16 Apr Newsletter-April 2012


Artistic Director’s Corner

Michael StormWe are EXTREMELY proud to announce that we have secured the rights to present the Professional Bay Area Premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, based on the novel by Virginia Woolf. This is truly an amazing opportunity and honor for TheatreFIRST. Securing this play was a team effort and kudos must go out to Marybeth Cavanaugh, Domenique Lozano, Martin Flynn and Michael Palumbo for lending their efforts to the cause. Without their input, string pulling abilities, connections, and ultimately their resumes, this almost certainly would not have been possible. Domenique Lozano will be directing this production for us in the spring slot of our twentieth anniversary season. This is a wonderful tale of Orlando, who starts the play as a young nobleman in the Queen’s court and ends the play as a woman in the twentieth century. I know! It is a magical night of swashbuckling story-telling, incredible imagery and amazing writing. And with Marybeth Cavanaugh on board as choreographer, it is sure to be a wild ride!

And then there’s the “not-so-wonderful” days of artistic direction. Construction on Berkeley Rep’s new space is continuing but not completed, so at this time they can only assure us dates for one slot. CentralWorks, who wants us to be one of the 2-3 resident companies at the Berkeley City Club, does not yet have its contract signed for 2013, so our locations for next year are still in limbo. As such, we will hold off yet again on announcing a season. However, we are ready to go! The diversity factor is huge next year and we are all set to approach our donors to find out if they can continue to support T1 at this pivotal time. Once we determine if we have the means to produce a third show, in addition to the two productions we are committed to, we will announce those shows, hopefully with committed venues.

We are also very proud to announce that we are in discussions with Mina Morita, Artistic Associate at Berkeley Repertory Theatre about directing the winter slot (which will be the third show if we can) and she has some exciting new plays at her disposal for us to consider. As soon as Oleanna is open I will sit down and start reading! This would mean our third premiere for next year, which, of course, means that our twentieth anniversary season would be an entire season of Bay Area premieres. Could be fun…

There is more information about the fall slot in the playbill for Oleanna. Hope to see you there.


We Need Your Help!

We are making the final push toward opening night this week and we need some additional help. If you have the means please make a tax deductible donation of any amount in any of the various ways listed below.

To those of you who have already contributed THANK YOU SO MUCH. Your contribution is going directly toward getting this very important play open.

Send a Check to PO Box 28302, Oakland, CA 94604

Click the donate button on the website

Purchase your Tickets early at www.brownpapertickets.com

You can also Donate an Automobile to the cause. It just has to run.

Friday preview and opening night of Oleanna selling fast

Our Friday Preview and Saturday Opening Night of David Mamet’s Oleanna ticket sales are at about 40% capacity and our Sunday matinee is at 80%. We would absolutely love to have TheatreFIRST regulars there, not only to help with press, but to help celebrate all the wonderful things happening right now. Get your tickets now if you are interested in joining us for opening weekend performances. In another couple days seats may be gone.

Oleanna by David Mamet, Directed by Michael Storm

At the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704

Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., Sundays at 5 p.m.

April 20th through May 13, 2012

Tickets available at www.brownpapertickets.com search “Oleanna, By David Mamet”

More information: www.theatrefirst.com or by calling 510.463.5085

TheatreFIRST Announces Artistic Associates

In preparation for our expansion in 2012/2013 as we move back to Berkeley and step up our game, we have invited several familiar faces to become Artistic Associates of TheatreFIRST. These folks have already had a profound effect on the success of TheatreFIRST during the past three years and we are fortunate to have them become even more involved with planning the next several years. Their expertise and creativity will be invaluable as we move forward as a company.

They, and some of their T1 credits, are:

Josie Alvarez; Anton in Show Business (Holly), Assistant Director for Welcome Home Jenny Sutter and, of course, Carol in Oleanna.

Marybeth Cavanaugh; Director of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Choreographer on Orlando by Sarah Ruhl.

Martin Flynn; Scenic Design for The Drawer Boy, Anton in Show Business, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter, Hanging Georgia and Oleanna.

Kalli Jonsson; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Rosencrantz).

Kevin Karrick; Stones in his Pockets (Jake).

Domenique Lozano; Director of The Drawer Boy, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter and the upcoming Orlando.

Michael Palumbo; Lighting Design for The Drawer Boy, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter, Anton in Show Business, The Grapes of Wrath, and Oleanna.

Ryan Short; Sound Design for Anton in Show Business, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter, Hanging Georgia and Oleanna.

Brett Williams; Welcome Home Jenny Sutter (Buddy).

Josie Alvarez Interview

Josie Alvarez leads the way in our upcoming production of Oleanna. As an Oakland native, Josie became interested in TheatreFIRST around the time of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. She is a terrific young actress who you may remember from Anton in Show Business, which was our fall show in 2010, and she recently became an Artistic Associate with T1. We sat down with Josie to talk about a few things recently…

First off, I heard a rumor you attended Oakland Tech. Is that true…?

