The Five- Final Thoughts

Anthony R. Miller checks in one last time.

Hey you guys, so here we are, my final post for Theater Pub. Some posts have been good, some not so much. But let’s not mire ourselves in introductions, I have some final thoughts to share with you, and as a surprise to no one, there are five.

For God’s Sake, Go See TERROR-RAMA 2

Of course I’m starting with one last shot of shameless self-promotion. Promoting this show has been my obsession for weeks, and since we open THIS FRIDAY, why stop now? So here’s the deal, I want to tell you exactly why I think you should see this show, call it my final plea. We have spent the last 2 years preparing this show. After the success of the first Terror-Rama, we knew we wanted to do it again. In part because it was really fun and we were super proud of it, but also because there were things we knew we could do better. So now we’re back, we have two brand new shows, a super cool venue and a team of crazy-talented people that have been working their asses off. And you know what? It’ll all be worth it, because the show is great.

Purity is going to mess you up. Claire Rice has written a freaky-ass play, and it will make your skin crawl. Not to mention, it features two brilliant performances by Adam Niemann and Laura Peterson. As for Sexy Vampire Academy, I’m biased, because I wrote it. But this fantastic cast has done amazing things with it; I have been brought to tears in rehearsal by how funny this play is. You may even find a few poignant moments (maybe).

As I spend my day staring at box office reports, sweating, drinking, and praying, I take comfort in the fact that this show has been blessed by some many happy accidents, whether it was the random conversation that led to hiring Jess Thomas (who has been killing it as SM), or finding out we had unwittingly cast a great props person, a licensed fight choreographer and dance choreographer whom have all added so much to the show. All led by Colin Johnson, my Artistic Soul Mate, my man fifty grand, my brother from another mother, I could not be prouder of his work as a director. So there you go, Terror-Rama 2 is the culmination of some really brilliant people working their asses off. When we first sat down to plan this show, we didn’t want to just put on a good show, we wanted to put on a great show. I think we’ve done that. So go to www.awesometheatre.org and get your tickets for opening weekend. It’ll be a bloody good time.

Like Whatever You Want To Like

So if I have any parting words to my 6 or 7 loyal readers, it is this: Like Things. And unless you like things that are hateful and cruel, feel no shame for liking it. There are people who want to judge you for liking something they don’t, because they are miserable people. (More on them later.) Life is too short, our times are too troubled and empathy is in short supply. So like things, like the shit out of them, squeeze every ounce of happiness from those things and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for liking them. There are no guilty pleasures, if something in this godforsaken world makes you happy, do your thing. Whether it’s super popular or you feel like you are the only one who has heard of it, it is equally special, because it is special to you. Any time you spend worrying about what other people might think of you for liking something is just time you could have spent liking it. So like things, like them pieces, like them like you have the freedom to like them, because you do.

Don’t Define Yourself By The Things You Don’t Like

We’ve all been there, our early 20s, sitting at a coffee shop, judging people into the ground for their taste, feeling a sense of superiority because you have the high-minded taste to dislike something. “Of course I don’t like (insert thing here), I’m not a plebeian.” Here’s the thing, it makes you sound like a dick. It’s OK to have an opinion, it’s OK to dislike something, but when disliking something becomes as much of a part of your personality as the things you do like, you’re defining yourself with negativity. You’re not a smarter person for disliking something, or a better person, there’s just this thing that you don’t care for, that’s all. Maybe it’s something super popular and the fact it’s not your thing makes you feel alienated, so you lash out, you say snooty shit like, “Well, that’s fine for the masses.” Or “I wouldn’t be caught dead seeing that show.” What’s really being said here is, “Everyone else is part of something and I’m not, and it makes me feel left out.” That is an honest, normal way to feel, and I think sometimes we get “snobby” because were too scared to admit we feel left out. Let the things that bring you joy in life define you, not the things that just aren’t your cup of tea. You’re a good person because you are kind, empathetic and generous. Not because you think something sucks, and certainly not because you shame people for liking something you don’t. It is the things you love that make you interesting, not the things you detest.

