“Theatre for People Who Didn’t Know They Liked Theatre”
Awesome Theatre is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Arts Organization based in San Francisco, Ca. We are dedicated to producing new, relevant, stylized, theatrical, live multimedia entertainment that will not only appeal to theatre audiences but to those who are just as likely to see a stand up comic, a movie, or a concert as they are a play. We strive to create work that is accessible, creative, unique and knowing without being pretentious. Theatre is one of the last things we cant do or experience alone, there always has to be another person in the room. Our goal at Awesome Theatre is to create a lasting and original adventure for every audience member and collaborator, a shared escapade of escapist entertainment.
Why “New, Local, Weird?”
An outstanding question, it is the belief of Awesome Theatre that the greatest service we can do for the Bay Area Theatre Community is committing to exclusively producing new plays, and telling new stories written by artists living and working in the Bay Area. There is no better way to create theatre that celebrates everything weird and wonderful about the SF Bay Area than by hiring its residents to do it. With so many incredible artists with stories to tell calling the Bay Home, we are proud and more than happy to call all of our collaborators neighbors.
1) We believe everyone we work with has the right to a safe workplace, where they are respected, treated well, and in no way feel unwelcome due to their race, gender, sexuality, age, physical abilities, or creed. To create this environment, all of our artists and admin must sign a written agreement which includes an adherence to a formal code of conduct. Beginning in 2021, all artistic and admin staff must attend anti-bias training.
2) We believe people’s time and work should be respected and valued. While we are a volunteer-run org, everyone receives an expense stipend for their work. Awesome Theatre increases these stipends by 25% every year, putting us on track to make everyone employees with an hourly wage in the next few years.
3) We believe in financial equity and transparency. Our payouts are structured so that the highest-paid person makes no more than 3 times as much as the lowest-paid person. Actors, Designers and the majority of Admin are all paid the same amount. Anyone working with Awesome Theatre is welcome to inquire about our budget and know exactly where the money goes and where it comes from.
Read Awesome Theatre’s Diversity and Accountability statements.
Executive Director- Anthony R Miller
Anthony has been producing live entertainment of some sort in the Bay Area for 20 years, with one foot in the world of Regional Theatre and the other in the world of Camp, Cult, and DIY. Getting his start working backstage and (getting fired from) every admin department at American Musical Theatre of San Jose, and moving on to hosting and producing “The Rocky Horror Picture Show“, his own midnight movie series and the first “Shadow Cast” performance of Richard O’Briens Shock Treatment on the the West Coast. He spent 5 years performing, organizing and Coaching for the San Jose Poetry Slam, recorded 2 spoken world albums, twice won the title of San Jose grand Slam Champion, and toured nationally. He organized other large-scale performance poetry events such as War of Words, which blended head to head poetry competition with the world of pro wrestling. Other credits include Directing H3-D for the Primitive Screwheads, a former columnist for San Francisco TheatrePub, and teaching Artist for Young Rep Actors Conservatory. Anthony has a degree in Dramaturgy and Play Preparation from SFSU. Sales and administrative experience include, San Francisco Playhouse, Lesher Center for The Arts, and American Conservatory Theatre. Playwriting credits include Zombie! The Musical!, Camp Evil, Christian Teen Dolphin-Sex Beach Party and Sexy Vampire Academy. Contact him at email@example.com
Artistic Director – Colin Johnson
Colin has toiled in the trenches of local independent theatre for nearly a decade, but the art monster in him goes way back.
He started at age 5 selling his own picture books in his driveway and never stopped. He became fascinated with genre-bending at an early age and has continually looked for ways to break down the barrier between theatre and film. He is fascinated by the subjective creative process as well as unique perspectives on human misfortune, which split off into the genres you know as horror and comedy (one-in-the-same at their bones).His credits extend across just about every local enterprise in the Bay, from Playground, SF Shotz, Pianofight, Olympians, EXIT Theatre, Actors Ensemble, Bay One Acts, BattleStache Studios, Fringe, Circus Center and Theatre Pub (among others) to publishing two short plays, a full-length graphic novel and taking a horror film to San Diego Comic-Con. Awesome Theatre and Colin are a match made in heaven. He enjoys near-impossible challenges and bringing new voices, styles and ideas to the bustling theatre scene, where he has gotten to know and collaborate with innumerable talented individuals. He also trains clowns how to perform on camera. Contact him at Colin@awesometheatre.org
Artistic Producer- Jess Thomas
Jess Thomas is an all-around theatre and film-type fella, holding a BA in Theatre and a BA in Film from Eastern Washington University.
After graduating, Jess moved to San Francisco and never looked back. He has worked with several local theatre companies, including SF Theatre Pub, AMIOS West, The Dark Room, and The Cutting Ball Theater as an actor, director, writer, producer, and stage manager. He has been seen onstage with Ross Valley Players, Quantum Dragon Theater, SHOTZ, Awesome Theatre, and First Person Singular.
In 2015/16, Jess directed, shot, and edited “Kaytay All the Way”, an 8 episode independent web series that was featured at the Downtown LA Film Festival. He has produced several rounds of AMIOS’ “Shotz”, and is currently producing and directing the short film series “Shortz”.
Jess used to be an adventurer like you, until he took an arrow to the knee.
Contact him at Jess@awesometheatre.org
Casting and Outreach Director – Nikki Meñez
Nikki (she/they) is a director, choreographer, and arts administrator who is moved to change what theater looks like and how stories ar told.
