Thursday, December 11, 2014

Coming and Going with Sanctuary Stage

The origin story of Sanctuary Stage, begun in Eureka by Dan Stone and Tinamarie Ivey in 2006, is reproduced below.

Dan Stone learned commedia del'arte in Italy, and that was an early emphasis--for example, in their commedia version of A Christmas Carol I wrote about in 2006. But they were soon exploring other theatrical avenues.

At a certain point, Dan and Tinamarie also took over the management of the Eureka Theatre, that amazing, huge old building from the deco movie palace era. It was there I saw Memories, an experimental production in a year-long look at aging ("Shades of Grey.")  It was Dan Stone's mash-up of two plays by Samuel Beckett and a comedy by Mary Louise Wilson that explored two aspects of memory, both of which are emphasized with age: the reassertion of the past, and forgetfulness in the present.  It was experimental in its approach as well, using elements of commedia and other techniques.

In my fake April Fools column (that only the Arcata Eye would publish) I teased Dan for his combining disparate plays as well as the nature of some of his selections, like the Kopit he directed at Arcata Playhouse: Dan Stone combines elements of plays by Beckett and Eugene O’Neill with Neil Simon and the Firesign Theatre in the Santuary Stage production of Waiting for the Iceman or Someone Like Him, starring Tinamarie Ivey as Tina Fey playing the Virgin Mary, and Bob Wells as Father Time. “It’s even more obscure than usual,” Stone promises.

Dan Stone
But in fact nobody else did the kind of work Dan did here, and nobody is doing it now.  He took chances, tried things, and since he usually had actors up to the task, what he produced was interesting and exciting.

I have Dan and Tinamarie to thank for my only North Coat appearance as a playwright, in their first 24/10 production: a half-dozen or so playwrights are given the topic and about 12 hours to write a ten minute play, then matched with a director and a cast, so the play is performed about 24 hours after the process began.  It was completely insane, utterly exhausting, but it was fun and illuminating.  Of course I wrote extensively about the experience here.  (Apparently Plays in the Park is doing something similar in the summer of 2015.)

But the Eureka Theatre was snatched away from them, and soon they found a livelihood elsewhere, in Oregon.  But Sanctuary Stage didn't die--it just relocated, and focused on a new mission--"community-engaged theatre"- that had begun with Jason in Eureka, which Sanctuary had hosted.  Cornerstone Theatre from LA set up shop at St. Bernard's while they were here, and at a dinner there I met members of the company.

Tinamarie later returned to Humboldt with The Logger Project, as written by Jackie Dandeneau and directed by Ken Gray, an LA playwright who'd spent a year at HSU and who was one of the other playwrights at 24/10.

Tinamarie Ivey
Dan and Tinamarie are still producing theatre. Tinamarie became exec director of the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis, Oregon. Dan's website has illustrations of, among other productions, his direction of Macbeth. The Sanctuary Stage website seems active as well.  Just not here anymore.

The Birth of Sanctuary Stage 2006
It’s an old story but an important one for North Coast arts: theatre artists Dan Stone and Tinamarie Ivey came from southern California to HSU for their MFA degrees and decided to stay so they could raise their children away from L.A. “We’ve been trying to figure out a way to do our art and still stay here,” Stone said.

Stone teaches drama at St. Bernard’s high school, and Ivey is teaching this year at HSU. But they’re combining on a new venture called Sanctuary Stage that involves training actors and producing plays, beginning in October.

 Stone sees this as an opportunity for actors of any age (beginning in the mid-teens) to learn a couple of specific approaches in depth. He will teach the pure Comedia dell ‘arte he learned from Maestro Antonio Fava in Italy, and Ivey will instruct in the Michael Chekhov Acting Technique she learned at the New York Experimental Wing, among other places. (A nephew of the famed playwright, Chekhov studied with Russian acting god, Constantin Stanislavsky.)

 Sanctuary Stage will perform in the St. Bernard Theatre that Stone has been busily refurbishing. Its first production in late October is Love Is a Drug, a classic sixteenth century commedia scenario “developed in rehearsal through improvisation.” Auditions are open, although preference will be given to students enrolled in Sanctuary’s classes.


Anonymous said...

Tinamarie and Dan were a great asset to our community. I am happy to hear they are having success in Oregon. Your story is a little confusing at the end, as if they are still at St. Bernards...

BK said...

Note the headline to the last part of the post, which indicates it is from 2006. Good to know they are remembered.