the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area

mostly the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the home of the Counting Actors Project

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Counting Actors, November 2013

Due to booking some last minute industrial work that threw my schedule out of whack, the post for November is a little bit later than usual.

There are 7 shows from the November 2013 round of Counting Actors.  This brings the total count to 344 shows since June 2011.  To see past posts in the project, and get info about how to contribute, please go here.

November's shows:
Center Rep/Don't Dress for Dinner
SF Playhouse/Ideation
NCTC/My Beautiful Laundrette (co-written by 2 male writers)
Berkeley Rep/Tristan&Yseult (director credited as 'adapted & directed' but separate person given writer credit; actors are members of British Equity, but counted as Equity, due to arrangement w/Equity; 1 male actor plays female character of Brangian, Yseult's maid; 4 musicians 1f, 3m not included in count below)
Magic/Arlington  (book/lyrics male, music female; both performers in the show are counted as actors below although one is primarily playing piano)
Symmetry/Carnival Round the Central Figure
Tides/Gruesome Playground Injuries

The Stats:
3 male directors, 4 female directors
7 male writers, 3 female writers
39 total actors
24 male actors, 15 female actors
24 union actors, 15 non union actors
14 union men, 10 union women
29 local actors, 10 non local

Thank you to Patricia Milton and Cat Luedtke who contributed statistics for this month's edition. If you're working on a show or see a show with performances in December, please take a few minutes to share the stats with me via email.

As always, please share and start conversations with others about what you've seen here.

The December post will go up between Jan 1st and Jan 5th. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Counting Actors, October 2013

October's count has 10 shows, making the total count for this project 337 shows since June 2011.  To get the whole history of the project, links to past posts in this series, and learn how you can contribute, please go here.

Still working on adding visuals/infographics to this project.  If anyone has suggestions on how to put that together in a simple way, please email me at countingactors (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you'd like to learn more about similar counting projects taking place around the world, please take a look at this blog post by Laura Shamas of the LA FPI, which shouts out this project, and has a very comprehensive list of resources.

Here are October's shows:

San Jose Rep/Next Fall
San Jose Rep/Crime and Punishment (this is the Rep's school tour, writing team of 1 man and 1 woman)
Central Works/Red Virgin (male director, female music director; male book writer, female music and lyrics writer for 1 original song in piece - same person as the music director; rest of music in piece is traditional/public domain)
Shotgun/Strangers, Babies
Cutting Ball/Sidewinders (writer for this piece used female pronouns until 2012, but in SF Chron interview, uses pronoun s/he and is identified as trans below; one cast member identified in program bio as 'genderqueer' and counted that way below)
Marin Theatre Company/I&You
Playground, Aluminous Collective and Altair Productions/First
Cal Shakes/Winter's Tale(small cast on this project meant lots of doubling - same female actor played Paulina as female and Clown as male; also 2 boys alternate the Mamillius track and 2 girls alternate the Dorcas/2nd lady in waiting track - all 4 are counted below)
SF Playhouse/Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo
Crowded Fire/The Taming(female cast members played both male and female characters)

The Stats:
5 male directors, 6 female directors
6 male writers, 5 female writers, 1 trans writer
54 total actors
32 male actors, 21 female actors, 1 genderqueer actor
32 union actors, 22 non-union actors
21 union men, 11 union women
51 local actors, 3 non-local actors

Contributions to this month's count came from both cast members and audience members of these shows.  Thank you to Rachel Harker, Jessica Lynn Carroll, Patricia Milton, Carol Lashof, Elizabeth Gjeltsen and Maryssa Wanlass.  If you're working on a show or see a show with performances in November, please share the stats with the project - it takes less than 5 minutes to write an email.

Please share and talk about what you're reading here, either using social media or when you're sitting around the green room.

I'll share stats for November between Dec 1 and Dec 5.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Counting Actors, September 2013

September's count includes 15 shows, bringing the total shows counted by this project to 327 since it began in June 2011.  If this is your first encounter with the project, go here for an explanation of what's getting counted, links to previous posts in the series, and how to submit your own statistics.

I've been working on how to get visual representation/infographics into each monthly post, but I'm still a little bit stymied.  If anyone reading this has some experience with creating infographics and can help me make a monthly template, please email me at countingactors(at)gmail(dot)com.

Here are the shows for September:
ACT/1776 (this show had a male director and male music director, also 2 male writers - one book/lyrics, one music.  4 union understudies - 3 men, 1 woman, all local - are not included in the count below)
Impact/What Every Girl Should Know
Center REP/Ella (male director, male music director; 5 non-union actor/musicians play speaking parts in Act 1 and Ella's band in Act 2 and were included in this count; music is 'jukebox' of Ella Fitzgerald pop standards so no music writers counted)
Aurora/After the Revolution
Berkeley Rep/Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Shady Shakespeare/Complete Works (traditionally cast w/3 men, this production included one female actor in the Juliet/Hamlet track; 3 male writers share writing credit)
Shotgun/Bonnie & Clyde
Rhino/To Sleep and Dream (writer and director are same person)
SJ Rep/One Night with Janis Joplin (writer and director are same person, male music director; music is 'jukebox' of Janis Joplin hits by different writers so no music writers counted)
Killing My Lobster & Playground/The Shakespeare Bug
City Lights/Animals Out of Paper
Magic/Buried Child
Diablo Theatre Company/Shrek the Musical (male director and music director; male writer book/lyrics female writer music; two roles usually played by men cast as women in this production - Pinnochio, Peter Pan)
Renegade Theatre Experiment/Drunken City
Custom Made/Next to Normal (male director and music director; 2 male writers - book/lyrics and composer)

The Stats:
15 male directors, 5 female directors
17 male writers, 3 female writers
116 total actors
69 male, 47 female
53 union, 63 non union
36 union men, 17 union women
91 local actors, 25 non local actors

Once again a huge thank you to those who contributed stats this month - audience members, cast members, directors of shows, artistic staff from theater companies including: Carol Lashof, Karen Thomson Hall, Maryssa Wanlass, Vera Sloan, Phoebe Moyer, Karen Altree-Piemme, Roselyn Hallett, and Lisa Newton.