That is true!  I am a proud bulldog, class of 2003!  Go Tech!

How long have you been acting?

Acting has been my well-kept secret for a long time.  My passion for acting began when I was twelve and my beloved godparents enrolled me in a Shakespeare camp.  I loved it!  I continued to pursue it as an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, and through my wonderful teachers, found my way to the Studio A.C.T. Program at the American Conservatory Theatre.

Were there some landmark theatre productions that helped inspire you to become involved in theatre?

Yes! A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream produced by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, which was the first Shakespeare production I ever saw; George Walker’s Suburban Motel series at UC Berkeley; Les Misérables in London; and Harold Pinter’s Betrayal produced at the Donmar Warehouse, also in London.

What are some of things that drew you to this project with TheatreFIRST?

The first TheatreFIRST production I saw was Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. The show was sold out and I waited 30 minutes for someone to flake so I could purchase a ticket. A few months later I saw The Drawer Boy directed by Domenique Lozano and was completely blown away.  Domenique was an instructor of mine at the time and she was just saying wonderful things about the company and I had just seen two shows back to back that were awesome, so I was impressed all the way around. A week later I had my first audition with TheatreFIRST and everyone was so nice. Being on the inside is even more fascinating than watching the shows. I’m having a blast. My love for TheatreFIRST continues to grow every day.

What are some of the challenges that you are facing with Oleanna?

Oooooh…. where do I begin? (laughs)  It takes courage to take on a David Mamet play. For me it’s always important to honor the humanity of the character I’m playing and, with Carol, I’m trying to find the balance in the midst of her political correctness. But there have been times I catch myself arguing with myself about the ambiguity of the relationship between these two characters. However, the more I study this play, the more I love and appreciate Carol; this young, courageous woman, who risks a lot to fight “isms” in her educational process and stand for something greater than herself.  We all attempt to set a footprint in this world and I think this play shows two people that attempt to do that in their own way. Their ways are in conflict so that is where the drama comes from. And the more we talk about this play in rehearsals the more impressed I become with the play.

Mamet is known for a very contemporary style, I guess, is the best way to put it. But actors occasionally talk about how difficult it is.

It is difficult because his “realistic” style has lots of stops and starts and changes in direction. That can be difficult for the actor. But he is so good at it that it winds up helping the actor if he or she does her homework. Language is always key in any play, but with Mamet, it is huge.  Finding simplicity in something so complicated can be daunting. And yet I continue to fall in love with Carol because as the play progresses, she finds her voice. We watch her evolve…and that’s fun to play with.

Post-Show Discussions Scheduled for the First Two Sundays of Oleanna

We know you are going to want to talk about this one, so…

We have scheduled two post-show discussions which will immediately follow our first two Sunday matinees which begin at 5 p.m. Join us in conversation about this fascinating play!

Oleanna cogently demonstrates that when free thought and dialogue are imperiled, nobody wins.” – Frank Rich, International Herald Tribune

Spring Show Campaign: Three More Weeks!

We currently have raised $895.00 towards our goal of $3,000.00 that we are trying to reach before the opening night of Oleanna on Saturday, April 21st.  Only three more weeks. Please help us.

Your tax-deductible donation goes directly to our designers, crew, and actors who put on the shows for you. There are many ways you can contribute:

Send a Check to PO Box 28302, Oakland, CA 94604

Click the donate button on the website

Purchase your Tickets early at www.brownpapertickets.com

You can also Donate an Automobile to the cause. It just has to run.

Charitable Auto Resources is accepting automobile donations on behalf of TheatreFIRST and 70% of the proceeds from the sale of your automobile go directly to T1. Donations can be made by phoning 877-537-5277 or by going to our website www.theatrefirst.com and submitting the online form located at the bottom of our Donate page.

Where Are They Now…?

Graham Patzner (Rosencrantz) and his band Whiskerman have released a new album! Check it out: http://whiskerman.bandcamp.com.

Harold Pierce (Rosencrantz) will be appearing as Curley in Of Mice and Men at TheatreWorks.

Megan Briggs (Anton) is appearing in A Bright Room Called Day at Custom Made Theatre Co. in San Francisco.

Danielle Levin (Grapes) is appearing in Symmetry Theatre’s La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson.

Nancy Carlin (Jenny Sutter) will be appearing with Center Rep in Spring Awakening, opening in April.

Claire Slattery (Hanging Georgia) will be appearing in WE Players production of The Odyssey on Angel Island State Park, an all-day, island-wide adventure inspired by Homer’s epic poem, May 12 through July 1, 2012.

Emily Morrison (Grapes) is choreographing The True Story of the Three Little Pigs at Bay Area Children’s Theatre. Opening at Freight and Salvage on April 14th.

Rebecca Pingree (Grapes) will play Mrs. Lewis in The Great Divide at Shotgun Players, coming up soon.

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