I Am Full Of Shit

Over the years in this blog, I have made some bold statements, and I’ve also bit my tongue a lot. I try to stay away from “bomb-throwy” articles, despite the fact that they get lots of hits and stir things up. That is because of one simple fact; I am nobody. I am not famous, or crazy successful or seen as an expert in anything. I’ve done OK in my life and I’ve had some great adventures and wonderful experiences. Sure, I’ve learned a few things along the way and I’m to share them, because they worked for me. But if you ever find yourself reading something I said and you think “Oh, who does this guy thinks he is?” I’m nobody, just a dude with a day job, a great daughter, two cats and a wonderful partner. But by no means an expert. I am “that guy” just as often (if not more so) as I am not. So if you disagree with me, that’s fine, because it’s just my opinion, an opinion no more valid than any other. We are all full of shit in our own special way.

So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish

This blog is not always good. For every insightful reflection of why I do theatre, there is a photo essay featuring my cat. For every cool rundown of an event I attended, there is some random list of whatever was on my mind. My favorites? Well, I will always cherish the two stories I co-wrote with Allison Page, whether it was drinking cheap whiskey and watching beefcake wrasslers pick up Allison at Hoodslam, or singing Blink 182 songs while a greasy muscly dude in a G-string dances 4 feet away from us at “Thunder From Down Under.” Those were adventures, a total pain in the ass to write about, but adventures. I’ll always remember my semi-existential crisis at the first TBA awards, which became one of my favorite articles. But I am thankful for the opportunity to write all of them. 5 years ago I left a job I thought would be my future, but it wasn’t. It was a horrible, depressing, and disillusioning experience that made me spend a year questioning whether or not I wanted to do theatre. But it is the Theater Pub world that helped me get up and brush myself off and get back to what I loved. The Olympians Festival, Theater Pub shows and meetings, play readings at Stuart Bousel’s mountain chalet, are so important to where I am in life. Surrounded by people with the same passions I have, people with hustle, and people with ideas. Theater Pub gave me a foundation to stand on, a place to rebuild, and great people to work with. I am so excited to see what everyone goes on to do because I know it’s this crazy thing called Theater Pub that helped make it possible. It’s sad when a band breaks up, but sometimes the solo albums are the best work they ever do. So thank you to Stuart for hiring me (twice) and thank you to all my fellow T-Pub writers.

Tl;dr Go see Terror-Rama, Don’t Be a Dick, and I’ll miss you T-Pub, thank you for everything.

Be Excellent to Each other,

ARM

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Producer and Educator, keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78.

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The Five: Take This Dream and Shove It

Anthony R. Miller checks in for the second-to-last time.

Hey you guys, with the shutting down of Theater Pub, I have feels. But we’re gonna save those for next time, which will be the final appearance of “The Five.” Today however, I want to talk about something we all know. Something we have contemplated and redefined, and made sacrifices for: “The Dream.” For whatever reason, there has been a lot of talk about “The Dream” as of late; giving up “The Dream,” getting a new dream, or questioning if it was ever their dream in the first place. In case you haven’t guessed, I have some thoughts on it. Even more obvious, there are five.

Eat Shit, Wells Fargo
A few weeks ago, Wells Fargo Bank rolled out its new ad campaign with photos of young people doing smart-kid things with the caption “A ballerina yesterday, an engineer today.” Or “An actor yesterday, a botanist today.” And because the internet is a calm, rational place, outrage ensued. Some viewed it as Wells Fargo devaluing the dream of working in the arts. Some felt the ads inferred that at some point we all give up our grand dreams of being a famous actor or ballerina, because that’s what grownups do. Now, I gotta say, as annoying or insensitive the ads may be, I’m a lot more worried about the millions of fake bank accounts Wells Fargo created. But I can see how the ads are a little dickish. It should be noted that sometimes the dream changes, at a certain point priorities change, but did we really need an ad campaign to point it out? Is “People giving up on a career in the arts” a hot demographic right now?