Please share and talk about what you're reading here.  If you see a show or are working on a show with performances in October, please take a few minutes to email me the stats.  Instructions for that are here.

October results will show up here between Nov 1st and Nov 5th, hopefully with an infographic!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Counting Actors, Shows 201-300, Contracts with Weeks

Final post in this series for now will look at those shows that were done using AEA contracts that offer health insurance weeks. 

To see the info on shows 101-200 in this category, click here.  To see the info on shows 1-100 for this category, go here.  There's a definition of health weeks and why they're important in this post.

To read every single post in this series, go here.

To learn more about the project as a whole, and how to submit numbers for the shows you're seeing or working on, please go here.

There were 56 shows (56%) that were on contracts that use health weeks.

Those shows had:
46 male directors, 21 female directors (67%, 33%)
58 male writers, 15 female writers (79%, 21%)
482 total actors
274 male actors, 208 female actors (57%, 43%)
256 union actors, 226 non-union actors (53%, 47%)
The union actors included 157 men and 99 women (61%, 39%)
402 local actors and 80 non-local actors. (83%, 17%)

The companies and shows in this group were:
6th St Playhouse/August: Osage County
ACT/4000 Miles, Stuck Elevator, Christmas Carol, Black Watch, Dead Metaphor, Arcadia
Aurora Theater/This is How it Goes, Our Practical Heaven, Wilder Times, Arsonists
Berkeley Playhouse/Guys and Dolls
Berkeley Rep/Fallaci, TroubleMaker, White Snake, Pericles
CalShakes/American Night, Romeo and Juliet
CenterREP/39 Steps, Pilgrims Shari and Musa in the New World, Status Update, Sweet Charity, Old Wicked Songs, Christmas Carol
CentralWorks/Pitch Perfect, The Grand Inquisitor
Campo Santo & Intersection/The River
Magic/Terminus, The Happy Ones, Se Llama Cristina
Marin Shakespeare Company/The Spanish Tragedy, Comedy of Errors
Mime Troupe/Oil and Water
Marin Theatre Company/The Whipping Man, Waiting for Godot, It's a Wonderful Life (radio play), Beauty Queen of Leenane
San Jose Rep/Next to Normal, The Minister's Wife
SF Playhouse/The MotherF*cker with the Hat, Abigail's Party, Bell Book and Candle, Camelot
San Jose Stage/Persuasion, Red, Reckless, Reefer Madness
Theatre Rhino/Something Cloudy, Something Clear, A Lady and a Woman
100 Shades of Green/The Fourth Messenger
TheatreWorks/The Loudest Man on Earth, The Mountaintop, Somewhere, Being Earnest, Big River
Word for Word & Z Space/You Know When the Men are Gone

Friday, September 20, 2013

Counting Actors, shows 201-300, Contracts without weeks

To compare this data to shows 101-200, go here.  To compare this to shows 1-100 and to learn what 'without weeks' means, go here.

To read every post there is in the '100 shows' group, go here.  You'll see all the posts that look at the Counting Actors project by groups of 100.

This is post 3 of 4 in a series of posts that break down the shows by type of contract used.  The two previous looked at non-union shows, and shows that used the BAPP.  The next post will look at shows that use contracts with health weeks.

There were 10 shows (10%) that used union contracts that don't provide health weeks.

Those 10 shows had:

8 male directors, 3 female directors (73%, 27%)
8 male writers, 3 female writers (73%, 27%)
95 total actors
64 male actors, 31 female actors (67%, 33%)
22 union actors, 73 non union actors (23%, 77%)
Of the union actors, 13 were male, 9 were female. (59%, 41%)
All 95 of these actors were local. (100%)

The companies/shows that used contracts without weeks were:

Crowded Fire/410 [GONE] & The Bereaved
Indra's Net/Copenhagen
Mugwumpin/The Great Big Also
Shotgun/Woyzeck, Shipwreck & By and By
Livermore Shakespeare/Taming of the Shrew & The Liar

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Counting Actors, shows 201-300 BAPP only

For a post that looks at this same data from shows 101-200, click here.  For shows 1-100, click here.  That post also includes a definition of the BAPP.

To read every single post in this series, about all 300 shows, click here.

Yesterday's post looked at non-union shows, and the next two posts will look at shows without health weeks, and shows with health weeks, respectively.

There were 6 shows (6%) that used the BAPP.

These 6 shows had:
2 male directors, 4 female directors (33%, 67%)
1 male writer, 5 female writers (17%, 83%)

There were 35 actors in these shows.
19 male actors, 16 female actors (54% , 46%)
16 union actors, 19 non-union actors (46%, 54%)
Of the union actors, 10 were men, and 6 were women. (63%, 37%)
All 35 were local actors

The BAPP companies/shows were:

3 Girls Theatre/3 shorts - the Things We Do for Love & The Couch
Playground & Katie May, Liz Anderson/Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Symmetry/ Language Archive
Tides/Little Foxes
Off Broadway West/Betrayal

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Counting Actors: shows 201-300, non-union only

This post, and the next 3 posts, will look at the show data sorted by the type of union contract or code that they use.  Today is non-union shows, tomorrow will be shows that use the BAPP, then Friday will have shows on Equity contracts without health weeks, and Saturday will have shows on Equity contracts with health weeks.

