Thursday, January 19, 2012

Audi-Lescents: Teens and Theater

Does anyone remember that panel discussion that we had a really long time ago? Right, I thought so...

In case you missed it, here are the highlights:

P.S. (SPOILER ALERT): We love the theater party bus idea!

-Saskia Levy-Sheon

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Exciting News!

Have you heard the buzz about our 8Rate program? We're organizing $8 rush tickets for teens at as many Bay Area theaters as we possibly can. That means that any seats still available on the day of the performance can be bought by teens (ages 13-19) for $8 (less than a movie ticket) -- all that you have to do is show up to the box office with your 8Rate pass, an ID that shows age, and $8 in cash. Sounds easy? That's because it is.

Now for the news: we're incredibly excited to announce that we've got two more theaters on board for this program: Pear Avenue Theatre and TheatreFIRST!

"We present stunning, beautifully acted productions of new works, classics, and contemporary plays in an intimate setting."
Where? The Pear Avenue Theatre (1220 Pear Avenue, Mountain View, CA)
Box Office Number: 650-254-1148
What's Up Next: A Moon for the Misbegotten

"Committed to bringing you the best in professional theater in an intimate space at affordable prices."
Where? Berkeley City Club (2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, CA)
Box Office Number: 510-436-5085
What's Up Next: Oleanna

Thanks so much to the staff of Pear Avenue Theatre and TheatreFIRST -- we're looking forward to seeing your shows!

Our updated list of current participating theaters:
Pear Avenue Theatre
Custom Made Theatre Co.
Crowded Fire Theater (details still in progress)

Are you a teen? Get your 8Rate pass here!
Are you a theater? Sign on for our 8Rate program here!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Introducing 8Rate

As part of our initiative to make theater more accessible to Bay Area teens, we've just introduced a new program called 8Rate. Here's the run-down:

What is 8Rate?
8Rate is program where teens can get rush tickets for shows at a flat rate of $8 -- that's less than most movie tickets, which we think is pretty cool.

How does the 8Rate program work?
1) Pick a show at any participating theater (current list of theaters here).
2) On the night that you want to see the show, arrive at the theater no later than 15 minutes to show-time (the earlier you arrive, the higher your chance of getting in).
3) Show your UP NEXT MEMBERSHIP CARD at the box office and ask if there any rush tickets available. (Don't have one? Get one here.)
4) If there are seats available, you can buy a ticket for $8 (cash only).

The Theaters
Even though we just introduced the 8Rate program, here's a list of super-awesome and very generous theaters who've already signed on (more to come soon!):
Custom Made Theatre Co.
Crowded Fire Theatre (limited participation)
plus a few more in the works...

If your theater wants to participate the 8Rate program, let us know!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

NEWPLAY TV: Theater via Livestream

Two teens converse about New Play TV, the #newplay initiative that can be found on

Watch live streaming video from newplay at

A: As a bit of background, first let’s talk about what New Play TV is, exactly. I guess I’ll do the intro...

According to its profile on its livestream page, New Play TV is “a shared-resource for live events and performances relevant to the new works theater field. #NEWPLAY TV's mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively.” So basically, it's a livestream channel that archives past livestreams, and it's devoted to a conversation about creating new plays in different places. If you take a look at the archives, you can find a whole spectrum of events relating to new plays that were livestreamed: symposiums, conferences, panel discussions, and even live performances (my personal favorite). I first heard about it through the very active, always interesting #newplay community on Twitter, and I’ve really enjoyed watching the conversations about play development (and, of course, the plays themselves). And we’ve both watched...two New Play livestreams so far? On The Spectrum (from Mixed Blood Theatre in Minnesota) and the SF One Minute Play Festival (from Playwrights Foundation in San Francisco), right?

Y: Well, two [things] -- I missed seeing On The Spectrum live, but I still watched it afterward from the recordings.

A: Gah, a mere technicality. But we both really liked that one. Here's a bit of background for you readers: Mixed Blood Theatre has been getting talked about a lot lately, especially since it introduced its Radical Hospitality program, which provides no-cost seats to any audience member starting in the 2011-2012 season -- pretty awesome. (That’s a whole ‘nother conversation, but I really recommend checking the link out and reading up about it.) For me, getting to see a Mixed Blood show from the Bay Area was one of the most exciting parts of that livestream, but I remember hearing you say that the show and the choice to broadcast it really resonated with you for other reasons.

