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TBA Online: News & Features: July 2015

Newsfeed: July 6, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Bay Area Theatre News
• Berkeley Rep Gives 1,000 Free Anna Deavere Smith Tickets to Nonprofit Groups
• Bay Area Children’s Theatre Receives $100,000 Disney Grant
• Douglas Morrisson Theatre Receives Major Gift from Leggo Family Trust
• The Marsh Combats Mental Illness with Free Performances of The Waiting Period
 Intersection for the Arts Celebrates 50 Years with “The Circle” Arts Series
• Chalkboard Players Brings Free Performances to Community
• Shakespeare’s Associates Expand Elementary School Program
• Keane Accepts Position as Executive Dad

National Theatre News
• Theatre Communications Group Announces Global Connections Program Grantees


Bay Area Theatre News

Berkeley Rep Gives 1,000 Free Anna Deavere Smith Tickets to Nonprofit Groups

Anna Deavere Smith. Photo: Mary Ellen Mark

Berkeley Repertory Theatre has announced that it will give away 1,000 free community tickets to its next production, Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education, the California Chapter by acclaimed performer Anna Deavere Smith, directed by Obie Award winner Leah C. Gardiner. In Notes from the Field, which had a reading at Berkeley Rep last summer, Ms. Smith addresses the school-to-prison pipeline—a set of interlocking juridical policies that effectively ejects young people from the classroom and into the criminal justice system.

Notes from the Field has an unusual structure; in the first act, accompanied by SF-based composer and musician Marcus Shelby, Smith will employ her well-known style of documentary performance to present detailed portraits of people directly affected by these policies, using language drawn from numerous interviews. In Act Two, according to Berkeley Rep, Ms. Smith “invites the audience to engage in dynamic conversations and be active agents to help dissolve the school-to-prison pipeline and inequities in the education system.”

The free community tickets will be made available on an application basis to nonprofit and government organizations serving populations impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline, and others for whom cost would be a barrier. Berkeley Rep will also reduce the price on tickets for those under 30 years old to $25. Visit

Bay Area Children’s Theatre Receives $100,000 Disney Grant

The Walt Disney Company recently presented Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) with a grant of $100,000 to bring its "Disney Musicals in Schools" program to Bay Area elementary schools that have low or nonexistent access to the arts. BACT is one of only four companies nationwide selected to receive this support. "Disney Musicals in Schools" is a program developed by the Disney Theatrical Group in an effort to launch and grow theatre programs in elementary schools throughout the country, with a focus on musical theatre as a way to build positive relationships between students, faculty, staff, parents and the local community.

The grant will cover two years of program expenses, bringing Disney musicals to five schools this year and five more the next year. This program will be completely free for participating schools, including performance rights and educational support materials. BACT and Disney Theatrical Group will also collaborate in training teaching artists to assist in helping the schools create sustainable theatre programs and successful musicals.

For 2015, BACT plans to focus on elementary schools in Oakland. Each school selected will enjoy a 17-week musical theater residency. All programs will end with a performance of the Disney musical, as well as selected performances at a Student Share Celebration hosted by BACT for the schools, families and community.

“We are overjoyed with this incredible opportunity to bring musical theatre to elementary schools in our community,” said Nina Meehan, executive director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre. “We are extremely grateful to Disney for its commitment to and support for this work.”

Applications are now open for the 2015 program. To be eligible, a school must be an Oakland Unified School District public or charter elementary school where 70% or more of the student population qualifies for free/reduced-cost lunch. For more information, or to download an application, visit Applications are due by September 11, 2015.

Douglas Morrisson Theatre Receives Major Gift from Leggo Family Trust

Hayward's Douglas Morrisson Theatre (DMT) has just received its largest-ever donation: a bequest of almost $960,000. The gift comes from Kathleen Leggo’s portion of The Leggo Family Trust, given to the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District specifically for DMT. Leggo, who passed away in April 2002, worked as DMT’s property master for 18 years.

Nancy McCullough Engle, former artistic director of DMT, said of the company's benefactress: “Kathi Leggo graced our theatre on stage and off for 20 years. As property master, she bestowed her creativity, style, craftsmanship, irrepressible good humor and panache on over 100 productions.”

DMT artistic director Susan E. Evans said, “Such a generous gift will undoubtedly make a huge difference for our theatre’s future. Kathi Leggo’s legacy allows us to continue to provide first-class professional theatre to the residents of the greater Hayward-Castro Valley area."

DMT plans to hold a special event in honor of Kathleen Leggo’s bequest. Visit  

The Marsh Combats Mental Illness with Free Performances of The Waiting Period

Brian Copeland in The Waiting Period. Photo: Carla Befera

The Marsh, a new-work incubator with locations in San Francisco and Berkeley, has announced plans to produce a year of free performances of The Waiting Period by Brian Copeland. According to The Marsh, audience outreach will focus on “those suffering from depression, or surviving the loss of a loved one to this disease.” A fundraising goal of $150,000 has been set to meet production expenses.

Written and performed by Brian Copeland and directed by David Ford, The Waiting Period’s title refers to the California law mandating that first-time handgun buyers wait 10 days before taking delivery of the firearm. Copeland, who had been considering suicide due to severe depression, wrote the piece both as an exploration of a major turning point in his life and to offer support to others who are facing this disease themselves, or who have loved ones affected by it. Copeland has heard from Waiting Period audience members that seeing the performance literally saved their lives.

Says Copeland, “At every show, I say if I can reach just one person—or if someone at the show can then go out and reach just one person, we have done our work.”

