The AD interview you’ve all been waiting for: Tonya Narvaez and Meg Trowbridge ask the tough questions.

MT       Are you as uncomfortable using the title Artistic Director as I am? Do you say it in a funny voice like I do?

TN        I’ve totally been able to say it! But I think that’s because I started the year blissfully unaware of what it meant. I definitely do try to say it as quickly as possible, because if I take my time announcing my title it feels like it’s going to make me seem self-important and bore the other person to actual death.

MT        Like, for real, I can’t say it in a straight voice. My go-to voice is pretty muppet-ish. Hopefully after a few more productions it will roll off my tongue with a little more grace and authority.


I’m Artistic Director for San Francisco Theater Pub – wocka wocka wocka!

TN        How are Theater Pub shows of today different than in years past?

MT        Well, to start, PianoFight’s space is a completely different beast than Royale. This year’s shows have only scratched the surface for ways we can utilize the bar space. Also, all of our shows having four performances is radically different. Theater Pub used to be a pop-up event and now we have 12 mini-productions. I feel like the last four shows we produced were where we started taking more risks and hitting our stride.

TN        I completely agree. We’ve had a bigger focus on new work as well! We still include classical work in the year, which is always relevant to the here and now. But overall, our work has been coming straight from the community.

MT       What has been your best moment this year?

TN        Honestly, there have been great moments throughout, but I have to say my best moment this year was the last performance of February’s H/D: A Symphonic Romance in Space. It was the first show I put on as AD, as well as the first Theater Pub show I’d ever written or directed. I was constantly worried that I’d forgotten some major component. I also changed the staging before almost every show because I was still learning how to work in the space. In the end, a lot of friendly faces showed up to the last night and it felt like all the pieces really came together. It had a tiny spark of that Theater Pub magic.



Beautiful art for H/D: A Symphonic Romance in Space by Cody Rishell

MT        I loved each show I worked on (I allowed myself to sing U2 in a show – it’s been a good year), but I loved seeing the bond between the cast of I Like That. Sara Judge did her magic and brought this cast together to perform a very ambitious script. The play was wonderful, but I enjoyed watching the cast interact, hang out after the shows, and message each other funny inside jokes on Facebook even more. I had very little to do with this, BT-dubs.



Meg Trowbridge casts a spell on the Theater Pub audience with her singing in Good Craic

TN        Any surprises about how the year played out?

MT        I think we both felt, at times, that this year was a bit “seat-of-our-pants.” So, I was surprised to look back and see a pretty well balanced year of programming. We had comedy, drama, one-acts, experimentation on stage, and a ton of new work. I think it set a tone for our 2016 season to be ambitious and varied – and we shall see how that unfolds! How about you?

TN        Yes, I feel like every show was full of new surprises! The biggest surprise of all was that we did it and it was good. *High five* But more seriously, we began the year doing 3 performances a month at two venues. One was brunch at The Hall on Market Street. After a couple of shows there, we realized it just wasn’t a good fit for either of us. PianoFight gave us the space to expand our offerings to 4 nights, and thus our current schedule was born. It was a great surprise, because we now have a singular home with roots in the community.

MT       What’s one thing you have learned after putting on four shows?

TN        I’ve learned how to be an AD. Seriously, I learned so many lessons via trial and error this year. It was growing pains. During one show, I took more of a backseat and just let the show happen, asking whether anything was needed along the way. For some shows, that can work. My AD senses weren’t honed enough yet to realize this wasn’t one of those shows. Obviously the show still went on, but it definitely could have gone a lot smoother for all involved if I had a tighter grip on the reins from the start.

MT:       For me, I learned it never gets easier to ask people to donate their time and energy for a stipend that solely depends on the generosity of the audience. Even if we do well, by SFTP standards, it never feels like enough. THANK YOU to all the actors, writers, and directors who put on wonderful shows for love more than anything.


Thank you to our actors, writers, directors, and fantastic audiences

TN        What has been the hardest part of this year? Stuart already said it’s been a bumpy year so we can be honest here. What sucked?

MT        Well, the first is always the hardest. Putting up On the Spot definitely gave me some grey hairs. There were a lot of moving pieces, and we hadn’t rebuilt our community enough to get the numbers that I wanted. That being said, it went pretty well – sodomizing a youth with a banana and all!

TN        Hah! For me, the hardest part was also one of the most exciting parts. I produced A Wake by Rory Strahan-Mauk, which was unlike anything Theater Pub had ever done before. It was very exciting, but there were some moments where it was unpredictable and it went a bit off the rails! The show happened almost all at the same time and throughout the entire space (the stage, bar, bathroom, and even outside in the Tenderloin). There were so many moving pieces, and so many opportunities for failure, and (as we discovered) so many opportunities for passerby to be confused and think they were witnessing real life instead of a play. We made it through the other side, and the audience was into it overall, but I think the show was definitely ahead of its time for us.

