Aurora Connects

Aurora Connects is a live web broadcast, now every other Thursday at 5 PM.

Theatre is all about connection. While the measures we're all taking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are necessary to save lives, they're also leaving us isolated at a time when we need human connection more than ever. At Aurora, there's not much we can do to directly address the pandemic, but even with our stage dark it remains our role to make connections between artists and audiences.

Aurora Connects is our weekly live broadcast featuring interviews with Aurora artists, important members of our community, and more. We stream Aurora Connects live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch, allowing you to react, comment, ask questions, and engage in real-time. Have suggestions for Aurora Connects? Let us know what you want to see.

Join us for Aurora Connects every other Thursday at 5 PM. You can listen to Aurora Connects audio here.  

UPCOMING EPISODES

Thursday, July 22, at 5PM | Corrina Gould

MEET OUR HOSTS

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.

Dawn Monique Williams, Associate Artistic Director, joined the Aurora team in August 2019. A native of Oakland, CA, Dawn was previously the Artistic Associate at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she directed Merry Wives of Windsor in 2017. Her recent directing credits include Aurora’s Bull in a China ShopEarthrise at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, TiJean and His BrothersWomen on the Verge of a Nervous BreakdownThe Secretaries (Willamette Week’s Top 10 Portland Theatre Productions of 2018), Romeo & Juliet, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, and Lynn Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Stark. She’s directed a range of plays including the English language premiere of Gracia Morales’ NN12OthelloTwelfth NightIn the BloodSteel MagnoliasChildren of EdenThe 25th Annual Spelling BeeLittle Shop of HorrorsBurial at ThebesMedeaAntigone Project, and La Ronde; international directing credits include Edinburgh Festival Fringe productions of Scapin the CheatAnna Bella Eema, and The Tempest. Dawn was a 2016 Princess Grace Theatre Fellowship recipient, was awarded a TCG Leadership U residency grant, funded by the Mellon Foundation, and was a former Killian Directing Fellow at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is an alum of the Drama League Directors Project and holds an MA in Dramatic Literature and an MFA in Directing. Dawn is a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

 

THURSDAY, July 22 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Thirteen

WATCH EPISODE Thirteen HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Corrina Gould, tribal spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan (which includes Huichin, on the land colonially known as Berkeley and Oakland) and Co-Director for The Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, a women-led organization within the urban setting of her ancestral territory of the Bay Area  that works to return Indigenous land to Indigenous people. We'll get to know Corrina better, learn more about the Confederated Villages of Lisjan and the Sogorea Te' Land Trust and Corrina's roles with each organization.  We'll also learn more about the West Berkeley Shellmound and the Ohlone people.

(Lisjan Ohlone) Corrina Gould is the tribal spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone. Born and raised in her ancestral homeland, the Ohlone territory of Huchiun, she is the mother of three and grandmother of four. Corrina has worked on preserving and protecting the ancient burial sites of her ancestors throughout the Bay Area for decades. She is a Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust.



THURSDAY, July 8 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Twelve

WATCH EPISODE Twelve HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Cal Shakes Artistic Director Eric Ting and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) CEO Deborah Cullinan for our episode on Universal Basic Income (UBI). After getting to know our guests, we'll learn a little about UBI, including where the phrase and concept originated, and why it is necessary and important. We'll discuss how UBI is being implemented at Cal Shakes, YBCA, and in the community, and what the response has been, and we'll talk to our guests about their hopes for these programs.

Eric Ting is an Obie Award-winning director, Artistic Director of California Shakespeare Theater and a proud member of SDC for more than a decade. He previously served as Long Wharf Theatre Associate Artistic Director. Recent credits include the world premiere of Sam Hunter’s Lewiston (Long Wharf Theatre), To Kill a Mockingbird (Cincinnati Playhouse), The World of Extreme Happiness (Manhattan Theatre Club / Goodman), Appropriate (Mark Taper Forum), Kimber Lee’s Brownsville Song (LWT / Philadelphia Theatre Co), A Great Wilderness (Williamstown), Nora Chipaumire’s Miriam (BAM Next Wave), Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present a Presentation… (world premiere, Soho Rep / Victory Gardens) and Rising Son (world premiere, Singapore Rep). Ting is a founding member of the artists’ collective INTELLIGENT BEASTS. Upcoming: Othello (Cal Shakes), Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower with Toshi Reagon (National Tour) and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon (Berkeley Rep). He is a receipient of a TCG New Generations fellowship, a Jerome & Roslyn Milstein Meyer Career Development Prize, a NEFA National Theatre Project grant, and (with Meiyin Wang) a MAP Fund Award. Additionally, he has served on grant panels including the Doris Duke Charitable Trust, Jerome and McKnight Foundations, NEA, TCG, PONY, Creative Work Fund and Alpert Awards.