If all of this is new and confusing for you, then take a look at the posts from the first hundred on non-union, BAPP, contracts without weeks, and contracts with weeks.  All of those include explanations of what those categories mean.

And if you'd like to compare this post to the non-union shows from the 101-200 grouping, take a look here.

As always, to read every post in this series ever, use this link.

So, there were 28 shows (or 28%) in this group that used no union actors.

Those 28 shows had:

11 male directors, 18 female directors (38%, 62%)
27 male writers, 21 female writers (56%, 44%)

210 actors worked on those shows.  All were non-union.
104 male actors, 106 female actors (49.5%, 50.5%)
3 actors were non-local. (1%)

The companies/shows that were in this group are:

3 Girls Theatre/3 Girls Squared
Altarena Playhouse/God of Carnage
BACT/Cat in the Hat
CentralWorks/Medea Hypothesis
Custom Made/Why Torture is Wrong and People Who Love Them & Eurydice
Cutting Ball/Krispy Kritters in the Scarlet Night & The Chairs
DIVAFest/You're Going to Bleed
Douglas Morisson Theater/Eurydice
Dragon Productions/Becky's New Car
Impact/Toil and Trouble & Jukebox Stories & As You Like It
Inferno Theater/Dracula
Just Theater/A Maze
Killing My Lobster/KML does not fear the end
NCTC/Birds of a Feather
Ragged Wing/Time Sensitive
Role Players Ensemble/Expecting Isabel
Theatre of Yugen/A Minor Cycle & Sorya 2013
African American Shakespeare/Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Bigger than a Breadbox/Tis Pity She's a Whore
Butterfield 8/Salome
Shady Shakespeare/Twelfth Night & Romeo and Juliet
Ross Valley Players/Pack of Lies

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Counting Actors: Writers, gender, & time for shows 201-300

To compare this data with shows 1-100 go here.  With shows 101-200, go here.  To read every post in the hundreds series, go here.

In this post, I'm looking at what some might call the Shakespeare factor.  When I share the general data with folks, sometimes I hear 'well, the reason that the playwright numbers are so skewed is because of classic plays - those are all by male writers.  New plays are much closer to 50/50, right?'

So, I've broken the shows down into classic (which means anything written in 1960 or before) and contemporary (anything written since 1960).

You'll recall from yesterday that shows 201-300 had a writer split of 68% male and 33% female.  That there were 94 male writers, and 44 female writers, a total larger than 100 because of co-authoring situations, one acts by different authors presented on the same bill, and including all the different writers (book, lyrics, composer) who work on musicals.

Shows 201-300 break down into 21 classic shows and 79 contemporary shows.

The classic shows had 24 writers total, breaking down to 23 male writers and 1 female writer (Tides' Theater's production of The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman) - this is 96% male, 4% female.

The contemporary shows had 114 writers total, breaking down to 71 male writers and 43 female writers, or 62% male and 38% female. 

Within the contemporary category, I also looked at new shows, or shows that had been written since the year 2000.  I found 63 new shows within the contemporary group.

Those 63 new shows had a total of 91 writers, and broke down to 52 male writers, 39 female writers, or 57% male, 43% female.

More data analysis to come!  The next few posts in this series will look at how the shows break down by type of Actors' Equity contract they use.

Again, if you want to review past posts in this series, go here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Counting Actors: General Stats for shows 201-300

To compare this data to shows 1-100, go here.  To compare this data to shows 101-200, go here.

To back track through ALL of the show data examined in groups of 100, go here.

Shows 201-300 (aka the 3rd hundred) had:

67 male directors, 46 female directors (co-directing situations as well as including music directors for musicals in this group means that the total is greater than 100 directors for 100 shows)

94 male writers, 44 female writers (some shows were co-written, other shows were groups of one-acts by different writers.  All writing team collaborators on a musical - book, lyrics, composer - are included in the writers group.)

This means 59% male directors, 41% female directors.  It's 68% male writers and 32% female writers.

822 actors worked on these 100 shows, for an average cast size of 8.2.  The largest cast show was ACT's Christmas Carol, with a cast of 46 actors. No solo shows in this group, but many 2 person casts.  These actors included 461 men, 361 women (56%, 44%), 294 union members and 528 non-union members (36%, 64%), and 739 locals and 83 non-local actors (90%, 10%).

Of the 294 union members, 180 were men and 114 were women (61%, 39%).  Non-local actors taken as a portion of the union talent means that 72% of the equity jobs went to local talent, 28% to folks from out of town.

In the next week or so, I'll slice this data a few different ways, following the groupings I set with the previous hundreds - I'll split things out by time period, and also by type of union contract.  Again, you can read all of the past posts in this series by going here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

More links, Shakespeare edition

I've recently learned (thanks Elana!) that Alexander Schmidt's Shakespeare Lexicon is online.  This is the two volume set of all the words of Shakespeare, defined, and with citations for where the words appear.  I'm still learning how to navigate it, but oh the possibilities...

And, Rebecca Ennals, AD of the SF Shakespeare Festival, is now blogging! I was particularly excited to read her mid-August post announcing new casting policies for the festival.

And hey, read a little bit about Charlotte Cushman!  I'm learning more about this mid 1800's actor who played both male and female Shakespearean characters. I've added this book to my library cue.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lots of links!

