Cowan Palace: The Woman Behind BOA 2013

Ashley Cowan asks Sara Staley a thing or two about BOA’s Program I and II.

It’s been a busy week for the Bay Area theatre scene. With plays opening, auditions on the horizon, and new works being brought to life, it’s a fun time to play for this artistic community’s team. The Bay One Act Festival officially began its run over the weekend and behind that magic is Producing Artistic Director, Sara Staley. Sara kindly agreed to answer a few questions in the midst of the excitement.

First things first! How did you first get involved with BOA (Bay One Acts Festival)?

I first directed for the Bay One Acts Festival in 2008 for Three Wise Monkeys Theatre, which is now just the name of the non-profit organization that is connected to BOA, and that founded the festival. The festival was helmed by Richard Bernier (who passed away in 2010), and held at the Eureka Theater for many years.

Out of all the many hats you’ve worn being involved with the festival in the past, which has been your favorite?

As Producing Artistic Director for the first time in this BOA go round, I really enjoyed the process of selecting plays (with the help of my BOA Lit. Committee), coming up with an engaging and dynamic line-up for both BOA programs, and then having so many great “page to the stage” moments during final dress rehearsals. And it’s all because of this talented and dedicated BOA 2013 company.

How is this year different than BOA festivals of the past?

We have a new venue at Tides Theatre and many of our 13 Producing Partner theater companies, directors, playwrights, actors and production staff are involved in BOA for the very first time. We have new to the bay area theater companies on board, and we have BOA actors like Siobhan Doherty and Brian Trybom, who are directing for BOA for the first time. So there is a mix of old and new, different but the same.

What is something about this year’s festival we may not know? (Keep in mind, a lot of us have done our fair share of facebook stalking and would love a juicy scoop!)

Well, for you Theater Pub beverage lovers, Rob Ready stocked our concessions at Tides Theatre, so we are ready to serve you. AND we have Kirsten Broadbear covering a lot of BOA bases with graces as my Festival Coordinator AND she’ll be running concessions for Program One AND understudying TWO roles in TWO plays on Thursday in Program TWO. So get your tickets now because they are only $13 (shameless plug).

Cheers to that, those are my favorite plugs! Now, everyone always wants to talk about women in the industry, am I right? And how there continues to be a lack of opportunity for us lady-folk. As a woman in charge of a huge theatrical festival, do you have any observations or words of wisdom to share on the topic?

Well, I can say that I am proud of the diversity of BOA 2013 across the board from playwrights, to directors, cast, to our production team, which does happen to be all female. I feel like opportunity should be given to those who want to do engaging or innovative work, or tell a story that needs to be told, or support artists and community in a positive and productive way, regardless of their gender, color, or sexual orientation.

What’s the biggest surprise you’ve encountered while working on this show?

There was a surprising connectedness in the themes of the plays, and I had to see both programs open this weekend and I had to see the work on stage to really see those common threads come to the surface. There were obvious theme connections that drew me to the 13 plays in BOA 2013, but there was another connection that formed between direction, vision, risk taking, vulnerability, humor, fear, loss, and magic that connected the programs together in way that was pretty unexpected for me. You’ll have to come see both programs of BOA 2013 to find your own connections. 😉

In ten words (or less), what can we expect to see at this year’s festival?

Thirteen new plays, thirteen theater companies, one BIG BOA 2013.

Many thanks to Sara for giving us a moment of her time! Between a stocked concessions stand, new plays, and ultimately, a celebration of Bay Area theatre, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to be a part of BOA 2013. Now running through October 5 at the Tides Theatre (533 Sutter Street, San Francisco). For more information, check out: bayoneacts.org or https://www.facebook.com/bayoneacts.

Actor John Lowell On “Shooter”

John Lowell, who is one of three actors in “Shooter”, talks about the play, his process and creating a role in the next Theater Pub show.

Give us a brief impression of who you are, in a hundred words or less.

I was born and raised in Portland, OR and I’ve lived in San Francisco on and off for a combined twenty years. I’ve also lived and worked in parts of Europe, Asia and E. Africa. I acted in and developed plays as a kid but moved away from it until years later when I took a theater class to balance out the dry world of business school. It was like the flood scene in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”; it swept me away, limbs flailing with joy. Thank God.

John Lowell, lost in the flood.

John Lowell, lost in the flood.

Is this your first time working at BOA? What’s that like? If it it’s not your first time, what brought you back to such a unique festival setting?

It is my first time with BOA. The perception that drew me to it is proving to be the reality – a diverse and exciting set of plays and artists coming together. I’m loving it so far.

You’re the first people to appear in a production of “Shooter”- what’s the best thing about “creating” a role this role as an actor?

I always try to either avoid watching previous versions of a role or if I’ve already seen some to file those images away and approach it as freshly as possible. So for me it’s great to be able to come to it initially with only the images that have developed from reading the script and build from there.

Are there any challenges?

Not so much from being the first to do it (per above), but specific to this role I’m finding entering this character’s world to be emotionally difficult. But I cherish opportunities to take artfully written material and immerse myself in the character, whoever they may be.