MT       After a year on the job, what’s your dream show for Theater Pub?

TN        This is such a hard question. It’s set up for you to name a play that already exists, and to outline your plan for that play. But I kind of feel like I’m living my best life right now, as far as the plays I want to put on. For February I’m writing a fictional Lisa Frank origin story, Over the Rainbow. In May we have Colin Johnson’s Sticky Icky, a story about slackers holed up in a bar during a societal collapse caused by an infectious strain of marijuana. In September we have Savannah Reich’s amazing comedy Stupid Ghost, which features a ghost dance number. I truly don’t know what else I could want out of 2016.

MT        I know this is my question, but I have no idea. I guess my dream play is a new play for a small cast (2-4 actors, maybe) and maybe it could be in the round? We could put some audience up on stage? I dunno. I think I need to read more books about being an Artistic Director.

TN        What else have you spent your precious time on this year?

MT        Oh man, what was I thinking this year?! I jumped head-first into KML’s madness, and had the pleasure of directing two shows, head-writing two shows, and writing for several. It’s such a fun group of people and I’ve had a blast pulling my hair out balancing that with SFTP. I also wrote a full-length for the Olympians Festival this year and had to balance being a member of the Monday Night Playground pool while Theater Pub was first kicking off. Yeah, 2015 was IN-SANE. Oh, and my improv team Chinese Ballroom are my home away from home. Check out our monthly shows at PianoFight, kicking back up in February!

TN        This year I was Production Manager for DivaFest’s Loud & Unladylike. I’m writing about Christine Jorgensen in this year’s Loud & Unladylike, which will be read at Pianofight in mid-July! I also wrote and directed the opening party play for the San Francisco Olympians Festival. This year I am writing a one-act about Osiris, Cyrus, which will be read at the Exit Theatre on October 21. I also started seeing a therapist again, which I seriously recommend to anyone in the arts.

MT       What are you most excited about for 2016?

TN        I am so excited about our entire year! I look at the lineup and it brings me so much pride and joy. I’m also super stoked to check out Saturday Write Fever, and can’t wait to see what the bloggers have up their sleeves.

MT        I am stoked about all the musicals booked for next season! What has gotten into us?! I’m a musical-geek, so this is basically becoming my dream job. ❤


Here’s to another year


Theater Around The Bay: A WAKE opens TONIGHT!


Fuck death. When it takes those we love, why grieve and let it win? Instead, we celebrate! Our good friend Angie has passed. Let us honor her with a party. Join us for an evening of drinking as we remember our fallen family.

A Wake is an immersive piece featuring a series of events occurring throughout the PianoFight! bar. We encourage you to move as if you’re just out to drink, and experience the night unfold around you.

Written by Rory Strahan-Mauk in collaboration with the actors. Starring Ed Berkeley, Andrew Chung, Danielle Doyle, Ira Jones, Sophia LaPaglia, Juliana Lustenader, Cara McKelvey Phillips, Michelle Navarrete, and Samantha Schmitt.

The show plays four performances at PIANOFIGHT (144 Taylor Street)

Monday, June 22 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, June 23 @ 8:00pm
Monday, June 29 @ 8:00pm
Tuesday, June 30 @ 8:00pm

As always, admission is FREE, with a $5 donation suggested at the door. No reservations required, but we recommend getting there early to get a good seat and remember to show your appreciation to our hosts at the bar!

Come early to PIANOFIGHT to try out their great new dinner menu!

See you at the pub!

Theater Around the Bay: Pub Love! Five Things We’re Celebrating

Marissa Skudlarek brings us a special report on what we’re just loving about Theater Pub these days!

June is traditionally a month for celebrations (dads, graduations, weddings…) and here at Theater Pub, we have a lot to celebrate too! Five things we’re happy about this week:

1. A Wake by Rory Strahan-Mauk, opening a week from tonight, is our first site-specific commission in our new performance space, the PianoFight Cabaret. See the show on June 22, 23, 29, and 30 at 8 PM.

2. Last Friday, we hit 1,500 followers on Twitter (join us @SFTheaterPub) and today, we hit 1,250 “Likes” on Facebook! Thanks to everyone in our social media community – we couldn’t do it without you!

3. Speaking of nice round numbers, this past Saturday, we hosted our 25th edition of Saturday Write Fever in the EXIT Theatre café! We’re thrilled that this has become such a popular and long-running event that encourages people to explore their creativity.

4. Today, American Theatre Magazine’s Facebook page linked to blogger Marissa Skudlarek’s most recent column, “She Submits to Conquer.” With this, we’re grateful to be part of the national conversation about how to improve gender parity in theater.

5. Our staff is the largest it’s ever been — in the inimitable words of Megan Cohen, “there’s enough of us now to cosplay Too Many Cooks.” We’re already making plans for our first all-hands meeting (combining production staff & blog writers) in July, so we can continue bringing you great theater and great writing from the City by the Bay!

