NEW YORK — OK, so it's not mass migration, but the number of theater workers who've recently left the bay to work in the City That Never Sleeps is considerable. Or so says a new New Yorker, Bill Talen, whom I rang up while visiting the East Coast. “I think Mary [Forcade] and I came up with 15 theater people who have moved to New York in the last year,” Talen says. To name a few: Andrew Dolan (formerly of Encore Theatre Company), Henry Steele (formerly of Dude Theatre, and more recently an innovative writer, actor, and composer), David Ford (the solo-performer midwife who helped develop the successful early shows of such S.F. luminaries as Marga Gomez and Josh Kornbluth), and Anne Darragh, as well as Chris Brophy. Ford worked with Charlie Varon at Second Stage while his show Rush Limbaugh in Night School ran there earlier this year. Ford has been making the transition from directing to writing, and his play about revolutionary hero Nathan Hale has been produced at South Coast Rep, as well as Telluride Rep. Darragh is said to be doing well for herself in commercials. David Barth, the talented young playwright (A Dance Along Precipice) who also made the move east, is working on a film script. “One day I was walking by my gym, by one of those windows where you have 80 yuppies StairMastering, and one of them was David Barth,” Talen recounts. As for himself, Talen is working on a televangelist character à la the presidential candidate he created for the long-running Political Wife. “I've got a taker,” Talen claims. “A media group wants to shoot my church into cyberspace. (The piece) will be on a Thursday-night radio show, then they'll put it on Prodigy with a teaser on the Web.” Though Talen is now in New York for good, he's still helping to curate the festival he co-created with Climate Theatre while he was at Life on the Water. “If anything, my interest has increased,” he says. “The author/performer tradition is so strong here. I ran into Guillermo Gómez-Pe–a on the street when I first hit town, and he said he was moving to San Francisco.” Talen alerted Joegh Bullock and Marcia Crosby at Climate Theatre, who met with the MacArthur “genius” grant winner and “signed him up in short order.” Talen let another Solo Mio name slip: Eric Bogosian is slated to be this fall's headliner. In addition, Cultural Odyssey will present a retrospective of its productions going all the way back to Rhodessa Jones' The Legend of Lily Overstreet, a peep-show show in which she gets naked. Jones once said she'd laid that masterpiece to rest since it required too many hours in the gym for her tastes, but who knows? Maybe we'll be blessed with an encore.
By Laura Jamison