Born and raised on Ramaytush Ohlone land of the Bay Area and graduate of the University of California in Santa Cruz, Nikki received degrees in Environmental Studies and Theater Arts and now works full time at New Conservatory Theatre Center as Program Director for YouthAware Educational Theatre & Casting Associate.
Nikki has worn various creative hats at Queer Cat Productions, Custom Made Theater Company, Faultline Theatre, Epic Party Theater, PianoFight and is thrilled to officially be a part of the Awesome Theatre family. Directing credits include “Let’s Kill Jessica” by Claire Rice (Awesome Theater), “The Gay Divorce Play” by Carson Becker & Nicole Jost (Queer Cat Productions), “In the Heights” by Quiara Alegría Hudes & Lin-Manuel Miranda (Custom Made), & “How To Be a White Man” by Luna Malbroux & Jennifer Lewis (FaultLine).
Don’t forget that “play” is in our job description.
Program Director- Claire Rice
Claire Rice is sitting behind you in the dark somewhere and she is judging your hair cut. Her plays include Sex in the Next Room, Woman Come Down, The Carmine Lie, It Ain’t Me, Water Line, Demeter’s Daughter, Pride and Succubus, Ares and Eris, Cassandra, The Effects of Ultraviolet Light, and Choose Your Own Apocalypse. Her most recent play, Purity, was produced as part of Awesome Theatre’s Terror-Rama 2: Prom Night. She has also been lucky enough to have short plays featured in San Francisco Olympians Festival, Pint-Sized Plays, Shotz SF, and Llama Theater’s Monthly Question series. Claire graduated from Eastern New Mexico University with a BFA in Performance before moving to San Francisco to earn her MFA in Playwriting from SF State. She is currently working on My Cannibal Summer for Awesome Theatre’s Terror-Rama 3 and an untitled radio active monster play for Quantum Dragon Theatre Company. She lives and works in San Francisco with her wonderful husband.
She also thinks it’s weird she wrote this in the third person.
Kerri Blake Cavanaugh- Production Stage Manager
Kerri (she/her) is a stage manager, dramaturg, and educator living on Ohlone land in Oakland, CA with her partner Lorenz and fur baby Arya (who is the unofficial Assistant to the Production Stage Manager).
She started with an appreciation for the arts at an early age: forcing her mother to watch cartoon impressions at the age of 3, battling her cousins in singing contests (and crushing them) throughout her childhood, choreographing dances for the 2nd Grade Talent Show (okay… maybe it was more of an assembly than a talent show….), singing in productions of Twelfth Night in Jr. High (she missed the auditions), participating in her high school’s acting conservatory program (I know, fancy right?), and earning her both her BA and MA in Theatre Arts from UC Santa Cruz (with a Dramaturgy concentration for the Master’s, couldn’t think of a joke for this one it’s just very impressive).
Favorite experiences working in the Bay Area include “ClickBait” Written by Tonya Narvaez and Directed by Claire Rice (Awesome Theatre), “Let’s Kill Jessica” Written by Claire Rice and Directed by Nikki Meñez (Awesome Theatre), Multiple Productions of “Pint Sized Plays” at PianoFight, “Oedipus El Rey” Written by Luis Alfaro and Directed by Loretta Grecco (Magic Theatre), “Steve” Written by Mark Gerrard and Directed by Becca Wolff, and “SUBVERITAS” Directed by Nailah Harper-Malveaux (Crowded Fire Theatre).
Graphic Design- Stephanie Whigham
Although 2018 was Stephanie’s first year with Awesome Theatre, the seeds of the relationship began four years ago when she shared a stage with Anthony and two grown men wearing nothing but diapers. In retrospect, none of what has transpired with them since should have been at all surprising. She has worked as a graphic designer for over 20 years, and even has an expensive piece of paper from San Jose State that says she’s supposed to know how. She currently designs materials for several other Bay Area theatre companies, and has also worked professionally as an actor, costume designer, properties designer, and stage electrician. Notable stage roles include Thana in Mercy Killing with AT, Anna in Closer at Northside Theatre, Estelle in No Exit at Mojo, and Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra with Silicon Valley Shakepeare. When she’s not acting or designing, she can usually be found standing physically naked in front of art students, or emotionally naked in front of karaoke bar patrons. You can find out more about what she’s up to at stephaniewhigham.com or on Instagram @actslikestephanie
2020 Artist-in-Residence- Puja Tolton
Puja Tolton is an Oakland based Actor, Director, and Illustrator. She started working with Awesome Theatre in 2017 during their playwriting competition, In Search of the Funniest Play Ever and has been stuck with these ridiculous folks ever since. She has worn all together too many wigs and rolled around on most of Piano Fight’s floors for productions like Christian Teen Dolphin Sex Beach Party and Awesometown. Last Summer, she put on her directing hat for Awesome Theatre’s Horror Anthology Series, Holy S***, that was Scary.
Puja is pleased to have worked with local Theatre Companies and Sketch Groups such as Ragged Wing Ensemble, The Moonrisers, Liar Liar Theater Collective, Shotz, Running with Scissors, and Quicksand Club. Her most recent productions include Two Coins for the Ferryman, Not Not but Also, and Darling Marjorie’s Arboretum.
Puja has displayed her visual art pieces and installations at the Flight Deck and the Lottie Rose Art Gallery. She also co-created and illustrated the humorous and heartfelt dating advice book, Dating Between the Lines.
Raised by hippies, rednecks, and yogis in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, John Denver’s Country Roads is a surefire way to make her tear up. The pandemic has allowed her to focus on what really matters most: DND and Animal Crossing. She hopes that everyone is staying safe and staying strong.