The Thinking Man's Idiot

The unruly brain and bad habits of a writer, artist, and grilled cheese sandwich-enthusiast.

San Francisco Theater Pub

In February 2010, I was introduced to the independent theatre troupe San Francisco Theater Pub. Shortly after, I would join the troupe as an actor/writer/director. (Incidentally, I would go on to be the most frequently-used performer in the company.) Within a year or two, their website expanded from merely posting notices for upcoming performances to writing full-length essays and interviews about theatre of all sizes.

I began writing occasional pieces in 2013. By 2014, I’d begun writing the bi-monthly column “In For a Penny”. I continued to write the column until the company dissolved in 2016.

The following is a thorough collection of my work on the site.

But first, Others Interviewing Me

Whether as playwright-director or as a columnist, others would frequently ask my opinion about goings-on at the ‘Pub

The First Pieces

Before becoming a proper site columnist in October 2014, I contributed the following essays and interviews

The Column: “In For a Penny”

Ever wonder what it’s like trying to make it as an unemployed PoC creating theatre in San Francisco? Good news: the 50 entries of my column covered that very ground

  1. In For a Penny: Introduction – Moment of Claire-ity (October 2014)
    My first piece for my new bi-monthly column was an ode to the columnist whom I was succeeding, writer/producer/director Claire Rice.
  2. In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – Let the Monster Out (November 2014)
    The first of a semi-regular focus of the column, in which I would let readers in on the creative process behind the annual San Francisco Olympians Festival.
  3. In For a Penny: Running in Place (November 2014)
    In which I contemplate a surprise reprieve after a very busy year of performing.
  4. In For a Penny: Label-mates (December 2014)
    In which I discuss the inescapable element of race (and racism) in theatre.
  5. In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – The End is the Beginning is the End (December 2014)
    In which I let my excitement for the festival run away with me.
  6. In For a Penny: Everyone’s a Cricket (January 2015)
    After watching the film Birdman – which I actually loved – I use its asinine portrayal of critics as a means of championing the critic in the artistic process.
  7. In For a Penny: Up ‘n At ‘Em! (January 2015)
    The year 2015 had begun and a fire had been lit in my belly.
  8. In For a Penny: Shedding the Pounds (February 2015)
    My only Feb. 2015 piece was about the necessity to keep oneself physically healthy when dealing with the demands of theatre.
  9. In For a Penny: The Benefit of Being Let Go (March 2015)
    I use the end of one administrative theatre position as an opportunity to dedicate more time to my creativity.
  10. In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – With a li’l Help from Your Friends (March 2015)
    I report on the then-upcoming festival with a look inside the writers gatherings.
  11. In For a Penny: The Fine Art of Wasting Time (April 2015)
    After working as an extra (something I’d done for years at that point) on the film Steve Jobs, I lament the snail’s-pace process of film production compared to the developmental process of theatre.
  12. In For a Penny: The All-Seeing Eye (April 2015)
    After attending a few live-streamed theatre productions, I contemplate the place of new technology in an ancient art form. I also offer suggestions on how to make it work.
  13. In For a Penny: Not a Family Matter (May 2015)
    There’s a reason I don’t invite family members to my shows.
  14. In For a Penny: It’s a Super Job: (May 2015)
    I’ve worked as a supernumerary for the SF Opera since 2012. Here why I love it so much.
  15. In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – The Script you Love to Hate (June 2015)
    Writing is rewriting, so it’s okay to hate the first draft of whatever you’ve scribbled down.
  16. In For a Penny: A little “Bitter” (June 2015)
    After the LA theatre website Bitter Lemons sells its integrity to the highest bidder, I discuss the artistic necessity for critical objectivity.
  17. In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – The Direct Approach (July 2015)
    The Olympians Fest is a writers’ festival, but directors can still have fun, even if their actors aren’t allowed to move.
  18. In For a Penny: Flex Time (July 2015)
    I got cast in an original musical! My musical skills were the least-used of my repertoire, so I thought of how to warm them up again.
  19. In For a Penny: August of our Years (August 2015)
    In which I mark the ten-year anniversary of the death of playwright August Wilson.
  20. In For a Penny: A Decade in the Making (August 2015)
    With the then-upcoming release of The Diary of a Teenage Girl (in which I had a role), I take stock of the decade that brought me that far.
  21. In For a Penny: No One is Bulletproof (September 2015)
    Because a cult of personality doesn’t protect anyone – or any work – from harsh criticism.
  22. In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – Can you Macarena? (September 2015)