Deborah Cullinan
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) CEO Deborah Cullinan is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the pivotal role artists and arts organizations can play in shaping our social and political landscape, and has spent years mobilizing communities through arts and culture. Deborah is committed to revolutionizing the role art centers play in public life and during her tenure at YBCA, she has launched several bold new programs, engagement strategies, and civic coalitions. Prior to joining YBCA in 2013, she was the Executive Director of San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts. She is a co-founder of CultureBank, co-chair of the San Francisco Arts Alliance, Vice Chair of the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy, and on the boards of the Community Arts Stabilization Trust and HumanMade. She is a Field Leader in Residence at Arizona State University’s National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation and a former Innovator in Residence at the Kauffman Foundation. She currently serves on Governor Gavin Newsom’s Jobs and Business Recovery Task Force.



THURSDAY, JUNE 24 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Eleven

WATCH EPISODE Eleven HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Dawn will be co-hosting with Aurora's Development Director Katherine Sanderlin for a very special Pride episode! Dawn and Katherine are joined by Bay Area actor and director Leon Jones;  New York City based visual artist and makeup artist Charlotte Bravin Lee; IT Director and LGBTQ+ activist Amy Rachel; and Aurora's newest Board member Kinman Tong. We'll get to know our guests and learn what each guests' relationship is to theatre and the arts. We'll ask the guests to share what Pride means to them and ask them their thoughts on representation, why it matters, and the current state of representation in their sectors. We'll also have have a discussion on if and how the arts have helped move ideas or Queer representation forward.

Katherine Sanderlin has been Aurora's Development Director since April 2020. She has been out and proud since the age of 19. Before discovering a career in non-profit development, Katherine performed in over 140 theatrical productions in the US and abroad. As an educator, she taught human rights and social justice to elementary school students at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. She lives with her wife Judi in San Francisco.

Amy Rachel
Born and raised in Central Florida, Amy had an idyllic childhood, except for having been misdiagnosed as a boy at birth. While she was always aware that she was different, she was in her 40s before she discovered precisely what it was and began to live authentically. Since coming out as a transgender lesbian woman, she rediscovered her passion for writing, and, thanks to the thriving LGBTQ+ community in Central Florida and beyond, begun learning about advocacy and activism. She is currently working within her church to move towards full inclusion and affirmation of all marginalized communities within the church, and is developing resources which other churches can use in their own efforts to reconcile with marginalized communities.

Amy has worked in IT since elementary school, where teachers would pull her out of class to help them with technical support, and is now an IT Director for a Fortune 500 company. She also has a passion for performing arts (not on stage, though), and has especially enjoyed opportunities to be part of the magic by performing different front-of-house duties for tent shows from Cirque du Soleil and Cavalia.



Leon Jones began his professional career in Berkeley Rep's production of Macbeth starring Frances McDormand and Conleth Hill. Jones went on to attend the performing arts high school, Oakland School for the Arts, for Acting and Musical theatre, performing in the productions of ...And Jesus Moonwalks Mississippi by Marcus Gardley as Damascus/Demeter, The Oresteia: Agamemnon as the Watchmen's Friend an original adaptation by Matthew Travisano, Hamlet by William Shakespeare as The First Play (Player King) and Rising by Elly Rokeach as Curly in the Theatre department's 2019 New Work Festival. Besides acting, Leon is the Founding Executive Director of Youth Uproar Theatre Company and Founding Artistic Director of Manifested Theatre Company.

