10 QUESTIONS FOR
MILL VALLE Y
In Marin / CURRENTS
1 Congratulations on your 10th season as artistic director of MTC and the 50th anniversary of the
company — could you share some highlights with us? In
November we’re going to be producing the world premiere
of Lauren Gunderson’s new play Miss Bennet — we found out
recently that Lauren is the most produced living playwright
in the country this year. But it’s also not just the work we do
onstage; it’s the playwrights we support and the work that
we do with the schools in Marin City and in the Canal district.
2 What’s your plan for the future? Our focus has become new American plays. That’s the word we’re trying to get out — that we are the fifth largest theater company
in the Bay Area, right here in Marin County. When I got here,
we were a $2 million theater; now we’re a $3.6 million theater.
It’s been a real evolution. And that’s something we’re very
proud of and hopefully will focus on for the next 50 years.
3 Tell us a bit about your new play program. We want o give new playwrights the opportunity to work on
their plays before the reviews start to affect whether they
get second or third productions. It would be really hard
if our sports teams were given two games and they had
to make the most of them and that decided whether they
made it into the playoffs.
4 How do you get the word out to the playwrights about awards and opportunities? Now we’re lucky
because we have the reputation and people know about
the play prizes. It’s a massive network all over the country
of theaters that are working in new plays.
5 How many play submissions do you get Over 950 per year.
6 So would you say the current state of American theater is healthy based off of those numbers?
Without question there are a lot of playwrights working
out there. The problem that we have right now is that it is
very difficult to make a living in play-writing. Most
playwrights these days, to really make ends meet,
they’re not only playwrights but they’re also writ-
ing for TV, writing for film, and most of them teach.
So it’s sort of a juggling game. That’s why having
a theater in Marin County that is focused on new
American writers is so important.
7Is the theater’s new focus what drew you here? In 2006 MTC did a production of Tracy Letts’
play Killer Joe. That production really changed the
culture of this organization. The board very much
realized that there was an audience in Marin
for new, edgier contemporary work. And they
decided that in order to have a stronger regional
and national presence they wanted to take the company in the direction of new American work. And that’s
the kind of artistic director they went to look for, and
that’s how they found me.
8What are some common misconceptions you hear about the company? A lot of people who visited
back in the early ’90s think we’re a nonprofessional
company. The work has really changed. One of the
most interesting conversations we have with people
right now when they come into the theater is they’re
surprised they’re seeing the same actors here as at
Berkeley Rep and A.C. T. We are one of the only theater
companies in the United States that has a growing
subscriber base. We are growing each year.
9What is the best seat in the house? Well that’s the neat thing about having a 230-seat theater.
There is no best seat. It depends on what you like. Every
seat in the house gets a very personal experience.
10Tell us about your shoes. Yeah, they’re Johnston & Murphy. They’re one of their signature lines.
They’re the loudest shoes I own by a mile.
Marin Theatre Company artistic director Jasson Minadakis grew up in Virginia and
graduated from James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Va., with a degree in English
and theater. He went on to co-found the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival before being
named artistic director of Atlanta’s Actor’s Express theater company and
came to the Marin Theatre Company in November 2006. Outside of work,
he loves spending time with his wife and two sons. KASIA PA WLOWSKA