Backstage news and notes – Nov. 12th

Time to empty out the press releases…

  • Sad news out of the South Bay, as it relates to another theatre. Renegade Theatre Company, which works out of the Hoover Theatre in San Jose has announced that the final two shows for this season will be it. In a statement, artistic director Sean C. Murphy said he is hopeful that the company can re-open at some point. The location of the theatre has always been problematic for the company, and the times I reviewed there, very few were in attendance. That is very unfortunate. As an alternative theatre company, Renegade did not put out a lot of shows that were well-known to the masses, so name recognition was not something they were able to hold their hat on. While I certainly did not love everything I saw there, they put out some wonderful productions, my favorite being the powerful drama “Collapse,” which I reviewed glowingly. They also put on a killer production of Tracy Letts’ “Killer Joe.” Murphy is one of the nicest and warmest guys in the business, so I certainly wish them well, and hope their exit out of the South Bay theatre scene is a short one.
    However, no need for a funeral just yet. There are still two more shows in the season, one that is running right now. “The Norwegians” runs through Nov. 29th and “The North Plan” opens on Jan. 31st. For tickets and more information, go to

    Bobby Seale will be giving a talk on Monday, Nov. 17th at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, in conjunction with the show "Party Peoople," which looks at the history of the Black Panthers. (Wikipedia photo)
    Bobby Seale will be giving a talk on Monday, Nov. 17th at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, in conjunction with the show “Party Peoople,” which looks at the history of the Black Panthers. (Wikipedia photo)
  • Berkeley Rep is doing brisk business with their production of “Party People,” a story that focuses on the Black Panthers and how they made a regional and national impact in the 1960’s. Along with Huey Newton, Bobby Seale founded the Black Panthers in 1966. Seale will be speaking the Rep on Monday night, Nov. 17th for a free talk in the Roda Theatre. Moderated by hip-hop historian and San Francisco State professor Davey D, Seale will be sharing about the history and politics of the Black Panthers. For free general admission tickets, visit Seating is limited.

    Shannon Wolfe will be performing as part of Society Cabaret a the Hotel Rex in San Francisco.
    Shannon Wolfe will be performing as part of Society Cabaret at the Hotel Rex in San Francisco.
  • Shannon Wolfe, through Society Cabaret, is hosting a cabaret on top of Hotel Rex on Saturday, Nov. 15th for one night only. Entitled, “Femme Fatales, a Noir Cabaret,” the show features iconic songs from film noir and nightclub acts on film. A real throwback kind of night for sure. Tickets range from $20 – $45, and more information can be found at
  • A weekly podcast that has been out since June focuses on Bay Area theatre, and it’s a fun listen. Rob Ready is artistic director of PianoFight LLC, the all-encompassing San Francisco company formed in 2007 that has made it a mission to develop new work through film, theatre and music. He joins PianoFight producing partner Ray Hobbs to produce a podcast that talks to lots of folks involved in the Bay Area theatre scene. The latest episode was recorded this week, backstage at the Theatre Bay Area awards show. For more information and to check out all 20 episodes, visit
  • A new company, Theater Madcap which is housed in San Francisco, is currently running a production of Sam Shepard’s powerful sibling story “True West.” What is significant is the artistic director Eric Reid is tackling the issues of diverse casting head-on. Casting has long been a tricky component in theatre, and the mission for Reid’s company is to produce shows that feature diverse casting. The show runs through Nov. 30th. For more information, visit
  • Fellow critic colleague Richard Connema, one of the nicest people you ever want to meet, has been the recipient of much love from the tight-knit Bay Area theatre community when his partner of 35 years, Eddy Chambers, passed away suddenly, announced by Connema on Monday, Nov. 3rd. As a Facebook friend, I loved reading Richard’s post which announced which show he and Eddy would be attending, as Connema is an incredibly prolific critic. So I was certainly stunned and saddened, as many were, when he announced Chambers’ passing. Since that time, the Bay Area theatre community has rallied around Connema intensely, and it has been inspiring to witness. Continued blessings to Connema and also to his and the Chambers family.
  • Major kudos to Robert Sokol, who produced a most successful first annual Theatre Bay Area awards show, which has been the talk of the town. Sokol also coordinated the voting efforts, and social media has been abuzz with excitement over the show, which was emceed by Will Durst and the super cool Marga Gomez. Here is a link to all the recipients and award winners.

Happy playgoing, see you at the theatre!

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