Aisle Seat

Breaking the Ice
I used to think that ice sculpture was a very strange art form. I couldn't understand how any artist could put so much effort into an artwork that couldn't last beyond the next heat wave. At least I thought that until a friend asked, “How is that different from theater?” Theater, after all, is ephemera, a series of moments. Compared to theater, ice sculpture is longevity itself.

In her speech to the troops at Theater Bay Area's 20th-anniversary celebration, Sabrina Klein talked about theater as “a strange and elusive art form — here for the moment, gone but for the memories of those who were there. This peculiar aspect of theater means that it is not created for posterity but in the moment, for the moment, of and by and for the community for which it is created.” Hearing that, I decided to meet Klein, and talk with her about TBA and local theater and other items of great import.

Klein is the new executive director of TBA, a woman of passion and of intense, highly focused energy. Her thoughts about the local theater scene reflect both her passion and her commitment to the theater. To Klein, theater is no elite art form, but a reflection of the real need of people to come together to share stories. “Where is the audience for theater?” I ask. “Why don't people think of the theater as something to do as readily as seeing a movie or going to a club?”

“The problem,” says Klein, “is that people go to the theater as a special event, but they feel that it is removed from real life, which is strange, when you think about it, because theater is real life, happening right there.”

“And how can TBA help?” I wonder. Klein explains that TBA works as an advocate for “the value of the theater industry in a community both economically and spiritually.” In addition to its advocacy role, TBA's mission as the only local resource for all Bay Area theater is also to help local theaters find solutions that work for their particular needs. Klein defines TBA as “a matchmaker between people who have work to do, and those who want to work.”

TBA offers its members a telephone hot line with audition and other information, the use of a well-stocked library, and a talent file. Its monthly publication, Callboard, includes a forum for discussion of local issues, as well as job information and announcements of upcoming performances. Citing TBA's membership — 3,300 individual members as well as 255 member theaters — Klein exults that “theater is thriving in the Bay Area.” She's right, of course.

For information about TBA, call 957-1557.
By Deborah Peifer

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