Y: Yes. On The Spectrum dealt with the issues and realities of autism -- what it is, how it is handled, how it is perceived. Autism is being diagnosed more and more often as time passes, and yet it remains rather misunderstood and misrepresented. On the Spectrum provides a window into that world, in an understandable and relate-able medium, and as such is a necessary experience for anyone who -- by a friend, a relative, or anything -- will ever interact with somebody on the Autism Spectrum. The decision to livestream On The Spectrum allowed its message and its vision to reach not only the patrons of the theatre, but the entire World Wide Web, regardless of where they were when. The availability of the recording allows any autistic person online -- “all [those] people who everyone thought couldn’t talk, or were retarded, [but began] communicating online and their brains were suddenly revealed”, as Iris says it in the play itself -- to see the play, and pass it along, providing a much-needed platform for discussion and understanding. That ability, to watch it, and understand it, and spread it, is essential to the goal of the play, and a perfect example of why a play should be livestreamed. (more on On The Spectrum here)

A: We actually went to see the SF One Minute Play Festival live, and then watched it on livestream the next day. That was lots of fun. The One Minute Play Festival happens across the country in different theaters -- I think the next one happens at Boston Playwrights Theater. I enjoyed seeing the show more in the theater – you get the whole atmosphere of show-going there – but I confess that I found it nice to be able do some laundry-folding/other household tasks during intermission the second time around (i.e., during the livestream), and I LOVE being able to watch it as many times as I want. And again, like you said before, it allows people who wouldn't otherwise be able to see the show (whether because of physical and/or geographic limitations, or just because there aren't enough hours in the day) to see it. For example, playwright Marisela TreviƱo Orta (who had two plays in the festival), watched the show over livestream, and through the Twitter integration on the right had side of the streaming page was able to interact with the show while it was happening, which I thought was exciting to watch as well.

SIDE NOTE: Possibly one of my favorite results of this livestream: I can listen to “One Minute Musical” by Lauren Gunderson as many times as I want to. (Current iTunes playcount: 17) I also can show the one minute plays to friends in any place at any time (most recently, “Hamlet” by Aaron Loeb with someone in Boston). (Even though that last bit sounded like a commercial, I didn’t intend it to. I actually really enjoy being able to share theaterical experiences with as many friends as possible -- and the “inside” jokes that are subsequently understood/created as a result are great.) And because I don’t fully understand all of the legal-y stuff, will you talk a bit about Creative Commons and what it means for New Play TV broadcast to be published under it?

Y: Okay. Creative Commons is a set of “copyleft” licenses -- copyright licenses designed to encourage and foster sharing, copying, and redistributing the licensed work, as opposed to normal copyright licenses, which restrict copying. Creative Commons allows people to redistribute, remix, and share anything they want that’s licenced with it. What that means, in this case, is that you have a bunch more options than you otherwise would with the recordings. Because it’s under a Creative Commons license, you can copy to your computer and make your own copy of the videos of On the Spectrum, or (as I’ve done) copy the audio track of "One Minute Musical" so you can listen to it on your iPod, and if you wanted, you could use parts of the festival or play in, say, your own music video, or rap, or some “remix theatre”, where you splice everybody’s words together to make your own script (A One Minute Play made out of clips from the One Minute Play Festival, maybe?). You can do it -- and the only thing it requires is that you let other people, if they want, be able to use your own creation in the same way, by also releasing it under a Creative Commons license.

A: Yes, you definitely explained that better than I could have. One last question: did you have any favorite plays from this year’s One Minute Play Festival? (I'm declining to answer this question because I'm extremely biased. I will say, though, that Aaron Loeb's “Hamlet [as Recited to and Transcribed by Siri on the iPhone 4S]” [here at 36:15] and Lauren Gunderson's “One Minute Musical” [
here at 1:36:28] have seen the most replays via my computer. And there's no bias there. Just awesomeness.)

Y: Well, I’m really bad at picking favorites -- especially when there are so many which I enjoyed to much, but I’ll try. I’ll probably miss one or two, though. Or five. Or, you know, seventy-minus-however-many-I-do-choose. But a few that really stuck out to me (that you haven’t already mentioned), were, definitely “Acting Like Children’s Story” -- ‘**** GOODNIGHT MOON!!!’ got me cracking up (a
t 1:27:33); in “What Particular Skills Do You Bring To The Workforce” I found the awkward, not-really-sure-of-himself interviewee who was asked to talk about himself really endearing (at 51:42); and I loved the thoughts-during-meditation of “Zazen”, by Geetha Reddy (at 43:45).
But really, pretty much all of them.


Want to stay up-to-date on New Play TV and the #newplay conversation? Keep your eye on the NewPlayTV Livestream and like it on Facebook; follow the #newplay conversation via Twitter, the New Play blog, or Howlround

To learn more about Up Next, visit our website, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or add us to your circles in Google+.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012: So, What's Up Next?

