Essay by

San Francisco

Essay by

The Bay Area is my home. All sides and shores of it. Born in San Francisco, raised in San Rafael and now settled in Berkeley. To live and work here you often have to run the 'triangle' in the same day. That means driving over all three major bridges (Golden Gate, Bay, Richmond/SR), running from auditions to teaching classes to rehearsals to writing sessions to jobs that pay the bills to family only to go home to sleep and start it all over again the very next day. It's what we do. How we survive. And for the most part the weather, the food, the coffee, the passion and the collaborative energy gets you from one place to another and sustains you through the best and worst times.

Out here we are all responding to something. Seeking wide-open spaces to flourish and grow. Looking for authentic ways to connect. Trying to expand our skills, to progress forward, to tell our story. And under it all is the overwhelming desire to change the world.

As a young man I fell in love with the craft of theater through a distinct Bay Area lens. I went to the Children's Opera in San Francisco, saw shows on top of Mt. Tam and Ian McKellen in Richard III at the Curran. I did the classics at my community center (The King and I, Annie, Music Man) before I moved onto Redwood High School where the student-run Ensemble Theater Company took me under it's wing and taught me how to write, listen, and work hard. There we created original, devised work, dove into the world of Shakespeare, and directed younger students in the quest to 'find the art in ourselves, not ourselves in the art'. I was fortunate enough to see Contraband at Theater Artaud, I Ain't Yo Uncle with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and Will Durst and Tim Wiggins in Waiting for Godot(I still have the playbills.) I believed Robin Williams when he said 'don't have anything to fall back on, you'll fall back on it'. I fell in love with the lore of 1960s Haight-Ashbury; the vibe, the music, the experimentation. Ken Kesey rolled through here. So did Kerouac. And Kushner. And now my peeps create performance in newspaper factories, music clubs and on the street. For kids and adults. For people who hate the theater because it is not for them. And for people who are dying to see themselves reflected in any authentic way, shape or form. The Bay Area knows that ideas are born here before the rest of the country co-opts, polishes and sells them back to us, claiming them as original. But we do the Bay better than anybody. We got our swagger. Our approach. And when we see it re-packaged we know its origin.

Out here we are all responding to something. Seeking wide-open spaces to flourish and grow. Looking for authentic ways to connect. Trying to expand our skills, to progress forward, to tell our story. And under it all is the overwhelming desire to change the world.

We are also a family here. Competing. Collaborating. Collecting. (Isn't that what family is?) We listen and see each other. Push and pull. Gather and separate. We walk into rooms and instantly see the people we want to be while others flanking them see us the same way. We are constantly reminded that we could be other places, we just choose to be here. Better or worse. Poor or poorer. Fame or obscurity.

Long ago when I had nothing but dreams I would always find myself in either NY or LA at the end of the year. Something about approaching a rebirth that would get me looking elsewhere. I would come home and try to convince all my artistic partners-in-crime to move with me. 'That’s where it happens' I would say. I wasn't wrong. But it wasn't right, either. But how do you get from where you are to where you want to be? From the dream to the reality? From being a fan to a practitioner? So last year when I received a faculty handbook to teach a workshop at an MFA program I'd been denied acceptance to not once but twice, I knew that I had made the right choice to stay, put down roots, and help facilitate the growth of a community of creators doing it first and foremost for the love and the deep desire to tell stories that mean something.

As Chuy Gomez would say 'Baaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy Aaaaaaaaaareaaaaaaaaa!!!'

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Thoughts from the curator

A series featuring voices from in and around San Francisco's theatre community.

San Francisco Bay Area City

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Thanks, Dan. Very inspiring. I moved here from the Midwest and love the artistic scene here. Growing my roots here with my husband and kids. This is the place.

--linked through Molly Noble on FB