    Even before the Olympians Fest begins, the hilarious audition process is one of the highlights of the whole she-bang.
  23. In For a Penny: Casual Setting (October 2015)
    With the advent of new technologies, the traditional form of “set design” is evolving beyond paint and plywood.
  24. In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – My Twitter-fied Script (October 2015)
    Kill your darlings. Slash your pages. Start from scratch. Edit, edit, edit.
  25. In For a Penny: Three the Hard Way (November 2015)
    The then-recent SF general election had some pretty strong implications for the local arts community.
  26. In For a Penny: Of Olympic Proportions – A Pre-Post-Mortem (November 2015)
    I was writing a play about being close to death. It got me thinking about how one approaches the end, artistically speaking.
  27. In For a Penny: Holidaze (December 2015)
    In which I take a look at the so-called “War on Christmas”.
  28. In For a Penny: You Can’t take it With You (December 2015)
    The then-recent release of play-like Steve Jobs had me pondering what theatrical elements do and don’t translate to film.
  29. In For a Penny: Life on Mars (January 2016)
    My first post for 2016 was a nod to the passing of David Bowie, the theatrical rock star with whom I shared a birthdate.
  30. In For a Penny: Under the Big Top (January 2016)
    SF hosting the festivities for Super Bowl 50 was like an unwelcome circus come to town. As such, I pondered the SF circuses that fit better into the City.
  31. In For a Penny: Speaking My Language (February 2016)
    The thought of Tony Kushner adapting August Wilson’s Fences for the big screen was simultaneously intriguing and terrifying.
  32. In For a Penny: Eyes without a Face (February 2016)
    I end that year’s Black History Month by pointing out how “racially-blind casting” is often just an excuse to keep PoC out of major roles.
  33. In For a Penny: What do I Stand For? (March 2016)
    In which a (positive) off-hand comment about me leaves me wondering what “category” I fall into for theatre.
  34. In For a Penny: Whose Job are You? (March 2016)
    After Rob Hurwitt retired as Theatre Critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, they interviewed me – yes, me – as a potential replacement!
  35. In For a Penny: (T)BAcon Bits (April 2016)
    I attend the annual Theatre Bay Area Conference in an official capacity for the first time.
  36. In For a Penny: The Early Bird (April 2016)
    Watching a developmental production of Mfoniso Udofia’s runboyrun has me wondering how we’ll think of the play – or any in-development play – years down the line.
  37. In For a Penny: Of the People, By the People, For the People (May 2016)
    A protest becomes audience to a new show, which then is interrupted by protest supporters. Because politics and art are inextricable.
  38. In For a Penny: Vices I Admire (May 2016)
    As I prepared for an upcoming ‘Pub show – Colin Johnson‘s weed-fueled zombie comedy, Sticky Icky – I discuss the history of artists who have created “under the influence”.
  39. In For a Penny: Mid-Year Intermission (June 2016)
    In which I take the middle of the calendar to take a well-earned break.
  40. In For a Penny: Playground Rules (June 2016)
    For one of my most-read pieces, I react to the then-recent scandal of Chicago’s Profiles Theater by taking to task Darrell Cox and the toxic culture that allows sadists like him to thrive.
  41. In For a Penny: You Won’t be Namin’ no Buildings After Me (July 2016)
    As an election loomed ever closer, I looked at the long, complicated relationship between theatre and politics.
  42. In For a Penny: Dead Men tell No Tales (July 2016)
    As I was in the middle of writing a play about death, there were a lot of celebrities dying. It got me thinking about death. Again.
  43. In For a Penny: Oh yeah, THAT Thing (August 2016)
    Surprise auditions don’t freak me out as much as they did when I was a younger actor.
  44. In For a Penny: Raise a Broken Glass (August 2016)
    Because even the worst of the worst shows can leave a positive lasting impression.
  45. In For a Penny: Accepting New Membership (September 2016)
    Funny how the simple discussion of diversity (or rather, the lack thereof) seems to bring out the worst in people.
  46. In For a Penny: The Numbers Game (September 2016)
    I rate bad theatre people on a scale of 1 – 10. There aren’t a lot of 10s, but hoo-boy, can I not stand them.
  47. In For a Penny: I Die a little Inside (October 2016)
    Much like my “Osmosis” entries on this site, I wonder why it’s so damn hard for me to find a good job.
  48. In For a Penny: Bum-rush the Show! (October 2016)
    People say stupid things in my presence; I try my best not to react.
  49. In For a Penny: What’s in a Name? (November 2016)
    As a none-too-subtle Shakespeare-geek, I use the then-recent Oxford decision to contemplate The Authorship Question.
  50. In For a Penny: Only if You Mean ItFINAL ENTRY (November 2016)
    I bid good-bye to the ‘Pub, my theatre home of six great years.

And what do YOU think?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, 19 February, 2020 by in .
NATALIE ASHODIAN

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