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San Diego's economic outlook 'sunnier' than the rest of the country

 January 18, 2023 at 4:37 PM PST

S1: The global economic outlook and what it means for San Diego.

S2: While we're looking ahead , the world outlook may be gloomy. Like most things in San Diego , it may be a little bit sunnier for us.

S1: I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS midday edition. The Navy is accepting new recruits with more life experience.

S3: And it's safe to assume that somebody that's 40 or 41 years old would probably be in the same performance categories.

S1: A study gives new perspective on the impact of pay , transparency and equity. Plus , the Loud Fringe Theatre group kicks off its first full season. That's ahead on Midday Edition. First , the news. Earlier today , the University of San Diego held the 39th annual Economic Roundtable to take stock of where the national and local economies may be headed this year. The event happens as the World Economic Forum is meeting in Europe , with economists there calling the outlook for the world's economy gloomy. I'm joined now by one of the participants at today's event , Alison Sanchez. She's assistant professor of economics and business analytics at the University of San Diego. Alison , welcome to Midday Edition. Hi.

S2: Hi. Thank you for having me.

S1:

S2: One of the things that I wasn't prepared for was that there are several recession proof industries in San Diego. So while we're looking ahead , the world outlook may be gloomy. Like most things in San Diego , it may be a little bit sunnier for us here.

S1: Now , always sunny in San Diego.

S2:

S1: So now last year's economic story was high inflation.

S2: And I think most were very excited to see that inflation didn't grow further. So it didn't go any higher. It's come down slightly. So I think there is room for hope. But again , there is going to be some tightening around the belt for some people. Hmm.

S1: Hmm.

S2: And recently I have seen the empty shelves , actually. Yes. So I think those are still a concern in the interim for in the short term for families who are struggling right now to pay their bills. So but there is hope for the future that they will come down. I don't think this is by any means permanent. The forecast is not that these are permanent , but that they will come down. Could be slowly , though.

S1: All of that in mind.

S2: I wish I had the crystal ball again. I think most economists are forecasting a slowdown of some sort. It's just the degree to which that slowdown will occur if we head into recession to our territory. I think nationally they are our most economists are expecting some sort of a recession. But how quickly we bounce back from that recession , if there is one and how deep it will go , is yet to be determined.

S1: Mm hmm. And we've seen headlines of some companies announcing big job losses , specifically in the tech industry. What is San Diego's job outlook when you consider that.

S2: You know , across industries , it's going to vary ? That was what was said today during the roundtable. But again , it breaks down a lot by demographics. So our racial and ethnic demographics also have a role to play if you break out the data that way. It's look different for for different demographics. So but hopefully in San Diego , some of the again , recession proof industries such as military innovation and health care , those will retain jobs , but there will be some slowdown in industries like tourism , which is a significant portion of the jobs in San Diego.

S1:

S2: But black and Hispanic residents , unfortunately , take up a predominant amount of the lower income jobs , and they will feel it. And so that was disheartening to hear.

S1: With that information that that you all have provided.

S2: And so a lot of employers are looking to lower some of the resume requirements , so to speak , for the jobs. And what does that mean ? So instead of perhaps requiring a bachelor's degree for a particular job , they'll take a training certificate or do their own training locally. And so this gives residents an opportunity to retrain in some of those fields and maybe switch sectors where they can be making a little bit higher income.

S1: One aspect of San Diego's economy that affects us. All is the high cost of living , as we mentioned , especially housing. The local housing market reached new heights during the pandemic , but has seen sales slow significantly. What's the outlook there ? Our price is coming down as a result.

S2: I mean , hopefully the predictions , if you'll remember , some people were predicting as the pandemic was just getting started. Some economists were predicting huge cuts over the pandemic. They thought 20 to 30% , where some of the estimates that I saw , we actually saw the opposite and we saw a huge increase in the housing prices. So it's hard to make forecasts. But most of the estimates that I've seen across the board and different types of economists , both academic and real world economists , have said there is going to be a softening. And how much that will affect San Diego is yet to be seen.

S1: You know , I mean , even with housing prices coming down a bit , doesn't matter when interest rates are so high.

S2: You know , and that's that is the problem because we're you know , we're glad to see a softening in a correction in the housing prices. But at the same time , we see an increase in the mortgage rates. It's going to eat into affordability again. So what people gain when the prices come down is lost again when the mortgage rates increase because their monthly payment is increasing as well. So it's going to it's a it's unfortunate situation that we're looking at right now because it's still not really any more affordable for people jumping into the housing market.