Charlotte Bravin Lee is a New York City based visual artist and makeup artist working in film and theatre. She earned a B.A. in Art History from Kenyon College in 2018. During the 2019-2020 school year Charlotte worked at the Juilliard School in the wigs and makeup department where she learned to ventilate, customize theatrical wigs and run crew for theatrical productions and operas. Charlotte’s background in both art history and creative writing has greatly influenced her personal makeup work and art direction. Charlotte is grateful to be speaking with the Aurora Theatre Company.

Kinman Tong is currently a partner at Moss Adams LLP and has practiced public accounting since 2003. He serves a diverse spectrum of not-for-profit and governmental entities, providing assurance and consulting services to educational institutions, research organizations, foundations, community health centers, international non-governmental organizations, social welfare organizations, and ancillary health care entities. Kinman's passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has encouraged him to help launch several business resource groups (BRGs) at Moss Adams, including PRiDE and Asian BRGs. He currently serves on the firm's Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board, with a mission is to foster an inclusive and diverse culture where everyone feels they belong and to be an anti-racist firm.  Kinman is excited to be the newest board member of the Aurora Theatre Company, where he hopes to bring his passion for not-for-profit, accounting and finance, DEI – and the arts. He is honored to be featured as one of the 2021 OUTstanding Voices in the San Francisco Business Times' Business of Pride.



THURSDAY, June 10 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Ten

WATCH EPISODE Ten HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by A.C.T. Executive Director Jennifer Bielstein and Cal Shakes Managing Director Sarah Williams for a discussion about how money is allocated -- and where it resides -- in nonprofit theatre. We'll learn about earned and contributed income, and what percent of our guest(s) budget comes from each. We'll dive deep into expenses, including production fees, artist salaries and fees, admin salaries, rent/building expenses, and other administrative costs. We'll also learn who and how those expenses are decided. 

Jennifer Bielstein became A.C.T.'s Executive Director in 2018 with more than 25 years of theater management experience. She serves on the board of Theatre Forward, is a member of the International Women's Forum, and is president of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT)—an organization that represents 75 theaters nationwide—having previously served as LORT’s vice president; chair of its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee; secretary; and on multiple union negotiating teams. Before relocating to the Bay Area, Bielstein was the managing director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, managing director of Actors Theatre of Louisville, and executive director of Writers Theatre in Chicago. She has also worked for Steppenwolf Theatre Company, About Face Theatre, Northlight Theatre, and Lincoln Park Zoo, as well as served on the boards of the League of Chicago Theatres, the Arts and Cultural Attractions Council, and other civic boards. She has received the Center for Nonprofit Excellence’s Pyramid Award of Excellence in Leadership, has been recognized in Louisville’s Business First’s 40 Under 40, and was named by Twin Cities Business as a Person to Know and a Real Power 50 member by Minnesota Business magazine. Bielstein is a graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, attended Stanford’s Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders in the Arts, and earned an MBA from Bellarmine University, where she received the MBA Faculty Merit Award and was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the honor society for business programs.

Sarah Williams is Cal Shakes Managing Director after four years at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where she served as the Associate Managing Director. In her role at Berkeley Rep, Sarah managed the administrative operations of The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep’s Center for the Creation and Development of New Work, producing new play workshops, readings, and The Ground Floor’s cornerstone program, the Summer Residency Lab. In addition to supporting Berkeley Rep’s mainstage productions, Sarah produced many of Berkeley Rep’s special event productions including Mike Birbiglia’s The New One, The Second City’s Dysfunctional Holiday Revue and Left Leaning and Always Right, and Fran Lebowitz: In Conversation. In summer 2018, Sarah served as tour manager for Berkeley Rep’s production of Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations which played for five weeks to sold-out houses at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. During her tenure at Berkeley Rep, Sarah managed the entitlement, development, and financing process for Berkeley Rep’s artist housing project, a seven-story mixed use building consisting of 45 apartments, classrooms, and production space.

Prior to Berkeley Rep, Williams served as the Associate Managing Director at Yale Repertory Theatre and held positions with the Huntington Theatre Company and Boston Symphony Orchestra. Sarah has served for five years on the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, and serves on the board of Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco. She holds a BA from Boston College and an MFA from Yale School of Drama where she was the recipient of the Morris J. Kaplan prize for recognition in theater management.

