Tuesday, December 30, 2008
They are $400,000 in debt and they can't pay their staff. They need to raise $350,00 by January 9th to stay alive, otherwise they are gone for good.
Please help! Just give what you can, even if it's just a few bucks.
Click here to donate to The Magic.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Harold Pinter, the great British playwright, whose unique style had a huge influence on American writers Sam Shepard and David Mamet died today after a long battle with cancer. Pinter was not only a great playwright but also a man of great conscience. He spent the last two decades speaking out against the imperialistic actions of the U.S. and Great Britain. He regularly blasted the U.S. and Tony Blair over their actions in Iraq.
His influence on the evolution of play writing in the United States and Great Britain was profound. He was an actor in his younger years, a director, a poet, a novelist, a screenwriter, a playwright and a political activist. He lived a intellectual and passionate life. In 2005 he received perhaps the ultimate honor of his craft in being given the Nobel Prize in Literature.
There is a great web site that contains everything you could ever want to know about the man here.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The nearly extinct Shakespeare Santa Cruz has caused a national stir in the theater world in successfully raising over $400,000 in just a few days. This guarantees that they will continue for another season. Even in these brutal economic times the value of the arts was recognized by over 2,000 donors. Bravo!
"The generous public support to save Shakespeare Santa Cruz has set a shining example for the American arts. This may be a local event, but it has national importance."
- Dana Gioia, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Friday, December 19, 2008
Another local theatre company may meet its awful end just as AMTSJ did a couple of weeks ago. The latest victim of the troubled economy is Sakespeare Santa Cruz. This gem of a company has been producing incredible work for the last 27 years. Because of the recession, the University of California at Santa Cruz can no longer prop up the theater's mounting deficit. So in order to continue operating the theater must raise $300,000 by Monday, December 22nd.
It's very disheartening to see some of our best theaters in the Bay Area in such trouble. I really hope that SSC can be saved. It seems that they need about another $80,000 to meet the goal. If you can afford anything at all go to this web site and give. If it turns out that if they don't get enough money and have to cancel the season, your donation will be refunded.
Lets do our part to save this great company. Please watch the wonderful video below of Marco Barricelli, Artistic Director for Shakespeare Santa Cruz, make a heartfelt plea for support.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Yesterday morning at 10 a.m. several hundred die hard theater fans filled the Geary Theatre to experience the presence of the fabled playwright, John Guare. Guare is most famous for his plays The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, and Landscape of the Body. His style is witty, funny, and often cruel and startling.
In the foreword to a collection of Guare's plays, film director Louis Malle writes:
- Guare practices a humor that is synonymous with lucidity, exploding genre and clichés, taking us to the core of human suffering: the awareness of corruption in our own bodies, death circling in. We try to fight it all by creating various mythologies, and it is Guare's peculiar aptitude for exposing these grandiose lies of ours that makes his work so magical.
I took away a few good lessons from the hour long lecture:
1. Do what you love in life. Mr. Guare said that is father once told him, "son, never work for a living". His father worked on Wall Street and told a young John that the only time he ever felt at peace was the interval of time from when he hit his alarm's snooze button to the moment his feet hit the floor in the morning. His father was a wage slave and he warned John to never become one himself.
2. Take charge of your own artistic life. A woman in the audience asked how young people, such as those in the M.F.A. program at A.CT. could find a life in the theatre. Mr Guare quickly responded that one must take charge of one's own artistic life. He said a theatre company need only be a group of theatre artists who laugh at the same jokes. Like at the Cafe Cino, all you need is an audience and a few cubic feet of space.
3. Remember that all acting is for the audience. Mr. Guare cannot stand plays that seem to ignore the existence of the audience. He emphasized the need to include the audience. It's why his characters often break the fourth wall and why they sometimes spontaneously break into song. Bring them to you and involve them fully no matter how large or small the space.