S1: Another economic hurdle for many San Diegans remains the cost and availability of childcare.

S2: That child care needs for many families are not being met , both because it's expensive and the quality of child care that can be provided is not up to what many parents would like to see for their children. So it's a very unfortunate situation that we hope will improve.

S1: The Biden administration has made public investments such as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

S2: I think for many Americans , they don't feel it directly or they don't see the direct effects. They may see indirect effects in a softening of prices or things like that. I think many Americans are. And residents here will be looking for more , though , because they have a long way to go. One of the things that was mentioned in the roundtable today was that a lot of residents , especially in San Diego , don't have enough income to cover their monthly expenses. And so they are putting those monthly expenses onto credit cards. Those credit cards have , you know , 19 , 20% interest rates on them. So debt is accumulating for everyday residents at a really fast paced. So I think one of the things that the panelists were calling for was a lot more local and state investments in things that can alleviate the costs , such as affordable housing , affordable child care.

S1: I've been speaking with Allison Sanchez , assistant professor of economics and business analytics at the University of San Diego. Alison , thanks so much for joining us.

S2: Thank you so much for having me.

S1: As you just heard , one recession proof industry is the military , but the military is struggling to meet its recruiting goals. The service branches are offering record high enlistment bonuses and loosening rules for things like tattoos and past marijuana use. Now , with fewer young adults signing up , the Navy has decided to give older people a chance. Jay Price reports for the American Homefront Project.

S3: Swami speech , one of the best surfing spots in Southern California and the King of Paradise. A gentle crescent of sand and clear water below palm topped cliffs. Maybe not what you'd expect a 41 year old surfing school owner to give up to join the Navy. Matthew Allen calls it his office. And on a recent spring like morning , he was there coaching 11 year old Ray Goodson.

S4: What I want to focus on today is easing into the session. Finding your rhythm , not rushing it. Right.

S3: Allen has lived a laid back dream in Maui and Southern California , surfing big waves , fronting a bar band.

S4: I've been fortunate enough to make this a life for 20 years.

S3: Lately , though , he's begun feeling like he owes a big debt to the nation that made it all possible.

S4: I'm always trying to balance how good this is.

S3: Thanks to a Navy policy change. When Alan walked into a recruiter's office last summer , he was already two years past the age limit of 39. But a few months later , after he lobbied every Navy official he could email or get on the phone. His recruiter called and said the Navy had raised its age limit to 41. That's the oldest of any service. The Marines , for example , have a ceiling of 28 unless you get a special waiver and the Army 35. But the Navy's national chief recruiter says its data shows older recruits can do well. We don't have a high attrition rate on somebody that's 38 or 39 years old. So I think it's safe to assume that somebody that's 40 or 41 years old would probably be in the same performance categories. That's Master Chief Petty Officer Gerald Olsen. He says Alan's late blooming interest isn't as unusual as it may seem. A lot of times it's for that pride of belonging , the patriotism or the need to serve something bigger than themselves. The Navy expects the age change to attract just 50 to 100 recruits a year , but it's one of several changes designed to attract enlistees who all chances are likely to make solid sailors but were blocked by standards that in some cases didn't reflect current society. The Navy has also eased its rules about enlisting single parents , people with prominent tattoos and those who initially test positive for marijuana , even though it's now legal in many states. A lot of the things are just opening up the aperture to grow our market as much as possible , but also provide the opportunities to the public , especially if the data says that they're going to perform at the same rate. Avalon is a case study in the Navy's new rules. Even after the age change , he needed several waivers , including one more than a hundred pages long for his 43 tattoos , a coin sized image of a spider web inside one ear held things up for several days. But finally , that , too , was approved. Allen's recruiter , Petty Officer Edward Smith , said he's never worked with a recruit who was so motivated or who had to be.

S4: Quite a bit to overcome. And he's been there every step of the way and never back down. I always welcome the challenge.

S3: The Navy needs a lot more mad Allens , though. All Chin , the national chief recruiter , says it's competing with civilian employers that also are struggling to find enough workers and have had to up their own games with more pay and benefits. Before , the Navy had an edge by offering benefits like housing and medical care. Now , though , it's having to go a little further and a little older. I'm Jay Price and Encinitas , California.

