Tuesday, February 2, 2016

U. S. Drag: Meet the Crew

The design and run team of any production are just as important as the actual actors on the stage. Without them, you have a bunch of naked actors standing around quietly in the dark. ;) Here's the amazing team behind the production of U.S. Drag

Noëlle GM Gibbs (Director) is grateful to the Dragon staff for their support on this project and to Meredith for trusting her with this quirky show. Noëlle is the incoming Producing Artistic Director at Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory, where she has worn many hats over the past nine years, including Associate Artistic Director, Children’s Conservatory Director, Choreographer, Producer, Production Manager, and Designer. Favorite PVTC credits include Proof, Persephone, Midsummer, and Distracted. Noëlle has also worked with TheatreWorks, Magic Theatre, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Arabian Shakespeare Festival, and Long Wharf Theatre, and looks forward to making her City Lights debut with I & You later this year. She teaches acting and directs at Crystal Springs Uplands school and was the proud recipient of the Theatre Bay Area TITAN Award in Directing in 2014. Noëlle received B.A.’s in Theatre and Dance from UC San Diego, studied at the Academia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy, and continues to explore ideas of collaboration and audience engagement in her work. Many thanks to the whole U. S. Drag team for throwing themselves so willingly into this unexpected script and to her family for holding down the fort during the rehearsal process.

Stacie Doherty (Stage Manager) received a B.A. in Theatre from UC San Diego. She worked as the Theatre Manager for four years at the Birch North Park Theatre in Southern California and has stage managed for a variety of productions and festivals including productions at Lyric Opera San Diego, Scripps Ranch Theatre, The Kings Head Theatre in London and the La Jolla Music Society. She is currently the Artistic Administrator and Resident Stage Manager at The Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory. This is her first show working with Dragon Productions Theatre.

Lindsay Saier (Assistant Stage Manager) has a bio on the way!

Scott Ludwig (Scenic Designer) is an alumni of San Francisco State University's drama department and has designed sets, props, and puppets for Urban Opera, Shotgun Players, Teatro Vision, and the New Conservatory Theatre Center, among others. Directing credits include Macbeth, The Three Sisters, The Blue Room, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and most recently worked as assistant director for Silicon Valley Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.

Brittany S. Mellerson (Lighting Designer) is a  newcomer to Dragon Productions Theatre Company and recent graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory Program with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatrical Lighting and Sound design. Some of her recent credits include lighting design for Absolutely Fabulous at the Royal British Theatre Company and The Birthday Club of San Francisco Fringe. Others include Playhouse Jr’s Huck Finn, The Alchemists’ Lab (Sound Design), and Dark of the Moon (Assistant Lighting Design), Chess, Yo! Vikings (Audio Mixer), and Do Me! Date Me! Dumb Me! (Lighting Design) at the Rex Theatre. She’s extremely grateful to be working with such an incredible team of creative minds and helping hands.

Lance Huntley (Sound Designer) has designed sound for several Dragon productions and is pleased to be doing so again.

Katie Barrus (Costume Designer) is currently a student at the Academy of Art in San Francisco studying fashion. U.S. Drag is the first production she has costumed at Dragon Theatre. 

Charlynn Knighton (Properties Designer) is excited to join the Dragon Theatre family for U.S.Drag. Over the past few years, she has had the privilege to work as the Props Manager at the late San Jose Repertory Theatre, Theatreworks, Center Rep, and two seasons at Millbrook Playhouse as the Props Designer. Some of her favorite shows she has worked on have been Life Could be a Dream, The Snow Queen, Crimes of the Heart, She Loves Me, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, The 39 Steps, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Boeing Boeing. Charlynn also loves working as a Teaching Artist for Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory and Starting Arts. She is planning on returning to school to get her masters in Theatre for Youth but until then, she looks forward to the adventures ahead in theatre in the Bay Area.

Ashley Taylor Frampton (Production Manager) matriculated from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Kent University, England with a B.A. in Theatre Arts, and Film and Digital Media, respectively. For the last decade she has worked internationally in both mediums as a stage manager, production manager, master electrician, properties designer, sound technician, editor and performer. Currently the Assistant Technical Director for San Francisco Sketchfest and a member of Actor's Equity Association.When not in production, she trains with mêlée weapons at Davenriche European Martial Arts School where she is an assistant instructor and apprentice to Sir Steaphen Fick.

Friday, January 29, 2016

U. S. Drag: Meet the Cast!

MARIA COSTELLO (Bookstore Manager/Janice/Bartender/Christen) is delighted to be making her debut with Dragon Theatre Company. She is a Film Actors Program graduate from Shelton Studios in San Francisco. Recent credits include Beyond Therapy at Shelton Theater.