 



THURSDAY, May 27 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Nine

WATCH EPISODE Nine HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by playwright Cleavon Smith, co-writer of The Flats and Aurora's Originate+Generate commissioned artist for 2020/2021. We'll learn more about his O+G Commission play That's What We're Wating to Find Out and why he decided to write it, how he got started as a playwright, and what he loves most about it. We'll also dive deeper into Aurora's Originate+Generate new works development program, discussing the development process from start to finish, the upcoming reading, and what happens between the reading and final production.

Cleavon Smith is an award-winning playwright who has recently been recognized as a playwright to watch in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lives. The upcoming premiere of The Flats is his first project with Aurora Theatre Company. As Playwright in Residence at Berkeley’s reputable TheatreFIRST (T1) for the past three years, he has written and produced five new works. T1’s production of his critically acclaimed full-length work, The Last Sermon of Sister Imani was nominated for a 2018 Theatre Bay Area (TBA) Best Production award, and his short play Just One Day was included in T1’s TBA Best Anthology award-winning production Between Us. Also premiering this fall is Affinity, a mini-series of short videos filmed via Zoom and produced by TheatreFIRST. Additionally in 2020 Cleavon has had a multitude of short plays produced and/or read by theatres in Ann Arbor, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. Cleavon teaches English at Berkeley City College and in the winter will be working on new commissions for the Aurora Theatre Company, Bay Area Children’s Theatre, and Oakland’s renowned Skyline High School Drama Department.



THURSDAY, May 13 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Eight

WATCH EPISODE Eight HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Aurora's Managing Director Julie Saltzman Kellner and Board member Rebecca Parlette-Edwards. We recently announced that Julie is stepping down from her position in June, so we'll discuss her favorite Aurora memories and productions, hear about what's next for her, and we'll also hear from Rebecca, on behalf of the Board, about Julie's impact on Aurora. Later in the episode we'll talk about the shows that comprise our recently announced 30th season, and we may even have a special guest (or two) and announcements!

Julie Saltzman Kellner has been Aurora's managing director since November 2009. Aurora announced yesterday that she will step down from the position in early June 2021 after having served 11 years in the role. Saltzman Kellner joined Aurora direct from Chicago where she served as General Manager and then Producing Director at American Theater Company (ATC) where she produced a number of shows including Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann’s Urinetown follow up, Yeast Nation (the triumph of life). Prior to joining ATC she served as Managing Director at Seanachai Theatre Company. She has also worked as Associate Producer, Production Manager, Stage Manager, and Production Assistant at theatres throughout Chicago including Seanachai, Shapeshifters Theatre, Strawdog Theatre Company, Eclipse Theatre Company, and Victory Gardens Theatre and at regional theaters including Colorado Shakespeare Festival and Utah Shakespearean Festival. Julie holds a Bachelors of Arts in Theatre from Loyola University and a Masters of Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago where she completed a thesis titled More Discounts, More Money?: The State of Discount Theatre Tickets. At Columbia College, she was a Paul Berger Graduate Fellowship Nominee. Julie is the founder of the Berkeley Arts Connect internship program, former Chair of the Berkeley Cultural Trust and a member of Theatre Bay Area’s Theatre Services Committee.



THURSDAY, April 29 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Seven

WATCH EPISODE SEven HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by a talented group of Bay Area Native and Indigenous theatre artists: director/"artivist" Shannon Davis, multidisciplinary artist Steven Flores, and rapper, beatboxer, actor Carlos Aguirre aka Infinite, who appeared in Aurora's Tell Tale Hearts hip hop theatre cabarets. We'll play the music video "Indigenous Excellence" that our guests recently collaborated on, and discuss how the video came about and what the reaction to it has been. We'll also hear from our guests about some of the challenges and opportunities for indigenous artists, historically and right now, and about their various upcoming projects.

Carlos Aguirre, a.k.a. Infinite (actor, musician, vocal percussionist, educator), has been performing both as an actor and hip hop artist in the Bay Area for over 19 years. He has shared the stage with The Roots, Eryka Badu, Black Eyed Peas, Mary J. Blige, Jam Master Jay, L.L. Cool J, Macy Gray and George Clinton among others. He his currently producing his original rap and beatbox adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart. Carlos shares his experience by teaching at various schools and at-risk environments throughout the Bay Area

Shannon Davis is a San Francisco Bay Area-based Director/Artivis. Credits include New Native Theatre Company, American Conservatory Theatre, American Indian Community House, The American Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, Brava Theater, Shotgun Players, CalShakes, TheaterWorks, Theatre Bay Area, San Francisco Playhouse, many others.

