National Reports

San Francisco by Suze Allen

San Francisco by Suze Allen

As the Bay Area Regional Representative for the Dramatists Guild, I am thrilled to announce that I now have a gifted and dedicated partner in crime! Drumroll, please Introducing DG Ambassador, Anthony R. Miller, from Berkeley, CA. Anthony is the executive producer of Awesome Theatre, a San Francisco-based theatre company whose mission is to develop and produce new work. He is also a teaching artist specializing in performances, improv, storytelling, and theatre history. By day, Anthony also works in the theatre as a box office specialist, because he really has fun selling large quantities of tickets to live theatre. Let it also be known that Anthony has two cats and loves professional wrestling.

Suze Allen:  Why have you chosen a life in the theatre?

Anthony R. Miller:  I love live, interactive, storytelling. Theatre is a relationship between the art and the audience, and they take turns influencing each other. I love the instant gratification of sitting in a room of people laughing (hopefully) at my jokes, or cheering, or feeling emotional, or reacting in any way. I love the machine that is the show, with all of the different pieces working together. On any given night, everything could be fine, or it could horribly wrong. It is, by design, never perfect, it’s all about what it is on that particular night.

This love for theatre prompted Anthony to found Awesome Theater in October 2012. Their first reading was Terror-Rama.

SA:  What inspires you as a playwright?

ARM:  Making people feel something, making them react. I like songs and characters that are going through the same things I am. I want art that empathizes with me, and in turn I want to create art that empathizes with the audience. Using comedy to tell stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, family dynamics, reactions to trauma. I consider myself to be an “Artistic Populist.” I want everyone to think they are capable of enjoying and even creating theatre.

[Just for Fun – Anthony’s favorite play is Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night and among his favorite characters are Hedda Gabler and Sheridan Whiteside.]

SA:  “What are your goals in life and theatre?

ARM:  To never be bored; to always have something to be excited about.

Well, I for sure am excited to have Anthony onboard to expand our Bay Area DG horizons more prominently in the East Bay and beyond and to have a committed partner in creating and executing relevant and interesting events for our membership. Thank you, Mr. Miller, for volunteering to support playwrights, composers, and librettists!

I also wanted to let you all know what is going on with our SF Footlights home, The Phoenix Theatre, and dear longtime DG member and Phoenix Artistic Director, Linda Ayres-Frederick. Here’s what she has to say:

“Along with the benefits from the influx of IT for-profit businesses that have located in the San Francisco Bay Area, [there are also] many downsides. While these for-profit budgets increase rents and tantalize landlords, both commercial and residential, with the possibility of greater income, many of the non-profits, which are just getting by on the moderate yearly rent raises are seeing their leases ending without the offer of extensions. The result of the greed machinery throughout the Bay Area has caused the theatre community and other artists to scurry about to find new space. The Phoenix, now entering its 33rd year of existence, is facing such a challenge. Celebrating its seventeenth year downtown in the Native Sons Building, The Phoenix has exercised its two-year option to renew its lease for the mainstage theatre beginning June of 2017 with no present offer from the landlord to negotiate a future agreement. The Phoenix fourth floor Annex, rehearsal, workshop, and more intimate performance space has been promised occupancy only until the end of December 2017.

“While waiting to hear the results of our application for Legacy Status from the City of SF, The Phoenix still hopes the landlord will realize the benefit of keeping the theatre and theatre annex in the building. In the meantime, I (Artistic Director Linda Ayres-Frederick) am on the hunt for alternative spaces at an affordable rate without giving up my fight to prevent the loss of yet another affordable, intimate performance space that houses many new and longtime performing companies and professional workshops. If you know of any space, friendly to non-profit theatre or know people who are connected in any way to the Hall Association of the Native Sons of the Golden West and are willing to advocate for The Phoenix, please contact Linda at Phoenixtheatresf@gmail.com.”