4. Trust your subconscious. Mr. Guare spends time every day just walking along the beach and allowing himself to free associate. It's how he came up with solving the problem of his play (1974) Rich and Famous. Allow your mind to do it's work. Trust your artistic impulse. Relax.
So go see Mr. Guares updated version of Rich and Famous at A.C.T. ! I have a feeling it will be a great show. The cast is marvelous.
First major revival
Rich and Famous
by John Guare
Directed by John Rando
Playwright Bing Ringling yearns to savor the sweet taste of celebrity, and he's hoping play number 844 will be his lucky break. But on opening night, Bing slips into a nightmarish phantasmagoria that shows him just how wrong things can go. From the ingenious mind of John Guare, who brought Six Degrees of Separation and The House of Blue Leaves to the American stage, Rich and Famous springs to life with twisted humor, rapid-fire dialogue, and outrageous new songs freshly scribed by Guare himself. A.C.T. welcomes this newly revised, delicious dark comedy-directed by John Rando (A.C.T.'s Urinetown, The Musical)-in its first major revival since its 1976 New York debut.
Tickets: $14-$57 previews; $17-$71 Tue.-Fri. & Sun. evenings; $22-$82 Sat. evenings and weekend matinees. Tickets are available through A.C.T. Ticket Services, 405 Geary Street at Mason, 415.749.2228, and online at www.act-sf.org.
Friday, December 12, 2008
All you actors out there who wonder how a place like A.C.T. casts its shows, should go check out the A.C.T. blog. The latest post chronicles the process they went through to cast the John Guare play, Rich and Famous. The interesting thing to me is that all of the actors were cast based on recommendations and personal reputations. None of them seemed to be cast from an audition. I always suspected this was usually the case at places like A.C.T. and Berkeley Rep.
To even be considered as an actor at A.C.T. main stage production you need to either be one of the members of their core company consisting of these people:
Steven Anthony Jones
(good luck with this)
or you need to know the director and she needs to WANT you in a role (he or she has to get sign-off from both Carey Perloff and the playwright) or you need to have some great New York credits with a recommendation from someone Carey Perloff knows well and respects.
It's a tall order. So, why I ask does A.C.T. have general auditions for local actors who are members of Actors Equity? My guess is because the have to. I believe it's simply something they have to do to stay in compliance with the union contract.
Will I continue to audition at A.C.T. ? Of course I will! The actor's job is to audition and to keep trying no matter what the odds. You never know who may be auditing the audition from another company. That person may imagine you in a role at a smaller theatre like the Aurora. Maybe you blow them away there in a show Carey comes to see. Maybe you get A.C.T.'s attention. Maybe a director from an off-Broadway production of a new play is in town and asks you to read for a part. Maybe that play is a huge hit. Maybe you get on A.C.T.'s radar in New York with their casting affiliate there. Maybe they give you a chance. Maybe you get a part in an A.C.T. play in the year 20025!
Now you want something fun to do this Christmas? Go see A Christmas Carol at A.C.T. Everything I just wrote doesn't apply. It's full of local talent.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
After the shattering news that Atlanta's Theatre of the Stars had to cancel "Tarzan" the musical after taking hundreds of thousands in investment money from AMTSJ and a Dallas company, the show is still listed on their web site's season page. I am sure they just haven't gotten around to updating it yet, but in an article I found in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it seems that AMTSJ may have jumped the gun a little . The president of the Atlanta theater, Nick Manos, says this, “We realize there are other theaters that were affected by this, and we were working with them behind the scenes on solutions. San Jose apparently took matters into its own hands and sent out a press release [on Monday]."
Could it be that they Manos was actually going to try and come up with a financial solution, but because AMTSJ made it public right way, Manos was rendered ineffective? How would AMT's action of sending out a press release, prevent the theatres from salvaging the situation. AMT certtainly couldn't just lay off all of there employees without making some kind of public statement.