Steven Flores is a multidisciplinary artist: dancer, actor on stage and television (also a stuntman), painter, and puppet-maker.



THURSDAY, March 15 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Six

WATCH EPISODE Six HERE

Following up on our pre-pandemic town hall on microaggressions in public spaces, Aurora Theatre Company, Z Space, Shotgun Players, Theatre Bay Area, and Calling Up Justice return for a discussion and story circle focusing on the way we experience virtual spaces, and on how participants and organizers can make these experiences more welcoming. Claudia Alick and Leigh Rondon-Davis return as facilitators, joined by a variety of theatre practitioners and audience members — and you!

 

THURSDAY, March 18 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Four

WATCH EPISODE Four HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by  Director Community Partnerships and Casting Director at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Jeffrey Lo; Chicago-based theatre director and adapter, Lavina Jadhwani; and Bay Area casting director, director, and instructor, Dena Martinez. We'll get to know our guests and learn about their experience as casting directors in the local and national theatre scene. We'll discuss some pitfalls and best practices of casting, and also examine casting through a racial justice lens.

Jeffrey Lo is a Filipino-American playwright and director based in the Bay Area. He is the recipient of the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award, the Emerging Artist Laureate by Arts Council Silicon Valley and Theatre Bay Area Director's TITAN Award. Selected directing credits include The Language Archive and The Santaland Diaries at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, Vietgone at Capital Stage, A Doll’s House, Part 2 and Eurydice at Palo Alto Players (TBA Awards finalist for Best Direction), Peter and the Starcatcher and Noises Off at Hillbarn Theatre, The Grapes of Wrath, The Crucible and Yellow Face at Los Altos Stage Company and Uncle Vanya at the Pear Theatre (BATCC award for Best Production). As a playwright, his plays have been produced and workshopped at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, The BindleStiff Studio, City Lights Theatre Company and Custom Made Theatre Company. His play Writing Fragments Home was a finalist for the Bay Area Playwright's Conference and a semi-finalist for the O'Neill Playwright's Conference. Jeffrey has also worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Asian American International Film Festival, San Jose Repertory and is a company member of Ferocious Lotus Theatre Company and SF Playground. In addition to his work in theatre he works as an educator and advocate for issues of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and has served as a grant panelist for the Zellerbach Family Foundation, Silicon Valley Creates and Theatre Bay Area. He is the Director Community Partnerships and Casting Director at the Tony Award Winning TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, a graduate of the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute and a proud alumnus of the UC Irvine Drama Department. Jeffrey is also a founding member of OUR DIGITAL STORIES, for more info www.OurDigitalStories.org.

Dena Martinez has over 30 years of national professional acting experience to her credits. She has toured nationally, with The San Francisco Mime Troupe, Culture Clash, and with the acclaimed El Teatro Campesino, where she was a company artist.
Her theater credits include: leading roles at California Shakespeare Company, Berkeley Rep., Word for Word, Campo Santo, San Jose Rep., San Jose Stage, B Street, Capital Stage, Magic Theater, Theaterworks, Pacific Rep, and Shotgun Players. She has workshopped and created many roles for national playwrights including Karen Zacharias, Beth Henley, Octavio Solis, Marcus Gardley, Caridad Svich, and Josefina Lopez.
She has starred in two children’s television series for PBS. Emmy award-winning You Can Choose and Short Stories and Tall Tales. Her voice over work includes Pixar and Coppola/Zoetrope Productions.
Dena is also a popular casting director, director, and instructor. She also coaches in the Tribal Belly Dance world. She has taught as SF Mecca Immersion and Tribal Fest where she brings theater to professional belly dances who perform in major rock and roll, tribal, electronica, and circus shows and concerts internationally.

