Cowan Palace: Shut Up And Act

Ashley Cowan has ten auditions for you to sign up for right now. Well, maybe read the blog first. Then get out there, kid! It’s time to be a star!

Fall is coming early, friends. And I’m of course referring to the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. Which will be available in a mere FIVE DAYS (on August 25)!


Also, keeping with the Theater Pub trend of looking ahead at autumn offerings and reading about the upcoming theater we all have to look forward to coming this season, I started to wonder how the audition scene was looking for non-AEA San Francisco based actors.

The good news? There’s a scene! The better news? I’m going tell you ten auditions to sign up for right now. They may not all strike your theatrical fancy, sure, but if you’ve been sitting around all summer missing the stage, here’s your chance to get back on it. In between double fisting your pumpkin caffeine juice, of course.

Well, this first audition is for a film and it’s TODAY. But it can’t hurt to try and submit, right? Who knows maybe you’re perfect for it!

1) Banquet Productions’ “Labyrinth in Time” – August 20 (THAT’S TODAY!)

Shakespeare nerds! They’re searching for: actors for short film written in iambic pentameter. 2M (30-40); 1F (30-40).

Writer/Director: Hank Voge; the film will shoot in early October in a variety of Bay Area spots. To book a last minute appointment contact: Producer, Gabriel Brown,

Looking to break out into well rehearsed song and dance? Here are a few auditions of the musical variety for you to check out!

2) FOGG Theatre’s “The Cable Car Nymphomaniac” – August 24.

Okay, the title alone is intriguing, right? Well, for this sexy piece, you’ll need two contemporary songs (one minute each). They are hoping to find: 3M (20s-30s, tenors, 1 to G, 1 to G & dancer, 1 to B & dancer); 4F (20s-30s, 1 belter & dancer; 1 2nd soprano, low A to high F#, & dancer; 1 belter to high E-flat; 1 low alto, low F to D4, & dancer).

The Playwrights are: Kirsten Guenter and Tony Asaro and the Director is: Terry Berliner. The audition is August 24 from 10AM-6PM (callbacks August 26 from 7-11PM). Salle Pianos, 1632C Market St., San Francisco. Rehearsals start on December 2 and the show performs January 15-February 1 at Z Below, 470 Florida Street, San Francisco. And it pays! $600-$1,400 bucks. For more information and to schedule your audition, contact:

3) Indelible Voices Project’s “The Little Match Girl”

If you love puppets like I do, check this out. They’re looking for: performers with strong musical theatre skills for multimedia puppet show. 1M (20-50, baritone); 3F (30-60, soprano/alto), 1F (10-18, soprano); 2 any gender (10-15, soprano/alto).

Playwrights: Marcus Duskin and Katrina Cameron
Send voice recordings via email; those called back will sing samples from score. Stipend available. Callbacks will be middle to late September. Rehearsals begin in November and the show performs December 13-21 in San Francisco and Berkeley. To apply for an audition, send voice recordings and information to:

4) Steve Silver Productions, Inc.’s – “Steve Silver’s Beach Blanket Babylon” – September 13

For this iconic show, you need one ballad and one uptempo number (please be ready with sheet music in your key as an accompanist will be provided) Bonus points if you can imitate some pop culture icons and you come ready with your dancing shoes!

Playwright: Steve Silver. Auditions are September 13 at 2PM at Club Fugazi, 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd., San Francisco and the performances are ongoing. The show also provides a competitive salary and sweet benefits!
Info:; ­

5) General Singer Auditions for High Seas

Sponsored by the St. Francis Yacht Club, this one is just for the ladies! They’re seeking two singers to join their 12-voice, female jazz vocal group. The auditions will take place in early September and they’ll be looking for a first soprano and first alto. For more information and details contact: Auditions Chair, Janet Mansinne:

Always wanted to do a play for kids? Awesome. Get out there and audition for this!

