24 Feb Newsletter-March 2012


Artistic Director’s Corner

Michael StormI avoided Oleanna for 15 years. People said things about the play that made me think I wouldn’t be interested in it. Then, the summer before last, I read the play. And read it over and over again. At first, I found myself drawn to the education issues – Carol’s struggles with the curriculum are very similar to my own struggles with school. Later that same summer I was completing Howard Zinn’s, People’s History of the United States, and I realized that in Oleanna, Mr. Mamet manages to dramatize a two-character story about power in America. I was eating this play up with a spoon.

For the past year and a half, Oleanna has not let me out of its clutches. During the recent Occupy Movement with its “99%” battle cry, Oleanna would not let me be. During the Penn State scandal, I would wake up with my coffee and ESPN for my daily update on Sandusky and Paterno, and it would only be a matter of time before I found myself relating their arrogance to that of John in Oleanna. Penn State also happens to be located just 40 miles south of the city of Oleanna, PA. It is situations like this that lead a director to realize their next project. And, with the Berkeley City Club set as our next venue, it seemed the perfect fit.

The hallmark of TheatreFIRST is intimate, powerful theatre that challenges and excites the audience and this play will be just that. We hope you will join us.


Oleanna, by David Mamet is Officially in Production

Twenty years ago Pulitzer Prize-Winning playwright David Mamet directed the premiere of his incredible two-character drama Oleanna.  TheatreFIRST is celebrating the 20th anniversary of this seminal work with a full production at the Berkeley City Club in downtown Berkeley.

“There can be no tougher or more unflinching play than Oleanna.” – Harold Pinter

Casting is complete and the designers have been hired. Martin Flynn, Michael Palumbo, Devon LaBelle and Ryan Short are all back in action on the Design Team. The cast features TheatreFIRST Artistic Director Michael Storm as John, and Josie Alvarez, who played Holly in our production of Anton in Show Business, as Carol.

In Oleanna, “John and Carol go to it with hand-to-hand combat that amounts to a primal struggle for power. As usual with Mamet, the vehicle for that combat is crackling, highly distilled dialogue unencumbered by literary frills or phony theatrical ones.” – Frank Rich, International Herald Tribune

You will not want to miss this amazing play about higher education, sexual politics, and power in America.

Take a look at the video on our website where Artistic Director Michael Storm talks about this amazing project.

We’ve Lowered Our General Ticket Price On BPT

All the cool kids are doin’ it…buying their tickets, that is.

Ticket sales have begun for Oleanna on Brown Paper Tickets AND we’ve lowered our prices! A general ticket purchased on line at www.brownpapertickets.com is now only $25. More information can be found on the website, on the “Tickets” page.

Patrons under 30 years of age pay only $15.

Student Rush Tickets are on sale at the box office 15 minutes prior to curtain for $10, with a student ID.

The Preview Performance on Friday, April 20 at 8pm is just $15.

We hope to see you there!

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 at 5pm. Join us in conversation about this fascinating play!

“An ear for reproducing everyday language has long been David Mamet’s hallmark and he has now employed it to skewer the dogmatic, puritanical streak which has become commonplace on and off the campus. With Oleanna he continues an exploration of male-female conflicts begun with Sexual Perversity in Chicago in 1974. Oleanna cogently demonstrates that when free thought and dialogue are imperiled, nobody wins.” – Frank Rich, International Herald Tribune

TheatreFIRST Offers Acting Classes

As of March 5th, TheatreFIRST is offering a Scene Study course taught by Artistic Director, Michael Storm. Advanced Scene Study will meet on Monday evenings from 7pm to 10pm in Oakland at the First Christian Church. Each class meets for 10 sessions, in Oakland, over the course of 11-12 weeks. Tuition is $250.00 and more information can be obtained by phoning 510.436.5085.

Mr. Storm is also available for audition coaching. Call for rates.

Donation Items for Oleanna

We are trying to locate a few set piece items for Oleanna:

4-4.5 foot office desk

Cordless phone with cradle (does not have to work)

Mini-fridge (also does not need to function)

Office desk chair

If you can help us please phone 510.436.5085.

Spring Show Campaign: The Call Continues To Go Out

The campaign to raise an additional $3,000.00 in order to finance Oleanna has begun. And so far we have raised $795.00. Please help if you can. No donation is too small.

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. 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?

Phoebe Moyer (Anton in Show Business) will be directing Broadway Bound in January for the Masquers’ Playhouse in Point Richmond, and playing the starring role in Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful at the California Conservatory Theatre from February 3 to February 26. Phoebe is also directing several Staged Readings for Playlab (Mill Valley) and SF Playhouse.  She will also be playing Jessica Fletcher again in a sequel to a video game based on Murder, She Wrote. http://www.masquers.org/

Michael Barrett Austin (The Grapes of Wrath) will be appearing in the upcoming doo-wop musical Life Could Be A Dream at The Willows Cabaret Theatre in Martinez in March. www.willowstheatre.org

Lisa Anne Porter (Asstistant Director, Rosencrantz…) is appearing in Arms and the Man at CenterRep directed by Nancy Carlin (Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter) running January 27 – February 25, 2012. http://centerrep.org/season1112/armsandtheman.php

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 Vince in Buried Child at San Jose Stage Company playing Wednesdays through Sundays, through March 11. He is also starting rehearsals for Of Mice and Men (Curley) 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 (Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter) will be appearing with Center Rep in Spring Awakening, opening in April.

Clive Worsley (Stones in his Pockets) directs Lisa Loomer’s Distracted, running at Town Hall Theatre February 23 through March 17. http://www.thtc.org/

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