Center Stage Salons with Josh Costello

Aurora Theatre Company Members: 
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Join Aurora Theatre Company's Artistic Director Josh Costello for a series of interactive salon-style discussions with featured artists, designers, writers, and more. Explore the process of theatre-making from multiple perspectives and learn how art is changing and adapting throughout the year. Unless otherwise specified, all meetings of this monthly salon will be held virtually in a webinar format, where members can sign in from anywhere in the world to participate in the conversation. 


Center Stage Salon Dates 
4 PM Pacific Standard Time

  • August 29 | Margo Hall
  • September 12 | Eureka Day Cast Reunion
  • October 25 | The Flats Actors
  • November 22 | The Flats Playwrights
  • January 10 | Mia Tagano
  • February 28 | Colonialism is Terrible, but Pho is Delicious 
  • March 28 | Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye Cast
  • April 25 | Dawn Monique Williams
  • May 23 | Carlos Aguirre
  • June 27 | M. Graham Smith
  • July 25 | Barbara Damashek and Lance Gardner


SUNDAY, July 25, 2021, 4PM | Barbara Damashek and Lance Gardner

For the final Center Stage Salon of the 2020/2021 Season, Josh welcomes two celebrated Bay Area artists: actor and Aurora board member Lance Gardner (Safe House), and director Barbara Damashek (The ChildrenA NumberSplendour). On July 25, we'll get to know Lance and Barbara, discuss their experiences at Aurora, and embark on a freewheeling conversation about theatre as an art form and an industry.

Barbara Damashek is a Tony-nominated director, composer-lyricist, and co-author of the musical Quilters. Aurora credits include 2020's The Children, Creditors, A Number, Splendour, The Lyons, American Buffalo,Fat Pig, and Private Jokes, Public Places. Other credits include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, A.C.T., The Denver Center, South Coast Repertory, and Actors Theater of Louisville, and internationally in the U.K. and Ukraine.

Lance Gardner is the Live Events Producer at KQED public media in San Francisco. He works to bring KQED’s award winning programing to life across the bay area in creative and engaging ways, and strives to create new opportunities to bring art and journalism to life together. Before joining KQED, Lance performed in dozens of plays over his 15 years as a professional actor and musician. He previously worked as an EMT with Santa Clara County emergency medical services and enjoys creating sound-rich narrative stories as an independent audio producer.


SUNDAY, June 27, 2021, 4PM | m. Graham Smith

Our penultimate Center Stage Salon of the 2020/2021 Season features Bay Area director — and former leader of Aurora's Global Age Project — M. Graham Smith. On June 27, Josh and Graham will discuss Kait Kerrigan's Father/Daughter, which will be Graham's mainstage directorial debut at Aurora this fall, as well as a look back at the Global Age Project, and an exploration of Graham's work in the Bay Area and around the country.


Sunday, May 23, 2021, 4pm | Carlos Aguirre

On May 23, Josh welcomes Bay Area actor and hip hop artist Carlos Aguirre for our next Center Stage Salon. Carlos wrote and performed his adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart as the centerpiece of the Bay Area Theatre Cypher's Tell-Tale Hearts, which performed at Aurora prior to the pandemic and online last November. We'll get to know Carlos and learn about his work at the crossroads of hip hop and theatre.

SUNDAY, April 25, 2021, 4PM | Dawn Monique WIlliams

For Aurora's Center Stage Salon this April, Josh welcomes Aurora's own Associate Artistic Director, Dawn Monique Williams. The director of Bull in a China Shop and The Bluest Eye at Aurora, and a veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and many others, Dawn manages Aurora's Community Partners program, leads a monthly reading group for our members, and much more. At this month's Center Stage Salon, we'll get to know Dawn and discuss her career, her aspirations, and her work with Aurora.



For Aurora's next Center Stage Salon, Josh welcomes playwright Dustin Chinn and director Oanh Nguyen, the team behind Colonialism is Terrible, but Pho is Delicious. Aurora members can attend an online reading of this incisively funny new play on February 13, then ask questions of Dustin and Oanh in this exclusive conversation on February 28. Oanh is the Artistic Director of southern California's Chance Theatre Repertory Company, Aurora's partner for the reading. Don't miss this chance to get a peek at the development of a new play!

Dustin Chinn is a Seattle native whose plays include Snowflakes, Or Rare White PeopleI Am Nakamura, The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan Commission Herschel: Portrait Of A Killer and Let’s Ninja Science Ranger Team Get! He has developed work at the Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep Summer Residency Lab, A.C.T.’s New Strands Festival, the University of Washington via a Mellon Creative Fellowship, SPACE on Ryder Farm, UMass at Amherst New Play Lab and Vampire Cowboys. He has also written for the 52nd Street Project. Dustin is a member of the Ars Nova Play Group and Ma-Yi Writers Lab. BA: Cornell University.