What Did You Think Was Gonna Happen?
Another hot little internet frenzy comes from an article at Medium.com. Titled “Exit, Stage Left, What Happens when You Get Sick of Your Dream,” the guy makes solid points. It’s the story of a guy who after twenty years of running a theatre company with his wife, decides to walk away. Of course he’s sad about it, and the article is him trying to sort out those feelings. But seriously dude, cheer up. You got to “Live the Dream” of creating the theatre you believed in with the love of your life for 20 years. I mean, that’s the dream, right? That’s why we do this. The personal fulfillment of creating something you are passionate about. So, if one day, you’re not passionate about it anymore, that’s OK. But when I got to the part of the article where he spoke of bad reviews, small audiences, corralling actors, you know, theatre problems, that’s where I take issue. He got sick of the grind, no shame there. But make no mistake, that’s the grind, the hard, unglamorous part of doing theatre. Maybe I disagree with him because I don’t do this for trophies or critical praise. To me, this guy accomplished all we can reasonably ask for in a life in the arts. Everything else is gravy.

The Undeniable Privilege
I make no bones about the fact that Marissa Skudlarek is and always will be my favorite TPub writer, she’s insightful, thoughtful and has great grammar. One of my favorite articles of hers is when she states that doing this, doing theatre, producing theatre, is a privilege. Sure, it takes money, hard work, unimaginable hubris and perhaps talent to produce theatre. But the fact is the very notion that on more than one occasion, I have been able to write a play, find the money, and produce it. Regardless of its “success,” the fact I did it at all is kinda crazy. So be happy about it, appreciate it. To me, this is the win. Money would be nice, and lemme tell ya, every time I pay a bill with money I made in the theatre world, I feel pretty great. Sure, in my younger days, I practiced an imaginary awards speech or two. But I try to not overlook the fact that doing this at all is something lots of people don’t. Every time I put on a show, despite how good or successful it might be, I feel lucky. Some people don’t get this far.

Narrowing Down the List
A wise man once said, “When we are young, we are many things. Getting older is just a process of narrowing down the list.” I interpret this as when I was younger, I was gonna be everything. I was going to be a writer, producer, director, designer, poet, composer, rock star, and a media mogul. In case you didn’t guess, most of these didn’t work out, and that is OK. These days the list reads Writer, Producer, and Educator, all true, all legit. Not to mention I am a sometimes director, an always Dad, an always boyfriend, and Ticket Sales professional (sexy title, I know). There are only so many hours in the day, and I find that when I focus on a few things as opposed to lots, I get better results. Not to mention, at a certain point you gotta look up and see the world outside of our immediate goals. There are a crapload of things in the world that make me happy besides doing theatre. That’s not a reason to stop doing theatre, but it is a reason to stop and smell the effing roses sometimes. When theatre is no longer your “hobby” you gotta make sure you still have a hobby.

“Dream” Is an Interesting Word
My dream of being an actor died at 19. I’ll spare you the story, but the fact was, when it came to the things that great actors do, I didn’t want to do the work. That ambition and determination was there in other facets of theatre. So as fun as getting onstage can be, I realized this wasn’t my path, so I largely gave it up, because it wasn’t my dream. That said, I’m not entirely sure what my “dream” is. Sure, making a living doing theatre is the goal, I would love to be a “blue collar” theatre worker, taking the less glamorous jobs, not famous, stable-ish. Maybe that’ll happen for me, and maybe it won’t. It depends on your definition. But at a certain point, dreams and wishes need to become plans and goals. One of the first things my high school drama teacher told us in Drama 1 is “most of you will never act again in 4 years.” Now call it harsh, call it the truth, but when I look up my old theatre friends, it’s true, most of them, even the ones voted most talented, the ones who everyone thought would be a star, haven’t walked on a stage in a long time. I don’t feel bad for them because they all have good jobs, savings accounts, and stability. Here I am, with a day job selling theatre tickets, falling in love with teaching, writing and producing as much as I can. I’m still here, still doing it, and one day I might not. I wouldn’t call this my “dream,” it’s more of an obsession, a compulsive thing I do. I’ll keep doing this as long as it makes me happy, as long as it’s reasonable to do it, and sure, I probably will not become an icon of American theatre, but that stopped being “The Dream” a long time ago. “The Dream” is just being here at all.