 JOSIAH FRAMPTON (Christopher) is excited for his first role at the Dragon Theatre. He was recently seen at Los Altos Stage Company playing The Duke/Dr Carrasco in their production of Man of La Mancha. Before that he performed at City Lights Theatre playing Riff in their production of West Side Story and Patsy in Spamalot. He has also worked with Cabrillo stage in multiple productions including playing Manny/Freddy in Escaping Queens (2012-13), Ensemble in The Full Monty (2011), and Ernst in Cabaret (2010). He has also had the pleasure of working with Tabard Theatre as Clive in See How They Run (2011), and Hillbarn Theatre in the Quartet of Will Roger’s Follies (2011).

LIZ FREDERICK (Angela) is ecstatic to make her Dragon Theatre debut in U.S. Drag. She is a recent graduate from The University of Southern California, where she received a BA in Dramatic Arts and a BA in Psychology.  She recently played Isabel in Celebration Arts Theatre Production of My Children! My Africa!, as well as Julia in Fefu and her Friends while at USC. Other credits include Kersten in August Strindberg's Playing With Fire and performing in The Vagina Monologues in Galway, Ireland. Liz would like to thank her friends and family for their continued love and support.  

WILLIAM GAOIRAN (Ned) is a recent graduate of San Jose State University, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre. He has worked on various productions that include stage, film, and voice over work. Recently, he appeared in San Jose State University's productions of Dead Man Walking (Chaplain Farley) and Zoot Suit (Rudy) collaborating with El Teatro Campesino. When he is not acting, he spends his time playing the guitar, singing, training in martial arts, and working on writing projects. He would like to thank you all for attending and hope you will enjoy the show.

After graduating from Stanford in 2011, OLIVIA HAAS (Allison) moved to NYC where she enjoyed stints at The Public Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club. After realizing that it’s hard to live in New York with no money, she moved to LA where she enjoyed a longer stint working in film and television. After realizing that she wasn’t actually enjoying that stint, she chose to ditch the entertainment industry and return to the Bay Area where she is thoroughly enjoying her newfound peace of mind. A writer/director at heart, Olivia has had her plays produced both locally and Off(Off)-Broadway, and she has trained as an improviser at The Groundlings in Los Angeles. This is her first Dragon Production.

LAUREN HAYES (Mary) is thrilled to be making her Dragon debut! Bay Area theater credits include The Skin of our Teeth at the Douglass Morrison Theatre. Prior to moving back to the Bay Area, her NYC credits included Quiet Peninsula (NYC Fringe), The Mysteries, #Serials@TheFlea, and These Seven Sicknesses (all at The Flea Theater), One Heart for Two (Winkel & Balktick’s Laboratory), and Stop the Virgens (St. Ann’s Warehouse). A Bay Area native, she holds a BS in chemistry from Stanford University and was a member of the Flea Theater’s resident acting company for three years in NYC. www.LaurenHayes.info

PETER RAY JUAREZ (Evan) received a MA in Theatre Arts from San Jose State University, where he is the 2014 recipient for the Teatro Award and holds a BA in Theatre Arts from California State University at Chico. Selected credits include Paco/ Gypsy in Man of La Mancha at Los Altos Stage Company, Macbeth in Macbeth and Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing at SJSU, Spartan in Lysistrata, Doctor/ Trouble in In The Blood, Sheriff in SlyFox, and Zhao in Natural Selection at CSUC.

JEREMY RYAN (James) is thrilled to return to the Dragon after appearing in 2013's Les Liasons Dangerueses as Chevalier Danceny. Most recently, Jeremy appeared as Terry in City Lights Theater Company's production of Handle With Care. Also at City Lights, Jeremy has appeared in Truce: A Christmas Wish from the Great War, Spamalot, and West Side Story. Other favorite roles include Biff Loman in Death of a Salesman (Broadway West) Sebastian in Twelfth Night (Silicon Valley Shakespeare) and Jake Mace in House and Garden (The Pear Theatre). Jeremy is a company member at Play On Words San Jose and a graduate of the Foothill Theatre Conservatory.

Monday, January 25, 2016

About the Playwright: Gina Gionfriddo

Gina Gionfriddo grew up in Washington, D. C. where she attended the Georgetown Day School. She graduated from Barnard College and in 1997 received an MFA in Playwrighting from Brown University where she studied with acclaimed playwright Paula Vogel.

U. S. Drag was actually Ms. Gionfriddo’s thesis production at Brown University and was awarded the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, an honor for female playwrights, which she shared in a tie with Susan Miller in 2002. Also in 2002 she was given the Helen Merril Award for Emerging Playwrights.

