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Theatre Bay Area ATLAS Playwrights Showcase: A New and Not-So-New Crop to Keep an Eye On

Theatre Bay Area has been leading the charge in developing mentorship programs to help theatre artists learn the business of their craft. The ATLAS program has previously provided this guidance for actors and directors. 2013 has added a new track to the list with ATLAS for Playwrights. The success of the program has reached national attention as Theatre Bay Area has been approached to provide their model to similar entities across the country.

Artists who have previously participated in the program have noted that, though there is a potential to share in some immediate financial rewards from the program itself, the real benefits are the long-term ones they receive from their newly-developed business skills.

ATLAS Playwrights Showcase

As part of the program, the playwrights were offered an opportunity to put themselves on public display before an invited audience of fellow artists, who in turn provided simple feedback. TBA's Executive Director, Brad Erickson, interviewed each participant to help the auditors gain additional insight into what propels each writer than what was provided in their bios. They then set-up and presented a snippet from either a work-in-progress or a piece that has already seen stage time.

This first program was divided into two events, each as part of the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in San Francisco and the TheatreWorks New Works Festival in Palo Alto.

Bay Area Playwrights Festival

This first evening of presentations was held the evening of July 24, 2013 at the Thick House in San Francisco. Ten playwrights were showcased.

Cassie Angley - has brought her craft to the Bay Area via New York City. She presented a selection from her one-woman show Finding the Michaels. She will be presenting part of another play in development, Split Chicks, at The Marsh in October. Check for more info.

Jonathan Spector - is co-artistic director for Just Theater in Berkeley. I had previously seen one of his directorial efforts with that company at the Berkeley City Club, Jason Grote's 1001. He presented a scene from a web series (podcast) as an unusual touch titled The World to Come.

Marissa Skudlarek - has seen productions of her many full length and short plays. She is a regular contributor to the San Francisco Olympians Festival and the Theatre Pub, to the latter of which she also contributes a blog at Theatre Pub offers short plays, all of which are site-specific to the locale, which is a San Francisco watering hole. Marissa read from one of those contributions, Beer Theory.

Paul Heller - uses his extensive world travel to present cultures he has experienced to American audiences. He presented an intriguing portrait of an American working in a Mexican Orphanage in Scavengers.

Roberta D'Alois - is also a contributor to the Olympians Festival as well as a teacher at SFSU. Her plays focus on stories of mental illness. Her presentation was in 2 parts: Pashto Dreams about priest who is ignited to go to Afghanistan about destroyed Buddhas and a monologue, The Rustic Melody.

Vickie Siegel - presented two songs from her musical take on Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors called A Hot Day in Ephesus. I had the good fortune of playing Aegeon in a production last year of that musical. I was hoping to hear something new from her but instead I got to contribute backing vocals on the Chains song.

Vonn Scott Bair - and I have worked together thanks to the Playwrights Center of SF. He was a contributor to last year's Repro Rights program, a fundraising tool for Planned Parenthood. Not only a prolific writer but actor in all media as well. He presented pieces from two unique theatreworks: Yes Maybe No (an interactive play) and The Possibility (a modular play.)

Martin Schwartz - has, admittedly, brought the most language-heavy and unsettling piece to the proceedings, a play that has seen stage time in San Francisco and Phoenix. TUTOR: enter the exclave was the type a show that required undivided attention.

Chas Belov - is another regular with Playwrights Center of SF and freely admits to an inability to refrain from humor in his writing. His contribution this evening was a take on racism in America through foreign eyes in My Visit to America.

Andrea Mock - presented an extremely animated scene from her play within a play about a dance version of Moby Dick being done in the Central Valley town of Porterville. The piece was titled, A Fish Without a Bicycle.

Next up: Day Two

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