03 Jun Newsletter-May 2012


Artistic Director’s Corner

Michael Storm

We had great success with Oleanna. The audience response could not have been more positive and Pat Craig of the Bay Area News Group, who had seen the show a few times before, said that he could see that we had something new to say with our production. We are very proud of this show. The only problem is that, as with Hanging Georgia, we had a lot of TheatreFIRST regulars missing in action. But this show was in downtown Berkeley (not San Francisco as was the case with Hanging Georgia) at a very popular venue, leading us to consider the age old question. How does a theatre company grow its audience and branch out without alienating the die-hards? We are going to have to figure this out because we won’t make it without our regular audience members. That is for sure. Hopefully our upcoming 2013 Twentieth Anniversary Season will reverse the trend and bring the regulars back while we grow our audience. We realize that selling a subscription series (with reduced prices for subscribers) is one way. And We are headed back in that direction. We are currently trying to raise the funds for a three-show season in 2013. We have several exciting titles under consideration including the Bay Area premeire of Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando. And as I mentioned in the program for Oleanna, a play called Escanaba in da Moonlight, an absolutely hilarious play by Jeff Daniels which has also gone unproduced in the Bay Area. With our move back to Berkeley and another daring season we will need the support of our T1 regulars and we will absolutely need to get the word out to friends, family and co-workers that the most daring and successful small theatre company in the Bay Area is back in action! With the Berkeley City Club and Berkeley Rep’s new Osher Studio on Center Street as our venues it should not be difficult to get folks into the theatre.

Oleanna a Huge Success!

All of our shows in the past few years have been very well received by critics and patrons alike, but Oleanna was a unique experience. Virtually everyone leaving the theatre stopped to talk to the actors and tell them how much they enjoyed the show. Thanks to Mr. Mamet and Central Works, the company in charge of renting the Berkeley City Club, we were able to produce this cost effective play and remain active during the 2012 calendar year without breaking the bank. This puts us in a very strong position as we move back to producing a subscription season.

Oleanna…begins with the crackle and intensity of a wildfire and ratchets up from there. The story is absolutely stunning, and even if you’ve seen the show before, the TheatreFirst production offers a whole new take” – Pat Craig, Bay Area News Group

“Forceful acting and subtle stage directions help enhance Mamet’s powerful script and make this play germane to current debates about higher education.” —  Rachel Swan, East Bay Express

Exciting Prospects

Having announced our new Associate Artists we have the first project materializing from this union. Marybeth Cavanaugh, Director on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and Kalli Jonsson, who played Rosencrantz, have submitted I am my Own Wife, by Doug Wright (Quills, Watbanaland) as a possible project four our upcoming Twentieth Anniversary Season. I am my Own Wife tells the real life story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who survived both the Nazis and the repressive East German Regime…in a dress! It is an absolutely stunning story.

“The play is a vivid portrait of a unique person whose ability to endure has been turned into a highly theatrical journey.”  —  Associated Press

We are also in discussions with Mina Morita (Director of our staged reading of Seven and Shotgun Players current production of The Great Divide) to possibly direct the premiere of Laura Gunderson’s new play Fire Work. For those of you familiar with Aurora Theatre Company’s Global Age Project, you may remember Fire Work. Ms. Gunderson and Ms. Morita are two of the more exceptional artists in Bay Area theatre and we are very fortunate to have them interested in working with T1. Symmetry Theatre Company is currently producing Ms. Gunderson’s La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight.

Symmetry’s, La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight

Symmetry’s next production is a play by Laura Gunderson, one of the hot new playwrights in the Bay Area. And TheatreFIRST is considering one of her plays for our Twentieth Anniversary Season coming up in 2013. Check out Symmetry’s production and let us know what you think.

La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight begins June 3rd at the Berkeley City Club. Check out their web site for more information.

We Need Your Help!

Thanks to our outstanding board of directors we have moved to within $1,500.00 of our Spring/Oleanna goal. Everyone has been paid and we just have a balance on our credit card, which is unique for TheatreFIRST.

If you can help with a tax deductible donation we would appreciate it. To those of you who have already contributed…THANK YOU SO MUCH. Your contribution has gone directly to costs associated with Oleanna.

Three different ways to make your tax deductible contributi:

Where are they now?

Phoebe Moyer (Anton in Show Business, Seven) is directing a Staged Reading of Mixed Relief (about the beginnings of the WPA and women artists) in a Benefit for the Actors Fund as part of LaborFest on July 23.

Michael Barrett Austin (Grapes of Wrath) will be appearing in Vaudeville at The Willows Cabaret Theatre June 28-July 21  www.willowstheatre.org.

Danielle Levin (Grapes) is appearing in Symmetry Theatre’s, La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight by Lauren Gunderson. http://symmetrytheatre.com/symmetrytheatre.com/Symmetry_Theatre__Home.html.

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.  http://www.weplayers.org/.

Rebecca Pingree (Grapes) will play Mrs. Lewis in The Great Divide at Shotgun Players, which opened on May 25th.

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