S1: This story was produced by the American Homefront Project , a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Bob Woodruff Foundation. You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Despite promises of equity from employers in all sectors , the gender pay gap still remains wide. Going into 2023. The latest data shows women only earn about $0.82 to every dollar men make. New research suggests there may be a way to close the gap , and it starts with salary transparency. Elizabeth Lyons is associate professor of management at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UCSD. She co-authored a study on the effect of pay transparency. Elizabeth , welcome to the program.

S5: Thanks so much for having me. You know.

S1:

S5: So that has implications for the economy as a whole. We have fewer people working. That's not great. It also could impact women's productivity if they know they're earning less. The incentive to invest effort is kind of reduce. Their incentive to invest in education , for instance , might be reduced because they know they can't get as much of a return from that education as men within the family. If women are consistently earning less than male head of household , then females might take on a greater burden of household responsibilities than they'd like to. So they're just kind of all kinds of implications of wage inequality.

S1: You mentioned the economic implications.

S5: We want the right people for the right jobs. And if we're having 50% of the population kind of less likely to enter the workforce because they're not being enumerated for their work in the same way the other 50% is , then that means we're having fewer people participate , fewer people take jobs , fewer people pay income tax. So there are all kinds of implications of that.

S1: And the pay gap has been an ongoing issue.

S5: We saw this kind of much steeper improvement from kind of 1980 to 1990. Recent evidence has suggested that's in part because of family friendly policies that have made it easier for women to enter in and stay in the in the workforce. But kind of since the nineties , the evening out of the wage gap has flattened quite a bit. And although we're seeing gradual improvements , the improvements are really slow.

S1:

S5: There's no single explanation. Among the reasons are , for instance , that women continue to hold a disproportionate share of household responsibilities , and that necessitates kind of relatively flexible work schedules that , you know , at least until recently , employers didn't reward as heavily as they did kind of standard work schedules. So , for instance , if women had to leave the office at four and continue working kind of in the evening , whereas men were more likely to be able to stay until the end of the workday , even if the total number of hours worked were the same , employers were kind of rewarding this more flexible schedule less. That might change in the kind of post lockdown environment , but that was one of the explanations previously. Another explanation that we have some evidence for is that women are less likely to negotiate starting salaries and also raises over time. And so if they're not kind of asking for more money , employers aren't giving it to them. And this is perpetuating some of the wage gap.

S1: So let's get into the research. You found salary transparency can spur , in this case , universities to close their pay gaps. You found that transparency does influence gender pay inequality , but not in the way we thought it would. What did you expect and what did you find ? Right.

S5: So a lot of the discussion around why salary transparency could theoretically reduce gender pay gap is that it could help women negotiate higher salaries by kind of showing them that men doing similar jobs as them are earning more and giving them the opportunity to use that information to approach their managers for raises. So we kind of expected this kind of like individual level change driving the reduction in pay gaps if we were to see one. But actually what we find is these kind of organization wide responses that don't appear to be driven by individual level negotiations. And in particular , we're seeing that in response to salary transparency mandated by the government organizations are proactively reducing gender pay gap in ways that we think are consistent with kind. Reputation management.

S1: You know , you also found that seeing what men made didn't really influence pay equity for women.

S5: So , you know , if you know , a certain group of workers are more likely to negotiate to begin with and you arm them with more information , they're then even more likely to negotiate. So. And in contrast , if women are kind of hesitant to begin with about negotiating and they get this information , they might continue to believe or worry that , you know , men are earning more for some reason that they don't understand. And so it's not kind of driving this change in negotiation. And in fact , one argument against the use of salary transparency is that it really could make it easier for people who already earn more to negotiate even more aggressively. So that could be one of the reasons we're not seeing that in our in our context either.

S1: California has a new law on pay transparency that requires employers to disclose pay scales in job listings based on your research.

S5: To the extent that that might be of concern to potential applicants or even consumers of their goods and services. They might make an effort to reduce inequality in general. And I'll say that , you know , even inequality that's not along gender lines or ethnic or racial lines can be really bad for worker performance. It can be demoralizing to know that you're working in a place where someone who has your job title is earning significantly less or more than you. So that might for employers to kind of reduce gaps.

