Dot to Dot

News and new venues in the theatrical community

By Gretchen Giles

Now that the earth has lugged itself around the sun once again, it seems high time to open all of those mustering old files and deliver that news that hasn’t yet had a chance to gladly shine in the light of day. Things can only get less grandiose . . .

Not now saving the biggest and best for last, the news in Santa Rosa is that the upstairs space at the Lincoln Arts Center–formerly occupied by the Actors Group Playhouse–has been leased to Lennie Dean, who will reopen it as the New Theatre on Jan 5. With a commitment to the brash and the brand-new, the New Theatre will showcase original works by local playwrights as well as offer a rigorous schedule of inexpensive live performances, open-mike opportunities, and ongoing classes.

Three ongoing events are scheduled, beginning with the Bare Stage series of open-mike evenings on the first Friday of every month. Actors are encouraged to drop by and sign up to deliver five-minute monologues and short scenes. The first one is slated for Jan 5 at 7 p.m., and costs $3. A staged reading series known as “Plays on Sundays” begins Jan. 7 at 2 p.m. with Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women. With only the bare essentials of lights and script, these actor- and word-based afternoons will be restricted to readings of American plays produced on and off of Broadway during the last three years, and will be acted in and directed by some stellar local talent. Upcoming Sundays include Horton Foote’s The Young Man from Atlanta on Jan. 21, and David Mamet’s Cryptogram on March 10.

Also on Sundays, Benjamin Dean will facilitate a Playwright’s Forum on the first Sunday of each month at 2 p.m. whereby those brave enough may bring their work and have it read aloud and intelligently discussed. For information about the New Theatre, call 522-9361. . . .

A new theater is struggling to birth itself up in Healdsburg with an eye to producing summer-stock musical plays modeled on the success of the Ashland, Ore., Shakespeare Festival. Logically enough named the Healdsburg Theater Company, this fledgling operation hopes to have found enough “angels” (read: backers) to open with outdoor productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Man of La Mancha near the downtown Plaza area next August. Company co-founder Jane St. Clair hopes to build a community coalition to benefit local merchants as well as the arts in general. . . .

And while January’s drizzle keeps our thoughts on summer, the Summer Repertory Theatre, based at Santa Rosa Junior College, has announced its 1996 season, which commences on June 19 with Big River, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and continues with Our Country’s Good, Ten Little Indians, I Remember Mama, and Cabaret, and comes to a grand end with A Lion in Winter. . . .

And while we’re still at the junior college, a Jan. 26 fundraiser entitled Rodgers & Hart: A Celebration is being mounted in order to send nine SRJC acting and design students to the American College Theatre Festival in Flagstaff, Ariz. Tickets for the fundraiser are a measly $10, and could make a huge difference in a student’s life. For details, call 527-4419. . . .

The tempest in the teapot is that both the Main Street Theatre/SCRT team and the Valley of the Moon Shakespeare company will be mounting outdoor productions of Shakespeare’s masterpiece about mastery, The Tempest, next summer. The outstanding Eric Thompson (Bullshot Crummond, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) will direct the Sonoma production, whose playing field is set in a magical grove of oaks off the Dunbar School soccer field, while MST will continue its tradition of Shakespeare in Sebastopol’s Ives Park.

From the Jan. 4-10, 1996 issue of The Sonoma County Independent

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