Oanh Nguyen has been serving as Chance Theater’s founding Artistic Director since 1999. Oanh is a recipient of TCG’s New Generations Grant and the TCG Nathan Cummings Young Leaders of Color Fellowship. He was awarded the Outstanding Artist Award by Arts Orange County, profiled in Orange County Register’s “Most Influential People” series and OC Weekly’s People Issue, inducted into Anaheim High School’s Hall of Fame and was a commencement speaker for Chapman University College of Performing Arts. Oanh was Producing Associate at South Coast Repertory for three years. He also served on the advisory board of the Anaheim High School Performing Arts Conservatory, the board of Network of Ensemble Theatres, LA’s 99-seat Transitional Committee, and OC Theatre Guild, as well as panels and committees for Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Alternative Theatre Los Angeles, National Endowment for the Arts and Theatre Communications Group. Oanh is a proud member of SDC and SAG-AFTRA. His directing credits include productions at Chance Theater, East West Players, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory, Chapman University, Azusa Pacific University, AMDA, CSU Fullerton, and served as the Associate Director for the international tour of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish (Berkeley Repertory, South Coast Repertory, Hong Kong Arts Festival).

Sunday, January 10, 2021, 4 PM | Mia Tagano

For our January 10 Center Stage Salon, Josh welcomes celebrated Bay Area actor Mia Tagano (Bull In A China ShopSplendour). You are a part of the conversation with Mia and Josh, discussing the life of a Bay Area actor, the craft of acting, what it's like to perform with Aurora, and more.

Mia Tagano was last seen at Aurora in Bull in a China Shop and Splendour. Other bay area credits include Berkeley Rep (Macbeth), ACT (Love and Information), CalShakes (Hamlet and Nicholas Nickleby), and TheatreWorks (M ButterflyCalligraphy and Loudest Man on Earth). Regional credits include  Tamburlaine, (Shakespeare Theater), Snow Falling on Cedars (Portland Center Stage, Hartford Stage), and Tantalus (Denver Center/RSC co-production/UK tour). New York credits include Far East (Lincoln Center), 99 Histories (Cherry Lane Theater) and Song of Singapore (Capital Repertory).  A member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA, Mia received her MFA in Acting from the University of Washington; BA from OSU.


Sunday, November 22, 2020, 4pm | THE FLATS Playwrights

Josh welcomes playwrights Lauren Gunderson, Cleavon Smith, and Jonathan Spector (Eureka Day) to our Center Stage Salon for a discussion of Aurora's first audio drama, The Flats. Get to know these talented Bay Area playwrights and join us for a discussion of this mysterious and moving story and its creation.

Sunday, October 25, 2020, 4pm | The Flats Actors

On October 25, Josh welcomes the cast of The Flats to our Center Stage Salon for a spoiler-free discussion of Aurora's first audio drama. Get to know these talented Bay Area actors, learn about The Flats, and participate in a conversation that celebrates art and artistry.

Sunday, September 12, 2020, 4pm | Eureka Day Cast Reunion

For our second Salon, September 12th, 2020,  Josh reunited with the cast of 2018's Eureka Day to look back on the play that found comedy and drama in the anti-vax conflict, won every Bay Area new play award, and that went on to wildly successful productions in New York City and around the country.

Sunday, August 29, 2020, 4pm | Margo Hall 

Margo Hall (Exit Strategy, Trouble In Mind; Global Age Project director) has performed and directed in theaters throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. She was seen onstage in Skeleton Crew, a co-production with Marin Theatre Company and Theatreworks. She recently directed BARBECUE (which she also starred in) for San Francisco Playhouse and Brownsville, b-side for tray for Shotgun Players. Her writing credits include The People’s Temple at Berkeley Repertory Theater, which won the 2005 Will Glickman Playwright Award for best new play in the Bay Area, and Be Bop Baby, a Musical Memoir, a semi-autobiographical piece at Z Space in San Francisco, featuring the Marcus Shelby 15-piece orchestra. She is a founding member of the award-winning, San Francisco-based multi-cultural ensemble Campo Santo, and has directed, performed and collaborated on new plays with artists such as Naomi Iizuka, Jessica Hagedorn, Philip Kan Gotanda, and Octavio Solis.


 HOSTed by Josh Costello

Josh Costello, Artistic Director

Josh Costello is the Artistic Director of Aurora Theatre Company. Throughout his career, Josh has worked to make theatre more accessible for more people, sharing a passion for the visceral experience of live theatre with new audiences and underserved communities. He was the founding Artistic Director of Impact Theatre, which focused on audiences in their teens and twenties. As the Artistic Director of Expanded Programs at Marin Theatre Company, Josh created and administered several programs that built relationships with new audiences. At Aurora, Josh initiated student matinee and Community Partner programs and led a revision of Aurora’s mission to emphasize the theatre’s role as storyteller to the community. Josh has directed Exit StrategyThe Importance of Being EarnestDetroitWittenberg, and The Heir Apparent for Aurora, as well as the world premiere of Eureka Day, which won every Bay Area new play award. His world-premiere production of Aaron Loeb’s Ideation with the San Francisco Playhouse in both SF and NYC won the Glickman Award for best new play in the Bay Area and the Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Direction, and was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Other directing work includes My Children! My Africa! at Marin Theatre Company, House of Lucky at Magic Theatre, and his adaptations of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Aphra Behn’s The Rover. Josh was the Education Director at Marin Shakespeare Company, and a faculty member at Cal Shakes, ACT, SF Shakes, UC Riverside, Cal State Long Beach, South Coast Rep, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Josh holds a BFA in Theatre from Boston University, and an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington, Seattle.