S1:

S5: And I think like having the legal backing , the kind of requirement rather than it being voluntary is is really important because , you know , to the extent it's voluntary , you might see organizations strategically not reporting some things or overreporting other things. So making sure that there's a law that kind of standardizes the way this reporting has to occur , I think is really important for that accountability process.

S1: We're also talking about pay disparities in academia specifically.

S5: For instance , the kind of job market for academics is pretty global. So like , you know , salaries are on average set kind of at the industry level. Maybe to a large extent and certainly within a given country , they're kind of set at the country level. And job descriptions are really similar across like university departments , like the math department. An associate professor in the department at UCSD would have a very similar job as an associate professor in the math department at UCLA in a way that I think is relatively unique to academia. But in other ways , it's kind of just another , you know , demanding creative job that I think mirrors a lot of the kind of creative jobs we have in industry more generally. And I think morale and feeling good about what you're doing and feeling rewarded for what you're doing is really important in kind of any job and certainly in in creative jobs.

S1: The gender pay gap is not new , but you say the public has a renewed interest in the issue.

S5: We have kind of these estimates of the economic cost of pay inequality between women and men that are kind of serious. And I think governments and the public are taking seriously. And I think like income inequality in general is growing concern for people around the world.

S1: I'm sure plenty of our listeners have seen job listings with salary ranges so wide , it's like there's no range at all , and this probably causes a lot of confusion for applicants.

S5: I think it warrants further investigation. On one hand , yes , it could be just an effort to say , you know , we'll pay whatever , so just apply and we'll figure it out later. And again , that's why I think the law. Around like this. Standardization is so important so that employers can't just post any kind of two numbers that allows them to capture the universe of of people on. You know , I also think to some extent there is kind of big ranges and pay for some job types by experience. For instance , if people are getting annual raises by the end of their 30 year career , they could be earning quite a bit more than then someone recently hired. Or if they're taking on more responsibilities than their job title would suggest , then we could get pretty big gaps that might be quite reasonable. So I also think there's a challenge with. Limitations in job titles that that might drive part of that. But certainly like ranges that just include any amount you could possibly consider earning are not particularly informative. And if anything might suggest to potential applicants that this employer isn't very organized. So it's not clear to me why employers would would strategically want to do that , given what it signals to potential applicants.

S1: Well , I mean , here in California , as we know , employers have to post a salary range. But what are some of the reasons companies in other places don't post salary ranges in the first place ? Yeah.

S5: So some arguments that companies and even governments make against salary transparency are that it violates privacy. So the types of , you know , not these ranges but the types of transparency policies like the one we study where someone's name is revealed along with their salary could be concerning for someone's privacy if they don't want everyone knowing how much they earn , which I think is probably a reasonable concern. Another argument is , again , that it could equip the people who already negotiate to negotiate even more aggressively and thus. If anything , exacerbate the gender gap. We don't find that in our context. But that's not to say it couldn't happen. And then , of course , you know , employers again , might just not want employees to realize how much inequality there is in pay within a given position because it does have these , like negative performance effects. So , you know , there could be that like purely performance based explanations for why firms don't want to do it. But there could also be like concerns about public good , like the privacy and like exacerbation of of gender gaps.

S1: You know , the topic of salary transparency itself can be a difficult topic. You know , for instance , it might still be considered faux pas to ask what the starting salary is during a job interview for some.

S5: That often happens in like creative jobs where people have this belief that you should love what you do so much that it does doesn't matter what you earn. I don't think that's a reasonable perspective. Everyone has to live and everyone has a right to feel , you know , rewarded for their effort , especially at work. So I think there should just be a move away from this idea that pay shouldn't be a motivator. Of course it is a motivator and employers should should take that seriously. So yeah , I think just kind of saying up front , you know , this is kind of what we think about as the starting salary. What are you thinking about is really important and those types of conversations can be really difficult after an offer has been made. And so having them upfront to avoid hiring someone , that it turns out you can't really work through these issues with , I think makes a lot of sense.

S1: I've been speaking with Elizabeth Lyons , an associate professor of management at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego. Elizabeth , thanks for joining us today.

S5: Thanks so much.

S1: It may seem hard to believe with winter in the air , but spring training is almost a month away , and with it , the return of Padres baseball. It's expected to be another promising season. Bryce Miller , sports columnist with the San Diego Union Tribune , spoke to KPBS Midday Edition producer Andrew Bracken about the team's latest news.

S6: So the Padres made quite a splash last week by signing six year old prospect Ethan Salas to a $5.6 million contract.

