This is a special guest blog post written by Caroline Anderson. Caroline has worked in many theatres in the Bay Area. Currently, she works as marketing manager at PlayGround and box office manager at Cutting Ball Theater. She is also a communications and publications intern at Theatre Bay Area.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Caroline, and I am a new-ish intern at Theatre Bay Area. One of my main duties as an intern has been archiving old articles of Theatre Bay Area for the launch of our new website, Theatre Bay Area 2.0 (very creative name, I know).
As a member of the public who has infiltrated this top-secret organization, I consider it my duty to share with you some of the discoveries I have made. Discovery Number One, which came to me as I was working the check-in desk at the Glickman Awards Ceremony and talking to Lily, a Theatre Bay Area membership associate, was that Theatre Bay Area is not just a magazine. Now I know this may not come as a surprise to some, but it was a fundamental realization that had escaped me. Theatre Bay Area does so much more than produce a glossy monthly publication that keeps everyone in the theater world—excuse me, theatre world (Discovery Number Two was that in the world of Theatre Bay Area, the all-important “t” word is spelled in what I had previously thought of as “the British way”)—up to date on what everyone else in the theatre world is doing. In fact, I am still not sure about all the other things Theatre Bay Area does. This is the material for the rest of my discoveries.
In fact the Theatre Bay Area magazine, which had been my introduction to the organization, is only one of the programs offered by Theatre Bay Area. One such program is the Mary Mason Lemonade Fund. Although a relatively minor output of the organization compared to some of its other endeavors, such as its monthly postcard distribution, the Annual Conference and the all-mighty General Auditions, the Lemonade Fund has stuck in my consciousness since I first read about itduring my archiving endeavors. For those of you who don’t know, the Lemonade Fund is “a confidential resource for theatre workers with terminal or life-threatening illnesses who are in need of supplemental financial assistance to improve the quality of their lives as they deal with medical conditions.” It began when Mary Mason, the general manager of the Magic Theatre, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988. Her friends collected money to help her achieve her lifetime dream of going to Nepal. When there was money left over, they donated it to begin what became the Lemonade Fund.
Although it makes sense why there would be a need for such a thing, especially since so many people who work in theatre can’t afford full health insurance, it kind of blows my mind that such a thing actually exists. Why would an organization provide such a service? This question brought me to Discovery Number Three: Theatre Bay Area's mission is “to unite, strengthen, promote and advance the theatre community in the San Francisco Bay Area.”
I think the reason why the Lemonade Fund has stuck in my mind, among all the other things I’ve read about as I’ve archived articles, is that it is a thing of such heart. It’s not the type of program you would expect large organizations with acronyms to create. But in its small way, it underlines what Theatre Bay Area is about: supporting the theatre community in a fundamental way that perhaps the community hasn’t even realized it needs. In spite of Theatre Bay Area's attempts to engage in dialogue with, and about, theatre on a national level, it is ultimately a grassroots, community-based effort.