First of all, there's the article from the NYTimes about what it's like to audition for Saturday Night Live, in front of Lorne Michaels.  It's in that multiple voice interview style and has voices from throughout the series (Chevy Chase through Dana Carvey, then Molly Shannon, Jimmy Fallon and even current cast folks).  There are links to extended interviews with a few folks, and within all of that, there's footage of Kristin Wiig at the Groundlings, and the original auditions of Dana Carvey, Will Farrell, and Jimmy Fallon.  There's also a video interview with Fred Armisen.  It's a really eye-opener to how comedy looks easy but comes with so much anxiety, and the silence in the videos is excruciating.  Worth checking out.

Vegan side note: if you like eating veggies and even if you don't, you gotta get on Thug Kitchen.  Completely NSFW - lots of foul language and f-bombs, but great recipes and ideas for eating healthy food made from plants, and lots of capping on snack food companies.

Had a big audition last week.  Because there's nothing concrete to remember these accomplishment/milestone moments, I like to reward myself with objects that help me remember these successes.  In this case, it was a trip to the Muji store in SOMA where I found these socks.  Which are awesome.  What can I say, sometimes it's the little things.

I believe I've mentioned the Geena Davis Institute for Gender Representation in Media at USC's Annenberg School of Journalism, yes?  A new report from them on gender inequality in the top 500 films from 2007-2012 tells it like it is.

And finally, this woman just rocks my world with her talent, originality, creativity and refusal to let others shape her image and message.  Here's something from the album that comes out next week, and here's something I just found on youtube this week: her first studio album, unreleased.  The track that starts at 1:43 may be my new 'I just auditioned and now I'm done' celebration.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Counting Actors August 2013

Here are the 12 shows for August.  The Counting Actors project is now at 310 shows, so as promised last month, I'll be doing some posts looking at data from shows 201-300 throughout September (similar to what I've done with the first 200 shows).

If you want to learn more about the project, read posts from previous months, and learn how to submit statistics yourself, please take a look at this page.

12 shows counted:
Tides/Sweet Bird of Youth
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival/Macbeth(3 female non-speaking actors in this production are company interns)
Marin Theatre Company/Good People
Berkeley Rep/No Man's Land
Marin Shakespeare/All's Well that Ends Well
TheatreFirst/Orlando (title role in this piece changes gender from m to f and is played by a f actor)
TheatreWorks/Other Desert Cities (co-produced w/San Diego's Old Globe)
Cal Shakes/Lady Windemere's Fan (male actor on this production played two f characters - duchess of Berwick and Lady Jedburgh)
SF Playhouse/Grounded
Z Space & Word for Word/In Friendship (evening of interlocking short stories by one author presented theatrically, 2 directors 1 m 1 f)
Monday Afternoon Productions/The Goat or Who is Sylvia?
Wily West/Lawfully Wedded (interlocking short plays by 3 authors, 2 m, 1 f)

The Stats:
8 male directors, 5 female directors
11 male writers, 3 female writers
96 total actors
51 male actors, 45 female actors
46 union actors, 50 non-union actors
23 union men, 23 union women
71 local actors, 9 non local actors

Thank you to those from audience, cast and artistic staff who contributed stats: Phoebe Moyer, Karen Thomson Hall, Sheila Devitt, Scott Ragle, Anne Hallinan and Rebecca Ennals

Please keep talking about what you're reading here, and if you see a show or are working on a show with performances in September, it takes about 5 minutes to share the stats with the project.

A post with September shows will go up between Oct 1 and Oct 5.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Three novels I read this summer that you should read too

A common thread in all three of these books is that while significant portions of each book take place in the US, none of the protagonists are US born, so each of these books examines American culture from an outsider perspective. Each book stands on its own, but taken together, they add up to a fascinating look at the similarities and differences in the challenges that face contemporary immigrant women.

1) We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo - When we first meet Darling, she's 10 years old and living in Zimbabwe.  The early sections of this book do that thing I love where a child or young person describes what they're observing in the world around them, but that they don't fully comprehend yet as an adult reader, I have more context for the things that the character is describing.  I love that!  Later in the book, Darling comes to the US and lives in Detroit, experiencing her teen years and immigrant assimilation simultaneously.  I found this book incredibly moving, especially the chapter where she describes what it's like to have to speak in English when it's not your first language.

2) The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Domincyzk gives us three women - one who immigrated to the US as a child, then went back to Poland for summers; one who came to the US as an adult; and one who didn't leave Poland.  All three lives intertwine as the story moves both back and forth in time, and back and forth between  Brooklyn and Kielce, Poland.  Another great insight into a life that straddles two cultures.   I was fascinated with the Polish custom of using different versions of a child's name.  I'll admit that I still don't understand it completely, but I loved that the author didn't make it easy.  Warning: this book will make you want to eat pierogies!  I was lucky that I already had some in my freezer.

3) Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie - Ifemelu, the protagonist in this book, leaves Nigeria for the US as a college student.  It is a heady look at race relations in the US  (Ifemelu blogs about the experiences and observations of a 'non-American black').   Obinze, Ifemelu's high school boyfriend. is present throughout the book as well.  We see both of these characters in contemporary Lagos and Princeton, as well as in flashbacks to student days.  Again, lots of new perspective and insights in different cultural experiences for me - the hair braiding that takes place at the beginning of the book is a strong example of this.

I really enjoyed reading all three of these novels, and together they made a powerful triptych that gave me a lot to think about in terms of privilege and experience of outsiders in a new culture.  A bonus - these three books describe their non-American locales so strongly and specifically, it was like I took trips to Zimbabwe, Poland and Nigeria!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shout Out to Kneepads!