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Producer and Educator. His show, TERROR-RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT opens Oct 14, learn more and get tickets at www.awesometheatre.org.

The Five: Thought Nuggets

Anthony R. Miller checks in to abuse the format of his article to enable his own laziness (again).

Hey you guys, It’s one of those days. For the life of me I just couldn’t think of one topic that could merit 5 dedicated thoughts. So today you get a bunch of random, somewhat theatre-related thoughts. And predictably, there are five.

Shotz!

If you’re looking for some theatre-tastic fun on a Wednesday night, you need to go to Shotz. Every month, a pool of writers are assigned actors, a topic and a few requirements for a script that have only a few days to write. September’s installment will be a hoot for a few reasons. 1) A lot of the same people working on TERROR-RAMA 2 are working on this Election edition of Shotz. Colin Johnson, Jess Thomas, Claire Rice, Alandra Hileman, and I are all contributing in one way or another. My play is titled “I Hope We Can Still Be Friends after the Primary” and it was probably the first positive thing I’ve done to channel my frustration with this hobo trash can fire of an election. Go see Shotz! At PianoFight Wednesday September 14, DO IT!

KO Mania

Being a Pro-Wrestling fan can often be an exercise in patience. Because when it’s bad, it’s bad, but when it’s go, it’s amazing. Usually it’s just, pretty good. Now for those of you not in the know, there has been an obscene amount of wrestling to watch these days. Honestly, by last night I was experiencing WWE-fatigue, there was a big match for the champeenship and honestly it felt all too predictable, but of course I watched. Then something magical happened, there was a huge swerve (surprise ending) and it resulted in Kevin Owens become WWE Universal Champion. KO is one of my absolute favorites and he’s a beast of a human being, he doesn’t look like a typical wrestler and does moves that he just shouldn’t be able to do. He’s a brilliant bad guy, he’s funny, a great performer, there was no way HE was going to win last night, but he did, and it was total shock. I hooted and hollered like I was 10. The thing is, we know it’s pre-determined, we know it’s not “real”, but the best moments of being a fan, is when you forget that, and it feels real.

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TERROR-RAMA TIME!

With TERROR-RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT Just 45 days away, things are starting to get exciting. Set construction has begun, costumes are being purchased, and we have super pretty flyers. I cannot wait for this show and rest assured, I will not be shutting up about it. Also, on the subject of flyers, aren’t PSPrint sales like, the best?

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I Really Need A Window

Unlike most of my writer friends, I’m fairly laptop adverse, I actually prefer to be in a room alone with my computer, a shitty desktop PC with a giant screen, located in what many would call my “Man Room” but it’s really just a big closet that turned into an office and put on display all the things my girlfriend does not want displayed in the more public parts of our home. This room is my sanctuary. You will probably never find me writing on a laptop at a café, too distracting. I have always preferred to be alone, unbothered by the outside world. The down side is the cat boxes are also located in this sanctuary of mine, so it kinda always smells like cat poo, and a little day light might be nice too, I’m just sayin, I really need a window.