6) San Francisco Youth Theatre’s “In and Out of Shadows” – September 4

You’ll need: 16 bars to be sung acapella and clothes to move around in to dance.
They’re looking for: 2M & 3F (18-26, Latino, Filipino or other Asian). Spanish, Chinese &/or Tagalog language facility a+.

The Playwrights are: Soto, Klion and Brooks and the Director is: Cliff Mayotte. Auditions are September 4 from 4:30-7PM (callbacks are September 9) at Brava Theater, 2781 24th St., San Francisco. Rehearsals begin September 11 and the show performs November 23-December 7 and Brava Theater and Fresno City College with a possible tour to follow. Stipend and travel expenses available! To book an audition slot, send your headshot/resume to: Emily Klion,

Are readings more your thing right now? Who wants to memorize words, anyway? Then you need to check out this audition!

7) San Francisco Olympians Festival – September 28 and 29

They are looking for literally DOZENS of actors for this festival of new plays running November 5-22! Rehearsals will be in October and November and will include a maximum of 3-5 meetups for each show.

For more information about the festival and the plays involved, visit: Auditions are September 28, 2PM-10PM, and September 29, 7-10PM, at the Exit Theater. Please email: to schedule an audition slot.

Straight up theater is your jam, huh? These are all for you, actor face!

8) Alma Theatre Company’s “You Are My Sunshine” – September 19

Bring a contemporary monologue and prepare to cold read. They’re looking for: 1M (20s-60s), 1M (20s-50s), 1M (20s-30s); 1F (mid-40s), 1F (20s-50s), 1F (20s).

Playwright/Director: Kelli Colaco, auditions are September 19 with rehearsals beginning in mid November at the San Francisco Playhouse Rehearsal Space, 323 Geary St. Ste. 211, San Francisco. And, yes, there’s pay. To book an appointment, contact Kelli Colaco: Info:

9) Custom Made Theatre’s “The Braggart Soldier (or Major Blowhard)” – September 2 and 4

Written by Plautus and adapted and directed by Evren Odcikin, they’re looking for: 3M/2W/2 any gender, any ethnicity. Auditions are September 2 and September 4. Callback will be September 6 with rehearsals beginning on February 24. The show performs March 27-April 26 (with a possible extension to May 2) at Custom Made Theatre, 1620 Gough St, San Francisco. There is a stipend available. For more infomation and to sign up for an audition slot visit:

10) No Nude Men Productions’ “Desk Set” – October 20

This one is just for the fellas! Written by William Marchant and directed by Stuart Bousel, they are seeking men of all ages, races, etc. who have evening and weekend availability in June and July of 2015. The show runs for nine performances, July 10-26 at the Exit Theater in San Francisco and there is a $150 stipend available.

To schedule an audition, send those handsome headshots and resumes to Stuart at: with “DESK SET” in the subject line.

So whether you submit to all of these auditions or just get inspired to grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte, the Bay Area theater scene is ready for you. Get off your butt, dust off that monologue or song, and act. That’s all you have to do. As always, I’m rooting for you, kid!


Hi-Ho, The Glamorous Life: The Van Ness Avenue Problem

Marissa Skudlarek continues her semi-monthly column on life and times in the Bay Area theater scene. Have your own story to tell? Let us know! We’re working towards having something new on the SF Theater Pub blog EVERY DAY, but we can’t do it without you! 

When I studied in Paris five years ago, I lived with a host family in the 16th arrondissement, a neighborhood that represented the best of walkable, cultured urbanism. A Metro station next door. A boulangerie two blocks away. And, most impressive of all, a theater down the street.

I had never before lived on the same block as a theater, and I doubt I ever will again.  Theaters in San Francisco – as in many American cities – do not tend to be located in the neighborhoods where I wish to live. Typically, urban American theaters fall into two distinct types:

  • Big institutional theaters, located in a “theater district” in the city center – here, Union Square
  • Small black box theaters, located in neglected neighborhoods – here, the Tenderloin

This division is a bit more complicated in San Francisco than elsewhere, as our city’s odd geography means that Union Square and the Tenderloin lie cheek by jowl and merge into one another – but let’s not get into that.