In the past few months, I've used my kneepads a ton!
My awesome soft kneepads

1) for the Big Driver shoot

2) when I played a dog for the UWAC 36 Hour Playfestival/SF Safehouse Benefit

3) leant them to a summer camp student

4) during the Foolsfury sponsored Mary Overlie workshop

This doesn't include all of the times that I threw my kneepads into my bag 'just in case' for auditions, readings, etc. where I didn't know what the physical work would entail.

I bought these kneepads probably 5 or more years ago from a nondescript martial arts store on Mission street near the Armory.  They were sold per kneepad and I think they were $5 or $6 each. 

They are soft, so they don't make too big of a lumpy shape under pants, like a harder kneepad might.  They have no logos/words on them, so you're not unconsciously advertising anything when you wear them under light colored clothing.

And, most importantly, they keep my knees safer from bruises, bumps, other injuries, allowing this easy bruising actor to leap into highly physical acting related antics with confidence.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Yes this is a kneepad selfie

Thanks kneepads!!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On Practicing what you Preach

Recent teaching work has gotten me thinking about how I talk about and model gender parity while wearing my teaching artist hat.

This is still evolving, but here are a few thoughts:

1) if a girl brings in a monologue for a male character, a boy brings in a monologue for a female character - no judgement.  If they've read and understand the circumstances of the monologue and the play it's from, and the language speaks to them - do it & work on it - understand that this may not fly elsewhere, but the boy who brought in Tilly from  Gamma Rays and the girl who brought Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower - go! (although technically I said bring in monologues from plays not movies)

2) when I'm assigning scenes or monologues - check myself on writer gender parity.  For a program that ended with students doing 2 and 3 person scenes from published plays, I notice that for 8 scenes, I have 3 female writers, 6 male writers (one of the pieces was co-written by two women).  So I need to do better on this one - continue to educate myself on the women writers out there, so that I can assign, share, promote women writers.

What are other ways that we can bring gender parity to our teaching work?

And, if anyone's got suggestions for plays for teens by women writers, throw those into the comments section too!

Side note: Bay Area folks, if you don't already know about it, I strongly encourage you to check out, like Works by Women SF on facebook, and/or join the Works by Women SF group on - we've got a few great outings planned to attend shows and support women making theater in the region - it'd be great to see you there, Bay Area.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Counting Actors July 2013

A whopping 17 shows for July, bringing the project to 299 shows, which means that at some point in the coming month I'll be at 300 shows, and do some more in depth analysis of shows 201-300 and compare that to the previous 200 shows.  Stay tuned.

If you want to know more about the project, see previous posts in the series, and learn how you can contribute, go here.

17 shows counted:
Marin Shakespeare/Comedy of Errors, The Spanish Tragedy (a few actors cast in both productions and counted 2x, including 6 interns)
SF Playhouse/Camelot (male director and male music director, male writer book/lyrics and 2nd male writer music, video only female actor not included in this count, child role shared by 2 boys, both included here)
San Jose Rep/Minister's Wife (male director, female music director, writing team man/book 2nd man/lyrics woman/music)
Shady Shakespeare/Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet (Feste and Toby played by women; Feste as a female character, Toby as male, Benvolio, Apothecary and Gregory played as female by women actors)
Aurora/This is How it Goes (female crew member appeared onstage briefly in a non-speaking role and is not counted here)
SF Mime Troupe/Oil and Water (script credit is 2 men & SFMT - so 2 men are credited, but actors and director contributed to the writing during the rehearsal process)
Livermore Shakespeare/The Liar, Taming of the Shrew (1 intern in Liar cast, 4 interns in Shrew cast)
California Shakespeare Theatre/Romeo and Juliet (cutting of script by f director so that show could be done by 7 people.  5 actors double cast and roles of Benvolio and Prince are played by women as male/gender-fluid characters)
Dragon Productions/Becky's New Car (originally scheduled to be directed by a woman, but when she had to leave the production and the company had to scramble to replace her, the new director was male)
Off Broadway West/Betrayal
Central Works/Pitch Perfect
Just Theatre/A Maze
Bay Area Children's Theater/Cat in the Hat (female actors played all gender neutral characters in this piece)
TheatreWorks/The Loudest Man in the World (non-local incl. one union, one non-union and non-union actor is deaf)
Porchlight/Scapino (one female role very small, no dialogue and kind of a stage crew person in a costume)

The Stats:
11 male directors, 9 female directors
20 male writers, 3 female writers
173 total actors
103 male actors, 70 female actors
42 union actors, 133 non-union actors
24 union men, 18 union women
168 local actors, 5 non local actors

Many many thanks to the cast members, audience members, crew and theater artistic staff who contributed to this month's count, including: Karen Altree-Piemme, Vera Sloan, Karen Thomson Hall, Phoebe Moyer, Meredith Hagedorn, Hugo Carbajal, Arie Levine, Cassidy Brown, Paul Cello, Eowyn Mader, Patricia Milton, Rebecca Ennals and Corrie Bennett. 

Please share and talk about these numbers with your friends and colleagues.   And if you're in a show or see a show with performances in August, please go here for info on how to contribute your stats.

The count for August will go up between Sept 1st and 5th. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Counting Actors June 2013

The project counts 9 shows for the month of June, now up to a total of 281 shows since June 2011 and is now 2 years old!  For more info on the project, including what you can do to contribute a set of stats, please check the Counting Actors Page on this blog.

My apologies for a late post - the goal is to get this info out between the first and fifth of the month, but with the BART strike, my commute to direct summer camp was extra lengthy, and I'm just now catching up!

