Newsletter — September 2014


Artistic Director’s Corner

Storm HS 1510 smallI had a couple people tell me that the last AD Corner seemed fatalistic and that things seemed a bit dire. That is not the case at all. I just sometimes try to help people understand that we are still a small company. Consistently throughout my tenure here at TheatreFIRST, I have realized that people sometimes feel we are on par, organizationally, with companies that are much, much larger and much richer than TheatreFIRST. It is very flattering indeed and I know it is because our work is so consistently good that they automatically place us at that level. But it’s also because they are unfamiliar with the behind-the-scenes world of theatre, which is what I sometimes try to help with “in the corner”. Just so we’re all clear, with one year’s salary of most Artistic Directors at the larger houses you could fund multiple three-show seasons at TheatreFIRST. That is absolutely true. So, what does this mean? Well, first of all it means I am constantly amazed at what our artists are able to accomplish her at T1. It also means that when I look back over our 4 seasons and see work that compares to the larger houses, some with 200 times the budget, I am even more amazed. It shouldn’t happen, but it does; a small company competing on all levels (except marketing) with the larger houses.

How do we do this? One reality for T1 is that we have to constantly be analyzing our business and our place in the market, sometimes weekly, and making adjustments accordingly. It means we have to work a little harder than the larger companies and this way of operating is the main way TheatreFIRST has remained debt free all these years. Something we are very proud of. And something that affords us the freedom we enjoy. Because the AD Corner is the best way to keep everyone involved with T1 up to date, sometimes we have to have some medicine with our sugar. And because so many people are vested in the growth of this company, I am always honest with where we are financially and artistically. Hence, last month’s review of our reality in the AD Corner. But things are always happening and this week was no exception.

I had an absolutely wonderful meeting a few days ago with Christina Richards of the Morgan Richards Fund and it looks like they may be able to help us put a spring production together, possibly. We have several grant applications in the pipeline for a spring production and based on our new model those grant awards, should they come to fruition, will help us determine what the spring production will be. We may even be able to bring back Boy Gets Girl, by Rebecca Gilman, which we know a lot people were fired up about. We were too! We are also moving closer towards committing to a free summer Shakespeare in the Park production, which would perform at John Hinkel Park and hopefully for a couple weeks at Live Oak Park. As I mentioned in last month’s newsletter this will be the crown jewel in our “get the word out about Live Oak Theatre” campaign. Of course you are a big part of that as well. Keep spreading the word about the existence of Live Oak Theatre (many people don’t know the space exists), but also let those people know that T1 is the new managing company and that the quality of theatre is seldom surpassed. And lastly, keep coming to the shows!

Speaking of which, do you have your tickets for Fire Work? Opening night is just about sold out. Hope you got your opening night tickets and stick around after the show for some desert and champagne!


Fire Work is GO FOR LAUNCH!

P1120086 (800x600)

At the writing of this newsletter we are neck deep in preview week and the show is looking great. Our cast has had just about every debilitating flu-type illness one can speak of, but we are persevering. Also of note are the technical elements in this piece. For the first time in a long time you will be seeing video design in a TheatreFIRST show and it looks amazing. It is really adding to the whole nicely.

Fire Work was first developed at The O’Neill National Playwrights Conference in 2009 and is the 2011 winner of Aurora Theatre’s Global Age Project. Director Mina Morita, Associate Artist at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, has been working with Lauren Gunderson, the playwright and actors through several workshops to fine tune the script and that hard work is paying dividends. “We are really happy with where the piece is right now,” said Artistic Director, Michael Storm.

Special Notes: Remember after our preview, Sept. 25th, there are no more Thursday performances. The show run is SEPT 26 – OCT 19 Fri-Sat, 8pm & Sun 5pm (No Sun show SEPT 28). Also, on October 12th Sunday, the Sunday Streets event along Shattuck Avenue will close some streets. Please plan accordingly if you are going to attend the 5pm show.

Buy your tickets now!

Kickstarter Campaign in Full Effect

Learn more about our Fire Work Kickstarter campaign

We are about 75% to our goal of $5,000.00 with only a few days left on our Kickstarter Campaign. Don’t forget, if we don’t make our goal we don’t receive any of the funds. We are raising this money to help pay for the costs associated with producing this amazing world premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s Fire Work. Will you please spread the word and help us hit our goal? Two advance tickets to the show cost the same as our $50.00 pledge perk. It’s a WIN-WIN!

Here are all of our wonderful backers to date, we appreciate your support:

Guy Tiphane, Christine Dover, Tamara White, Ralph Benson, Mina Morita, Brian Herndon, Jennie Brick, Rick Colby, Rowan Brooks, Lauren, Joan Nelson, Susan Shay, Lauren Gunderson, Jerry Gentry, Melanie Maslow, MD, Murray Cohen, Dina Hansen, Ken Ball, Mike McNulty, Fred and Cathleen Taylor, Jennifer LeBlanc, Nona, Tom Reilly, Suzanne, Lannie Gower, Tracy Haughton, Bear Capron, Resa Register, AJ Baker, Ken Odom, Megan Trout, Tanya Shaffer, Steven Wang, Carol Lashof, Abby Rezneck, Michaela Goldhaber, Eden Neuendorf, Steven Hess, Nick Allen, Lauren Spencer, Joan, Maryssa Wanlass, Dave Sikula, Denise Cassidy, Joanne Butler, Teri Whipple, Girlfriendz, Caroline Oberholtzer, Lynn Eve Komaromi, Chuck Warner, Lauren Dietrich Chavez, Jamie Harkin, Isabelle Spike, Donna Smyth, Rebecca Popell, Kay Taylor, Nelle Engoron, Paz Pardo, Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll, Jon Tracy, Lauren B. Hanover, Marlene Yarosh, Joan Spangler, Colin, Robin Lynn Rodriguez, Stefin Collins, Norah Foster, Emily Filloy, Patricia and Angela Don. (Apologies if we missed anyone or spelled their name incorrectly)

