Posts tagged #Theatre Bay Area

My Year in Review!

A shorter version of this year-in-review was e-mailed to my Newsletter recipients earlier this week. I can often be hard on myself, focusing only on what else I need to achieve, and staring at task lists and check boxes in order to feel like I'm getting somewhere. I can feel like I'm falling behind or failing or not doing enough. So these kinds of reviews help me see the things that I have accomplished, and remind me to take a moment and be proud of my work.


I want to start by acknowledging that for many of my friends and colleagues, 2017 has been a very difficult year. I know too many people who have felt the ripple effects of political policies that seem to strengthen messages of hate and bigotry, rather than freedom and diversity. Additionally, there seems to have been an onslaught of natural disasters this year that continues to this day with the Southern California Fires.

Still, in the face of these trials and traumas, I have also seen amazing creative work flourish around me. I am honored to be part of a theatre community that is committed to being bold and unrelenting in its story- and truth-telling. 2017 has also yielded much fruit for me in my writing endeavors. Here's just a snapshot of highlights by month:

Bad Kitty On Stage! opens at TYKEs in Rochester, NY
Conducted in-class workshops for Story Explorers

World premiere of Story Explorers at Bay Area Children's Theatre

Invited as a Guest Speaker at UC Berkeley to discuss Story Explorers
Helped out as a "Resume Doctor" at the Theatre Bay Area Conference

Workshop of The Four Immigrants at Playwrights Foundation

World premiere of Step Up Crew begins touring Bay Area schools
Bad Kitty On Stage! opens at the Gifford Family Theatre in Syracuse, NY
Table Reading of Song of the Nightingale at Town Hall Theatre

Rehearsals for The Four Immigrants begins at TheatreWorks

World premiere of The Four Immigrants at TheatreWorks - my first LORT Production

First Table Read of Inside Out & Back Again at Bay Area Children's Theatre

The Song of the Nightingale opens at Town Hall Theatre

Taught a "Song-aturgy" class at Musical Cafe

The Four Immigrants receives the Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding World Premiere Musical

Workshop for Inside Out & Back Again at Bay Area Children's Theatre

Now onward to 2018!



The Four Immigrants received a TBA Award!

Last night, I was honored to receive a Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding World Premiere Musical for The Four Immigrants. It was an exciting evening, to say the least! One particularly meaningful memory was when members of the TheatreWorks cast joined with actors from previous readings of the piece to sing "Furusato" together on stage. Thank you to everyone who has supported The Four Immigrants!

In case you haven't heard, we are also raising funds to help produce an original cast album for the show! To donate or for more info, CLICK HERE.

From L to R: Sean Fenton, Rinabeth Apostol, Kerry K. Carnahan, Stephen Workman, Min Kahng, Phil Wong, Leslie Martinson, Jeffrey Lo

From L to R: Sean Fenton, Rinabeth Apostol, Kerry K. Carnahan, Stephen Workman, Min Kahng, Phil Wong, Leslie Martinson, Jeffrey Lo

My Experience at the NAMT Festival of New Musicals

As part of my 2014 career map, I set a goal of attending a musical theatre festival in New York. Thanks to funds provided by Theatre Bay Area's Titan Award and the influence of my mentor, Leslie Martinson, I was able to tag along with TheatreWorks to NAMT’s Festival of New Musicals last week at New World Stages in NYC (Holy Hyperlinks!). My main objectives were to observe, learn and get a pulse on what is happening in the musical theatre industry.

I was so excited to receive my packet and name badge!!!

I was so excited to receive my packet and name badge!!!

Here’s how the two-day festival worked. Eight writing teams, who were chosen prior to the festival, prepared 45-minute versions of their current projects for presentation on one of two stages. Festival attendees were assigned one of two show-tracks. On the first day, we waited in line to enter a theatre, watched one team present their 45-minute snippet, exited into the lobby where the writers handed out demos and made themselves available for conversation, then immediately queued up again to re-enter the theatre to watch the next presentation. This repeated until we saw four shows that day. The second day was nearly identical, except we watched the remaining four shows in the second theatre. There was also a special songwriting showcase on the first day, during which four writing teams were able to share two songs from their current projects. Basically, it was a full two days of musical theatre. I should say, NEW musical theatre.

I won't go into too much detail (if you're curious about the line-up of shows, click here). I will say that there was such a refreshing breadth of musical theatre styles represented in the festival. Some were very contemporary and varied, while others stayed true to a particular culture or time-period. There were love stories and tragedies and hilarious comedies. And my God, the talent! From the writing to the musicians to the actors, it was clear to me that these were not mere dabblers in the art of musical theatre. These folks took what they were doing seriously and poured themselves into their projects.

I think that’s what stood out to me most about the Festival of New Musicals. Everyone there loved musicals and wanted to catch a glimpse of where the art form is headed. Theatre companies were interested in finding a work they could invest in and help develop into a fully realized show. I was surrounded by people who loved musical theatre as much as I do. I come away from the festival with great, practical insight into what gets a show to its next steps. But perhaps more importantly, I come away feeling like my passion for musical theatre is not silly or ungrounded - it's a passion shared by others - and I am invigorated to jump right back into my own writing.

Sorry to be so cliche...

EBCF is hosting The Business of Art Workshop in Oakland

EBCF is hosting The Business of Art Workshop in Oakland

...but it's all a process. This is what I'm learning right now. As I make a more conscious shift of focus in my career from being a jack-of-many-performing-arts-trades to more specifically owning the title of writer/composer, I am made keenly aware of how "process-y" it all is.

Folks who make a living in the performing arts are very familiar with that word: "process." We talk about our artistic or creative process. Our work undergoes a developmental process. And many artists are highly invested in the self-examination or self-growth process. (Has it ceased to sound like a real word yet? "Process... Process... Process") Most recently, I am learning that forging the career path I am on is a process as well.

I have the fortune of being an inaugural participant in Theatre Bay Area's ATLAS for Playwrights Program. I am also participating in a Business of Art workshop, hosted by the East Bay Community Foundation in partnership with the Center for Cultural Innovation. The goal of both ATLAS and Business of Art is that I form a practical business plan or career map for myself in order to reach a level of success which I define and desire. Now, I would say up to this point I have run a good business for myself. But I am seeing so clearly that there are many ways in which I can improve my business practices as a writer/composer. I am on the cusp of moving into a new stage in my professional or career-building process.

ATLAS at the Theatre Bay Area offices - I promise there are more people than the photo lets on.

ATLAS at the Theatre Bay Area offices - I promise there are more people than the photo lets on.

Which has led me to begin this blog. With the changes occurring and the projects I'm blessed to be working on, you can imagine that there are a lot of thoughts and experiences I need to process for myself. I figure I'll capture some of these thoughts about my various processes - creative, career & personal - and invite anyone who wants to read about them to feel free to do so (Now, don't all flock to this blog at once...). And to drag the overused word to its virtual death, I am sharing these thoughts by using aword process-or. So, it all comes full circle. Or everything is linked. Or so it goes.

I'll end with another cliche: "The process never ends."

So this blog will go on forever. You're welcome.