San Francisco theaters, therefore, cluster into just a few neighborhoods of our large and diverse city. I like to call this unequal geographic distribution  “the Van Ness Avenue problem.” As I see it, a line runs north-south and divides the city: east of the line, there are theaters; west of the line, there aren’t. And this line is located roughly at Van Ness Avenue. While you can quibble with my exact terminology (I can think of a few theaters located one or two blocks west of Van Ness, such as Custom Made on Gough Street or Stage Werx on Valencia Street), the point stands: close to 100% of the theaters in San Francisco are located in the eastern 30% of the city.

In practical terms, this means that the neighborhoods where artists live are often different from the neighborhoods where they make theater. I live in the Inner Sunset, as do many other stalwarts of the San Francisco independent theater scene – when coming home from theater events, I rarely lack for “MUNI buddies” to ride the N-Judah with me.  In the Inner Sunset, we have our boulangeries (shout-out to Arizmendi and Tart to Tart), we have transit connectivity, we have doctors’ offices and retail stores and an astounding number of restaurants. But we don’t have a theater. And this same pattern holds for many of the most lively and livable neighborhoods in San Francisco: the Haight, the Inner Richmond, the Castro. Neighborhoods like these are seemingly New Urbanist paradises, equipped with every amenity – except for a local theater.

What’s true for the artists is true for our audience as well. The challenge of getting people to come see theater is not merely convincing them that a certain show is worth their time and money. More than that, we must convince them to venture into some of the city’s most dilapidated areas. While the Tenderloin is easy to get to, it’s not very hospitable for theatergoers; for instance, it’s difficult to find a restaurant to dine at before the show. (I’ve been known to suggest dining at the Westfield Mall cafeteria, for lack of a better option.) And while we know that you won’t get robbed if you go to the Tenderloin, many other San Franciscans have a hard time believing that. Moreover, if you’re a woman, you won’t get robbed, but you’ll probably get catcalled.

Because the theaters where we work are often located on obscure streets in run-down areas, we also cannot take good advantage of foot traffic or spillover from other popular venues in the neighborhood. A theater on a main thoroughfare like Divisadero or Haight would be seen by thousands of people who stroll the street daily, plus the thousands more who travel down it by bus. Contrast that with a typical Tenderloin theater, the Boxcar – located on an alley off of a seedy part of 6th Street, it’s easy to overlook. I fear that by not catering to foot traffic, we ignore an important source of new audience members.

Theater Pub at the Café Royale avoids some of these pitfalls. Yes, it’s east of Van Ness, and on the map it might look like it’s in the Tenderloin, but it’s really in the quieter and more residential “Tendernob.” It does get foot traffic, and the big plate-glass windows of the Café Royale mean that passers-by can peer inside and wonder what’s going on. Several patrons have joined us for a show after spotting us from the street!

An example of the type of theater that I envision for San Francisco’s central and western neighborhoods is Thick House, on Potrero Hill. It’s a 100-seat proscenium stage, located in a nice mixed-use neighborhood, close to shops and restaurants. Because Thick House is one of the few small theaters that’s not in the Tenderloin, it’s a favorite of institutions like Playwrights Foundation and PlayGround. If a neighborhood like Potrero Hill can support Thick House, couldn’t a neighborhood like the Richmond or the Sunset support a small theater?

I don’t pretend that it will be easy to alleviate “the Van Ness problem” and open new theaters in different neighborhoods of San Francisco. I know that theater is not a moneymaking industry, that the Tenderloin offers cheap rent, that theaters require specific facilities and you can’t just open up a theater in any building. I know we’re in a recession and all businesses are struggling. Think of the late, lamented Red Vic Movie House, which had a great location on Haight Street and closed last summer after 30 years in business.

Nonetheless, I think it’s worth asking why we must go east of Van Ness Avenue if we want to see a show. Will I ever see a theater marquee lit up on Irving Street?

Marissa Skudlarek is a San Francisco-based playwright, dramaturg, and arts writer. Find her at and on Twitter @MarissaSkud.