Nowhere Special, I Always Wanted To Go There

OK, this could of merited like, a trillion thoughts. But there will be plenty of long wordy think pieces celebrating Gene Wilder that will be better than anything I could write. But here’s my contribution to the many remembrances of a guy who was by all accounts a comic genius and a brilliant actor; for a lot of people, I think Willy Wonka will always be the character the majority of people will remember Gene Wilder for, but here’s the thing. When I was 7 I saw the film for the first time, and when the girl turned into a blueberry and was rolled away, I was mortified. I was scarier than anything I had or ever will encounter in life. I ran out of them room and never watched the film again. In fact I still refuse, it’s fucking terrifying. However, I will always remember him for Blazing Saddles and The Producers. Much like the film Airplane!, I have watched Blazing Saddles about 4 trillion times. There are bits he does that still make me giggle uncontrollably, (Like seriously, that “This is my shooting hand” bit never stops being funny.) Maybe it’s the soft gentile quality he brings to the humor. Comedy these days is very aggressive, Wilder just let the joke happen, and he always gave his characters passion and empathy, no matter how silly. So here’s to one of the greats, he had a great run.

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Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Producer and Educator. His show TERROR-RAMA 2:PROM NIGHT Opens October 14, 2016, keep up with everything at www.awesometheatre.org.

The Five- “Procrastination”-A Photo Essay Starring My Cat

Anthony R. Miller checks in with a story told in photos.

Hey you guys, another blog about playwrights procrastinating, just what the world needed, amirite? But hey, if there’s one thing there will never be enough of on the Internet, its cat photos. So instead of the eleventy billioneth theatre blog on procrastinating, here are the stages of procrastination, as demonstrated by my cat. Predictably, there are five.

Organize Your Notes

Cat1

Review Your Notes

Cat 2

Become Overwhelmed With The Sheer Amount of Work You Have to Do

Cat3

Realize the Problem is That Your Workspace is A Mess, Clean Your Desk, and Take a Nap

cat4

Decide You’ve Done Enough For Today and Decide to Start Fresh Tomorrow

Cat5

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Producer and Teaching Artist. His show, TERROR-RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT opens October 14 at Pianofight, keep up with all his projects at www.awesometheatre.org.

The Five: It’s The End of the World as We Know It, Donate to Olympians Anyway

Anthony R. Miller checks in with a pre-“end of days” donation plea.

Hey you guys, unless you are in utter denial or live deep in the forest without any contact with the outside world (two situations I’m a bit envious toward) you’re probably scared to death, angry, or depressed when it comes to this election. Maybe all three. This blazing dumpster fire of indirect democracy has got us all hiding under our beds with a stockpile of baked beans and distilled water. So today, let’s talk about something we all agree is worth supporting: the San Francisco Olympians Festival. If you need a few reasons, you’re in luck, I have five.

Do Something You’ll Feel Good About

If you’re a Hillary supporter, you’re probably frustrated. I mean seriously, could they please do some stuff that a person who WANTS to win would do? If you’re a Bernie supporter, you’re probably crying, because you’re in the unenviable situation where you HAVE to vote for someone you’re not entirely thrilled with because if you don’t the world will end and it’ll be all your fault, no pressure. If you’re a Trump supporter, please stop reading this blog and go reconsider all your life choices. But when you donate to the Olympians Festival, you’re supporting something we can all agree is good and necessary for the world. No compromising your values for the greater good, no questioning your own beliefs, you can just donate and know you’ve done something positive.

Let’s Party in October, Because November Might Suck.

Lunchtime poll: if the country you know and love may be irrevocably destroyed in November, what do you do in October? Answer: Have an end-of-the-world party. October is jam-packed with a lot of great theatre (Terror-Rama 2 opens October 14, but I digress) and the Olympians Festival is one of the biggest events all month. So it’s time to have the greatest October ever. Donate to the festival, go to every night of the festival, and see tons of theatre. Soak it in, because there’s a good chance the entire Tenderloin will be torn down and turned into an oil field.

We Will Need Theatre after the Downfall of Western Civilization.

In a few years, when we’re all sitting in a crater around a fire, we will need theatre and the oral tradition to remember what it was like when we had running water and electricity. So donate, make this festival happen. It will produce dozens of new plays that we can re-create over and over. And since Netflix won’t exist anymore, we’re gonna need to stock up on material now.

