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TBA Online: News & Features: May 2016

Insider Theatre News - May 11, 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016   (0 Comments)
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News and opportunities from the Bay Area and beyond the Bay:

Bay Area Theatre News

Actor Ron Campbell. Photo: Momoko Shimokado

Master clown and Bay Area legend Ron Campbell will join the cast of Boxcar Theatre’s $3 million immersive theatre project/night club, The Speakeasy, when it reopens in August, the company recently announced. Campbell, former Cirque du Soleil star and recipient of the 2015 TBA Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Play (Principal), will create the role of Eddie, the cabaret emcee. Along with Campbell, The Speakeasy will welcome new cast member Mark Nassar, cocreator of immersive dinner-theatre phenomenon Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, as saloon owner Sal.

Intended to be an ongoing theatrical experience, the original run of The Speakeasy closed in June 2014 when the show’s Tenderloin venue was sold; the new venue, in the North Beach/Chinatown area, has undergone a $2 million renovation for the show, including a two-story circular cabaret space, secret passageways and disguised entrances. Learn more about The Speakeasy.

CounterPulse, 25-year veteran champion of Bay Area arts and artists, has received a $100,000 grant from San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the San Francisco Arts Commission and the city’s Grants for the Arts/Hotel Tax Fund. The grant will fund the renovation of the historic façade of its new location at 80 Turk Street, as well as interior furnishings. This project follows hot on the heels of a major renovation to the theatre’s interior, the product of the pilot partnership between CounterPulse and the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST), an organization that works to create stable physical spaces for arts and cultural organizations in the name of equitable urban transformation.

“We are thrilled to support CounterPulse in seeing the building renovation through to the end,” said Tom DeCaigny, SF’s director of cultural affairs. “In its short time on Turk Street, CounterPulse has already proven to be an invaluable resource for the community, making good on its mission to be an inclusive space where all are welcome to participate in their unique programming.” Learn more about CounterPulse and its 80 Turk Project.

San Francisco International Arts Festival is hosting a free panel on the future of theatre criticism and social media on May 26. Panelists include Randy McMullen (Bay Area News Group), Leba Hertz (SF Chronicle), Karen d’Souza (San Jose Mercury News), John Wilkins (KQED), Barry Willis (Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle), Rob Hurwitt (SF Chronicle, emeritus), Charlise Tiee (Opera Tattler) and Keli Dailey; moderated by Velina Brown of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. View event information.

Impact Theatre artistic director Melissa Hillman. Photo: Lisa Keating

Impact Theatre will stage the final production of its current organizational model this month before closing for an unspecified amount of time to undergo restructuring and reimagining. The small company, founded in 1996, has long served as a launch platform for new work by well-known Bay Area theatre artists (including Christopher Chen and Reggie White); artistic director Melissa Hillman has cited the conflict between Impact’s mission of staging affordable, risky theatre and the ongoing pressure to generate revenue as the chief reason for shuttering the company. Impact’s final hurrah at LaVal’s Subterranean Theatre will be Splathouse: Plan 9 from Outer Space, and will include film footage with artists who have worked with the company over the years. Visit Impact Theatre’s website.


The Rotary Club of San Jose is accepting applications for the fourth annual Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards, which will present three grants of $5,000 each to the selected artists; deadline is June 30. Learn more about these awards.

Beyond the Bay

The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, honored stage and film director, playwright and actor George C. Wolfe with its 16th Monte Cristo Award on May 9, in a ceremony at the Edison Ballroom in New York. Wolfe, whose award-winning dark comedy The Colored Museum played recently at African-American Shakespeare Company, was lauded as a prominent artist whose lifetime work has had an extraordinary impact on American theatre. A Tony, Obie and Drama Desk Award-winning writer and director, Wolfe’s most influential work includes The Colored Museum (writer), Spunk (writer, director), Jelly’s Last Jam (writer, director), Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America: Perestroika (director), Bring in da’ Noise, Bring in da’ Funk (creator, director) as well as directing Tony-nominated stage productions of The Wild Party (currently enjoying a bit of a renaissance in the Bay Area); Kushner and Janine Tesori’s Caroline, or Change; and Suzan-Lori Parks’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Topdog/Underdog.