addition to the office and large rehearsal space, the Annex’s open floor plan features a lunch area and storage. It will house Golden Thread’s three employees and Crowded Fire’s four, along with many contractors.

In the current Bay Area real estate market, it’s an impressive feat for two small nonprofit theatres to land a facility where they can do administrative work, rehearse and perform all in the same space. Previously, Golden Thread’s offices were in the Dogpatch neighborhood, and Crowded Fire’s were in India Basin–far away from where the companies performed. “It meant, just on a basic level, carrying a lot of stuff back and forth,” says Crowded Fire artistic director Mina Morita, in a phone interview. It also meant that it was harder to get to know the communities in which they performed. Now, Morita says, “where we’re eating, buying our coffee and talking to our neighbors is where we’re going to be performing,” which will make it much easier “to build true, authentic partnerships with these groups.”

The Annex contains a kitchen space, on left, and two bathrooms. Photo: Evren Odcikin

Both Golden Thread and Crowded Fire found out at about the same time that they were going to lose their old office spaces, but it wasn’t just as a matter of convenience that the companies partnered on a new lease. First, there’s much crossover among their artists. Evren Odcikin, for example, Golden Thread’s director of marketing and new plays, is also a frequent collaborator with Crowded Fire, having directed its productions of I Call My Brothers, 410[GONE] and Invasion! Crowded Fire and Golden Thread have even held auditions together in the past.

The two companies also share an emphasis on new, daring plays, and they hope that by working in the same space, they’ll enrich each other’s art. “We’re going to hear from each other about what challenges and opportunities there might be just by being in the same air,” says Morita. She also hopes that Crowded Fire’s artists “will feel like they’re part of something a little bit larger than just an organization” and that her theatre’s supporters and donors will, too. Crowded Fire, Golden Thread and other companies, Morita says, have long been in discussion about “different ways we can de-silo our audiences from one specific theatre.”

Now that they’re more than a week in, how’s the working relationship going?

“We’re already very good roomies,” Morita says.


Lily Janiak is the theatre critic for the San Francisco Chronicle