Think Locally

If the national election has you down and feeling helpless, maybe doing something locally can help. We’re all thinking very macro right now. Donating to this festival is a way to think micro. Do something that helps the city you live in and your community. The problems of an entire country can send you running to your therapist, it’s flat-out overwhelming. So here’s a chance to make a small difference. And it may just make you feel good.

A Chance to Say Thank You

Politics aside (national ones anyway), if you are a member of the Bay Area theatre community, you are or at least know somebody who’s been affected positively by the Olympians Festival. Personally, I owe it a lot. I have written for it twice and directed once, and it provided me with chances few others were willing to give me. My skills as a writer were vastly improved by the work I did for Olympians. The play I wrote last year; Christian Teen Dolphin-Sex Beach Party, is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. I met one of my greatest partners in crime and may favorite person to work with, Colin Johnson, through the festival. This is true for so many others. It’s not just about writing a play that might get produced somewhere else. It’s about an opportunity to meet and work with awesome people. That’s what you’re donating to, not just a festival of plays, but a festival of opportunities for literally hundreds of artists.

No matter how this garbage election goes, one thing remains true, we never stop needing the things that enrich our lives, that make us happy on a local basis. We can’t solve every problem the country has, but at least we can do something small to protect things we care about. No matter who we elect.

DONATE TO THE SAN FRNACISCO OLYMPIANS FESTIVAL RIGHT HERE

Anthony R. Miller is a writer, producer and educator. Keep up with his adventures at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Five: The Hamilton-Free Tony Wrap Up

Anthony R. Miller checks in with everything else that happened at the Tony Awards.

Hey you guys, so while watching the Tony Awards last Sunday, there were moments where I felt kinda bad for everyone in a musical that wasn’t Hamilton. I mean, yay for Hamilton, but there’s no need to expound on its brilliance any further (many have done it for me). The fact is, there was some really interesting stuff that I think got a bit overshadowed by History’s Greatest Musical. I mean seriously, when THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES introduces the show you’re competing against, you lost. So today, let’s chat about some of the overlooked gems at this year’s Tony Awards, and yeah, there are five.

James Corden Is A Big Sack Of Sugar
From the pitch-perfect tribute to the lives lost in Orlando, to his self-deprecating humor, to his just lovable demeanor, I loved Corden as host, and my daughter was very excited the Baker from Into the Woods was hosting. It was then I decided this was not the time to discuss the finer points of Chip Zien, but I really wanted to, cause like seriously, Chip Zien, people.

That Waitress Musical Tho
When a famous person writes a musical, the results can be mixed. (I’m looking at you, Bright Star.) Sometimes, the songs are fine, but the storytelling isn’t strong, sometimes the songs aren’t good. So imagine my surprise when the cast of Waitress came on and it was…pretty great actually. Sara Bareilles should be given all the credit in the world. And while I’m here, I was also totally blown away by the revival of Spring Awakening, and School of Rock was really flippin’ charming. It’s a shame that they were practically afterthoughts.

Oh Wow, Chicago Has Been Running A Long Time
Bebe Neuwirth and the cast of Chicago came out to remind us that the current revival has been going for 20 years and is now the longest-running American musical (note the qualifier) on Broadway. Which is cool until you realize you were 18 when that show opened…

Apparently Only Actors Get To Make Speeches
Am I the only one that gets bummed out when the speeches by designers and choreographers are shown in clip form as opposed to all the “Best Actor” speeches? Am I the only one that would love to hear what the lighting designer has to say?

The Fact That Long Day’s Journey Into Night Still Gets Revived Gives Me Hope For the World
I will fight anybody that doesn’t put this play in their top 3, cause it’s brilliant. My hackles go up when someone says “Four hours?! Who would sit through that?” I’ll tell you who, anybody with a soul. In this day and age it’s hard to feel empathy for white people who own a summer home and drink too much. But Eugene O’Neill makes it happen. So the very idea that somewhere a couple of Broadway producers got together and said “You know what would make a truckful of money? A revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night!” Although I’m sure there was at least one smart-ass intern who sneered and said “Ugh, this totally could have been 90 minutes, no intermission. Like, we get it, the Tyrone family is sad. You know what show doesn’t feel long at all? Hamilton, you’ve seen it, right?”