9 shows counted:
ACT/Arcadia (count for this show does not include 4 understudies, all local, 2M, 2F and 3 union, w/1M non-union)
Impact/Jukebox Stories (this show has no credited director, and 2 credited writers, 1 songs, 1 stories. The writers are also the performers)
Bigger than a Breadbox/Tis Pity She's a Whore (this production both cut and combined characters and changed a male character of Friar into a female Nun)
Cal Shakes/American Night
Crowded Fire/ 410[GONE]
MTC/Beauty Queen of Leenane
NCTC/Birds of a Feather (both genders and species crossed in this production - men played women, women played men, humans played animals of both genders!!)
Cutting Ball/Crispy Critters in the Scarlet Night
San Jose Stage/Reefer Madness (of the two male writers on this production, 1 did lyrics, the other did music and both collaborated on the book)

The stats:
6 male directors, 2 female directors
10 male writers, 1 female writer
67 total actors
38 male actors, 28 female actors
25 union actors, 42 non-union actors
17 union men, 8 union women
59 local actors, 8 non local actors

A huge thanks to the folks who've helped make this project possible for the last two years by sharing stats from shows they've seen or worked on.  From the most recent batch, thank you to Phoebe Moyer, Alisha Ehrlich, Galen Murphy-Hoffman, Ryan Courtney, Karen Thomson Hall, Colin Thomson, Paul Cello and Lily Tung Crystal

Please share and talk about this info and this project with your friends and with the community at large - whether it's at half-hour or at a five minute rehearsal break, this info is only worth something if we keep talking about it.

And, if you've got a show with performances in July that hasn't been counted yet, please submit statistics following the instructions on the Counting Actors Page, and help me keep this project going for another year!


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Actor Etiquette Soapbox or A Short Rant

Dear actor friends, aspiring actors, anyone who wears the actor hat who may read this post - having been on the asking people to do stuff side lately and watching friends move into the producing/asking people to do stuff side, I feel I have to stand up and say this:

If you are asked via email or phone message to do something acting related - anything from an audition to a reading to a role itself, even if this request comes out of the blue, from someone you've never heard of, even if you're not available or interested in the thing you're being asked to do, email or return the call WITHIN 24 HOURS.

Even if it's just to say 'I saw your message and I don't have an answer for you yet'

Why?  Because someone, somewhere, is doing some hard work, looking up contact information, asking for referrals and generally sweating because they need people in order to make a creative project move forward and they don't have enough of the kind of people that they need.  And, in the middle of that sweating and hard work, someone THOUGHT OF YOU.

This thought, my friends, deserves to be acknowledged. And acknowledged in a way that the person who reached out is aware of - so not just reading or listening and then deleting, but RESPONDING.  With thanks. With recognition of effort. With 'here's some other people instead of me'.  With grace.  And, above all, IN A TIMELY FASHION WITHIN 24 HOURS of the initial message.

Maybe your life is crazy hectic.  Maybe you're dashing between jobs and classes and auditions.  It takes just 5 minutes to triage your inboxes and note if anyone is asking if you would like to spend some time doing this thing that you love doing.  And maybe 5-10 more minutes to say yes or no or 'I need some more time to think about this, what is your deadline for decisions.'

And it's fine to say you're not available or not interested.  It's way better than silence.  Thank them for thinking of you, for reaching out, and move on.

Stepping down.

Regularly scheduled gender parity posts, random book reviews, and other actor daily life musings back atcha soon.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Counting Actors May 2013

A huge thank you to DivaFest and everyone who came out for last weekend's Symposium event!  Though nothing specific is on the books, I'm sure that more events like this one will be forthcoming, and I'll share them when I have more info.

In a slightly different vein, the Union Women Actors Coalition (UWAC) is presenting a 36 Hour Playfest/Benefit on June 24th, 8pm curtain.  UWAC was formed to both draw attention to lack of gender parity for Equity women and to showcase the Equity women of the Bay Area.  The 36 Hour Playfest will feature over 30 Equity women as actors, directors and writers in new plays written specifically for the Playfest.  All proceeds from the event will benefit the extraordinary non-profit San Francisco Safehouse, a unique 18 month residential program for homeless women leaving prostitution.  There's more info here, and you can (and should!) purchase tickets here.  The event has limited seating and will probably sell out.  I'm excited to be acting in this event.

Since June 2011, the Counting Actors project has now counted 273 shows!  For more info on the  project, visit this blog's Counting Actors page.

11 shows counted:
Indra's Net/Copenhagen
Douglas Morrison/Eurydice  (all 3 Stones played by women; usual casting is 2m, 1w)
Center REP/Pilgrims Shari and Musa in the New World
Center REP/Sweet Charity (male music director, female director, 3 credited writers - 2 men for boo & music, one woman for lyrics)
Shotgun/By and By
DivaFest/You're Going to Bleed
Butterfield 8/Salome
Central Works/Medea Hypothesis
ACT/Black Watch (all Scottish cast are counted as union actors, although not members of AEA, they are appearing with AEA's permission)
SF Playhouse/Abigail's Party
The stats:
7 male directors, 5 female directors
8 male writers, 5 female writers
76 total actors
41 men, 35 women
33 union, 43 non-union
23 union men, 10 union women
64 local, 12 non local

Thank you so much for those who've shared stats for May! This group includes audience and cast members like Alisha Erlich, Carol Lashof, Patricia Milton, Susan Shay, and Phoebe Moyer. 