Her next play, After Ashley (Dragon’s 2013 season) caught the eye of René Balcer, the head writer and executive producer of Law & Order. Balcer hired her after he read After Ashley. Balcer said: “She really has an ear for the dialogue of everyday Americans and the quirkiness of everyday Americans... the kind of people you see being interviewed on Nancy Grace.”

Her next play, Becky Shaw, premiered at the Humana Festival in 2008 and opened off-Broadway that same year. It was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama - she lost to Ruined by Lynn Nottage.

In 2012, Gionfriddo’s play Rapture, Blister, Burn hit the stage off-Broadway and was nominated for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize Award in Drama but lost out to Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar.

In addition to writing plays, Ms. Gionfriddo has a busy career in television, where she wrote and produced for both Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She’s also written episodes for the acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards and Borgia.

Ms. Gionfriddo currently lives in New York City where she is a single mother.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

About the Playwright Sharr White

Sharr White, age 45, has been writing plays since the 1990s. They've been presented around the country, including at South Coast Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Lincoln Center Theatre's Directors Lab and Key West Theatre Festival. Born in Frederick, Maryland, Mr. White moved to Southern California when he was young. The family moved to Boulder, Colorado for his junior high and high school years. And after high school he moved back to Southern California, took some time off, and worked in a warehouse for a few years. Mr. White eventually went back to school where he planned to major in biology since his father in in the sciences. He also took some acting classes and decided to switch to theatre. Mr. White then moved to San Francisco to go to the A.C.T. [American Conservatory Theatre] program. He didn't get accepted into the program and ended up at San Francisco State for a little bit and then jumped over to A.C.T. and finished the acting program there. He started writing at A.C.T., though they didn't have any writing classes.

Mr. White graduated with an M.F.A. in 1993 and was hooked on writing, so he moved to New York. He gave up on acting to solely focus on writing. Mr. White says "From there it was a long process for me, because I didn't go to grad school for writing, I didn't go to any writing programs, I wasn't formally trained at all. I felt like when I reached a point in beginning to develop I didn't have anyone to turn to, which was pretty isolating. My time in New York has been about writing, writing, writing. I did some self-producing in the '90s. The big break was with Humana Festival in 2006. I was able to start surfacing to people, and I got a couple of commissions. It's been a long process to get [to Broadway]."

Sunlight had its World Premiere at the Marin Theatre Company in 2010. Sunlight was followed by Annapurna, which debuted at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco and then moved to Los Angeles where it featured Megan Mullally and her husband Nick Offerman. It then moved Off-Broadway with Mullally and Offerman. Mr. White made his Broadway debut in 2012 with his play The Other Place, which happened to close the Dragon Theatre season in 2014. The Other Place was directed by Joe Mantello and featured Laurie Metcalf and Daniel Stern. The Other Place received two Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play and Outstanding Actress In A Play (Laurie Metcalf). Laurie Metcalf also won an Obie Award, Performance and was nominated for the 2013 Tony Award, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.

With this success under his belt, Mr. White then had his play The Snow Geese open Off-Broadway in 2013 with actress Mary-Louise Parker in a lead role. Mr, White, who is an advertising copywriter by day, lives in New York City and is currently writing Stupid Kid, a newly commissioned work for the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.

When Sunlight premiered at the Marin Theatre Company, the Examiner ran the following interview with Mr. White:

Usually when playwright Sharr White, starts writing, he begins with a character. For his latest play, White  wanted to write about Richard Nixon.  
“My wife said, ‘You can’t do that,’” White said. “But I was really in love with the idea of a character who abused power.” 
White’s political thriller Sunlight, which opens at the Marin Theatre Company on Jan. 26, is about a liberal university president, his daughter and her conservative husband, and their debates over torture memos. 
In the play, White doesn’t mention John Yoo, the Berkeley law school professor, who wrote the so-called torture memos that offered legal justification for interrogation techniques such as water boarding, but White says a character in Sunlight was inspired by him and White read many of Yoo’s statements on the memos.  
“I really started writing in 2006,” White said. “Abuse of power was such an undercurrent of our national discussion, and it seemed important to explore. It was a discussion about who we are as a nation and a culture and what we’ve stood for and stood against. It was a very profound shift happening with us and a lot of people seemed happy not to talk about it.” 
White says the plays focuses on the characters in it, not on Issues.  
“I don’t really think that this is a play about torture,” he said. “It’s about these four people who love each other very much and whose worlds have suddenly crumbled after 9/11. They have felt a personal loss after 9/11 of what they used to be, and they realize nothing will ever be the same again.”