TheatreFIRST Receives Prestigious ICWP Diversity Award

We are EXTREMELY pleased to announce that TheatreFIRST is a proud recipient of the 50/50 Applause Award from the International Centre for Women Playwrights. Of course, we were pretty confident when they contacted us by phone and we told them that our last three seasons the programming has been comprised of at least 50% plays by women playwrights. Their response…? “Oh, my goodness. I can’t believe we haven’t heard of you.” Well now you have ICWP and we are very proud to make your acquaintance. The award is given to companies who have been committed to producing plays by women playwrights and we are extremely honored to be in the company of some other Bay Area winners like Crowded Fire, Golden Thread Productions, Alter Theater and Playground. Darn good company if you ask us!

We Need Everyone to Come Out and Support Just Theater


We are so excited to have Just Theater returning to the Live Oak Theatre. For those of you that saw A Maze, either here or during its extended run at Ashby Stage, you know that Just Theater is one of the more exciting companies in the Bay Area, and like TheatreFIRST their reputation draws some of the finest theatre artists around into its fold. We are honored they decided to produce their work on our stage and we would appreciate it very much if the T1 Faithful would come out to support this fantastic company.

In From The Cold, written by Jonathan Spector and directed by Christine Young, opens the 3rd of November at the Live Oak Theatre. In From The Cold tells the story of a former spy and how he grapples with the dangers of his past as his son returns home to take up residence in the basement with both funny and tragic results.

Writer and Co-Artistic Director of Just Theater, Jonathan Spector says, ”A few years ago I discovered that one of the biggest spies from the Cold War had lived in hiding across the street from my suburban high school, and that I’d actually met him a few times. I’m always interested in people who are caught up in moments of great historical change, and in the incongruity of the larger social forces and mundane everyday life – like the fact that this guy who may have prevented WWIII still had to worry about moving his car on Tuesdays for street sweeping.” In From The Cold features a stellar cast including some T1 alum: Seton Brown*, Julian Lopez-Morillas*(Escanaba…), Harold Pierce (Rosencrantz…), Sarah Moser* and David Sinaiko

Ticket info for In From the Cold

*Appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association

An Interview with Brian Herndon of Fire Work

Q. What inside information can you give us about the costumes, set, cast or director?

A. This show isn’t the first time Rinabeth (Ana) and I have played daughter and father; we’re both company members of a Berkeley-based play development group called PlayGround, and she’s played my daughter at least once.

Q. What do you enjoy most about playing the character of Caleb so far?

A. Getting to play a dad is more fun now that I get to discuss the process with my own daughter, who is now seven years old going on thirty. I like that Caleb’s arguments in the play are right, but he still doesn’t win. I like that it takes me five minutes to put on my costume and get ready.

Q. What is the greatest challenge for you playing Caleb at this early point in the process?

A. I started rehearsals a week after the rest of the cast because of a prior conflict, so I felt behind from the beginning. I’ve caught up now. Finding intention behind my lines without pushing has been harder than I expected; Live Oak Theatre is so intimate and I need to keep reminding myself to rein it in

Q. Where did you receive your training?

A. I spent a year studying at the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California, and then went on to get my MFA from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Q. Was there a specific point in time when you knew you wanted to be an actor?

A. I did my first play when I was 6, so it’s been for quite a while. My freshman year in college was the last year I didn’t do a play, because I thought I had to bear down and get serious. After that year I started auditioning and never looked back.

Q. Who are some of your favorite actors and what about their work or person has inspired you?

A. Kevin Kline makes the biggest acting choices work flawlessly. Kevin Spacey has tackled every kind of material and handled it all brilliantly. Gene Wilder has the comedy and a softer, vulnerable side that makes him endearing. And for years in the Bay Area, it seemed like every time I went to see a show, Dan Hiatt was playing the roles I wanted to play eventually. I finally got the chance to work with him this summer and it was everything I wanted it to be.

Q. What is the funniest or strangest thing that has happened to you on stage?

A. I was playing Cosmo Brown in Singin’ In The Rain, and near the end of the song “Make ‘Em Laugh” I had to crash through a fake brick wall. I lost a contact lens in the pile of foam bricks and had to do the rest of the show half-blind.

Q. What is the funniest or strangest thing that has happened to you in the rehearsal hall so far?

A. I got to rehearsal one day and Rinabeth told me we were going to shoot a music video of Katy Perry’s “Firework” as a promotional tool. The song has nothing to do with our show, but I totally fell for it.

Q. We hear there is a lot of technical aspects to this production. How is that part of the production going?

A. It’s exciting to get to incorporate this much technology in a production! The projections require us to be EXACT about our placement on stage, so that’s a challenge, but I love the added storytelling we can do, and the way our designers have been able to make some pretty magical and impossible stage directions happen.