The fact is the economy is nailing everyone now and the arts are going to be hurt badly. The Atlanta company was merely trying to save it's own skin.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
As reported yesterday by the San Francisco Chronicle, American Musical Theatre of San Jose has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Plagued by debt over the last number of years, AMTSJ has finally had to close it's doors because another theatre company (Atlanta's Theater of the Stars) backed out of a joint production of "Tarzan".
This is a very sad day for me as a Bay Area actor. AMTSJ has been a constant producer of high quality, big budget, Broadway style theatre for many years. Although they strayed for a few years, in recent years they have consistently hired local Equity and non-Equity actors. The production values are always very high and, in my experience, it has been a wonderful place to work.
I don't understand why some of the big companies in the South Bay didn't step in to help save AMTSJ, or why the City of San Jose doesn't do something to keep them afloat.
Isn't there an organization with deep pockets that can do something to save this vital institution?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Once in a while a play comes along that not only entertains but contains within it's message and dialogue and subtleties the possibility of changing the hearts and lives of those fortunate enough to see it performed. The show, "The Quality of Life" currently showing at A.C.T. and with only a few days left in the run, is just that kind of play. Jane Anderson is masterful in both her writing and direction of this remarkable work. I left the theatre stunned. I found myself walking up and down Geary Street for about and hour just thinking about what I experienced. The biggest change I noticed in my psyche was that I was actually kind to the many street people begging in the neighborhood. Usually, I feel a sense of caution and fear when I encounter them. But after attending this play that feeling was completely gone. I found this quite remarkable.
The play deals with life and death and love and marriage in Anderson's own unique voice, but at the same artistic level of an Albee or Miller. If you don't see the show in San Francisco, look for it in New York soon. This play is destined for Broadway and in my opinion great things lie ahead for Anderson with her outstanding work.
Laurie Metcalf (Desperate Housewives, Roseanne), JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist, The Big Chill), Steven Culp (A.C.T.'s Blackbird), and two-time OBIE Award winner Dennis Boutsikaris.
The Quality of Life is winner of three 2008 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, including Best Play, Best Playwright, and Best Lead Actress (Laurie Metcalf). It was also nominated for four 2007 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.
"Tremendous! It entertains, amuses, compels, makes the audience think, feel, laugh, weep. That is theater." —San Francisco Examiner
"A magnetic work of theater. Very funny . . . astounding performances!" —San Francisco Chronicle
"Thoroughly captivating. Beautifully directed . . . wonderfully engaging characters" —Contra Costa Times
"Radiant! One of the most emotionally acute productions of the fall season" —San Jose Mercury News
"Highest rating! Crackling, fast-moving! A powerful play that touches every emotion in the book . . . as passionate and profound as you're likely to see on any stage." —BeyondChron.com
"Touching and thought-provoking . . . skillfully crafted" —San Francisco Bay Times
"A dream cast!" —Los Angeles City Beat
"When I see a production as beautifully written, directed, and performed as The Quality of Life, I thank my lucky stars." —LAStageScene.com
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Tom Stoppard's latest play, "Rock 'N Roll" closes today at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. I attended the matinée performance on Wednesday, so my ears had to compete with the sound of candy rappers, coughing, belching, and the spirited older ladies behind me talking full voice in the false belief that they were whispering due to their use of artificial hearing booster devices.
Keeping up with Stoppard's complex dialogue is difficult enough without having to decipher it through the geriatric sounds of the people sitting next to you. I did get most of it, however.
Five Best Things about "Rock and Roll"
1. As is often the case at A.C.T., Reneé Augesen was a gem as Elanor. There is a scene it which Elanor breaks down emotionally because of her cancer and Augesen had me in tears. She is an actress who seems to take each and every roll she is given turning it into a masterpiece of individual stagecraft.
2. Act II. Act II was excellent. Once we started getting into the relationships in the second act and away from the exposition of Act I, the play becomes complex and compelling.
