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TheatreFIRST Announces 2019-20 Season

This season, TheatreFIRST gets intimate. While our home at the Live Oak Theater is being renovated, this season will be held at our new black box space, The Waterfront Playhouse at 2020 Fourth St. in Berkeley.

They begin with a deep reach into the past with FROM THE GROUND UP: AN ANTHOLOGY OF GHOST STORIES MADE NEW (Oct. 27th - Nov. 10th, 2019) which commissions Eugenie Chan, Britney Frazier, Akaina Ghosh, Lisa Marie Rollins, Cleavon Smith, Arisa White, Dan Wolf, and Steve Yockey to delve into their own histories and bring forward their ghosts to a one-of-a-kind theatrical event. Directors Elizabeth Carter, Cheri Miller, Lauren Spencer, and Kimberly Ridgeway - with consultants Christian Cagigal and Rebecca Pingree - will put the experience of fear to the test... in an oversaturated world, can the past move you forward or only hold you back?

That question will linger into our next event, HISTORY KEEPS ME AWAKE (Feb. 15th - March 7th, 2020), a repertory of two solo pieces exploring this present moment through the queer lens: PUSSYGRABBINGREVENGE, written and performed by Elaine Magree and directed by Susannah Martin, is a seriously funny play about seriously unfunny things. Spanning 60 years, collective responses to sexual violence are recounted and interrogated: is it revenge, resistance, subversion or justice? What is justice? A ONE MAN SHOW, written and performed by Skyler Cooper and directed by Lisa Evans and Jon Tracy, is Skyler's unabashed exploration of the human condition - navigating everything from first crushes to dressing rooms hijinks - that lands him in this present moment: standing in front of us as living proof that real power is only found when we live in our truth.

And then they'll take you to the future with our first annual development festival FUTURE TENSE (May, 2020) where you, our audience, will be get access to the ten productions we have in development. Through community discussions, workshops, readings, showings, Q and As, and a few surprises, you'll become part of the process of creating DELANO by Carlos Aguirre, Jeffrey Lo and Lisa Ramirez, developed by Sean San José, F.D.R. DRAG SHOW developed by Regan Linton and M. Graham Smith, A MARRIAGE by Tom Swift, developed by George Maguire, YADAM by Kimiya Shokri, developed by Evren Odcikin, BAD TENDENCY: THE VEXING CASE OF ANITA WHITNEY by Sam Hurwitt, developed by Erin Merritt, GOOD WHITE MEN by Melina Cohen Bramwell, BOUNDLESS AS THE SEA by Cleavon Smith, developed by Philippa Kelly, THIS SEPTEMBER 11TH by Rob Dario, developed by Domenique Lozano, THREE PERCENT by Dazié Grego-Sykes and THE QUEEN OF THE ZYDEC by Lady Zen, developed by Jon Tracy.

To anchor our development festival is our final full production of the season: an absurdist, meta-theatrical indictment... of new works festivals. Jeffrey Lo's I THOUGHT I WOULD LIKE IT HERE (May 3rd - 31st) focuses on a staged reading of a new work in progress by an emerging Filipino-American playwright that goes horribly awry in front of a 'well-meaning' audience. I THOUGHT I WOULD LIKE IT HERE examines where we each position ourselves in the development of art and community, and shines a light of a possible future that rewards personal accountability and communal responsibility.

Sewing together the season will be TheatreFIRST's ongoing work: THE LIVING WAGE INITIATIVE that promises that all artists be paid 15/hr. for every hour they work on our projects, CALLBUCKS that pays artists for their work in the audition process, THE LIGHTS UP PROJECT that supports child and elder care needs for our developers, BLANK SPACE that gives office and work space to artists for free to offset the mounting costs of art creation, and THE WEAVERS that acts as the front line to a new form of outreach, starting out stories deep in the communities roots and creating measurable ways forward past the stories we tell.

This year they'll add THE FINANCIAL AVENGERS PODCAST SERIES (Nov. 25th, 2019, Jan. 27th, and Mar. 9th, 2020) as an extension of TheatreFIRST's living wage initiative. We have collaborated with Financial Avengers - featuring The Captain, The Oracle and other Agents Waging the Ongoing Fight for Financial Freedom - to bring our community a live podcast that uses theatre to break down the myths and expose the hard truths of capitalism. This developmental event offers financial planning for all of us, especially those who have been historically shut out of the conversation.

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