I've got a few stats already for shows that won't open until June, given to me by folks working on them - I'm always happy to accept stats for shows happening in the future, but don't accept them for shows from the previous month.  It takes just 5 minutes to send the email - so if you're working on a show or see a show with performances in June, please visit the Counting Actors page for instructions on how to share the data.

As always, please share and talk about these numbers with others. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Books I'm Reading

Give and Take by Adam Grant is subtitled 'A revolutionary approach to success' - I became interested in the book after reading about Grant in the NY Times.  Grant is a professor at The Wharton School and has done extensive research on people's relationship, networking, negotiation and leadership styles, and found that in our interactions with others, people tend to operate as either givers, takers or matchers.  And while some givers burn out, many incredibly successful people in many fields are also givers. 

This book highlights the key differences between burning out and achieving success, and has introduced me to some of my new favorite concepts:

1) pronoia - it's the opposite of paranoia and can be defined as "the delusionial belief that other people are plotting your well-being or saying nice things about you behind your back" - sounds like a great attitude to bring into any casting situation to me.

2) expeditional behavior, a term from the National Outdoor Leadership School, which trains NASA astronauts, among others, and means putting the group's goals and missions first and showing the same amount of concern for others as you do for yourself.  This is the exact name for what I'm trying to cultivate in any group of students who are working on a show together - we put the play and the story we are trying to tell first. 

There's even more interesting and helpful thinking in this book - ideas about how to process the successes of peers or co-workers, and lots of ideas about networking and cultivating relationships - two big keys for any theater professional.

On a totally different track, for theatermakers and others who want an in depth look at the women of the War of the Roses, Blood Sisters by Sarah Gristwood shines a light on the lives of Marguerite of Anjou (the wife of Henry VI), Elizabeth of York (mother of the 'Princes in the Tower') and 5 other women from both Team York and Team Lancaster.  If you're heading into production on a Shakespeare history play, learning more about the details of the day to day lives of these women and how they leveraged their limited power in their relationships with powerful men is pretty fascinating reading.

I'm also very excited about a project that is coming up at the end of June.  I'm part of an event that will not only showcase approximately 30 women theater artists, the majority of them members of Actors' Equity, but will also raise money for a non-profit called SF Safehouse, who provide 18 months of housing as well as lots of other varied support and resources for homeless women leaving prostitution.  The public portion of the event is an evening of short original plays, and takes place on Monday June 24th.  Ticket info is here and you can also find event details on Facebook

Monday, May 13, 2013

Story vs. Fact

I've tried to write a post on this concept and how it holds actors back several times over the past year, but once again, Bonnie Gillespie hits the nail on the head in a way better way than I ever could.

Go read ya'll.

And then set aside some time to wade through the archives - she's one of the best resources out there for an on-camera actor.

And Bay Area folks - have you taken a look at Apple Box Studios Films yet?  A new by artists for artists company with a video creation focus - they shoot auditions, edit reels, and put together websites - I haven't had a chance to take advantage of their services yet, but I'm sure I will soon!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thinking about auditions again

So there's this Japanese business/industry idea called kaizen - it's the principle of continuous small improvements, constant tweaking of routines for greater efficiency, maximum productivity, etc.  The brilliant documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi is all about kaizen through and through (but a warning for the vegetarian faint of heart - lots of fish carcasses)

I've got my own kaizen going around auditions.  It's yet another way that I stay conscious about what aspects of an audition I have control over and which ones I don't.

And I really am digging this recent improvement to my audition routines: the night before, I make a timetable.  I start with the time I'm scheduled, and then work backwards.
Here's a recent timetable!

It keeps me from stressing when I'm getting ready (what time did I need to get on BART again?), makes sure I don't forget anything, and makes sure that I'm doing productive things to get ready (like a vocal warmup) instead of getting stuck on the social medias. Because I do it the night before it also means that I sleep better.    Timetables are definitely a keeper.  For now anyway...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Counting Actors and the local/non-local issue

When I first envisioned the Counting Actors project, I added the question of whether actors were local or not partly because I was afraid that 'just' tracking gender wouldn't get enough people interested.

Fast forward just under two years, and it turns out many many people are interested in tracking gender of actors, writers and directors.  Theatre Bay Area magazine has even published an article about my findings, focused on the gender portion of this study.

In this post, I'm taking the exact same plays used for the TBA article, listed here, and looking at the numbers in regards to local and non-local hires.

I include 235 plays in this count, rather than the full 236.  There was one play that I couldn't find out what kind of union contract it had used, even after a conversation with the LA Equity office, who had to admit that the show had slipped through their fingers.

Here's what I found in table format, broken down by type of contract, with totals at the bottom.

Type of contract
Number of Plays (% of total)
Total actors (% of total)
Total union actors (% of total)
Total non-local actors (% of total)
Non-local actors as % of total actors
Non-local actors as % of union actors
No contract
58 (25%)
406 (22%)
0 (0%)
5 (3%)
21 (9%)
122  (7%)
46 (7%)
1 (>1%)
Contracts without health weeks
24 (10%)
227 (12%)
43 (6%)
6 (3%)
Contracts with health weeks
132 (56%)
1074 (59%)
588 (87%)
188 (94%)
235 (100%)
1829 (100%)
677 (100%)
200 (100%)

235 plays used 1829 actors, and 677 (37%)  of those actors were union members.  Of that same total, 200 actors or 11% of the total were non-local.  The line that probably holds the most interest for the union actors reading this is the line that breaks out contracts with health weeks.  Those 132 shows employed 1074 actors, 588 (55%) of them members of AEA.  188 of the actors working on those shows with the high level contracts were from out of town.  They made up 18% of the actors who worked on these shows, and 32% of the actors who worked on contracts with health weeks in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

When is it okay to talk about body parts?

