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Jeff Raz

Jeff Raz
Playwright of "An Appetite for Books"
Handful Players' 2010/2011 season

The play pays homage to Marcus Books, in San Francisco and Oakland, on its 50th anniversary as the oldest African American bookstore in the country and its founders Dr. Raye and Julian Richardson. The play introduces the children of San Francisco's Western Addition community to the rich history found in this special space as they meet ghosts of Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King, discover folktales that leap off the shelves, and find the space filled with the music of Mahalia Jackson, Bob Marley, and other blues, jazz, gospel, and civil rights songs. Ultimately, they learn the lessons of being at Crossroads, Overcoming, and maintaining Dreams. The play was performed at San Francisco's Yoshi's Jazz Club in May, 2011.

Jeff is the founder of the Clown Conservatory, the only comprehensive professional clown training program in the United States. His 35-year career has taken him from remote Alaskan villages to Broadway, across the United States and to Europe and Japan. In 2007, Jeff spent the year touring the U.S. as the lead character in Cirque du Soleil's "Corteo". In 2009 and 2010, he went on tour, reprising his role in Nagoya and Osaka, Japan. A graduate of the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theater, Jeff has also performed with The Pickle Circus, Vaudeville Nouveau and Make*A*Circus and in such theaters as Berkeley Repertory Theater, The Goodman Theater in Chicago, Marin Theater Company, The Kennedy Center, TheaterWorks of Palo Alto, The San Francisco and Marin Shakespeare Festivals, and Lincoln Center Theater in New York. In addition to performing, Jeff has written 12 plays, including adaptations of Oedipus the King and the Book of Esther and two solo plays, Father-Land and Birth Mark. He has directed shows for Make*A*Circus and the Pickle Circus, a number of puppet plays for Lunitique Fantatique and The Bright River, a hip-hop retelling of Dante's Inferno, at A Traveling Jewish Theater.

Mr. Raz has taught physical theater and circus arts at universities, conservatories and arts high schools around the country, including the Tony-award winning American Conservatory Theater's MFA program and seven years with the Artist Diversity Residency Program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. In 2001, Jeff helped create the Institute at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts based on the Lincoln Center Institute model of arts education, and worked in classrooms and trained classroom teachers at the Institute for 5 years. And Jeff juggled with the Handful Players!