Aurora Connects

Aurora Connects is a live web broadcast, now every other Thursday at 5 PM starting February 4, 2021. 

Theatre is all about connection. While the measures we're all taking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are necessary to save lives, they're also leaving us isolated at a time when we need human connection more than ever. At Aurora, there's not much we can do to directly address the pandemic, but even with our stage dark it remains our role to make connections between artists and audiences.

Aurora Connects is our weekly live broadcast featuring interviews with Aurora artists, important members of our community, and more. We stream Aurora Connects live on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch, allowing you to react, comment, ask questions, and engage in real-time. Have suggestions for Aurora Connects? Let us know what you want to see.

Join us for Aurora Connects every other Thursday at 5 PM. You can listen to Aurora Connects audio here.  

UPCOMING EPISODES

Thursday, March 4 at 5 PM | Musical Theatre: Does It Suck featuring Barbara Damashek Ed Gonzalez Moreno
Thursday, March 18 at 5 PM | Casting: Pitfalls, Best Practices, and Racial Justice


MEET OUR HOSTS

Josh Costello, Artistic Director
Josh Costello is the Artistic Director of Aurora Theatre Company. Throughout his career, Josh has worked to make theatre more accessible for more people, sharing a passion for the visceral experience of live theatre with new audiences and underserved communities. He was the founding Artistic Director of Impact Theatre, which focused on audiences in their teens and twenties. As the Artistic Director of Expanded Programs at Marin Theatre Company, Josh created and administered several programs that built relationships with new audiences. At Aurora, Josh initiated student matinee and Community Partner programs and led a revision of Aurora’s mission to emphasize the theatre’s role as storyteller to the community. Josh has directed Exit StrategyThe Importance of Being EarnestDetroitWittenberg, and The Heir Apparent for Aurora, as well as the world premiere of Eureka Day, which won every Bay Area new play award. His world-premiere production of Aaron Loeb’s Ideation with the San Francisco Playhouse in both SF and NYC won the Glickman Award for best new play in the Bay Area and the Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Direction, and was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Other directing work includes My Children! My Africa! at Marin Theatre Company, House of Lucky at Magic Theatre, and his adaptations of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother and Aphra Behn’s The Rover. Josh was the Education Director at Marin Shakespeare Company, and a faculty member at Cal Shakes, ACT, SF Shakes, UC Riverside, Cal State Long Beach, South Coast Rep, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Josh holds a BFA in Theatre from Boston University, and an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington, Seattle.

Dawn Monique Williams, Associate Artistic Director, joined the Aurora team in August 2019. A native of Oakland, CA, Dawn was previously the Artistic Associate at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where she directed Merry Wives of Windsor in 2017. Her recent directing credits include Aurora’s Bull in a China ShopEarthrise at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, TiJean and His BrothersWomen on the Verge of a Nervous BreakdownThe Secretaries (Willamette Week’s Top 10 Portland Theatre Productions of 2018), Romeo & Juliet, August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, and Lynn Nottage’s By the Way, Meet Stark. She’s directed a range of plays including the English language premiere of Gracia Morales’ NN12OthelloTwelfth NightIn the BloodSteel MagnoliasChildren of EdenThe 25th Annual Spelling BeeLittle Shop of HorrorsBurial at ThebesMedeaAntigone Project, and La Ronde; international directing credits include Edinburgh Festival Fringe productions of Scapin the CheatAnna Bella Eema, and The Tempest. Dawn was a 2016 Princess Grace Theatre Fellowship recipient, was awarded a TCG Leadership U residency grant, funded by the Mellon Foundation, and was a former Killian Directing Fellow at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She is an alum of the Drama League Directors Project and holds an MA in Dramatic Literature and an MFA in Directing. Dawn is a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

 

THURSDAY, March 4 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE Three

WATCH EPISODE Three HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by director Barbara Damashek and actor Ed Gonzalez Moreno for a friendly discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) of musical theatre. After we get to know our guests, we'll discuss the origin of musical theatre and its evolution over time, and what we love or hate about musical theatre. We'll explore why musical theatre is so divisive, what makes some people love it and some people hate it, and we'll discuss why Aurora has generally avoided musicals.

