New Leadership at Play Cafe

From outgoing Executive Director, Tracy Held Potter:

For the past five and a half years, I have served as Play Cafe’s Executive
Director, taking over for founder Steve Lyons when he moved from the Bay
Area. Since I took on this role, Play Cafe has grown internally,
converting into a formal 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and creating a
board from the ground up while continuing our traditional monthly Scene
Nights and our biannual workshops. On top of that, we helped a new project
obtain initial funding: the popular and vibrant Musical Cafe Showcase
Series.
Founded by Sandy Kasten, Richard Jennings, Jerome Joseph Gentes
and others, the Series quickly became a regular Play Cafe program and
recognized launchpad for local Bay Area musical creation.

As my tenure as Executive Director ends, I am excited about all the new
ways that Play Cafe is coming to life. Last year, we introduced a new
Board of Directors including Play Cafe writers Robert Fields, Madeline
Puccioni, Ann Thomas Seitz, and Christopher Walker, and we received our
first grants, some of which will be used to produce new events in 2017.

As the new year begins, I am pleased to welcome Jerome Joseph Gentes to
the Board and as our official Interim Executive Director. Jerome has been
a Play Cafe writer for years and is one of the co-founders of Musical
Cafe. As an artist and as a producer, Jerome has an enthusiasm for
supporting Bay Area playwrights that will be tremendously beneficial to
all that Play Cafe is about. Please see Jerome’s bio below to see why
we’re so excited that he’s taking on this responsibility.

I also wanted to take a moment to recognize two of our hardest-working
volunteer organizers, Jamie Greenblatt and Sandy Kasten, who will remain
to handle casting, scheduling, rentals, and all of our financial and legal
affairs. Play Cafe exists because of their work and I am grateful for all
that they do behind-the-scenes to keep things running smoothly. Jamie will
serve as Board President in 2017. Madeline Puccioni will take over as
Secretary.

Play Cafe memberships are set on a calendar schedule, so now is the time
to join or renew at http://playcafe.org/memberships/.

Jerome Joseph Gentes was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He
received his B.A. in English from U.C. Berkeley and his M.F.A. in
Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University. From 2007 on, he worked in
nonprofit arts administration in Western New York, and taught English
Literature, Composition, and Creative Writing at Niagara University and
Medaille College there before returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in
2011. He currently works as a professional marketing content writer,
playwright, and producer, and lives in San Jose.

With co-producer Bridgette Dutta Portman, he co-produced Sheherezade’s
Last Tales, the fifteenth and final production in the Sheherezade series,
which received the award for Outstanding Anthology Play Production at the
2016 Theatre Bay Area Awards.

He and Portman co-produced the inaugural run of PCSF PlayOffs, the
successor program, in late 2016. Along with other creatives, he
launched the Musical Cafe Showcase Series in 2014, which is now in its
third year as a Northern California development platform for new, original
musical theatre works-in-progress.

As a teaching artist, he taught theatre and poetry with programs such as
the UC Berkeley DeCAL program (Berkeley, CA) and Just Buffalo Literary
Center (Buffalo, NY), and at schools including Tuscarora Indian School
(Lewiston, NY), the Drew School (San Francisco), and Deer Valley High
School (Antioch, CA). He was a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee (poetry) and
participated in the Found Poetry Review 2013 Pulitzer Remix. Along with
several others from that project, he served as a panelist at the 2014
Association of Writers and Writing Programs Annual Conference (Seattle)
and curated an offsite reading in tandem with the Conference.

He started writing plays in earnest again in 2012, with developmental
readings of his full-length play Hold Your Piece at the Playwrights’
Center of San Francisco in June 2012 and September 2013 and at United
Artists Theatre (Buffalo, NY) in August 2012. Shorter works appeared on
stages around the Bay Area in various stages of development from workshop
reading to finished, including Aria 51, Schrodinger’s Christmas, Parlor
Games, Just Add What Blood Is Thicker Than, and OR: or, The Play of Light.
With New Musical Theatre of San Francisco, he collaborated on the Spring
2013 production of Show Me Yours: Songs of Innocence and Experience with
New Musical Theater of San Francisco, and is working on a full-length
musical with composer and lyricist Rice Majors called The Right Note.

His writing has appeared in Fourteen Hills, Out.com, Boxy Magazine, Eleven
Eleven, Rougarou, Verbatim, Artvoice, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Buffalo
News, and Publishers Weekly, among other publications.

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