S3: That's the one fact that's indisputable right now. They sign him for 5.6 million. He was the consensus number one player in the international market. Given today's rules on spending in the international market , it didn't used to be this way , but that was the vast majority of the Padres International pool money. So I kind of went put all the chips in , really were shooting essentially for Ethan Sallis. He's got so much going for him. He's a left handed bat. He was projected to be the best left handed back in the international market. He's a catcher who is bilingual , is English , is excellent , which as he moves up the ladder and , you know , if and when he reaches the Padres , there are a range of players from around the world being able to speak Spanish and use that to navigate a game would be really important. He's got that advantage. His entire family almost played some professional baseball. His father was in the Braves system. He had an uncle in the Blue Jays system , grandfather with the Astros and Royals , a brother that the Mariners signed in 2019 for nearly 3 million. Who's in that system ? So this is a family that lives and breathes the game. They're all involved in it. But he was the number one player in the Padres made made the move to build the relationship and spend the money to get them.

S6:

S3: Union Union-Tribune said. He's headed to essentially one of the highest levels , the highest leagues in Arizona that's available to him , given given where the Padres what leagues that are in and where they play. So he'll start there. But given his track record and projected ceiling , he could move fairly quickly. But no , this won't be a matter of seeing him in the Padres lineup this season.

S6: And the Padres made another big splash this offseason by signing free agent shortstop Zander Bogart's to an 11 year $280 million contract. It's you know , just another in a series of major contracts the teams made how many of these supersized contracts can the Padres afford.

S3: Yeah it's incredible I've I've kind of delved into that with principal owner Peter Seidler CEO Eric Group for a little bit. When you add up the 300 million for Manny Machado , 340 for Fernando Tatis Jr. The Bogaerts deal won. Soto just avoided arbitration for 23 million this season. Those four players alone almost get them to $1,000,000,000 in current deals , and the Padres have no history before recent years of spending that kind of money being that kind of player. But I wrote a column talking to Eric Grouper and some things. He said this was in August before they made the October run. And he said it really will be a needle mover if we make the playoffs. And they did. And they went a ways. They had home games against the Dodgers. They had home games in the and I'll see us against the Phillies. And that really is revenue that wasn't projected you can't project that but that even before all of that Eric told me that every move they made on the field the last couple of years increasing payroll has been returned to us. So even at that point , they were making it work. One example he told me the day of the Soto trade , when that news got out , the Padres broke their record for biggest in season ticket sales and one day in history. So really the summary on that , I think , is they're willing to spend money to make money. And that playoff run certainly allowed them to do that move forward.

S6: And you mentioned Juan Soto. You know , another piece of news was the resigning of him to a one year contract.

S3: They've got him for this full season and then next season. And that's that's where they're at with that current deal. Whether they can afford it , whether they're in that position , whether one Soto's healthy , all those things could change over the next year and a half. They could try to work on a long term deal in advance. I know that Peter Seidler and general manager A.J. Preller both told me the day he signed , they'd been secretly kind of watching him and wanting him for a couple of years. So this is a guy they really , really wanted. It wasn't , hey , this is the best player available on this day. Let's go get him. They've been kind of scheming behind the scenes to try to position themselves to get Juan Soto. Another interesting option not many people talk about if they wait until next year and you get to the trade. Line and you know , you're only going to have one Soto for the couple of months there and potentially the playoffs , they could try to make a trade with Juan Soto and get a ton in return. He's projected to be a 500 , you know , a half a billion dollar player when he gets to his new contract.

S6: In a recent column you wrote about the signing of a 42 year old player , Nelson Cruz , and how the reason may not be so much about his play on the field. Can you tell us about that ? Yeah.

S3: NELSON Cruz is a veteran , 42 year old guy. This is 19 season. A lot of people would say on the surface and think you only hit two home runs with ten home runs , sorry , with the Nationals a season ago. You know , there's diminished returns there , but they're only paying him $1,000,000 for for next season. That is nothing in today's baseball payroll world. But one benefit that he brings on a couple of levels as Fernando tatis Jr. Returns from a ped suspension. I think he's projected to be back April 20th. Nelson Cruz had that you know had his own ped suspension in 20 1350 games and he kind of showed keep your head down , do the work. He had 37 home runs or more the next six seasons averaging 105 RBIs. So he's in the air. He's a mentor. He's the GM of the Dominican Republic's WBC team at the World Baseball Classic. Once Soto will play on that team , Manny Machado will play on that team. So he's known in that country. He can be an ear and a mentor that probably Fernando Tatis JR needs and then $1,000,000. All of that potential benefit is more than worth it for the progress.

