Award-winning documentary lifts the curtain on Bay Area’s radical theater legacy through candid interviews and rare archival performance footage
Film features interviews with over 45 theatre luminaries representing six decades of the Bay Area’s experimental and risk-taking theater movement
October 10, 2012, San Francisco, CA — KQED Public Television’s Emmy Award-winning series Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories continues with the broadcast premiere of Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco, on Sunday, November 11, 2012, at 10pm on KQED 9. Directed by Austin Forbord and executive produced by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, this vibrant, energetic documentary celebrates the history and impact of the raucous San Francisco theater movement and has been called “a valuable record of regional innovation… an entertaining documentary mixing intriguing archival materials with explanatory insights from observers on both sides of the footlights” (Variety). Through compelling interviews, vivid archival footage of early performances, photographs, and video of productions, Stage Left illustrates the important, intriguing and sometimes outrageous theatrical innovations of Bay Area artists that changed the art form worldwide. For more information please visit stageleft-movie.com and the Truly CA website at kqed.org/trulyca.
Winner of the “Best California Film” at the 2011 California Film Awards (among other film and festival awards and accolades), Stage Left is the first film to bring the Bay Area’s rich theatrical tradition to the screen. The film traces the evolution of contemporary theater from the founding of the avant-garde collaborative theater company, The San Francisco Actor’s Workshop, in 1952, to present day.
Stage Left features commentary by beloved icons of the San Francisco and national theater, including Herbert Blau (co-founder, SF Actor’s Workshop), R.G. Davis (founder, The SF Mime Troupe), Peter Coyote (Emmy Award-winning actor and activist), Bill Irwin (Tony Award-winning actor and clown), Robin Williams (Academy Award-winning actor), Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director, Public Theater), Tony Taccone (Artistic Director, Berkeley Repertory Theatre), Scrumbly Koldewyn (founding member, the Cockettes) and many more. For a complete list of interview subjects featured in the film, please visit: stageleft-movie.com/players/
“Our intent for Stage Left is to inspire contemporary theater artists by revealing the rich, storied history of innovation found at its roots,” says Austin Forbord, Director of Stage Left. “Motivated by a climate of political and social activism, a particular multicultural mix, and a geography that is seismically unstable, San Francisco theater artists, for the last six decades, have focused on pushing the boundaries of the form.” Forbord continues. “Their interest in redefining performance — where it takes place, how it is staged, and what it encompasses — has had a lasting influence on theater in the United States and around the world. As most of these works aren’t heavily documented or archived, we wanted to showcase some of the pieces and players that make Bay Area theater such an experimental, multidisciplinary and political hotbed.”
“Stage Left is a beautifully-crafted documentary that will be of interest to theater-buffs and newcomers,” said Lisa Landi, series producer of Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories. “This is a uniquely Bay Area story — of camaraderie of misfits, of experimentation, and of art as a conduit for social and political change — and I know that the KQED audiences will take great joy in discovering this unknown part of our common history.”
Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories is a KQED production presented in association with Cal Humanities, which aims to find and promote the best documentaries about California. This season’s five films were selected from more than fifty submissions and will receive specifically tailored support packages, including post production services and editing equipment, technical support, web and promotional assistance and other professional development services. Since its launch in 2005, Truly CA has received two Northern California Emmy Awards.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER, AUSTIN FORBORD
Austin Forbord is a video artist, filmmaker, dancer and choreographer. His film Stage Left won the award for Best California Film at the California Film Awards and will be featured as part of KQED’s Truly CA documentary series. Mr. Forbord has been nominated for three Isadora Duncan Dance Awards in performance and design and won the award for visual design in 2007. Austin has performed with a diverse group of Bay Area dance companies and has created video designs for dance, theater, and opera. Mr. Forbord produced and directed the documentary film, Artists in Exile: A Story of Modern Dance in San Francisco (2000), and several short movement films. Currently, Austin is working on Normal People, a documentary film about Sarajevo, Bosnia, and an NEA funded documentary about the vocal group, Kitka, for their 30th anniversary. His production company, Rapt Productions, is the primary source for video documentation, video marketing and promotional materials, and video design for the San Francisco Bay Area dance community. For more information, please visit raptproductions.com.
