Spare Stage produces plays that provide a dynamic balance between actor, director, and playwright. We favor eloquent language and elegant simplicity in staging. We nurture creative ensemble, and invite you to join us in exploring complex ideas on a Spare Stage.

Spare Stage was founded in 2007 and is a San Francisco-based 501c(3) nonprofit organization.

Company Members

Click a photo for more information

Laylah Muran Photo
Laylah Muran de Assereto
Ted Hlavac Photo
 
Ted Hlavac
Jason Jeremy Photo
 
Jason Jeremy
Quinn Whitaker Photo
 
Quinn Whitaker
Amanda Lee Photo
 
Amanda Lee

Laylah Muran de Assereto

Laylah has been involved in theatre and writing creative fiction since childhood. Raised in an extended urban family of poets, musicians, and performance artists, Laylah got her start acting with her family’s avant-garde puppet theatre troupe, Handghost Theatre in the 1980s. She attended the School of the Arts at J. Eugene McAteer High School in San Francisco (now the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts) where she studied drama and theatre tech. She studied acting with Stephen Drewes from 1994 to 2006 and became heavily involved both as an actor and board member with the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco (PCSF) in 2005, serving variously as the Secretary, Publicity Director, Board Chair, and volunteering as a literary committee member. In 2009 Laylah joined Wily West Productions as Executive Producer where she served until 2015, presenting several award winning, nominated, and critically acclaimed productions of new works by local area writers and theatre artists. She produced the annual short play festival “Sheherezade” from 2008-2014, which received a TBA nomination for Outstanding Anthology for “Sheherezade 14“. She is a proud member of the Dramatist’s Guild, Playwrights Center (Minneapolis), International Centre of Women Playwrights, and The Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco.

Credits include I SAW IT, she wrote for and was primary editor for this collaborative work with 8 contributing playwrights, produced by Wily West Productions in 2015. AS OF ONE, a short play for ReproRights! The Body Politic produced as a staged reading as part of 3Girls Theatre’s Womens Work Festival in August 2016 and again at PianoFight in November 2016. ANONYMOUS ME, JAIN, and CASH FOR CAPES, three short pieces included in Wily West’s SUPERHEROES which received a 2014 TBA Nomination for Outstanding Anthology. CENSORED IN TEHRAN, a short play included in the 2010 PCSF production SHEHEREZADE 10: 2009 A Year in Review. She is a member of the 2016/2017 PlayGround Writer’s Pool and is returning to SF Olympians Festival as a playwright in October at the Exit.

Her directing credits include, PCSF’s PLAYOFFS 2016, ReproRights! The Body Politic (2016), SF Olympians Festival VII: The Servants night of 3 one-acts by Bridgette Dutta Portman, Elizabeth Flanagan, and Marissa Skudlarek, and PCSF’s SHEHEREZADE’S LAST TALES (2015) which received the TBA Award for Outstanding Anthology.

Laylah performed Celia in TALKING HEADS by Alan Bennett, directed by Stephen Drewes for Spare Stage Theatre in March 2016 and as Decima in Ex Nihilo’s live recorded radio play series TERRA INCOGNITA as Decima in April, June, August, and October 2016.

For a full listing of her credits click here.

Ted Hlavac

Ted’s experience in theater began with a stint as stage manager for Spare Stage's 2008 production of Stephen Dietz’s PRIVATE EYES. He has been involved in every subsequent show in various capacities: stage manager (HERE), production manager (THE UNEXPECTED MAN revival), board operator (HERE), assistant to the director (THE UNEXPECTED MAN, A BODY OF WATER), sound designer (THE BREATH OF LIFE, THE UNEXPECTED MAN revival, OLEANNA, TALKING HEADS), and gopher. Ted has prepared posters, postcards, and programs; and scheduled rehearsals. Ted also created and maintains the company’s website. He may be contacted at     ted@sparestage.org