S6: And off the field , the Padres appointed Caroline Perry as its new CEO , making her one of the most high ranking female executives in baseball. What can you tell us about her ? Yeah.

S3: Kevin Casey , who covers the Padres for us , did that story and broke that story. She went to Fallbrook High. She is local. She's been with the Padres for 12 years. She went to Stanford , Columbia Law School. Obviously , the credentials are sterling. You know , her story , along with people like the only female GM in baseball , is with the Marlins. Kim Eng , who used to be a high ranking official with Major League Baseball. And I think I think , one , that she's local to that the Padres made that move. And three , just the fact that we're seeing more women in those positions that could be inspirations for her daughters and sisters and anybody else who thinks that road might not be possible for them.

S6:

S3: I know some of the narrative with some fans is that they didn't go out , make that big move. They were said to have been chasing Trey Turner and Aaron Judge. They didn't land those players. They did lands Zander Bogart's. That was a big acquisition. That lineup , especially if Fernando Tatis comes back and looks like the tatis of old , even to some degree , that's a hard line up to get through with those bats with Soto , Manny Machado , Bogart's Tatis. That's that's a rough turn through the order for opposing pitchers. But some things that got overlooked I think fans assume that these players played last year and they're just coming back. They had to go out and spend real money to sign. Robert Suarez , one of the best , you know , eighth inning slash borderline closers or guys in baseball. They resigned , Nick Martinez. They went out and got a veteran arm for the back of the rotation in Seth Lugo. So for all those reasons , I really think they improved in a lot of ways. If there was maybe a possible swing and missing , there might be. Was there one more arm for the rotation ? It's very easy to build through starting pitchers in baseball. The Padres certainly understand what injuries can do down the stretch.

S1: That was Bryce Miller , sports columnist with the San Diego Union Tribune , speaking with KPBS Midday Edition producer Andrew Bracken. You're listening to KPBS midday edition. I'm Jade Heineman. John Wells started Loud Fringe Theater Group in 2019 and staged one play before the pandemic sidelined the young company. But this week , Loud Fridge kicks off its first full season with repeat. It's a play about a campus sexual assault. The playwright Rachel Bluebloods Blades grew up in San Diego. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO speaks with Loud Fridge co-founder Kate Rose Reynolds , who is directing the play a note of warning to our listeners. The conversation will include mentions of sexual assault and consent.

S7: Tell us a little bit about loud fridge , especially what this name means.

S8: Well , Loud Fridge Theater Group is a relatively new theater company in San Diego. We were originally started back in the glory days of 2019 and then had to take an enforced hiatus. But we are here to give a voice to historically marginalized groups in the community and to do theater that is thought provoking and challenging and makes people talk. I think that's one of the big things that we're interested in , because all of us , all of us that are founders of Loud Fridge love talking about theater and love analyzing theater and love theater that makes us think. And that's something that we just want to see more of in the San Diego theater community. So the name Loud Fridge comes from when John was getting the rights to the first show that we ever did , which was straight back in 2019. He needed a name for the theater company in order to get the rights for the show. And he was next to a buzzing refrigerator when he was put on the spot by the publisher needing a name for his theater company was like a loud fringe theater group. And the person he was speaking to laughed and said , That's a great name. And it kind of stuck because what's worked so well , as silly as it is , is that people remember it.

S7: As you mentioned , you were on kind of this forced hiatus during the pandemic and you are coming back with a new season. So tell me about what you're kicking off with.

