Newsletter – November 2014


Artistic Director’s Corner

Storm HS 1510 smallWell, just six months after deciding to go to a “show by show” model, the people have spoken. The feedback in the lobby at the theatre is that people can’t wait for information on the next season. So, I have picked five scripts, I have worked up budgets for each show, and I will soon be talking to actors about who is available and interested. And although I have come up with some pretty stripped down budgets and have picked shows that we already have the sets for in storage, there will still need to be a push for some additional funds. We have several grants pending for certain scripts, but in addition we will be producing another fundraising video, most likely for IndieGoGo this time and we will be asking everyone to circulate the video to all of their friends, families and co-workers. We did so great with the Fire Work Kickstarter Campaign, we have a great deal of confidence that the necessary funds can be raised.

When it looked as though we might not produce a show until the summer time I started to think about starting my company and producing something on a much cheaper budget than TheatreFIRST is able to do. But so many people were interested in the title I was considering, which shall not be mentioned until the rights are obtained, and I was able to come up with a fairly economical budget. Perhaps most importantly, the actors I was interested in were turning out to be EXTREMELY interested in the project. This led me to conclude, “Hey, maybe this can be a TheatreFIRST show after all”. Actually, three of the five shows have pretty much willed themselves to the front of the pack. The crown jewel will be the free Shakespeare in the park show running next summer. We are very committed to that production and I will soon be meeting with one of the most exciting directors in Bay Area theatre to see if he is interested and available to direct.

I also want to remind you that we now have Donors’ Circles on each production and if you would like to belong to a group of like-minded individuals who would like to have a direct impact on the shows going up, please give me a call at 510.981.8150. I would love to talk to you about this exciting season!

And don’t forget, we are a 501c3 Non Profit so all of your donations are tax deductible. In fact, you still have time to make a donation for 2014!

Thank you all so much for your continued support.


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

We here at TheatreFIRST have a lot to be thankful for, mainly you! We would like to extend a special thank you to all of you who help keep this theatre running and thriving and all of you who come to see the shows. We are very appreciative of the fact that it is your generosity of spirit that allows us to keep doing what we love to do…make great theatre.

Symmetry Theatre Company’s Ebola Benefit

Symmetry Theatre Company in Association with Doctors Without Borders presents:


Based on the stage play Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov
At Aurora Theatre Company

How can you live here, knowing how those people suffer and not do something? Just wait — I bet the spirit will move you.
—Sonya, from Uncle Vanya

Join Symmetry Theatre Company to raise much needed funds for Doctors Without Borders and their Ebola Relief efforts in West Africa. TheatreFIRST is very proud to help this cause by providing free rehearsal space to our good friends at Symmetry Theatre Company.
Friday, December 12th and Saturday, December 13th, 7:30pm at Harry’s Upstage, Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison St. Berkeley, 94704.

$50 per ticket suggested donation. 100% of all monies raised goes to Doctors Without Borders Ebola Relief Fund.

More info

How to reserve tickets
Send a check made out to Doctors Without Borders to:
Symmetry Theatre Company
2822 Garber St., Berkeley, CA 94705

All tickets will be held at will call; include your contact info (email or phone) so we may confirm receipt of your check. Or reserve your seats, and pay by cash or check at the door by emailing or by calling 510-306-0125.

Subscribers be Prepared, We Need You to Step up Again!

We are planning another exciting season but we will need your help. We will need all subscribers to re-subscribe, of course, but also sell two additional subscriptions to friends, family or co-workers. This will be imperative for us to meet our goals and raise the funds to produce a three show season. Can you do it? We hope so. So as you spend the next few weeks looking over your holiday card mailing list perhaps you can spot a couple potential candidates. To quote a famous line from one of the plays we are considering, “Always Be Closing”.

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley Back in Action With Two Shows at LOT

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Madame Gufay’s Free Speech Lovelutionaries, By Norah Foster
Directed by Alan Barkean
A new play in a series of new works from Actors Ensemble of Berkeley

Growing up in the French provinces, Madame Gufay was fascinated by news reports of the Free Speech Movement which fermented on the campus of UC Berkeley and resonated worldwide. Now, having returned to school late in life, she has arranged to finish her last semester studying at her own personal mecca, UC Berkeley. Madame Gufay is a force of nature, and her wacky efforts to experience Free Speech in the present day revolve around many aspects of campus life: administration and academics, the classroom, the library, Sproul Plaza demonstrations and, of course, graduation.

Fridays and Saturdays, December 12th, 13th, 19th, and 20th at 8pm at the Live Oak Theatre. Here is a preview from their Indiegogo campaign.

Panhandle, by Halsey Davis
Directed by Michael R. Cohen

Panhandle by Emmy Award winning playwright and screenwriter Walter Halsey Davis, is filled with intense drama as well as wry humor. Panhandle follows a cotton farming community desperately trying to hold onto their way of life amidst the twin calamities of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Whereas Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath concentrated on the travails of those who pulled up stakes and migrated West, Panhandle focuses on the trials and tribulations of those who tried to keep their home and their family together in the only place they’d ever known as home.

Fridays & Saturday, January 9th – 31st, 2015 at 8pm
Sunday Matinees January 18th & 25th at 2pm

What Our Friends Are Up To

Breakfast with Mugabe, by Fraser Grace
Directed by Jon Tracy

Now extended through December 14th!

What demons lurk in the mind of a despot? Haunted by his bloody past, Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe seeks treatment from a white psychiatrist. The sessions quickly escalate into a perilous power struggle between doctor and patient, shedding light on a country in crisis, the complex nature of the human mind, and the evil of absolute power. Starring L. Peter Callender as Robert Mugabe.

“…[an] incisive production…” -Robert Hurwitt, SF Chronicle
“…fascinating… intense and engrossing.” -Jean Schiffman, SF Examiner
Tickets and more information available at or 510.843.4822

Where Are They Now?

Mina Morita (Fire Work director) directs Chris Chen’s Aulis: An Act of Nihilism in One Long Act at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Playhouse, which opens on March 6th and runs for two weekends.

Andy Alabran (Escanaba…) is teaching at the American Conservatory Theatre. His courses are The Artist’s Way and Acting Funny, starting January 20th.  More class info here.

Michael Barrett Austin (Grapes of Wrath) will be supporting Kathleen Turner in Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s The Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, November 21st through January 4th. Michael is also performing a candlelit reading of Truman Capote’s beloved holiday classic A Christmas Memory at St. John’s Church in Ross at 5pm Saturday December 13th.