Barbara Damashek has created a body of original musical theater pieces that have been seen at many of the nation’s regional theaters including TOM JONES adapted from Fielding, and Whereabouts Unknown based on testimonies of the homeless, for which she was 1987 Susan Smith Blackburn playwrighting finalist.But is best known for Quilters which received 6 Tony Nominations in 1985 including 3 for her for Best Direction, Best Original Score, and (with co-author Molly Newman) Best Book of a Musical. She has created incidental music and original scores for many of the plays directed over her long career in the regional theater. And created original musicals with and for her students at San Francisco State University where she was the resident Professor of Music Theater from 2003-2017. Traditional Musicals Directed Include: Sunday In The Park With George, Into The Woods, Assassins, A Chorus Line, Chess, Spring Awakening, and Floyd Collins.
Ed Gonzalez Moreno (Exit Strategy) is a Bay Area based Actor in the Film,Theater, and Commercial Industry as well as a Teaching Artist. Recent credits include: Luce in Exit Strategy at Aurora Theatre Company, Pilgrim in Visible From Four States at Magic Theatre, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at SF Shakespeare Festival, Pompey in Measure for Measure at Marin Shakespeare Company, and Alcibiades in Timon of Athens at The Cutting Ball Theater. 
edgonzalezmoreno.com

 

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18 | SEASON THREE | EPISODE TWO

WATCH EPISODE TWO HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Ely Sonny Orquiza, Director of New Works and Development at Gritty City Repertory and creator of the BIPOC Living Doc; Z Space Patron & Community Engagement Manager Jordan Battle; and Rose Oser, Associate AD at Z Space. We'll learn more about the BIPOC Living Doc from Ely, including what made him create the document and what has happened with the document since then. We'll also discuss what is happening with CDO work in the Bay Area theatre community, individually and at institutions, what folks want to see, and what lessons are being taught and learned.

Jordan Battle is the Patron and Community Engagement Manager at Z Space, Lead House Manager at Berkeley Playhouse, and a theatre maker. She is responsible for coordinating and creating the front of house experience for patrons and as a production liaison for clients. Jordan's mission is to create a stronger relationship between the organization, the immediate surrounding community and the rental community that has been cultivated by offering more access and minimizing barriers to utilize the space. As a Black woman, she is also actively working within her organizations to help challenge the ideas of community. Jordan has worked and managed front of house teams at various venues in the Bay Area.
Ely Sonny Orquiza (He | Him) is a Queer Filipino American artist based in San Francisco, Bay Area whose works focus on advocacy, equity and representation. Through theater and the performing arts, Orquiza explores the role of the Asian diaspora, Asian American experience, ancestral ghosts, and the politics of Queer/ness for the American stage. He champions new works by BIPOC artists, examines previously untold folklore, and uplifts multiethnic narratives. He is the Director of New Works and Development at Gritty City Repertory and a faculty member at American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory and Education and Community Programs. As an actor Orquiza has appeared on select stages at California Shakespeare Theater, New Conservatory Theater Center, San Francisco Opera, and Bindlestiff Studio. His works as a director have been critically acclaimed both locally and regionally in select venues at ACT, UC Berkeley, Academy of Arts University, Playground, and Theatre Rhinoceros. For more of his works: elysonnyorquiza.orquiza | @TheOrquiza.

Rose Oser is a theater producer, playwright, and performer. ​She is currently the Associate Artistic Director of Z Space in San Francisco, where she produces plays and musicals, helps curate the rentals and co-productions, and manages the grant writing. Through artistic positions at Z Space and FaultLine Theater she has produced first workshops or world premiere productions by Rachel Bublitz, Karina Cochran, Barry Eitel, Vanessa Flores, Dan Giles, Jake Jeppson, Nayia Kuvetakis, Luna Malbroux, Adrienne Price, Savannah Reich, Kate E. Ryan, and Andrew Saito. She is the book writer of Tinderella: the modern musical (world premiere April 2018 co-produced by FaultLine Theater and Custom Made), which has garnered 9 SFBATCC nominations including Best Production and was named a TBA Finalist for Outstanding World Premiere Musical. She produces and hosts Tinder Disrupt, San Francisco’s longest running and most sexually successful PowerPoint dating show. She received the LMDA Bly Grant in 2018 to produce the first annual Problematic Play Festival at Z Space to interrogate the process of evaluating and selecting new work. She was the Co-Artistic Director of FaultLine Theater from 2016-2019 (recipient of Annette Lust Award in 2018), and worked as a grant writer for American Conservatory Theater from 2014-2017. She holds a BA in Rhetoric from University of California, Berkeley.