S8: Yeah , we're kicking off with a play called Ripped by Rachel Blitz , who has ties to San Diego. She grew up here. But I first directed a reading of this play back in 2017. It deals with a campus sexual assault , and it really explores the gray areas of consent. I think a lot of the things that we don't like talking about , the issues that we don't want to bring up , the realities of what sexual assault looks like in the real world that we kind of don't want to embrace. And I directed this one night reading , and I just couldn't let this play go. I just knew that you so rarely get to see a piece of theater that is so nuanced and so comfortable living in the gray area and so comfortable asking questions and not giving the audience an answer , not giving anyone kind of a clear way out , but just forcing you to think about where you stand and what you believe and forcing people to talk about these things. This it's such an incredible thing that theater can give us to to communicate and to converse and to explore how we feel and to explore issues that we may not come across in our day to day life or that we may come across in different ways in our day to day life and to give us a chance to figure out how we think about that. So when we started talking about our 2023 season , we realized that this play was still very topical , if anything more topical , quite frankly , than it was in 2020 , just because of some things that are happening locally. An ongoing conversation about sexual assault on campuses , about drinking , on campuses , about what consent looks like. This play is sometimes funny , sometimes charming , sometimes very uncomfortable. But it's going to leave you talking and it's going to leave people with something to think about. And we thought that was a great calling card for us to start our first season with.

S7: And this play is nonlinear and it's performed without intermission.

S8: And so she's a little lost. And I think that part of it is that the audience gets to be a little lost with her because they don't get the whole story in a linear fashion because they're moving around in time and place and sort of putting the pieces together with her.

S5: So Jared and I finally slept together. I know you were like , If you don't , I will.

S1: So he said it was great. I , I guess I'll have.

S8: To take his word for it because.

S1: Like I said , I don't.

S5:

S1: It doesn't feel. Oh , maybe there's just.

S5: This awful hangover and I should just stop thinking that maybe something actually happened. You know.

S8: I mean , in some ways it's a little bit like a mystery , trying to figure out exactly what happened to put this together. So I hope that people get caught up in it and sort of fall into this whirlwind of Lucy's experience. And because of that , that identification with her experience , develop empathy for everyone in the show , too , to see a lot of different perspectives because they're thrust right into the middle of it without a lot of context.

S7: And for you as a director , what are kind of the challenges of dealing with a play like this and with actors who have to go through very difficult emotional terrain ? And I know that there are now , you know , things that deal more with intimacy directors or coaches or whatever you call it.

S8: The show , quite frankly , to deal with these important but difficult issues in a way that is safe and respectful of boundaries and respectful of consent , Because ultimately what we're talking about is consent. And I think that's an important conversation to have in theater as well , especially as we're developing , as you said , these new fields with intimacy direction and sort of taking into account the fact that historically there might be some problems with the way that theater has approached a lot of issues , but particularly intimacy and sort of the expectations that we put on actors. So when we got the rights to this show and knew that we were moving forward with it , we knew that we wanted to make sure that , first of all , everyone who auditioned knew right away what they were getting into. We knew that we were going to be hiring an intimacy director , which we were lucky enough to do. Candice Crystal was our intimacy director on this production , and she was here every step of the way to make sure that we were putting policies in place so that the actors again , were safe and protected while they were doing this work and while they were exploring what they needed to artistically to make the story work. And I think that what we've tried to do along the entire way is create as much dialogue as possible with our performers. So making sure that they're part of the collaboration. I mean , that's a huge part of what Loud Friends is about is is the power of collaboration and how we can make incredible art by bringing people together. And so part of this and part of the appeal of this show is that because of the very nature of it , we needed to create a collaborative environment for everyone , for every artist that was in that space , that was also safe and respectful and that honored boundaries , but also gave people the space to explore and be full and creative in their endeavors.

S7: And you talk about conversation. Is the theater company doing anything to encourage a conversation after the play or in some sort of forum beyond just what's on stage ? Yeah.

S8: So on January 27th , following that performance , a Friday evening performance , we're actually doing a Talk Back with Candice Kristal , who is our intimacy director , that it might be a nice opportunity for the San Diego theater community in San Diego , theatergoers to to speak with an intimacy director and have a chance to talk to her and find out more about this field , how it ties into what we know about theater , how it works in terms of the collaboration between the directing team and Candice Kristal is the intimacy director. We thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about consent , how consent feeds into theater. And we're excited to be a smaller theater who's working with an intimacy director. We think that it really is the future of theater to to bring in professionals for this the same way you would a fight choreographer. And so we're excited to kind of present that to the patrons at a smaller theater and be like , Hey , this is this cool thing that that made our actors safe and it provided us a good environment for this.

S7: Thank you very much for talking about Ripped and Loud Fringe Theatre Company. Thank you.

S1: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Kate Rose. Reynold's Loud Fringe Theater Group presents the San Diego premiere of Ripped at on Stage Playhouse in Chula Vista from January 21st through February 5th.

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