ABOUT THE KENNETH RAININ FOUNDATION
The Kenneth Rainin Foundation is a private family foundation that is dedicated to enhancing quality of life by promoting equitable access to a baseline of literacy, championing and sustaining the arts, and supporting research that will lead to relief for those with chronic disease. The Foundation focuses its efforts on the San Francisco Bay Area and specific medical issues. They utilize their networks, resources, and commitment to socially responsible practices to support innovation, collaboration and connection in the service of inspiring world-changing work. For more information, please visit krfoundation.org.
KQED has served Northern California for more than 50 years and is affiliated with NPR and PBS. KQED owns and operates public television stations KQED 9 (San Francisco/Bay Area), KQED Plus (San Jose/Bay Area) and KQET 25 (Watsonville/Monterey); KQED Public Radio (88.5 FM San Francisco and 89.3 FM Sacramento); the interactive platforms kqed.org and KQEDnews.org; and KQED Education. KQED Public Television is the producer of local and national series such as QUEST; Check, Please! Bay Area; This Week in Northern California; Truly CA; and Essential Pépin. KQED’s digital television stations include KQED 9, KQED Plus, KQED Life, KQED World, KQED Kids and KQED V-me, and are available 24/7 on Comcast. KQED Public Radio, home of Forum, KQED News and The California Report, is one of the most-listened-to public radio stations in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service delivering more than eighteen local weekday newscasts and news features. KQED Interactive provides KQED’s cross-platform news service, KQEDnews.org, as well as several popular local blogs, video and audio podcasts, and a live radio stream at kqed.org. KQED Education brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and the general public through workshops, community screenings and multimedia resources.
Watch the trailer on YouTube at youtu.be/gBMwFU96krQ
To download photos, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/raptproductions/sets/72157631686153753/
Pre-screeners and Interviews available upon request.
What People Are Saying About Stage Left
“San Francisco, theater capital of the country? Not long ago it seemed obvious. [In this documentary,] leading critics from the Bay Area and beyond explain why the unique social environment that produced the politically and aesthetically radical San Francisco Mime Troupe as well as the subtler subversion of the Pickle Family Circus or the not-subtle-at-all Cockettes; attracted maverick director Bill Ball and his newly formed American Conservatory Theater; launched Tony Kushner’s Angels in America; sent cops to break up performances of Michael McClure’s The Beard; incubated Sam Shepard’s greatest plays; and much more besides.”
— Mill Valley Film Festival
“When making a documentary about the history of theater in the Bay Area, you have to expect a little drama. Maybe even a lot. Documentary filmmaker Austin Forbord set out to create a comprehensive look at the rich theatrical history of post-World War II San Francisco, from the experimentation and headline-grabbing antics of the ’60s to the glittery free-for-all of the ’70s and up to present day.”
— Chad Jones, San Francisco Chronicle
“Stage Left is a valuable record of regional innovation… an entertaining documentary mixing intriguing archival materials with explanatory insights from observers on both sides of the footlights… Tantalizing clips and stills from Soon 3, George Coates, Snake Theater… The docu reps a colorful introduction, with some footage that leaves one begging for more: Highlights include a glimpse at Ball’s wildly physical 1976 Taming of the Shrew, and Gary Sinise and John Malkovich in the original Magic production of Shepard’s True West.”
— Dennis Harvey, Variety
“Stage Left documents San Francisco theater during one of the most vibrant aesthetic and politically active periods of the 20th century. Not only is this documentary an excellent commentary on the theater, but it is a sociological history of the city which typically leads the country not only aesthetically but through its social movements.”
— Theodore Shank, Distinguished Professor of Theatre, University of CA, San Diego
Visit the Stage Left website to learn more about the film, stageleft-movie.com