Saturday, July 12, 2008

A.D. Clive Chafer Departs S.F.'s TheatreFIRST

TheatreFIRST Artistic Director Clive Chafer has announced his resignation after more than 14 years at the helm of one of the East Bay’s most notable small theatre companies. TheatreFIRST’s Board of Directors is now in final discussions with Chafer’s successor and expects to announce their selection soon. “I’m enormously proud of what we’ve achieved in that time,” said Chafer. “The board is deeply indebted to Clive's leadership, energy, and vision over the past fourteen years,” said Christine Dover, President.

Since its debut production 14 years ago of Manuel Puig’s Under a Mantle of Stars, TheatreFIRST has since staged many Bay Area and U.S. premieres, from works by accomplished playwrights like David Hare, to newer playwrights like Stephen Brown, whose Future Me was a huge success for the company this year. Particularly notable premieres directed by Chafer range from Dennis Potter’s adults-as-children fable Blue Remembered Hills to the docudrama of Robin Soans’ The Arab-Israeli Cookbook. Chafer also directed two David Hare works: Via Dolorosa, which chronicles Hare's trip to the Middle East, and A Map of the World, which pits a V.S. Naipaul-like author against UNESCO at a conference of developing nations.

During Chafer's tenure TheatreFIRST received such awards as the GOLDIE (Guardian Outstanding Local Discovery) Award for Theater, and the East Bay Express named TheatreFIRST the Best Small Theatre Company and Place for Actors of Color to Find Work.

“This has been a great ride,” said Chafer. “I feel we have accomplished a huge amount, despite never having a theatre space to call home for more than a year or two at a time. I’m deeply indebted to all the people who have supported us in our work. At the risk of sounding trite, none of it would have been possible without them. I know they will be delighted by what they see TheatreFIRST do in the future, and I’m sure they will be keen to continue supporting the company as it expands and moves up. These are exciting times for all of us.”

In the meantime, the company is planning an October 18th event to celebrate TheatreFIRST’s 15th Anniversary of producing provocative plays on international themes, and to introduce the new leadership to the company’s supporters and friends. The evening will include a staged reading of a play being considered for production next season in a new space in Oakland’s Uptown Arts District that the company is currently in negotiations to lease.

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