Lavina Jadhwani is a Chicago based theater director and adapter with almost 15 years of facilitation experience: as a standardized patient for the Feinberg School of Medicine (where she role plays medical scenarios with and provides written and verbal feedback to medical students at Northwestern University), as a post show discussion moderator/audience engagement associate at theaters like Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Writers Theatre in Glencoe, and more. As a theater director and writer, her work has been featured at the Guthrie, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Asolo Rep, and others.

A recent breast cancer survivor, Lavina was nominated by her hospital (Advocate Illinois Masonic) to be the honorary captain of the Chicago Bulls in October 2017. A seasoned voiceover artist, she recently helmed a campaign for Kaiser Permanente. She has years of experience in marketing and fundraising at local theaters like the Goodman, Silk Road Rising, and Chicago Children's Theatre. In 2020, Lavina was named "One of the Top Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago" by NewCity. In 2013, she was TimeOut Chicago's "Best Next Generation Stage Director."

Lavina is a first generation South Asian American who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. She holds a BFA in Drama and Masters in Arts Management with Carnegie Mellon University and a MFA from the Theatre School at DePaul University. She is also an alum of the Illinois Mathematic and Science Academy.



THURSDAY, March 4 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Three

WATCH EPISODE Three HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by director Barbara Damashek and actor Ed Gonzalez Moreno for a friendly discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) of musical theatre. After we get to know our guests, we'll discuss the origin of musical theatre and its evolution over time, and what we love or hate about musical theatre. We'll explore why musical theatre is so divisive, what makes some people love it and some people hate it, and we'll discuss why Aurora has generally avoided musicals.

Barbara Damashek has created a body of original musical theater pieces that have been seen at many of the nation’s regional theaters including TOM JONES adapted from Fielding, and Whereabouts Unknown based on testimonies of the homeless, for which she was 1987 Susan Smith Blackburn playwrighting finalist.But is best known for Quilters which received 6 Tony Nominations in 1985 including 3 for her for Best Direction, Best Original Score, and (with co-author Molly Newman) Best Book of a Musical. She has created incidental music and original scores for many of the plays directed over her long career in the regional theater. And created original musicals with and for her students at San Francisco State University where she was the resident Professor of Music Theater from 2003-2017. Traditional Musicals Directed Include: Sunday In The Park With George, Into The Woods, Assassins, A Chorus Line, Chess, Spring Awakening, and Floyd Collins.
Ed Gonzalez Moreno (Exit Strategy) is a Bay Area based Actor in the Film,Theater, and Commercial Industry as well as a Teaching Artist. Recent credits include: Luce in Exit Strategy at Aurora Theatre Company, Pilgrim in Visible From Four States at Magic Theatre, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at SF Shakespeare Festival, Pompey in Measure for Measure at Marin Shakespeare Company, and Alcibiades in Timon of Athens at The Cutting Ball Theater. 
edgonzalezmoreno.com

 

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE TWO

WATCH EPISODE TWO HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Ely Sonny Orquiza, Director of New Works and Development at Gritty City Repertory and creator of the BIPOC Living Doc; Z Space Patron & Community Engagement Manager Jordan Battle; and Rose Oser, Associate AD at Z Space. We'll learn more about the BIPOC Living Doc from Ely, including what made him create the document and what has happened with the document since then. We'll also discuss what is happening with CDO work in the Bay Area theatre community, individually and at institutions, what folks want to see, and what lessons are being taught and learned.

Jordan Battle is the Patron and Community Engagement Manager at Z Space, Lead House Manager at Berkeley Playhouse, and a theatre maker. She is responsible for coordinating and creating the front of house experience for patrons and as a production liaison for clients. Jordan's mission is to create a stronger relationship between the organization, the immediate surrounding community and the rental community that has been cultivated by offering more access and minimizing barriers to utilize the space. As a Black woman, she is also actively working within her organizations to help challenge the ideas of community. Jordan has worked and managed front of house teams at various venues in the Bay Area.
Ely Sonny Orquiza (He | Him) is a Queer Filipino American artist based in San Francisco, Bay Area whose works focus on advocacy, equity and representation. Through theater and the performing arts, Orquiza explores the role of the Asian diaspora, Asian American experience, ancestral ghosts, and the politics of Queer/ness for the American stage. He champions new works by BIPOC artists, examines previously untold folklore, and uplifts multiethnic narratives. He is the Director of New Works and Development at Gritty City Repertory and a faculty member at American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory and Education and Community Programs. As an actor Orquiza has appeared on select stages at California Shakespeare Theater, New Conservatory Theater Center, San Francisco Opera, and Bindlestiff Studio. His works as a director have been critically acclaimed both locally and regionally in select venues at ACT, UC Berkeley, Academy of Arts University, Playground, and Theatre Rhinoceros. For more of his works: elysonnyorquiza.orquiza | @TheOrquiza.