3. The humor. There are some hilarious moments in Stoppard's dialog that the actors delivered with perfect timing. They seemed to come out of nowhere which made the moments even more delicious.
5. Manoel Felciano as Jan, the central character. Despite some extremely mundane exposition in Act I, that I believe Stoppard should rewrite, Felciano did a wonderful job in this very layered and difficult roll.
Did you see the show? Let's hear your opinion!
That's it. Go see a play!
Monday, October 06, 2008
I hope you got to see "Into the Woods" at Broadway by the Bay. Stephen Sondheim's gem was very well done by the San Mateo company. Local regulars Paul Araquistain (The Baker), Linda Piccone (Jack's Motner) and Brittany Ogle(Rapunzel) were all fantastic. It was great to see Lee Ann Payne return to the Bay Area to play the roll of The Baker's Wife. She is an immense talent who I hope to see at larger venues like American Musical Theatre of San Jose soon.
Sondheim is, I believe, the Shakespeare of our age. He has taken the American musical to the level of masterful poetry. I believe that in one hundred years his pieces will be considered the finest ever written and will be performed for centuries and decades to come. What do you think?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Diane Tasca is remarkable as Alma. A part normally played by a 30 something actress, Tasca successfully turns this production into a memory play and it works.
I highly recommend that you go see this show. The entire cast is wonderful and deftly directed by Jeannie Forte.
Through September 28th.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Carl Ozard will be performing her hit cabaret show, "Bitter and Be Gay" at the Octavia Lounge. This is a fantastic 90 minutes of laughter and fantastic music. Catch her here in San Francisco before she moves to New York.
September 26, 2008 at 7:00 PM
Octavia Lounge * 1772 Market St. * San Francisco * 94114
"Imagine a cabaret version of Kathy Griffin and you'll begin to get the idea.... Ozard, accompanied by pianist Barry Lloyd and bassist Daniel Fabricant, likes to refashion lyrics to songs to suit her show's theme, usually to good comic effect, and when she chooses to use her big Broadway belt, she can make a strong emotional connection with her audience.....This was an auspicious beginning to what could be a bright cabaret career. It's been too long since we had a brassy, belting broad on the local cabaret stage." ~Chad Jones - Theater Dogs (Jul 22, 2008)
COST: $15 + 2 Drink Minimum
TICKETS: RESERVE YOUR TABLE NOW WITH www.opentable.com
or call (415) 863-3516
Monday, July 28, 2008
Supporting new plays and playwrights is what keeps our art fresh and relevant. In that spirit I urge you to attend a reading of a new play that I've been told is quite good. Here's the scoop...
The Second Weekend in September
Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 8:00 pm
What happens between David and Michael the second weekend in September has to be enough to last all year. In this absorbing new play, the “out and proud” David explores his identity over a twenty-five year period. During this time he shares a yearly clandestine meeting with Michael, a closeted married man, in a Seattle hotel room. A powerful look at the men's shared struggles, set against the backdrop of society's changing attitudes.
Playwright Andrew Black is the author of several full-length plays. Porn Yesterday (co-written with Patricia Milton) has been produced in San Diego, Phoenix, and New York. It's Murder Mary! (by Andrew and Patricia) was recently produced by the New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Watch out! This play will kill you! His other full-length plays are: Another Dude's Slingbacks and The Second Weekend in September . He has had short plays (about gay penguins and a secret affair between GI Joe and Ken) produced around the country. He is a member of the Dramatists' Guild and a board member of the Playwrights Center of San Francisco.
WHERE: City Lights Theatre Company
WHEN: Tuesday August 5, 8pm
TICKETS: $5.00 at the Door
A reception and audience TalkBack follows the reading.
529 South Second Street
San José, California 95112
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Last year I had the opportunity to perform in a short piece at the San Francisco Theater Festival. This thing is a blast! I highly recommend that you go and check it out!
This year I get to do it again with The Pear.