Marsh founder and artistic director Stephanie Weisman says, “An Iraq war veteran stood before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and said he had been suffering from depression brought on by PTSD, and it was Brian’s show that gave him the courage to go to the VA and get help, changing his and his family’s lives.”

The Marsh will present the free Sunday performances at its SF location beginning in December 2016, with plans for additional free performances at local youth centers and colleges. The Marsh hopes to fund this project from donations to the organization’s GoFundMe campaign. Learn more at

Intersection for the Arts Celebrates 50 Years with “The Circle” Arts Series

Tenacious grassroots arts champion Intersection for the Arts has announced plans to celebrate its 50 years of service to the Bay Area with a series of performing, visual and literary arts programs that will run for almost three months, from Sep. 2-Nov 22. The series, titled “The Circle,” will commemorate Intersection’s extraordinary history and showcase current artist partners. Among the events planned are a 50th Anniversary Concert (featuring the Awesöme Orchestra) coproduced by Glide Memorial Church; 50/50 Poetry Nights, a series reviving Intersection’s historical poetry jams, held at SF’s new Tenderloin Museum; the Intersection Archive Show, an exhibition of Intersection memorabilia from the past 50 years, including an oral history component produced in collaboration with StoryCorps; and an exhibition of photographs by youth from the Tenderloin Boys and Girls Club, titled “Ain’t Nothin’ Tender.” As part of “The Circle,” Intersection will also host the world premiere of Blockbuster Season, a new theatrical work from Intersection resident project mugwumpin’, and launch a new Monday-night discussion series, Precarious Visions Nights, examining local events and the state of the arts with a different host and discussion topic each week. Visit

Chalkboard Players Brings Free Performances to Community

The Chalkboard Players, a Sonoma County-based theatre troupe that develops and performs original shows for children, has announced their Chalkboard Players Summer 2015 Free Lunch Site Fun Tour. The goal of the tour is to bring the performing arts to children and families who may not have ready access to or funds for exposure to the arts. Thanks in part to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised almost $2800 for expenses, Chalkboard will perform at five free lunch sites established by the Redwood Empire Food Bank’s “Every Child, Every Day Hunger-Free” Summer 2015 program. To learn more about the tour, including how to get involved, visit

Shakespeare’s Associates Expand Elementary School Program

Livermore-based company Shakespeare’s Associates, Inc. will expand their “Unlocking Shakespeare” program to include all second grade classes in the Livermore Joint Unified School District for the 2015-2016 school year, thanks to a new grant from the Livermore Valley Education Foundation (LVEF).

Shakespeare’s Associates, producers of the Livermore Shakespeare Festival, began a pilot of the “Unlocking Shakespeare” program in early 2015. The program will provide each second grade class in the district a ten-week series of weekly fifty-minute classes on the Bard and his plays, headed by Shakespeare’s Associates’s teaching artists.

LVEF board member Karen Hutchinson said, "By bringing the study of Shakespeare to our schools through this wonderful second-grade program, we are opening doors for our students into different cultures, world history and the ability to recognize themselves in Shakespeare's characters.” Visit

Keane Accepts Position as Executive Dad

Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater has announced that executive director Terence Keane will leave the company this summer to focus on his duties as full-time father of 14-month-old son Brendan Blaze Keane and a brand-new Keane due in December 2015. Keane, who was hired on a part-time basis in 2013, brought two decades of experience to the position, including eight years as Berkeley Repertory Theatre's director of public relations. Under Keane’s leadership, Cinnabar saw double-digit growth: total paid attendance grew by 36 percent, earned income increased by more than 40 percent, subscription income and youth attendance doubled and contributions from individuals and businesses grew by more than 55 percent. Keane, who lives with his family in San Anselmo, plans to transition to consulting, with a focus on public relations, marketing, fundraising and audience development.

Cinnabar board member Stephen Hamilton, whose leadership experience ranges from Hewlett-Packard to the board of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, will serve as its interim executive director while it conducts a search to fill the position long-term. Visit

National Theatre News

Theatre Communications Group Announces Global Connections Program Grantees

Theatre Communications Group recently announced the recipients of their fourth round of the Global Connections program, supported by The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Global Connections program is split into three distinct programs: On the Road, In the Lab and On the Stage. This round of the program awarded a total of $127,000 to 14 projects.

The On the Road program awards up to $5,000 per project to support unrestricted travel to cultivate new relationships with international organizations and artists. Grantees for this round were: Chinese Theatre Works, Imagination Stage, playwright Jeremy Kamps, playwright and director Kyoung H. Park, author Riti Sachdeva and actor/coproducer Indika Senanayake.

The In the Lab program grantees received $10,000 each in support of existing residencies that nurture and grow international collaborations and works in progress. Grantees were: CalArts Center for New Performance’s conceiver Marissa Chibas and Mexico City-based director Martín Acosta; director/designer Tom Lee and collaborator Josh Rice; and director/actor Gerard Stropnicky, with independent producer Albert Mubiro and A River Blue executive director Okweny George Ongom.

The On the Stage program is a new pilot initiative of the Global Connections program. On the Stage grants aim to share US culture with global audiences by supporting existing international tours and productions. Grants range between $10,000 and $15,000, and were given to five theatres in New York and Connecticut: Aquila Theatre Company, The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, Repertorio Español (Spanish Theatre Repertory Company, Ltd.), Theater Breaking through Barriers (TBTB) and Yale Repertory Theatre.

To apply for Global Connections grants, visit Deadline for the next round of grants is Fall 2015 (date TBD).