 "Lord, we know what we are but know not what we may be." 
~ Ophelia, Hamlet IV.4

By now, everyone who is reading this is probably sick of reading “Looking Back and Looking Forward” posts, but since this is Up Next's first year as a non-profit, I thought it would be especially nice -- almost necessary, maybe -- to wrap things up with 2011 and introduce what's up for Up Next in 2012. Not only will this give all of you teens, theaters, and other arts supporters an idea of where we are and where we're headed, but it will also serve to hold ourselves accountable for the goals we set this year (because now that you've seen them, we can't pretend we never set them).

But first, you might be wondering -- who are "we", really? There are three of us behind the main Up Next operations (which consist of theater communications, organizing events and outreach, marketing, and more): Alona Bach, Saskia Levy-Sheon, and Kenya Granich. (You can read more about us here.) And if you know us, or know of us, or just read about us, you'll know this: we're all teens. Though we technically have several legal adults in our ranks, we have no adult-adults working with us. And we think this is important, at least for our first year -- because we don't want to be adults telling teens that they should think that theater is cool. We want to be teens telling our friends that we think theater is cool, so hey, chill with us at a show instead of a movie, because you might find it cool too. Yeah. Maybe not in those words. But that same idea.

So here's to the past year that got us up and running, and to the upcoming adventures in the new year -- because we know what we are, but know not what's up next.

Highlights of the past year...
- We became fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, and thus became an official non-profit.
- The wonderful Rob Dario designed our logo.
- Tim Bauer, a local playwright, wrote a lovely post about us on his blog.
- We made a splash at Cal Shakes' The Verona Project, where we numbered more than any other teen group that night -- and the show was awesome.
- We held a panel discussion on teens and theater-going, featuring teens Miguel Gamalinda and Naomi Zingman-Daniels, as well as Melissa Hillman (AD of Impact Theatre), Rachel Fink (Leader of Education programs at Berkeley Rep), and Simon Kaplan (theater teacher and Camp Director at Stagedoor Conservatory).

This coming year...
- In partnership with different theaters around the Bay, we'll be organizing a program called 8Rate, which will offer student rush tickets to card-carrying Up Next members for $8 (less than a movie ticket) -- more on this soon!
- Membership cards will be mailed out. (Want one? Go here!)
- In the works: a May Teen Theater Festival in a park, possibly?
- The fabulous Clio McConnell will switch over from her Teen Advisory Board position to the head of our Teen Reviewer program -- more on this soon.
- We'll sit down to write those press releases that seem so scary and send 'em off!
- We'll make a new website. A website that's more user friendly. And works in all browsers and on mobile devices. Which means that we need to...
- Seek out a web designer that can help us.
- You can now find us on Google+, though we're still primarily communicating through Facebook and Twitter.
- We'll figure out a better working model for the Focus Actor program -- our Teen Advisory Board selected two amazing Focus Actors (Reggie and Elena) for 2011-2012 season, but the program itself fell a bit to the wayside this past year while we focused on the more technical/legal aspects of running a non-profit. So we're going to get back on that horse, and hopefully get it in gear for the rest of this season!
- T-Shirts. Or sweatshirts. Or some other form of Up Next swag. It's coming.
- Perhaps some restructuring of our programs -- Next Night Outs seem to work, but not "Thumbs Up" events...hmmm.
- We hope to strengthen the Teen Advisory Board and make it a bigger part of our decision-making and development processes.
- Most importantly, we want to engage with the Bay Area teen community more, in person and online.

This past year, we focused on US -- how we could implement our own plans, how we could develop our own infrastructure. This coming year, we want to expand our focus more to YOU -- whether "you" means teens, arts administrators, teachers, or arts enthusiasts. We want to learn what fellow teens want in terms of theater-going, and then work on making those things happen. We want to hear your feedback.

Here are some of the questions we're facing as we move into a new year:
- How can we build up a strong infrastructure so that Up Next can function effectively? What should the role of the Teen Advisory Board be?
- What's the best way to structure the ticket-buying process? How can we find the right medium between advance reservations and wiggle-room (in case someone's homework load gets unexpectedly heavy)?
- How can we effectively engage and partner with schools?

And finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't thank lots of individuals and organizations who have helped get us on our feet this past year: Melissa Hillman, Jim Kleinmann, Erin Bregman, Jack Bauer, Valerie Weak, Laureen Mahler, Marilyn Langbehn, Tiffany Cothran, Michelle Dissel, Rob Dario, Simon Kaplan, Molly Aaronson-Gelb, Glenn Carroll, Sara Heitler, Focus Actors Elena Wright and Reggie White, Shotgun Players, Impact Theatre, Just Theater, Crowded Fire Theatre, and so many more -- not to mention adventurous teens. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We're looking forward to continuing to work with all of you in support of teen theater-going for many years to come.

- Alona Bach and the Up Next Team

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