This week I realized how little I know about theatre in the Bay Area. This tumbled into a crisis of not knowing about theatre anywhere, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll hone.
When I began research on Jon Tracy, the playwright of See How We Are, I found myself rooted back in the community that I call home, the San Francisco Bay Area in California. I was pleasantly surprised to recognize ACT, City Lights, and a few other companies on the list of Tracy’s directing opportunities. As I kept digging deeper, I recognized fewer and fewer names. I found out that there is a flourishing PlayGround Festival for new work that Tracy leads. I found out that the East Bay is not just a place where my cousins and Shawna James lives, but an area actually full of new and interesting theatrical work. As a young theatre person, I couldn’t imagine staying in my hometown with the “lack of access” that I thought I would have. What was I missing?? How did I make that assumption without doing any apparent research? What gives a city the impression that it is or is not the place for theatre?
Now that I’ve gone into my junior year, I’ve been thinking about my options. My parents used to be sad that California wasn’t on my list of potential hometowns, and we had already started conversations about how it would be possible for me to survive in a city like New York. But now I know about Jon Tracy’s company TheatreFIRST and its goal to promote a community of artists in this expensive place to live. It has free rooms available for play development, the potential to create a program of workshops and speakers for the community, and it’s own commitment to have a company consisting of ⅔ people of color and ½ women. Whoa! I dig this! This is what I was looking for, in the place that I loved living for my whole life! Or, Playground. Another East Bay company, a “playwright incubator” of which Jon Tracy is a resident director, producing “Monday Night Playground” with a selection of 10 page plays once a month, with a “Best of Playground Festival” annually.
How do I keep finding these opportunities? We keep talking about search keywords and how Google can fail us and I don’t know how to find the companies that are doing the things that I want to participate in. I know that I need to do more work. But I’m hoping that I can keep finding new places to start.