Jason Jeremy

Jason Jeremy is an actor and sound designer, getting his start in radio plays in his teen years as a sound engineer for KOPN Radio’s Lullaby of Broadway, Inside Radio kids’ workshops, and the annual Midwest Radio Theater Workshop. Most recently, Jason designed sound for Ex Nihilo's six-part radio play series TERRA INCOGNITA, which was recorded live at Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, and for Wily West’s productions of UNHINGED and DROWNING KATE. Jason performed in PCSF's annual short play festival Sheherezade from 2006 through 2009 and 2014, and he designed sound for Sheherezade in 2010 and 2012. He is a founding member of Wily West Productions and performed numerous roles for them including Pingta in THE WIDOW WEST, The Mighty Magora in MAIDRID'S BOW, Cosimo in ZERO HOUR, and various roles in SAN FRANCISCO STORIES and I SAW IT. Jason played Matthew in Spare Stage's production of PRIVATE EYES, and Reese in the New Conservatory Theatre Center's THE WAR AT HOME.

Quinn Whitaker

Quinn J. Whitaker studied theatre design and production at Oakland School of the Arts with a concentration in Lighting Design and Stage Management. She attended Barnard College in New York City during which time she served as the Lighting Design and Stage Manager for Columbia University Event Management and the Columbia University Musical Theatre Society. She also worked as a technician for the International Architectural Lighting Design Awards and Ellie Charles Awards. Quinn was the lead designer and production manager for PCSF's Sheherezades 10-14. She was a designer, production manager and producer for Wily West from 2010 through 2014, including award nominated productions of SUPERHEROES, EVERYBODY HERE SAYS HELLO, and GORGEOUS HUSSY.

Amanda Lee

I am thrilled to be a part of an ensemble group creating theatre from the bare stage up! Born in England, I grew up on the East Coast and have been a West Coast transplant for 26 years—San Francisco is where my creative heart lives. I believe passionately in theatre being the crucible for many different voices and stories, and I look forward to sharing Spare Stage’s projects with you. I find theatre to the perfect intersection for my interests and skills—I am an actor (recently seen in the Playwrights Center 2016 Playoffs-Short Play Festival); a dramaturg (for Golden Thread Productions 2015 ReOrient Festival, and several one-person shows); a published photographer (but mostly taking photos of my dog and clouds right now!); a film buff (especially French film noir and anything by Werner Herzog); a researcher (I will literally look up anything and everything, including the kitchen sink), and recently, I just wrote my first play, Waiting for Van Gogh. Other theatrical activities include reading new, unproduced plays for several literary committees, including the Magic and The Playwrights Foundation. I received my MA in Theatre from SF State, with a BA in English, and a minor in Women’s Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, and I am a member of LMDA (Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America). As always, my beloved acting teacher, Linda Lowry, who taught me so much truth about who I am, will always be a part of my artistic journey.

Board of Directors

Laylah Muran de Assereto Chair


Luana Hernandez Treasurer


Quinn Whitaker Secretary


(open position) Development Director

Collaborators

Founders

Stephen Drewes
Aaron Murphy

Directors

Stephen Drewes
Laylah Muran de Assereto

Writers & Dramaturgs

Jerome Joseph Gentes, playwright & lyricist
Rice Majors, composer & lyricist
Jennifer Lynne Roberts, playwright

Designers

Courtney Conley
Stephen Drewes
Annie Leeking
Tyler Null
Mary Samson
Peter Teaff
Abbie Zimmerman

Actors

Lynie Abadilla
Samantha Behr
Ted Bigornia
James Allen Brewer
Sarah Eisman
Joshua Icban
Jason Jeremy
Annie Larson
Brian Levi
Susan Maeder
Sarah Meyeroff
Frannie Morrison
Phoebe Moyer
Laylah Muran de Assereto
Aaron Murphy
Ken Ruta
Richard Ryan
Mary Samson
Holly Silk
Abigail Van Alyn
Halsey Varady