And that’s when I shot my intern, your honor.

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer. Keep up with his projects at www.awesometheatre.org and his smart-ass comments on Twitter @armiller78

The Five: Believing in TheatreFirst

Anthony R. Miller checks in with a recap of TheatreFIRST’s grand unveiling.

Hey you guys, about a week ago I was lucky enough to attend the season kickoff party for TheatreFirst in Berkeley. There were cool people, a giant platter of lunch meat, and some exciting announcements. If you weren’t there or had too much free wine and can’t remember the details, I’m here with some highlights. Predictably, there are five.

The Mandate
While TheatreFIRST is not a new company, they taking a step in a bold new direction: with a new Artistic Director, a season of commissioned plays, and a mandate that most of us in Bay Area theatre have talked about, had endless diversity forums on and said needed to happen. This mandate is to do theatre that reflects the actual world. TheatreFIRST is committing to aggressive diversity. At least half of all board members, admins and artistic staff MUST be women and two-thirds must be people of color. What makes this so exciting is that they aren’t planning to do it by 2025, or calling it a goal to strive for. It’s a mandate; it’s happening. Instead of saying it, they’re doing it.

The Location
The Live Oak Theater is tucked away in one of the fancier parts of Berkley, nestled in a pretty neighborhood and next to a pretty park. Yes, it’s the Berkeley we’re thinking of when we make fun of Berkeley. Make no mistake: this is a community theater that is not only dedicated to serving members of the theatergoing community, but also the theatre-making community. Subscriptions are super affordable and special $60 “Full Circle” Subscriptions are being made available to theatrical artists, which is pretty darn reasonable. Another big nod to the community is that beginning this summer, the Live Oak Theater will be made available FOR FREE during the day to all community theatrical artists. The idea is to have a group working in one corner, another on stage, another having a meeting in the new café. In a time where facilities are a big expense for any group, this is an incredibly generous thing. It is clear that T1’s goal is to make their venue a hub for art and community.

The Season
TheatreFIRST’S new season will consist of 4 brand-new commissioned pieces, all created by local theatrical artists. The first is Bagyo, by Rob Dario, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and giving a startling vision of the culture wars in Southeast Asia. Next up is VS., an exciting new musical written by Cleavon Smith, Stephanie Prentice and Reggie White, telling the story of Colonel Tye, a black man who escaped slavery and fought for the British in the Revolutionary War. Beneath the Tall Tree by Adrienne Walters and Jeffrey Lo tells the story of one woman’s quest to literally dig up her grandfather’s history and with it, a connection to her culture. The season ends in May 2017 with Hela by Lauren Gunderson, which explores the fascinating story of Henrietta Lacks. Want more info ? Go to www.theatrefirst.com and learn all about it.

The Party
I am not much of a party person, but I must admit, I had a swell time. Maybe it was the super welcoming vibe, the feeling of something very exciting and real happening, maybe it was realizing I have some really cool neighbors, or maybe it was the free wine. But when we left that night, we couldn’t wait to come back.

The Guy
One of the more exciting moments of the night was to see the staff and board of TheatreFIRST standing together on stage with their new Artistic Director, Jon Tracy, at the helm. Jon is one of the most creative, kind, hardworking, community-minded people in the entire Bay Area. I have been a friend and fan of his work for a very long time and not only does he deserve this, but you just know he’s going to foster something special and exciting. So jump on the website, head out to wooded glen of North Berkeley, and get ready to see an exciting new voice in Bay Area theatre. They’re presenting a season of shows that at its core are great stories and committing to the diversity we all want to see on stage.

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer, keep up with his projects at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78.