There will be everything you can imagine there and it's all free.
Featured at the 2008 festival:-AfroSolo presents Angela Dean-Baham as Black Patti
-Amiri Baraka’s provocative plays of black experience, including his new play, “Sisyphus Syndrome”
-Lamplighters Music Theatre’s “The Mikado”
-Best of Playground’s one act plays
-Aleshia Brevard & Gina Grahame's transsexual production of "One Damn Man!"
-Oh My Godmother, gay Cinderella
-Best of the Buddy Club, 16 great children’s shows
-Improv Groups: Blue Blanket, BATS, SPF7, Big City & Stagebridge's Over-50 Improv
- The Pear Avenue Theatre performs two short pieces
Sunday, July 20, 2008
First of all, I must give a disclaimer. Carly is a good friend and I helped her with the production in terms of publicity and direction and general moral support. But don't listen to me. She had the audience in the palm of her hand for nearly two hours. The show ended with multiple standing ovations and they were well deserved. Filled with wonderful song choices, hilarious conversation, and touching moments about her life, the show, "Bitter and Be Gay", is based on Carly's true to life romantic foibles. It's funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. Carly has the uncommon ability to interpret lyrics as if they were own and touch the hearts of those lucky enough to hear her sing.
Hopefully, we'll get to see this show at another venue soon. Carly is well known in the inner circle of San Francisco cabaret singers and I bet she'll soon become a fixture of San Francisco night life and entertainment.... unless she does something crazy like move to New York!
Hear Carly on her MySpace Page.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
High School Tony Awards Honor Nation's Biggest Drama Club Nerds
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
I must take my hat off to A.C.T's Artistic Director, Carey Perloff, for taking on this work. The title, the story (revolving mostly around incest, murder and deception), and it's complete obscurity would normally make those who run theatre companies starved for audience, run away quicker than you can say "Barak Obama for President". But Ms. Perloff decided to take the risk. It seems that the plays diva, the versatile and brilliant, Rene Augesen, wanted Perloff to produce this show after they became aware of it through Tom Stoppard's use of it as a device in his play, "The Real Thing". Perloff promised Augesen that they would and thankfully she kept her promise.
My personal experience with the play prior to this had been the strange reactions I would get whenever I did the Giovanni monologue at auditions. Here's how it usually went: I would announce that I would be doing a piece from "''Tis Pitty She's a Whore". That would immediately raise eyebrows across the table. No one had heard of the play, and the title itself just is so non-P.C. Then I would begin, and as soon as the people in the room realized that I was asking a priest to give me permission to schtupp my sister, I'd lose them. When I had finally finished, came the inevitable questions. "He really wants to sleep with his sister? Where did you find that piece?!!" Needless to say, I stopped doing the monologue. It just turned people off, and it seemed utterly preposterous. Maybe now that A.C.T. has dusted off this work of complete genius, I'll give it another shot.
The production itself is mesmerizing. The Scenic Designer, Walt Spangler, created something magnificent here. There are stare cases with balconies on either side. In the center on a platform, upstage, sits a woman named Bonfire Madian Shive. She is a cellist. She is a singer. She is a composer. And she is out of this world! I'm telling you, if you went only to hear her play her cello and sing during this show it would be worth it. In front of her are what resemble organ pipes and they seem to be alive. They move up and down throughout the show, seeming to pulse with the life force flowing through the actors themselves. There are candles that suddenly appear and disappear like ghosts throughout the play; the kind of candles Catholics often light in lieu of going to confession in order to assuage guilt. It's a brilliant effect.
The entire cast is splendid. I really felt that they were proud of this production; it just had that kind of energy. You could sense that they realized that they had created something totally unique and remarkable. Anthony Fusco, who plays Vasques really impressed me. Like Iago in Othello, he is not at all who he seems to be, and his ability to manipulate others for what he perceives to be a higher virtue, left a lasting impression on me for days. Fusco played it to understated perfection.
