13 Jul Newsletter – July 2011


Artistic Director’s Corner

Michael StormSadly, we can’t really say anything more about the OSA situation because we are still figuring out what we are going to do about it all. But I did want to let you know what the situation is and that we will keep you up to date as things develop.

Having said that, boy are we excited about being in a real theatre for a change! The Thick House is a really nice facility and you can already see the change in our designers’ faces.

And on the day of the walk-through a few weeks back we took a stroll around the Potrero Hill neighborhood (where the Thick House is located) and had a delightful time looking into the shops and restaurants, stopping to pick up a menu at Goat Hill Pizza — a terrific little pizzeria right on 18th Street just a couple blocks from the theatre, which I will DEFNITELY be eating at in the very near future. The entire menu, consisting of sandwiches, salads, appetizers, pasta and of course pizza all looked amazing. We did stop to eat at Chez Maman, also on 18th street just up the road from the theatre. I had the Complète, which is a crepe with ham, gruyere and eggs. Amazing! Siobhan had the Pistou Chicken Panini which was fantastic. This neighborhood is VERY cool and we are really excited about doing a show at the Thick House.

We are hopeful you will make the trip over to the Thick House. It will be worth it. And to help talk you into that we have set up Sunday matinees on Hanging Georgia for a 5pm curtain, which will allow you early birds to get home early on Sunday night, but hopefully avoid some of that late Sunday morning traffic that can be so prominent going to the city.

Thank you,

You may be wondering about a season announcement.

Without a permanent home and low on financial resources TheatreFIRST is considering returning to a “show-by-show” production schedule. Artistic Director Michael Storm is currently hard at work trying to determine if a full three show season is right for 2011/2012. He has assured us that the determination will be made VERY soon! Keep your eyes glued to the website!

If you are able to make a financial donation to the cause we truly need it now more than ever! You can do so on the website, www.theatrefirst.com, by clicking on the PayPal button. As always, because no one is on salary at TheatreFIRST, your donation goes directly to the artists and resources associated with the productions.

Don’t Forget You Can Now Donate Your Car to TheatreFIRST!

Charitable Auto Resources is now accepting automobile donations on behalf of TheatreFIRST! And remember, 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.

Hanging Georgia

It has begun! We are almost completely cast and the final additions to the design team are being made. Many of you may be wondering, “Who is BootStrap and what is Hanging Georgia?” Well we went to the source, Sharmon Hilfinger, playwright and the Executive Director of BootStrap Theatre Foundation.

In 2009, we began working with a group of actors who dedicated themselves to the development of Tell It Slant, a play by Sharmon Hilfinger with music by Joan McMillen. This development process extended over three months, during which we rehearsed three to four times a week.  The script and music were fairly well developed when we started the rehearsal process; what remained was to create a performance ensemble and devise a physical reality for this play about Emily Dickinson.  Under the direction of Rachel Anderson, this group of eight actors and one pianist created what we now refer to as the Slanters Performance Ensemble. The first run of Tell It Slant at the Pear Avenue Theatre in 2009 was entirely sold-out, so we took the production to San Francisco’s Southside Theatre, Fort Mason, in the Spring of 2010.

Hilfinger, McMillen, and the Slanters have been in development on Hanging Georgia, a full-length drama about the American artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, for the past year.  The play tells the story of O’Keeffe’s love relationship with the famous photographer and art dealer, Alfred Stieglitz, and explores her struggle for both economic and artistic independence. Stieglitz, 25 years O’Keeffe’s senior, is the most influential art dealer in New York in the early 1900’s, bringing the first modern art works from Europe (Picasso, Braque, Rodin) to the United States. When O’Keeffe’s friend Anita Politzer takes O’Keeffe’s artwork to Stieglitz in 1916, he is completely captivated. O’Keeffe is a 26-year-old single woman who has taken a University teaching position in Canyon, Texas. She is independent not just in spirit, but out of the necessity to support herself. She and Stieglitz begin a correspondence, while Georgia pursues romance with Ted Reid, a handsome outdoorsman in Texas; with Paul Strand, a young photography protégé of Stieglitz; and during a convalescence after Ted Reid jilts her, a lesbian relationship with her friend, Leah Harris. Stieglitz prevails from his New York ivory tower, and finally, Georgia accepts his invitation to leave her teaching position and come to New York to paint. Thus begins their life together.

In this honeymoon period of their love, O’Keeffe and Stieglitz, although financially strapped, are both prolific in their artwork—Georgia painting, and Stieglitz photographing Georgia. With Stieglitz’s cunning promotion of his series of photographs (many nude) of O’Keeffe, he paves the way for her first major exhibit in New York. Critics, having salivated over Stieglitz’s photos, come to see the paintings of the woman seen as the “archetype of femininity.” O’Keeffe’s work is described in blatantly sexual terms—something which greatly irritates and disturbs her. However, her artwork sells. Stieglitz manipulates the prices, and O’Keeffe is both critically and financially successful.