Can it get even better? We shall see! Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who continues to make Theater Pub a success!

Theatre Around The Bay: Announcing A Wake!

Our next show, A Wake, is already in rehearsals and we’re excited to bring another world premiere play to you this season! You can find out more about the show here, but in the meantime, we thought we’d let our playwright, Rory Strahan-Mauk tell you all about it in this very honest interview he gave us over the weekend.

Who are you, in 100 words or less.

Rory: Some kid from the Bay Area and Minneapolis, if that makes sense. Does that make sense? As in I was born here but spent a good amount of time in both places through my childhood. I like cheeseburgers and fruity drinks. Looking up at the moon. Watching airplanes take off and land. Progressive rock. Speeding. I also hate. I hate so, so much.

Rory Strahan-Mauk: Here to hate.

Rory Strahan-Mauk: Here to hate.

What is A Wake, and why did you want to bring this to Theater Pub?

Rory: A Wake is, for me, an experiment in audience mechanics. All my personal projects revolve around that study- researching how the audience fits into theater beyond observing. I see the theater scene reaching into this danger zone and not knowing what to do with it. Maybe by bringing it to Theater Pub, the right folks will learn from whatever the hell happens here, and use that knowledge in the future.

The cast is part of the creative process here- how so?

Rory: With a new work, I see the actors as having invaluable input into their characters, so much so that past a certain point they will understand their roles far better than I will. Because of this, the script develops with them- dialogue, cadence, certain actions. And with certain aspects of the show, there are scenes where what happens is determined entirely by the actor’s choices, far past my own suggestions or control.

Would you label this as devised work? Why or why not?

Rory: No, God no. This piece is a written play that provides room for the actors to have agency (or rather, more agency than a standard play). Devised work is when a bunch of folks create something from scratch together, leading to all sorts of problems, such as lifelong regret and poor art. It’s one of those things that works well as an exercise at say a college, but shouldn’t be performed as a final product. Like movement pieces, or Shakespeare.

What is the potential appeal of working in a bar? And what is the challenge?

Rory: It’s a real location. The stage either exists or doesn’t, depending on whatever theory you subscribe to. It allows a certain immersion that does not remove the self from the situation. The story is happening, and so are you, still watching, still aware of yourself. I don’t know if the bar provides any challenge other than dealing with logistics. Any obstacle I might imagine seems miniscule.

Do you see yourself creating something that can live beyond Theater Pub?

Rory: Not the story, but the structure. This style I can easily see utilizing and evolving over time. The play itself can either linger or not, I don’t care. The story’s important now, maybe. It’s made for now; if someone wants to reuse it in the future, whatever, but there’s no drive for that. Not with the story. The structure, the style, that’s the long game.

Commissions are hard to come by, even with smaller companies like this one. What advice do you have for other playwrights out there?

Rory: Don’t pitch what you think they want to hear, pitch what you want to do. Write about what fascinates you. Alternatively, schmooze the fuck out of everyone- that’s probably more important. Sure, work hard, don’t be a cunt about it, realize you can always be better and listen to people when they criticize you. But, shit, there’s no real specific advice here. The world doesn’t offer certainty, to try for it would be futile. Figure out what works for you and do it. Also, quitting is a completely viable option.

What else is going on in the local theater scene that interests or excites you?

Rory: Not much. There’s some cool site specific work going on, but the stories tend to be aristocratic in nature, thus inaccessible. There are interesting stories and new plays, yet they’re stuck in an awkward performative style meant for those already in love with it. For what would interest me, all the parts exist, they’re just scattered across a desolate scene that’s striving to remain relevant while refusing to acknowledge its fundamental issues. The parts will never come together as long as old ways of thinking control the future. There is some hope, perhaps, but not here. Not for me.

What’s next for you?

Rory: Chicago.


We are looking for actors for the June Theater Pub show!

A Wake by Rory Strahan-Mauk

A group of friends and acquaintances deal with addiction, death, race, and family as they mourn a young woman recently deceased from alcohol poisoning.


Angie – Female, non-white, dead, 20s

Hatchet – Male, black, 20s-30s

Porter – Male, non-white, 30s

Betty – Female, 20s

Sunshine – Female, white, 20s-30s

Unyque – Female, black, 20s-30s

Harmon – Male, black, 30s

Chase – Male, white, 20s-30s

Carmen – Female, non-white, 40s-50s

Sunday, May 3 (Between 11 AM-4 PM, specific time will be determined when you request a time slot) at the Community Room in the San Francisco Police Station: 630 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

1 contemporary monologue, and be prepared to read sides. Please email Rory Strahan-Mauk for an audition time slot –

5-week rehearsal process, beginning May 18

4 performances in June at PianoFight, 144 Taylor St., San Francisco, CA 04102
8 PM on Monday 6/22, Tuesday 6/23, Monday 6/29, and Tuesday 6/30

Small Travel Stipend