In San Francisco’s Mission District, the San Francisco Running Crew is doing its part to keep theater arts thriving in the Bay Area. Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon for three months, 10 teenagers and young adults, aged 14 through 24, learn the backstage skills of running a theater, including lighting, sound, scenic carpentry, and stage management.
The program is designed for young people who are under-represented in the technical theater fields. Competition for a spot in the demanding program is intense, and a high level of commitment is required from those who gain entry – they are expected to absorb a great deal of information in a short period of time. Spark follows the crew backstage as they prepare for the stage production they will run.
The San Francisco Running Crew is one of the programs under the Brava Theater Academy, which is the educational arm of Brava! for Women in the Arts. Through its educational programs, the academy extends economic and social opportunities to local people, especially young people aged 6 through 25. Four hundred students per year attend classes in acting, writing, scene study, directing, and theater design, all taught by experienced theater professionals. Students are also given the opportunity to visit local theaters.
Brava! for Women in the Arts was founded in 1986 at the GalerÃa de la Raza in San Francisco, and in the same year, it purchased York Theatre, a former art movie house. Boasting a 13,000-square-foot theater and training facility, Brava is dedicated to its community in the Mission District of San Francisco and to producing new work by women of color and lesbian playwrights. In addition to San Francisco Running Crew, the academy’s programs include Performance Workshop, Brava! for Literacy, La Moda, Drama Divas and Alumni Job Development Workshops.