Said by some to be the most famous American artist, we see how her success is inextricable from her relationship to Stieglitz who is at first a creative force, and then a destructive force in her life. ~ Sharmon Hilfinger

More information, cast bios, and photographs are being added to the website regularly. Keep an eye out!

Tickets are on sale now at www.BrownPaperTickets.com

Remember, the Thick House is small and we have the following of two successful theatre companies. You will want to purchase tickets now.

Oakland School for the Arts

For those of you that have not heard, the reason we are not at The Marion E. Greene Black Box Theatre is that a few months back Donn Harris, the head of the school contacted us to let us know that they would not be honoring the third year of our contract. As a result of increased school activity, they offered T1 one four-week run, one three-week run and one two week run, not the three four-week runs stipulated by the agreement. As you can imagine, this came as quite a surprise to us. Without getting into the dirty laundry – and there is lots of it – OSA had quite a lot of difficulty honoring the agreement made with TheatreFIRST.  Ultimately, we are sorry we cannot continue in the Black Box, but we are looking forward to the future!

It is a testament to the professionalism of our staff, crew, designers and directors that we have been able to produce six quality shows under such dire circumstances. We are very sorry we could not share the details with you until Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter had closed.

Welcome Aboard: Deborah Blondheim, Christina Chan and Heather Gallagher!

We have procured the services of three outstanding theatre professionals. Deborah Blondheim joins the T1 team as Assistant to the Artistic Director; she will be assisting with the business side of the operation and she brings years of experience to the T1 fold. Heather Gallagher will be serving as Production Manager on Hanging Georgia overseeing the production side of things. And Christina Chan, well known for her wonderful box office assistance, is now serving as our Social Media Coordinator. All of these outstanding individuals make our job at T1 much, much easier and provide valuable experience as we move forward as an organization.

2011/2012 Season coming into focus

We are on the cusp of finalizing next season’s plays. Please CONTACT US to make sure you are on the mailing list and that you receive our season mailer via snail mail. You will also be able to download the season mailer on the website. Subscriber/Donor benefits will have adjusted slightly so be sure to keep your eye out for those! You will also want to be aware of the fact that we will NOT be in the Black Box next year. We are nomadic for part, if not all, of next season as we wait for our permanent home to be outfitted. See the Artistic Director’s Corner for more information…

Where are they now…?

Harold Pierce (R&G) and Domenique Lozano (The Drawer Boy, Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter director) are currently working on The Verona Project at the California Shakespeare Theatre. Harold is playing Speed and Domenique is serving as text and vocal coach. http://www.calshakes.org/v4/ourplays/2011/verona_project.html

Ryan Tasker (Grapes) is playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet at Carmel Shakes this summer. http://www.pacrep.org/RomeoandJuliet

Jon Tracy (Grapes director, Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter actor) is directing The Tempest at Marin Shakespeare this summer. http://www.marinshakespeare.org/

Lisa Anne Porter (R&G Assistant Director) will be directing the Steve Martin classic, Picasso at the Lapin Agile for our good friends out at Town Hall in Lafayette. That show will include some familiar faces including Beth Deitchman from Anton in Show Business. http://www.thtc.org/

Phoebe Moyer (Anton) will be directing Broadway Bound in January for the Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond. http://www.masquers.org/

Michael Barrett Austin (Grapes) will be playing Benvolio in scenes from Romeo and Juliet at Napa’s Festival del Sole this summer. http://fdsnapa.org/

Mina Morita (Staged Reading Director, Seven) will be directing The Nature Line, an original play written by emerging playwright J.C. Lee.

Danielle Levin (Grapes) has recently become a company member of one of our favorite theatre companies, Symmetry Theatre Company. www.symmetrytheatre.com

Alex Hersler (Grapes) will be playing Jeff in a staged reading of Home Below Zero at the Bay Area Playwrights’ Festival directed by Meredith McDonough, presented on July 22nd at 8pm and July 31st at 4pm, as part of a two week festival. http://www.playwrightsfoundation.org/index.php?p=183

Alex is also drumming with the band Horsefly at Kimo’s in SF on July 25th at 8pm and  playing Ferdinand in The Tempest at Marin Shakespeare Company directed by Jon Tracy, running August 19th through September 25th (see above).

Karol Luque (Jenny Sutter) is about to start rehearsals for Matron Mama Morton in Chicago at Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre in Pleasanton, performing August 20-September 4th at the Firehouse Arts Center.  www.pcrtproductions.org

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