Let's say you live in San Francisco.  And let's say you have a female friend who is a great chef.  We'll call her Josie.  She has run her own restaurant, and is currently adjunct faculty at City College in the restaurant and hospitality program.  In her course, students run a mock restaurant  - they staff every position at that restaurant from chef to line cook to host to server to busser.  And, for 3-4 weeks, their restaurant is open to the public 3 nights a week. 

Josie is really proud of the work her students have done - she uses facebook, twitter and whatever other social media she's good at to invite her extended network to come to the restaurant.
She says things like 'the food is great!' and 'the service is exceptional' and 'the men are all wearing tight pants and their butts look a-maz-ing!'

What's your reaction in this hypothetical scenario?  Is it 'Awesome! Nothing like some well formed glutes to get the ol' salivary juices flowing! I'm booking a table for tomorrow!'  or is it 'hey wait a minute - aren't you their professor?  Josie - doesn't talking about your students bodies in this way violate a code of ethics or professional conduct or something?  As your friend, you might not want to announce that tight pants/amazing butts thing on a public forum.'

I'm hoping it's something along the lines of the 2nd response.  I'm aware that parts of the first response may also cross your mind.  I know that a lot of us like looking at well formed bodies, and that we sometimes discuss those well formed bodies with our friends. 

Here's the key differences though. 1) public forum and 2) professor student relationship and 3) did I mention public forum?

Here's a real situation - there's a community college in the Bay Area, outside of San Francisco, currently running a production of a swashbuckling play with sword fights, and from what I can gather on public forums, costuming from the era of the piece, so that means women in corsets and lots of cleavage.  The director of the piece, who I don't know personally, but we've got some mutual facebook friends, is adjunct faculty at this community college.  On a facebook group, he has described his piece thusly: 'Boobs and Swords! Send me an haiku about swashbuckling and win two comps! (limit 10 pair per performance. Ten pair of what? Comps. Pervert.)'

And with this simple phrase, he's communicating to the larger community that the men are valuable for what they do (those swords and the swashbuckling) and the women are valuable for what they look like (that's the boobs part of this whole thing).  On a 1) public forum and 2) as the director (professor) describing his actors (students).

Some people have said 'so what?' to this whole thing.  Others have sent angry emails to the director's supervisors asking for him to lose his job.

Where do you fall on this spectrum?

More importantly - if your reaction to the hypothetical scenario is different from your reaction to the real scenario - why is it different? 

I'd love to hear answers to those questions in the comments.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Counting Actors April 2013

Before you read this month's list - a few places to get even more Counting Actors.
1) the May/June issue of Theatre Bay Area magazine - yours truly has an article on p.20, with cumulative data for over 230 shows, as well as reactions from members of the local theater community to put the whole thing in context.  No online link yet, but I'll share when I've got it.
2) DIVAFest - on May 25 from 3-6, DIVAFest hosts a two part symposium event where I'll be talking about findings and patterns in the Counting Actors project along side other artists who are looking at ways to address gender parity.  I would love to see you there!

April's Counting Actors features 15 shows and brings the total count to 262.  This project began in June 2011, and all past posts relating to the topic - the monthly totals, the posts w/aggregated information - as well as info on how to contribute info on a show you've seen or been part of can be found at the Counting Actors Page.

15 shows counted:
Shotgun/Shipwreck (actors for this piece incl. 2 boys alternating a role - both are included in the count)
TheatreWorks/Being Earnest (2 m writers included in the count - one book/lyrics, one libretto/lyrics. m director and m music director incl. in director count)
Theatre of Yugen/Sorya 2013 (show is several Japanese Kyogen pieces, which are traditionally performed by an all-male ensemble.  This company is all female, so women play both male and female characters)
Ragged Wing/Time Sensitive (writer and director for this project are same person. F actor plays M role of 'Clockmaker')
Intersection for the Arts & Campo Santo/The River (M musician not included in this count. F stage manager also came onstage and spoke about 5 lines)
Custom Made/Eurydice
ACT/Stuck Elevator (m director, f music director, m composer, m librettist, also 2m 1 f understudy who are not included in count)
Berkeley Rep/Pericles (8 actors play multiple roles in this piece, incl. women playing male characters incl. Gower)
Symmetry Theater/Language Rooms
Center REP/39 Steps (2 m actors on this piece play many roles incl. both male and female characters)
Aurora/Arsonists (1 f in 'firefighter chorus' a traditionally all male group)
San Jose Stage/Persuasion
Magic/The Happy Ones
MTC/The Whipping Man
Crowded Fire/The Bereaved

The Stats
11 male directors, 6 female directors
12 male writers, 5 female writers
112 total actors
68 male actors, 45 female actors
57 total union actors, 55 total non-union actors
36 union male actors, 21 union female actors
99 total local actors, 13 total non-local actors

Thank you to everyone who contributed statistics for this month's count.  If you are in a show or see a show with performances in May that hasn't been counted yet, please go to the Counting Actors page for directions on how to submit the info.  Contributors for this month include audience members, cast members, writers.  Thank you to Phoebe Moyer, Pidge Meade, Sheila Devitt, Annie Paladino, Amy Clare Tasker, Lily Tung Crystal, Tiiu Eva Rebane, Martha Richards, Anne Hallinan and Jenn LeBlanc. 

Thank you for sharing and talking and posting about what you're reading here - please talk in the green room, dressing room, audition room and post-show bar, and share, tweet, update, comment, like, + on any social media of your choice. #femtheatre is a great twitter hashtag to use/search as well.