Be warned the play is bloody, even though A.C.T. has toned the gore down from the way Ford describes it in the original text.
But do yourself a huge favor and go see this play. Shakespeare was not the only genius of this time to write plays in the English language. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Call (415) 749-2ACT
Phone Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Sunday & Monday 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.
6 p.m. on nonperformance nights
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The Pear is producing a world premiere of a fantastic award winning play called Homeland Prayer by Jeff Carter. I know it's a good play because I've read it a few times. It's about a family dealing with the return home of a wounded soldier. Timely, and poignant, Homeland Prayer glimpses into the hidden tragedy of war.
Running at The Pear from June 27 to July 13.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Go check out Foothill College's "The Adding Machine" for your Brechtian fix. T0m Gough, the director and head of the conservatory, has done a fantastic job mounting this strange and over the top play. Many excellent performances and a chance to see a style of acting that isn't done much.
|"The Adding Machine" Presented by Foothill Theatre Arts Department|
|May 30, 2008 - June 15, 2008|
The Foothill College Theatre Arts Department presents The Adding Machine, a comic, expressionistic masterpiece written by Elmer Rice, now through June 15 in the new Lohman Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Remaining evening performances are June 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 at 8 p.m. Matinees are June 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.
Directed by Foothill Theatre Arts Instructor Tom Gough, the play follows the exploits of Mr. Zero, a hard-working, psuedo-Everyman, as he toils through his rather inconsequential existence, a nameless human cog in a vast business engine. After years of dedication to his job, he finds himself out on his ear-replaced by a machine. Mr. Zero does not take this news lightly, and his choices soon send him on a path through various stages of the afterlife to discover the true nature of his menial existence.
"The foreshadowing nature of Elmer Rice's 1923 play is, in many respects, rather eerie," Gough said. "The Adding Machine directly addresses the question of advancing technology at what cost to personal humanity. While our society is becoming more connected to each other at a staggering rate, it begs the questions what is the quality of this interfacing and is our connectivity detached and ultimately de-humanizing? This production emphasizes the relationship between man and machine."
Performers with featured roles include Peggy Lynch of Atherton; Leslie Breton of Los Gatos; Tim Goble of Mountain View; Alex Hero of Palo Alto; Sarah Griner of Redwood City; Jake Van Tuyl of San Jose; Polina Krasnova of San Mateo; Daniel Mitchell of South San Francisco; and Suzie Poulson of Sunnyvale. Multiple ensemble roles are played Beth Boulay and Victoria Spencer of Campbell; Doug Beckett of Cupertino; Derrick Brooks and Ernesto Garcia of East Palo Alto; Ross Buran of Hillsborough; Ric Ferras of Los Altos; Jerome Sephers of Menlo Park; Arturo Dirzo of Mountain View; Martin Gutfeldt of Palo Alto; Victoria Ippolito, Georgina Kartsonis, Caitlin Lorenc, Juliana Schoedinger and Shannon Tierney of San Jose; Jezebel Barraza and Angel Ordaz of Santa Clara; Brian Van Winkle of South San Francisco; Linda Christensen, Brittany Pirucki and Marvina Reasons of Sunnyvale. The show includes scenic design by Bruce McLeod, costume design by Julie Engelbrecht, lighting design by Andrew Custer and sound design by Chris Graham.
Tickets are $16, general admission; $12, students and seniors; $8, Foothill students with OwlCard. For best seating choice flexibility and immediate purchase confirmation, buy tickets online at http://www.foothill.edu/fa/adding/index.php. For group discount rates and to order tickets by phone, call (650) 949-7360.
Parking Lot 8 provides stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase the required parking permit for $2. Foothill College is located off I-280 on El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills. For more information, access www.foothill.edu or call (650) 949-7360.
|Phone us at: (650) 949-7360|
|eMail us at: RosenthalDonna@foothill.edu|
|Click here for more information.|