Newsletter — June 2015


Artistic Director’s Corner

Storm HS 1510 smallWhy Free Shakespeare in the Park? It’s an excellent question indeed and many of you are already familiar with the answer. However, one of the signs of a successful show, and Glengarry Glen Ross was most certainly that, is the amount of people who sign up on the mailing list during the run. We are welcoming a lot of new people to the fold with our June newsletter and so the reason for a free show in the park needs to be reviewed.

For six years now TheatreFIRST has been producing some of the best theatre in the East Bay and when we were producing in Oakland I was convinced that shows like The Drawer Boy, directed by Domenique Lozano and starring Warren David Keith and Howard Swain and Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter starring Nancy Carlin and Omoze Idehenre (which both averaged about thirty patrons a night over the course of the run) would easily be drawing seventy to eighty people a night in Berkeley. The old adage “If you build it they will come” was at the forefront of my thinking. Well, “live and learn” is the adage that has been ringing true for the past couple years as we continue to produce some outstanding work and the shows are averaging fifty five people a night.

Growth is slow, yes it’s true. And growth is happening, but when we were going through the application for the space we thought that the previous managing company was making the space available to other groups and that The Live Oak Theatre was widely known among Berkeley theatre patrons. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As many of you have heard me say in the lobby, “I have talked to three people who literally live across the street from Live Oak and don’t know there is a theatre here.” So, planning on shows averaging seventy-five people a night has put a hitch in our giddy up. Make no mistake about it, we are extremely successful in the theatre world. What we are doing is amazing and a grass roots effort like this is very uncommon. Even the last couple companies to rise up from a grass roots effort, Aurora and Shotgun Players, have had substantial financial support from outside sources. So much so, one might argue, that they cannot be considered grass roots efforts.

So, here is the deal. If you are new to FirstThingsFirst, and especially if you are a regular supporter and have been with us a while, we ABSOLUTELY NEED you to spread the word about The Live Oak Theatre and the best way to do that is to get people out to see Much Ado About Nothing, directed by one of the hottest directors in the Bay Area, Jon Tracy (who directs at Aurora, Marin Theatre Company, SF Playhouse and the Magic) at John Hinkel Park this summer. Even if your friends, families, and co-workers are not regular theatre goers, TheatreFIRST is for them. We respect those folks and work extremely hard to provide the best quality theatre that non-theatre goers want to see. And it’s free! And in a beautiful park! So, bring a picnic, some friends and some wine and enjoy one of Shakespeare’s best plays in a beautiful outdoor setting. It’s going to be a lot of fun.


Up Next at The Live Oak Theatre

Bare Flag’s production of Demetrius Unbound (or the Homeric Midlife Crisis) is a farcical sequel to Shakespeare’s comedy about Puck, two pairs of blindingly silly lovers, and the guy who is magically transformed into an ass. It is set twenty years after Shakespeare’s summer of love, and as the characters battle all the maladies of middle age they ask the question, “was it all worth it?” Writer Soren Oliver, who appeared with TheatreFIRST as Reuben Soady in last year’s smash hit Escanaba in da Moonlight, describes the play this way, “Demetrius Unbound is funny without requiring you to be an expert on Shakespeare’s plays or Ancient Greece. You don’t need to, as the song goes, ‘Brush up your Shakespeare,’ but if you do, it’s just a little extra icing on the cake.”

Demetrius Unbound_177 (1280x854)(Stacy Ross as Helena and Dodds Delzell as Snug in Soren Oliver’s Demetrius Unbound (or the Homeric Midlife Crisis), photo by

Molly Benson – Naxos
Dodds Delzell* – Snug
Gendell Hernandez* – Puck/Theseus
Harry Harry* – Demetrius
Delia MacDougall* – Hermia
Stacy Ross* – Helena
Robert Sicular* – Head Priest/Philostrate
Jordan Winer – Augur/Oikonomia
(*AEA Members)

Demetrius Unbound is directed by Cliff Mayotte and plays July 25-August 22, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 5pm.

Glengarry Glen Ross a Success

Big thanks to all of you who came out and made Mr. Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning play such a huge success for TheatreFIRST. We are committed to telling great stories and Glengarry filled the bill. And what a cast. We were truly fortunate to pull off this difficult feat in such stellar fashion. The phone calls and emails are literally still coming in with praise for that production.

Much Ado About Nothing Goes Into Pre-Production

Much Ado Graphic
John Hinkel Park has been rented, the porta potties are on order, tents for the actors are being researched and the opening night team is hard at work figuring out how and what to do for a show opening in the great outdoors. We are also hard at work trying to plan another Producers Reading, which we did for Glengarry Glen Ross and it turns out to be a terrific way to kick off a production.

Much Ado opens September 12, more info here.

Prorated Subscriptions Available On Line Now

We have made the necessary adjustments to our online season subscription packages. You can now go on line for your prorated subscription to the remaining three shows. Don’t forget to pick your seats for The Seafarer, which is the bonus show being produced by our sister company Hawkmoon Theatre Company. Subscribers get reserved seating at all events including the Free Shakespeare in the Park show. If you need further assistance or you would like to pick up a hard copy of the season mailer at the theatre, please call us at 510-981-8150.

Our Friends at The Free Theater

By now most of you know that we are presenting Free Shakespeare in the Park this summer at John Hinkel, but did you know that our friends at The Free Theater precede us in the park with a rockin’ production of Henry IV, Part 1? We should all get out there and support this wonderful group.

July 11-August 2, 2015
Saturdays and Sundays @ 4pm
Free to the Public

John Hinkel Park, Berkeley
41 Somerset Drive
Above Marin Circle, just off the Arlington


The Free Theater

An Interview With New Company Member, Marlene Yarosh

How did you get started in acting?

I started “acting” in pre-school show and tells. I performed magic tricks and wore a wonderful velvet cape my Mom made for me. My Mom made all of my costumes growing up, so anytime I played make-believe, I suppose I was acting.

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

What I like most about acting is connecting with people on a gut level. We are told stories from the get go (stories told by our parents as we fall asleep), and I think we all desire the connection that storytelling gives us.

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

My mentor Annie Loui inspires me from afar – I wish I could take a class with her every day of my life.

My friends growing up all inspired me, in one way or another. One time, my friend Sam and I made a terrible/wonderful soap opera movie called As The World Turns Passionately. It involved us rescuing her dog Magnolia from an inflatable pool-toy shark, as well as playing the piano. Who knows? I sure don’t remember.

Who are some of your favorite actors and why?

Ellen Page – she’s 5’1”.
Reese Witherspoon – she’s 5’1 1/2”.
Anna Kendrick – she’s 5’2”.
Meryl Streep – she’s Meryl Streep!

What are you looking forward to most with this summer’s production of Much Ado About Nothing in the park?

I’m really looking forward to being in another play with Soren and Stephanie! (Both Soren Santos and Stephanie DeMott appeared with Marlene in TheatreFIRST’s production of Orlando). I’m also really excited to be outdoors every weekend for 4 weeks this summer – helps make the desk job a bit easier.