What’s been a particularly interesting element of this rehearsal process?

This piece is constructed in a way that is sort of like a dance where the dancers are unaware of each other yet connected. Excited by where this can go.

“Shooter” is an ensemble piece. How does being in an ensemble piece differ from, say, playing a lead in a show, or having a “minor” role?

It’s interesting to remove those usual elements, made more so by the fact that our stories unfold intertwined but without conscious acknowledgement of each other. But we naturally at some level acknowledge and are affected by each other. And our dialogue is connected.

Do you get a chance to see the other shows in the Festival this year? Anything got you excited besides your own? 

Will try to see all I can. The read-throughs made me want to see all of them.

What about in the upcoming theater season in general? 

So much I’d like to see but I need to get out there more.

What’s next for you?

I’m excited to be in another play at BOA, “Break of Day” by Jeff Carter, directed by Brian Trybom, acting with Shane Fahey.  I will be doing a reading of Blood of My Subjects by Richard White with PCSF on 10/14, and also doing the 24-Hour Play Fest with PCSF on 9/28. I’m assistant directing on the next production at Tides Theatre, Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph, directed by Jennifer Welch and featuring Cary Cronholm Rose and Wylie Herman, running 10/10-11/09.

“Shooter” will play, along with an assortment of other excellent one-acts in this year’s festival, September 15, 19, 21, 25, 27, 29 and October 3 and 5 at the Tides Theater in San Francisco. To find out more about this show, and all the great shows that will be a part of this cornerstone event for the San Francisco Bay Area Theater scene, check outhttp://bayoneacts.org/.

Director Rik Lopes Talks “Shooter” And SF Theater Pub at BOA 2013.

Rik Lopes, a frequent collaborator with the San Francisco Theater Pub, talks about directing this year’s contribution to the Bay One Acts Festival. A dramatic and challenging piece, “Shooter” looks to be a real unique part of this year’s festival, and just in case you didn’t think it would be a serious piece of art, Rik sent us this amazingly serious headshot.

Rik Lopes: Director, Actor, Writer... CK1 model?

Rik Lopes: Director, Actor, Writer… CK1 model?

Okay, so, tell the world who you are in 100 words or less.

I have been making theatre in some form or other since I was 10 years old. I have been actively involved in the San Francisco theatre community since 2007, having come back to my senses after a goodly long hiatus. I am an actor, director, and playwright, but not necessarily in that order.

This isn’t your first time working with Theater Pub, is it? What have you done with us in the past.

I have appeared in several readings, including Hamlet and Cheese on Post, The Memorandum, and The Shunned House. I was also very fortunate to direct both the pint-sized scene and full production of Brian Markley’s The Nebraskan And Sam.

This is your first time at BOA, correct? What’s that like?

Indeed it is. I have often been regaled by friends with stories of how much fun BOA is and am excited to finally be a part of it. I must say, I am very impressed by the sheer vastness of it all. I went into the project expecting to direct a really cool show and quickly learned that I would also be making friends with theatre companies from all across the city.

We know why producer Brian Markley picked this play, “Shooter” as the TP contribution to BOA, but what drew you to the piece?

I am always drawn to the dark horse pieces. BOA is generally assumed to be a collection of comedic pieces and I was very glad to discover “Shooter”. I was immediately drawn to the serious and dark nature of it. I am also a big fan of tight spaces filled with people who never actually interact with each other physically. It’s a fantastic challenge for a director.

It’s your first time working with Daniel Hirsch, the writer. How involved is he in the process?

I first met Dan at the general auditions and was impressed with him right away. He is very open to my ideas and continued to rework the script until the very end. He’s a super talented guy and I’m very pleased to be partnering with him to bring this show to life.

What’s turning out to be the biggest challenge in directing a piece like this, and in a festival setting?

I have to say that I tend to veer toward the minimal as a director. The less “stuff”, the better. Let the text speak for itself, that is. Part of me wonders if such a pared down show will fit harmoniously with the other pieces, especially if we have an audience expecting a bit more of a belly laugh.

What’s the greatest asset?

If we pull this off, the simple, dressed down concept may very well be our best asset as well. It can really be a standout.

How is this show still a Theater Pub show, despite not being performed in a bar?

One of the greatest things about Theater Pub is the immersive element and the chance to take advantage of unconventional staging and blocking. There’s a remarkably wide angle on the lens, so to speak, and you can really play with that. With “Shooter”, it’s as if we have jumped into the mirror world of Theater Pub. We have three very strong personalities who each inhabit a stiflingly small space but experience it in their own time. The audience sees three different stories unfolding at once.

What else at the festival are you most excited to see?

I’m really looking forward to “Break Of Day”. It’s a solid script with a great cast. I know Bryan Trybom as an actor and have always loved him on stage. I’m excited to see him direct.

“Shooter” will play, along with an assortment of other excellent one-acts in this year’s festival, September 15, 19, 21, 25, 27, 29 and October 3 and 5 at the Tides Theater in San Francisco. To find out more about this show, and all the great shows that will be a part of this cornerstone event for the San Francisco Bay Area Theater scene, check out http://bayoneacts.org/.