30 Nov Newsletter — November 2015


Artistic Director’s Corner

Storm HS 1510 smallMany folks have expressed an interest in knowing how casting works at TheatreFIRST. So this will no doubt be a multi installment topic. Well…casting is very difficult at TheatreFIRST. Primarily because of our relationship with Actors Equity Association. But once we have a season approved by Actors Equity we are then locked into the number of contracts we have been approved for over the course of the season. We can add contracts and we can shift them from show to show, but we MUST have that minimum number of contracts over the season. Also, by the time we are casting, the bigger companies have locked down many of the actors we are contacting, both union and non-union. The good thing about casting late in the game as we often do is that we don’t have people who we have cast back out of our productions to go work other shows that pay more. They tend to stick around because the bigger houses that they would leave us for have already cast their shows.

So, the process is fairly basic after all of that. Casting is usually factored into the choosing of the scripts and in the case of Glengarry Glen Ross I made phone calls to check actors’ interest and availability before we officially locked that script into the season. If Chris Hayes, Robert Lundy-Paine or Tim Redmond had not been available that script would most certainly have been shelved because we would not have the appropriate number of quality non-union actors to pull that production off. Glengarry being one of the more difficult scripts to produce. Now with Stop Kiss, that script was locked into the season long before we had a chance to think about casting. So there, we are rolling the dice.

Our Casting Director, Caitlin McGarty and I put a list together of non-union talent for the two female leads because that is one of the few shows where I felt I needed to cast the two leads and then find the other quality actors to play the supporting parts. One of the side problems with Stop Kiss is that it is a 90 minute play which pretty much focuses on the relationship between the two women so the other parts are very small. But like Glengarry, they have to be good. Once we compiled our list, Caitlin sends out an inquiry email and on Stop Kiss we learned that about 75% of the non-union candidates were not available. That immediately dictated that I had to consider adding a contract which adds about $3,000.00 to the production budget. That is a huge jump on a show that is targeted for a $20,000.00 overall production budget. That is literally the Artistic Director going to the board and our one major funder and asking for more money. If you have seen Moneyball, it is much like the meeting Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland Athletics (Brad Pitt’s character), has with the owner of the A’s to ask for more money. Fortunately, our folks are a little more receptive than Steve Schott. Once I have that money we then compile another list of Equity actors who we think can do that part. We proceeded with auditions not knowing which part would have the contract until we have seen everyone and then that becomes one of the main determining factors. Kind of like a big jig saw puzzle.

To be continued…


Producers Read for Stop Kiss, by Diana Son

stop kiss

Mark your calendars, Monday December 14th at the Berkeley City Club. We will meet for crab cakes, spanakopita, and general mix and mingling at 6:30pm with the reading starting about 7pm. You won’t want to miss it! Unless of course you like to see the show fresh and with no knowledge of how the story progresses because the Producers Read is a reading of the full script with the entire cast. We had a great time doing it for Glengarry Glen Ross and we hope you can join us. Complete with Berkeley City Club gourmet treats, coffee, tea and Arnold Palmers! After the Berkeley City Club you are welcome to continue the festivities with members of that cast at a nearby bar or pub to be determined.

If you would like to join us please phone now and make a reservation. We would love to see you there. 510.981.8150 or send an email to mstorm@theatrefirst.com

Stop Kiss opens February 12th and plays Thursday through Saturday at 8pm with Sunday matinees at 5pm through March 6th. Advance tickets available here.

The Seafarer, by Conor McPherson Produced by Hawkmoon Theatre Company

Hawkmoon Theatre Company is reporting that ticket sales are ramping up for its inaugural production, The Seafarer by Conor McPherson. One of Ireland’s hottest playwrights and Tony Award Winner for Best Play, Conor McPherson delivers a dynamite piece of theatre. And Hawkmoon has some Bay Area stars fleshing out the cast, two of which are Artistic Associates with TheatreFIRST, Clive Worsley (Stones in His Pockets) and Kevin Karrick (Stones in His Pockets, Escanaba in da Moonlight, Glengarry Glen Ross).

Some of what is being said about the production:

“Each of these characters, brilliantly drawn by five fine, subtle, and experienced Bay Area actors, becomes a distinct and diamond-sharp acquaintance in the course of the ominous, pregnant night. ”
–Barry David Horwitz, TheatreStorm.com

A hilarious comedy by one of Ireland’s best playwrights Conor McPherson, The Seafarer is set on Christmas Eve in Baldoyle, a coastal suburb north of Dublin City. The play centers on James “Sharky” Harkin who attempts to stay off the bottle during the holidays as he contends with his irascible brother Richard and his own haunted conscience, but Richard is committed to celebrating the season with a cast of quirky and endearing characters. One by one the party grows and the ensuing card game has life or death ramifications due to the addition of a mysterious stranger from Sharky’s past. Nominated for multiple Tony Awards as well as the Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Play, The Seafarer promises to be the high point of your holiday season entertainment.


“…a midnight-black comedy, one that wrenches laughter out of the despair of frustrated men whose lives have come to naught… No matter what you expect at the halfway mark, you won’t feel cheated when the curtain falls.”
–The Wall Street Journal

“A timeless classic.”
–The Hollywood Reporter

“…dark and enthralling Christmas fable of despair and redemption…tingles with the author’s acute and authentic sense of what is knowable and unknowable in life…the pick me up play of the season.”
–The New York Times

Put a little Irish Christmas comedy under your tree this holiday season! Tickets are on sale now here.

Actor Interview With Clive Worsley of The Seafarer

How did you get started in acting?

An actor friend of mine said to me one night that he was tired of hearing me say to him “I’d love to try doing what you do”, handed me a script and told me to start memorizing the lines. We performed at a mutual friend’s nightclub, and that was it. I had been bitten by the bug.

What are some of the things you like most about being an actor?

Learning. I feel as though I learn something new about the craft of acting with every part, and also from doing research into the history or subject matter of the play.

What are some of the strangest things about being an actor?

We develop little tight-knit families while rehearsing and performing a play, then, when it is over, you may never see some of those people again. It’s strange to form such intimate bonds and then say goodbye to them.

What is the strangest moment you have had on stage?

Receiving an injury that required seven stitches on my forehead while on stage.

What is your most memorable moment on stage?

Performing for the first time in front of an audience and thinking, “this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Who are some of the people who inspired you to become an actor?

David Lee McDowell, who first encouraged, or insisted that I give acting a try, my wife and my family, and every actor and director I’ve ever worked with.

Who are some of your favorite actors?

Jack Lemmon, Ian McShane, Kevin Karrick.

What are you enjoying most about this production of The Seafarer?

Getting to work with the greatest group of actors I know on a script that is fun and challenging to perform every night.

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