Akemi Okamura on the 2016 CAATA Conference at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

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Jeffrey Lo & Akemi Okamura

FutureWorks Fellow Akemi Okamura and Company Manager Jeffrey Lo recently represented TheatreWorks Silicon Valley at the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists’ (or CAATA) 5th National Asian American Conference and Festival, hosted by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Here are a few of Akemi’s takeways from the week in Ashland:

In my year and a half as FutureWorks Fellow at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, I’ve been able to see and do a lot of interesting and cool things. From sitting in on rehearsals and being the reader at auditions, to assisting with housing prep for out of town actors and logging new scripts, I have learned a lot. So when the opportunity to attend the CAATA conference presented itself, I naturally said yes. After all, what could be a better learning opportunity than getting to meet with and learn from Asian American theatre makers from across the country and the world? Looking back, it seems somehow super human how CAATA was able to fit so many things into just one week’s worth of conference, and yet they did. To break up the jam packed conference into smaller chunks, I have decided to share with you the top five things that I loved most about this year’s conference. Think of this as your conference highlight reel!cubsrhxueaaxtdy

1) Panels and Breakout Sessions
What conference would be complete without its panels and breakout sessions? For me, there were so many great options to choose from that I had difficulty narrowing it down to attending just one per session. Topics ranged from Asian American Directors, to a moving session called “Producing Theatre in a Mixed World” (which was particularly close to my heart as a multiracial theatre artist), along with various discussions on yellowface, and building the next Asian American leaders. There were so many more panels that were available, and if you’re interested in checking them out, visit the CAATA website here: http://caata.net/schedule/ Continue reading

A sneak peek at GRAVITY

The excitement is building for Gravity, a new musical by writers Joel Chapman, Weston Gaylord, Matt Herrero, Jessia Hoffman, and Ken Savage, all current or former students at Stanford University.

Gravity Group Formal Photo

This special next-generation event will be a part of our 2016 New Works Festival! Take a sneak peek at the creative process and the music in this live performance from Stanford earlier this year:

We’re less than two weeks from our 2016 New Works Festival. Learn more about this year’s lineup!

 

 

The Menier Chocolate Factory: A slice of London’s finest fringe theatre in the Bay Area

 

“This partnership with the celebrated Chocolate Factory is a thrilling step forward for TheatreWorks,” says TW Artistic Director Robert Kelley. “We’re proud that our long and distinguished history with composer Andrew Lippa has led to this electrifying American Premiere.”

We are honored to be co-producing The Life of the Party this summer with The Menier Chocolate Factory, reuniting author and star Andrew Lippa with director David Babani. Built in 1870 to house a chocolate factory, this unique space now comprises a restaurant and bar, rehearsal room, and 150 seat theatre. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Babani, the Chocolate Factory has been producing musicals, plays, live music, and stand-up comedy and is considered one of London’s premiere off-West End companies.

The Chocolate Factory received great international acclaim when their 2005 production of Sunday in the Park with George opened on Broadway, receiving eight Tony Award nominations including Best Revival of a Musical and acting nods for stars Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell.

Check out highlights from the Broadway production:

2010 proved to be a major year for Chocolate Factory productions on Broadway, with their revivals of La Cage aux Folles and A Little Night Music both picking up Tony nominations for Best Revival of a Musical. La Cage went on to win the award, providing Babani with his first Tony. Continue reading

Introducing the 2016 TAEAs!

Say hello to our 2016 class of Artistic Engagement Apprentices! Launched in 2014, this unique program brings emerging theatre artists into our office and rehearsal space to observe and participate in a professional company. For ten weeks, this group will spend time with our Marketing, Development, Education, and Artistic departments working with TheatreWorks staff and other artists. Get to know this special group of artists:

KieranName: Kieran Beccia

Hometown: Santa Margarita, CA

Alma Mater: UC Santa Cruz

First theatre experience:  Starring debut in a stage version of Muppet Treasure Island in 4th grade with children instead of Muppets

Favorite actor/actress: Frances McDormand

Favorite play or musical: Miss Julie

What are you most looking forward to during your time at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley? I am thrilled to learn more about production and theatre management. Continue reading

The Life of a Freelance Director

Giovanna Sardelli, director of The Velocity of Autumn, is a veritable whirlwind of energy. She would have to be, in order to keep up with the demanding schedule of the life of a freelance director! As our Director of New Works, Gio keeps her finger on the pulse of new works in America, traveling to festivals and showcases around the country. The energy and the new plays she brings us are invaluable to the mission of our New Works Initiative and TheatreWorks as a whole.

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Gio at the first rehearsal for The Velocity of Autumn

TWSV: How did you start directing? Was this always your passion?

Gio: I actually began as an actress. My MFA is from the Graduate Acting Program at NYU, and I spent a decade working in theatre and I had a small, recurring role on the soap opera Another World. I never really figured out the business of acting—I didn’t enjoy auditioning, and when I did get a part, I was always more interested in how it all came together rather than just my tiny part of the story telling. Zelda Fichandler was then the chair of the Graduate Acting Program and she had started a directing program with Paul Weidner. It was a year-long, tuition-free program that was an extension of the Grad Acting Program and they invited me to attend. Zelda was the one who told me that I thought like a director. And I’m so grateful to her and to Paul for supporting me in the transition into directing because it is what I love to do! Continue reading

A Conversation with Leslie Martinson and Jeffrey Lo

The five years of directing collaboration between Associate Artistic Director Leslie Martinson and Company Manager and Casting Associate Jeffrey Lo can be summed up in one sentence, aptly coined by Lo:

Proof that warrior water painters are still superior.

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Acting as assistant director, Lo has collaborated with Martinson on Superior Donuts, The Pitmen Painters, Time Stands Still, Warrior Class, and most recently Water by the Spoonful. This month, they will begin rehearsals for their sixth production, the stirring drama Proof. We recently sat down with Lo and Martinson for a conversation about their directing process, partnership, and the resonance of Proof to today’s Silicon Valley audience. Continue reading