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TBA Online: News & Features: September 2019

What Are TBA Staff Up To?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019   (3 Comments)
Posted by: Rotimi Agabiaka
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by Theatre Bay Area

 When they're not managing programs, editing web content, or coordinating with members, our Theatre Bay Area staff can often be found pursuing various creative and professional endeavors. With a roster of staff alumni that includes acclaimed director Desdemona Chiang, actor Cindy Im (last season: Vietgone at A.C.T.; this season: Berkeley Rep’s The Great Wave), SF Chronicle theatre critic Lily Janiak, and slam poet Zach Goldberg (3rd place, Individual Poet - Rustbelt Poetry Slam; forthcoming poetry collection from Oakland-based Nomadic Press), the TBA office can be rightly viewed as an incubator for luminaries in the field. Here's a glimpse of what some of our staff members are up to when they're not at the office.

Classic Plays

Rotimi Agbabiaka

Features curator Rotimi Agbabiaka is currently playing Salima, the Chief Nazeer (or Head Eunuch) in charge of a 17th century Indian harem in the world premiere production of House of Joy at California Shakespeare Theatre (Cal Shakes). Part of the company's New Classics initiative, this play by Madhuri Shekar is an action-adventure romance about a female bodyguard's decision to challenge the empire she was raised to defend. The show runs for two final performances on September 7 and 8 at the Bruns Ampitheater in Orinda.

After that he'll be a witch, a murderer, and a lord in Cal Shakes' production of Macbeth, William Shakespeare's play about a war hero whose royal ambitions take him down a path of murder and paranoia. Macbeth runs from Sep 18 to Oct 13.


Rotimi Agbabiaka in House of Joy. Photo by Kevin Berne.


Brad Erickson 

Executive Director Brad Erickson is working on Kinda Home, a new musical by himself (book and lyrics) and Min Kahng (music and lyrics). Based on real-life events in Brad’s family,  the musical looks at how the process of aging (and dying) impacts an elderly couple and everyone around them. Set in Charleston, South Carolina, the story is supported by Min’s lyrical music echoing the sounds of the region’s Lowcountry — pop country, gospel, bluegrass, and the Bossa Nova memories of the aging parents. Leslie Martinson has served as director and dramaturg during the development process. The project has been developed over the past several years with the support of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, the Playwrights Foundation, The Djerassi Foundation, New Conservatory Theatre Center, and PURE Theatre in Charleston, SC. Brad and Min are away for the month of September at a residency in Sonoma working on rewrites.

Kimberley Cohan

Programs manager Kimberley Cohan is rehearsing the role of Edith Corse Evans in Titanic the Musical, In Concert, which dramatizes the stories, hopes, and dreams of passengers and crew members of the ill-fated ocean liner. With a 45-person cast and 25-piece orchestra, this concert staging, produced by 42nd Street Moon, is bound to be grand. Playing September 7 and 8 at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco.

Next up, Cohan plays the dutiful Princess Philoclea in Head Over Heels at New Conservatory Theatre Center. Set in a faraway land where once-upon-a-time is right now, Head Over Heels features the music of The Go-Go’s and follows the adventures of a royal family as they journey to save their kingdom from extinction and end up finding love in unexpected places. Head Over Heels runs from December 6 to January 12 in San Francisco.  


Head Over Heels promo image. Courtesy New Conservatory Theater.


Leadership Seminars

Mary Ann Grossman

Development director Mary Ann Grossman is currently participating in the Fall 2019 Excellence in Leadership seminar offered by the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership in San Rafael. The program participants are exploring leadership values and challenges as they navigate their careers as nonprofit professionals and volunteers.

Grossman transitioned her career from the financial services industry to the nonprofit sector after directly witnessing the September 11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center, starting off as chief development officer for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Since moving to the Bay Area in 2015, she's worked as director of development at University of California: Berkeley, San Francisco Community Music Center, and Theatre Bay Area.

As a participant in the seminar, she will discuss and explore concepts from fundraising and finance to communications and work in IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access.)


One-Person Epics

J Jha

Marketing manager J Jha will give audiences a fresh take on The Mahabharata, a centuries-old Hindu epic, by starring in a new adaptation for one actor, penned by playwright Geetha Reddy.

Dating from around 800 BCE, The Mahabharata comprises about 100,000 verses and has a cast of thousands. Each generation of Indian children is told a version that helps make sense of the period they are living in. Through this adaptation, which will be produced by Ubuntu Theater Project, Reddy and Jha are exploring what The Mahabharata means to them as Americans of Indian descent and as immigrants.

"Every time I tell an Indian person that I am writing a one-person Mahabharata they raise their eyebrows and give the famous side-to-side Indian head nod. Not a yes or not a no... it is a nod that says 'We’ll see about that'," says Reddy.


 Mahabharata promo image. Courtesy J Jha.



Touring Solo Shows


Nicky Martinez


Nicky Martinez, our Program & Grants Coordinator, is going on tour with You Don't Know Me: An Inside Look At Mental Illness, a collection of solo shows in which performers explore their personal experiences. Martinez is performing a self-penned solo show entitled Anxious Bunny about their experience of overcoming the societal shame of going to a therapist and being properly diagnosed with general depression anxiety and PTSD with manic episodes, or what they call manic anxiety. Martinez will perform on September 14th at the 25th annual Music Festival for Brain Health in Napa Valley along with 4 other solo artists exploring such struggles as depression, borderline personality disorders, and bipolar disorders. Nicky is also a fattie influencer on Instagram. Give them a follow: @mx.nicky


A previous performance of You Don't Know Me. Courtesy Nicki Martinez.


Marin Shakespeare Company says...
Posted Friday, September 6, 2019
And the wonderful Bryan Munar was just featured as Patsy in "Monty Python's Spamalot" at Marin Shakespeare Company, singing and tap dancing to the iconic "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life." Congratulations to all the talented TBA staff.
Marjorie B. Crump-Shears says...
Posted Thursday, September 5, 2019
Wonderful! What a diverse, multi- talented group of theater professionals who are colleagues and performers. BRAVA!!! BRAVO!!!!! MArjorie Crump-Shears
Hanna Rachel Gerry says...
Posted Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Yay Everybody!!!!