Thursday, February 4 | SEASON Three | EPISODE One

WATCH EPISODE One HERE

This week on Aurora Connects, Josh and Dawn are joined by Chance Theater Artistic Director Oanh Nguyen, actor Trieu Tran, and equity, diversity, and inclusion professional Linda Do Nguyen. Oanh to tell us a little about Colonialism is Terrible, but Pho is Delicious, a reading he will be directing that is a co-production between Aurora and Chance Theater later this month. We'll explore themes from Pho while getting to know our guests and learning about their varied experiences growing up as Vietnamese Americans.

Oanh Nguyen has been serving as Chance Theater’s founding Artistic Director since 1999. Oanh is a recipient of TCG’s New Generations Grant and the TCG Nathan Cummings Young Leaders of Color Fellowship. He was awarded the Outstanding Artist Award by Arts Orange County, profiled in Orange County Register’s “Most Influential People” series and OC Weekly’s People Issue, inducted into Anaheim High School’s Hall of Fame and was a commencement speaker for Chapman University College of Performing Arts. Oanh was Producing Associate at South Coast Repertory for three years. He also served on the advisory board of the Anaheim High School Performing Arts Conservatory, the board of Network of Ensemble Theatres, LA’s 99-seat Transitional Committee, and OC Theatre Guild, as well as panels and committees for Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Alternative Theatre Los Angeles, National Endowment for the Arts and Theatre Communications Group. Oanh is a proud member of SDC and SAG-AFTRA. His directing credits include productions at Chance Theater, East West Players, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory, Chapman University, Azusa Pacific University, AMDA, CSU Fullerton, and served as the Associate Director for the international tour of David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish (Berkeley Repertory, South Coast Repertory, Hong Kong Arts Festival).


Linda Do Nguyen was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a product of Vietnamese refugees. She has worked in the local government for years advocating for underserved/vulnerable populations (unhoused, farm workers, immigrant, and low-income) in the fields of utility, public health, social services, and environmental stewardship. She currently works in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion at a utility agency. She understands the privilege and responsibility that having a voice and being heard is in the community. Linda enjoys volunteering her time with various causes that include sustainability, mutual aid and civic engagement. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s in Public Administration from San Jose State University. Her passions include social justice, the arts, yummy food, traveling, interior design and her cats (Teddy and Mocha).

Trieu Tran is a stage, screen and television actor. Born in Vietnam, immigrated to Canada and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He has dual citizenship with Canada and USA. He has appeared in numerous theatrical productions through the years. Notably, the role of Alan Strang in Equus (LADCC Nomination) with George Takei @EWP, the title role in Oedipus The King (Portland), The Legacy Codes (Dean Goodman Award) with TheatreWorks. Other favorites include: Rashomon, As You Like It, Merchant of Venice, Henry IV Part One (Hotspur), and the title role in Richard III. Film: Tropic Thunder, Trade of Innocents, How High, Hancock, Desperation, Last Call. TV:  Currently a series regular on Netflix’s Altered Carbon portraying the role of the fixer Mister Leung.  Others include: The Newsroom, Intruders, Men At Work, Quickdraw (Hulu), Malcolm in the MiddleUncle Ho To Uncle Sam is his first solo play written with co-author Robert Egan. Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam was first developed at the Ojai Playwrights Conference in 2011. It had its world premiere for Seattle ACT in Fall 2012 (Seattle Times Footlight Award/Gypsy Rose Nomination). Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam also had a run at The Kirk Douglas Theatre, Shakespeare Orange County, PlayMakers Rep (North Carolina). 

Trieu is an avid practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Mixed Martial Arts and Boston Redsox fanatic. A lover of Boston Terriers, especially his best friend Captain.