Stage Managers &
Assistants to the Director

Cynthia Brinkman
Whitney Gafford
Ted Hlavac
Justin Schlegel

Crew

Chris Early
Whitney Gafford
Casey Loufek
Duciana Thomas
Eleni Zaharopoulos

Photographers & Videographers

Wesley Cayabyab
Stephen Drewes
Peter Prato

History

Spare Stage was created in the Fall of 2007 by actor Aaron Murphy and Stephen Drewes, a local director and professor of Theatre at CCSF, in order to produce works by established playwrights in simplified stagings. This approach would allow them to concentrate on script, direction, and performance, rather than on production values, and to reduce the expense of production and, consequently, the cost to the audience. (Their informal motto, tongue in cheek, was "Spare Stage: We Build No Walls!"). The company's debut, in February 2008, was a double bill of two British one-acts, ASHES TO ASHES by Harold Pinter, and AFTERPLAY by Brian Friel, featuring Murphy and Mary Samson, and directed by Drewes. Encouraged by its success, Spare Stage mounted a production of Steven Dietz's existential comedy/mystery PRIVATE EYES the following summer.

In the ensuing years, Spare Stage presented the US premiere of HERE by Michael Frayn (NOISES OFF, COPENHAGEN), the San Francisco premieres of Yazmina Reza's THE UNEXPECTED MAN, Lee Blessing's A BODY OF WATER, and the West Coast premiere of THE BREATH OF LIFE, by David Hare. The Spare Stage production of David Mamet's OLEANNA in the Spring of 2013 was described as "beautifully calibrated, consistently stimulating" (Avila: SFBG) and featured Frannie Morrison and founder Aaron Murphy. Spare Stage's most recent offering was a selection of pieces from Allen Bennet's TALKING HEADS, which played in March, 2016, and was called "starkly witty" and "funny and mesmerizing" (Talkin' Broadway).

Drewes retired as the company's Artistic Director in 2016, and was succeeded by Laylah Muran de Assereto..

Stephen Drewes, a fifth-generation San Franciscan, accepted his first directing assignment in 1975 for The People’s Theatre in Cambridge, MA. He has since directed more than 85 productions in every genre from children’s theatre to grand opera. He has been a member of the faculty at Middlebury College, Boston University, and Colgate, and taught at CCSF for twenty years. He was Artistic Director of the Publick Theatre in Cambridge MA, where three of his productions won Boston Critics Awards for Direction. He was also resident stage Director for Pocket Opera. He co-founded Spare Stage in 2008, and won a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for his direction of The Unexpected Man in 2009.

Aaron Murphy is a Bay Area native who grew up in the performing arts (ballet, opera, jazz piano). He took his first acting class from Stephen Drewes at City College of San Francisco. The experience was so transformational that he pursued a degree in acting, earning a Bachelors in Fine Arts from U.C. Santa Barbara. He co-founded Spare Stage with Stephen Drewes out of a shared passion for great writing and a theatrical aesthetic aimed to balance the writer, the craft of the actor, and the pocketbook of the audience. The collaboration led to a number of successful productions and awards. In 2013, Drewes directed Murphy in David Mamet's OLEANNA. This marked 20 years since that initial acting class. Murphy continues to act in the Bay Area, having performed in SEASCAPE at Role Players, THE PILLOWMAN at Breadbox, THE ICEMAN COMETH at the O'Neill Foundation, JERUSALEM at S.F. Playhouse, and THE FOREIGNER at Contra Cost Civic for which he won a TBA Award for Best Actor.

Laylah Muran De Assereto is a San Francisco area playwright, actor, director, and producer. From 2008-2014 she produced the annual short play festival “Sheherezade,” which received a TBA nomination for Outstanding Anthology. In 2015 she was one of the contributing playwrights to Wily West Production’s I Saw It. Her play FORTRESS FOUND was part of the 2015 SF Olympians Festival. Her short plays, ANONYMOUS ME, JAIN, and CASH FOR CAPES were included in Wily West's TBA Outstanding Anthology-nominated Superheroes. She has directed for SCHEHERAZADE, PCSFs Reading Series, Southern Railroad Theatre’s “I Do Declare” series, and “Repro Rights! Women @ Risk.”