Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Did You Miss Us?: One Size Fits All Improv performs at Civic this Saturday at 8 p.m.

One Size Fits All Improv ( brings its wacky brand of comedy back to Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette this Saturday, June 28 at 8 p.m. Two teams compete for points, an M.C. calls the plays and you — our ever-talented, ever-lovely audience — can yell out suggestions and even come up on stage to play!

Call 765-423-PLAY to get your tickets in advance or pay for them the night of the show at the theater. Only four dollars for a laugh-out-loud good time.

At this performance, you'll see & hear the following:
  • The Players: Baron Brendel, Bill Ross, Carol Smith, Doug Pruim, Gary McFall, Matt Kerkhoff and Tammy Sandel
  • The M.C.: Steve Martin, yours truly
  • Mr. Voice: Mark Zwolanek
Laughter, a night on the town and prizes ... what more can you ask for? See you at Civic!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Some photos from the volunteer dinner.

Here are just a few photos taken at the Civic Volunteer Dinner on Friday, June 13.
Many more were taken ... keep an eye out for them, as they may be posted soon!

Annual Dinner Wrap-up Part 2

After the wonderful meal, the meeting proceeded with the volunteer recognition. This year that included 24 shows or groups that make up the Civic Theatre season. This is an opportunity for the corporation to thank the hundreds of volunteers that make a Civic Theatre season successful.

Finally on the agenda was the volunteer awards. This section is my personal favorite part of the evening. It is an opportunity to thank a few of these wonderful people that are such a vital part of the Civic Theatre family. Award winners for the 2007-2008 season were:

The list below cannot begin to show the appreciation we all have for the wonderful volunteers that make up the backbone of Civic Theatre.

Rising Star Winners

Ted Hingst

Matthew Carter

Bethany Grimes

Isaiah Hale

Karen Tislow

Laura Hale

Janet Mauck

Shining Star Winners

Anita Weston

Thea Strand

Lora Adams

Larry Sommers

Tracy Rosa

Justin Newell Scholarship winner:

Paul J. Mishler

Presidents Award

Bob Mindrum

Directors Award

Paul Addison

Steve Martin

Community Collaboration Award

Renee Thomas and the Black Cultural Center for the production of Crowns.

Lifetime Achievement Award winner:

J. Alfred Chiscon

My congratulations and profound gratitude goes out to each of the award winners.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Annual Dinner Wrap-Up - Part 1

Last nights annual member/volunteer dinner was a wonderful evening.

First up was the business of the theatre. According to the bi-laws of Civic Theatre, the membership votes on the Board of Directors. Traditionally a slate of new officers is presented to the membership, someone makes a motion to accept the slate as listed, the motion is seconded and the vote is called. Last night was no different. The list was read by Laurie Russell, representing the nominating committee. The board members elected last night are:

3 year terms:
Rod Ray
Laurie Russell
Larry Sommers
Kris Kazmierczak
Denise Laussade

1 year terms:
Julia Colby
Helen Slagel
Steve Martin (my fellow blogger!)

Outgoing board members were also recognized and thanked for their service, the three members who rotated off were:
Jeff Wier
Nate Barrett
Bob Mindrum

After the single agenda item was taken care of, the meeting was adjourned and dinner was served. The annual dinner has for years consisted of fried chicken (supplied by Civic Theatre) and items brought by the members and volunteers. One of my personal favorites was a wonderful broccoli casserole prepared by Youth Director, Melanie R. Buchanan. The desert room (yes an entire room) was filled with wonderfully decadent dishes. I think I may have overdone it just a bit, but there were homemade chocolate chip cookies (proveded by Bailey Rosa, although I believe they were prepared by Julie Rosa) and I cannot pass on homemade cookies.

After dinner, the volunteer recognition began, but that will wait for another post.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Annual Meeting: Friday, June 13 @ 6 p.m.

The annual meeting for all volunteers & members of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette will be held next Friday, June 13 at 6 p.m. in Duncan Hall, which is located on Ferry Street, downtown.

Everyone is invited to attend, even if they have not done so in the past. People who participated in this season's shows — Civic Under the Stars, Civic MainStage, CYT and the staged readings — will be recognized. There will also be awards and a short business meeting to elect next year's board members.

The meeting will also include a potluck dinner. The breakdown of what people are asked to bring is as follows:
  • If your last name begins with the letters A-G, bring vegetables, salad or pasta.
  • If your last name begins with the letters H-I, bring fruit, fruit salad or chips.
  • If your last name begins with the letters J-K, bring chips, crackers, dip, cheese or breads.
  • If your last name begins with the letters L-S, bring dessert.
  • If your last name begins with the letters T-Z, bring a casserole.
Please R.S.V.P. to the office by June 11 so that Civic can provide enough of the main course and beverages.

See you there!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Theatre as art?

"The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation."
- Stella Adler, actor and groundbreaking acting teacher.

The dramatist's function is (1) to earn a living for his family and himself and (2) to try to entertain people for a few hours."
- Lee Adams, Tony award winning lyricist, writer of Bye Bye Birdie among others.

There is a fine line between "entertainment" and "art". I would argue that for good theatre one is not possible without the other, but it is rarely that simple. It is a constant balancing act that every theatre
must perform, how do you stay artistically and socially relevant, and still make sure there are "butts in the seats?" As a community theatre, we have anther layer to that question, how does one best represent the community. Is it best to play to the largest common denominator, make sure we are pleasing the majority of our audiences? Or do we strive to represent as many different aspects of the community? What I mean by that is do we do crowd pleasing shows every slot of every season, or do we try to reach audiences that have not felt welcome in the past? Audiences that do not like musicals, or even comedies, audiences that would love us to produce "cutting edge" work?

One also needs to throw in the less appealing but very important factor of economics. Civic Theatre, like most theatres in the United States, is a non-profit theatre company. This means that the primary purpose for our work is fulfill our mission.
Civic Theatre's mission is to enhance the artistic and cultural environment of Greater Lafayette through theatrical productions and educational opportunities. Everything we do at Civic Theatre is towards that mission. Of course it is vitally important that we are good stewards of the money we receive, and that we are smart as business people. The freedom though is that not everything we do is required to make a profit. The bottom line, although very important, is not the primary goal. Of course part of being good stewards is making sure that the company stays economically viable and sustainable. This too should play a role in our programming and artistic choices, the question is always how much.

I certainly have my opinions of what shows I would like to do. However it is my job to help select the shows that I think are best for Civic Theatre and most strongly work towards fulfillment of our mission. I am a person that likes to be challenged by theatre. I think that good theatre will challenge my preconceptions and make me question what I believe. I do not think that good theatre tells me what to think, or leaves my vapidly sitting like I am watching the latest trashy reality show on VH1.

Is this to say that I think that comedies and musicals are not as important? or as good? Certainly not. I truly enjoy a well written comedy or musical. There is certainly nothing vapid about Private Lives, or Greater Tuna. I think that many "cutting edge" shows fail, not because the offend, or shock, but because they have forgotten to be entertaining. It won't matter how brilliantly a play tells its message if half the audience walked out at intermission, or fell asleep ten minutes after the houselights went down.

So how does Civic Theatre do in striking the balance? What makes "good theatre"? I have offered a little bit of my philosophy, but like good theatre, I will not give an answer, only ask questions. Is theatre relevant? Why? or Why not? The theatre is a "seeing place" but I believe it is also a speaking place. A great dinner conversation that begins the minute you walk in the theatre and does not end till you fall asleep that night.