Rose Oser is a theater producer, playwright, and performer. ​She is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Z Space in San Francisco, where she produces plays and musicals, helps curate the rentals and co-productions, and manages the grant writing. Through artistic positions at Z Space and FaultLine Theater she has produced first workshops or world premiere productions by Rachel Bublitz, Karina Cochran, Barry Eitel, Vanessa Flores, Dan Giles, Jake Jeppson, Nayia Kuvetakis, Luna Malbroux, Adrienne Price, Savannah Reich, Kate E. Ryan, and Andrew Saito. She is the book writer of Tinderella: the modern musical (world premiere April 2018 co-produced by FaultLine Theater and Custom Made), which has garnered 9 SFBATCC nominations including Best Production and was named a TBA Finalist for Outstanding World Premiere Musical. She produces and hosts Tinder Disrupt, San Francisco’s longest running and most sexually successful PowerPoint dating show. She received the LMDA Bly Grant in 2018 to produce the first annual Problematic Play Festival at Z Space to interrogate the process of evaluating and selecting new work. She was the Co-Artistic Director of FaultLine Theater from 2016-2019 (recipient of Annette Lust Award in 2018), and worked as a grant writer for American Conservatory Theater from 2014-2017. She holds a BA in Rhetoric from University of California, Berkeley.



Thursday, February 4 | SEASON Three | EPISODE One

WATCH EPISODE One HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Chance Theater Artistic Director Oanh Nguyen, actor Trieu Tran, and equity, diversity, and inclusion professional Linda Do Nguyen. Oanh to tell us a little about Colonialism is Terrible, but Pho is Delicious, a reading he will be directing that is a co-production between Aurora and Chance Theater later this month. We'll explore themes from Pho while getting to know our guests and learning about their varied experiences growing up as Vietnamese Americans.

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).


Linda Do Nguyen was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a product of Vietnamese refugees. She has worked in the local government for years advocating for underserved/vulnerable populations (unhoused, farm workers, immigrant, and low-income) in the fields of utility, public health, social services, and environmental stewardship. She currently works in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion at a utility agency. She understands the privilege and responsibility that having a voice and being heard is in the community. Linda enjoys volunteering her time with various causes that include sustainability, mutual aid and civic engagement. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration from San Jose State University. Her passions include social justice, the arts, yummy food, traveling, interior design and her cats (Teddy and Mocha).

Trieu Tran is a stage, screen and television actor. Born in Vietnam, immigrated to Canada and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He has dual citizenship with Canada and USA. He has appeared in numerous theatrical productions through the years. Notably, the role of Alan Strang in Equus (LADCC Nomination) with George Takei @EWP, the title role in Oedipus The King (Portland), The Legacy Codes (Dean Goodman Award) with TheatreWorks. Other favorites include: Rashomon, As You Like It, Merchant of Venice, Henry IV Part One (Hotspur), and the title role in Richard III. Film: Tropic Thunder, Trade of Innocents, How High, Hancock, Desperation, Last Call. TV:  Currently a series regular on Netflix’s Altered Carbon portraying the role of the fixer Mister Leung.  Others include: The Newsroom, Intruders, Men At Work, Quickdraw (Hulu), Malcolm in the MiddleUncle Ho To Uncle Sam is his first solo play written with co-author Robert Egan. Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam was first developed at the Ojai Playwrights Conference in 2011. It had its world premiere for Seattle ACT in Fall 2012 (Seattle Times Footlight Award/Gypsy Rose Nomination). Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam also had a run at The Kirk Douglas Theatre, Shakespeare Orange County, PlayMakers Rep (North Carolina). 

Trieu is an avid practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Mixed Martial Arts and Boston Redsox fanatic. A lover of Boston Terriers, especially his best friend Captain.