Sunday, November 30, 2008

No-Show Ball, 2008

By now many of you will have received an invitation to our annual No-Show Ball. This year the purpose is to upgrade our office computers. This past summer we were able to upgrade our ticketing system, computerizing our box office and allowing on-line ticket sales. The response to this move has been wonderful.

First we sold more than 30% of all tickets to Disney's High School Musical on-line. The trend has continued through the year, with 20 - 35% of all single ticket sales being sold on-line. Obviously this was something that our patrons wanted, and I for one am glad we were able to deliver.

Second came a very generous grant from the North Central Health Services. This wonderful gift allowed us to purchase top of the line ticketing printers, software and hardware needed to get the box office computer in the Monon up to snuff, to purchase ticketing stock for the new printers, and finally some to offset the cost of the system itself.

We now have one weak link left, our office computers. The newest machine we own is the laptop that I am currently using. The computer is not in horrible shape, especially for being 5 years old, but it is slow and I have had to reformat the hard drive twice in the past year, not a fun thing to go through.

The oldest computer is the "volunteer computer", which houses our databases and our financial books. While the computer essentially works, it is running Office 97, need I say more?

The "No-Show Ball" has a pretty long history at Civic Theatre. It was Susan Kisinger who sent the first invitation to this non-event. The idea is that with the multitude of special events that every other non-profit puts on, not to mention the many requests for year end funding, we thought that this slightly off the wall approach might work best. All we ask is that instead of buying a ticket, hiring babysitters, bidding on silent auctions...etc, you give the money towards some much needed capitol project at the theatre. After all the building is in decent shape, but it is a 108 (almost) year old building with a 30 (almost) year old renovation. In the years of the No-Show, we have been able to purchase new stage curtains, pay off the mortgage a few years early, and put on a brand new roof. I think that it is one of the hottest non-tickets in town.

If you would like more information on the No-Show Ball, please call me at the office, 765-423-7529, or by email steve@lafayettecivic.org

Friday, November 28, 2008

In the Wings: The Giver. Meet Aaron Brehm.


Aaron Brehm plays Jonas in The Giver, the second production of the 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre season. The script by Eric Coble is based on the book of the same name by Lois Lowry.

Aaron has performed in several Civic shows including Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, which was directed by Brent Wick, the director of The Giver.

"I really liked working with Brent, and that's one reason I wanted to be involved with The Giver," he said.

Aaron explained what Jonas goes through during the course of the play.

"At the beginning of the play, Jonas hangs out with his friends," he said. "When he goes to the Giver, he's receiving memories and learning about the way things were before 'Sameness.' He starts thinking things should be the way they were before 'Sameness.'"

The Giver opens December 5 and runs each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 14. Friday and Saturday evening shows begin at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday afternoon shows begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, please call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Hearty Thank You


HAPPY THANKSGIVING

I have so much to be thankful for this year, and Civic Theatre does as well.

Since last years Thanksgiving feasts we have: paid off our Mortgage (almost three years early), put on a brand new roof, installed a brand new computerized box office system, seen an increase in season ticket holders, broke two box office records - most tickets sold in new seating configuration - Honky Tonk Angels - and most tickets sold EVER - Disney's High School Musical, a brand new 4 week intensive summer camp, complete with two sold out performances of The Pirates of Penzance Jr., two World Premiere staged readings one of which is now a published script (Scott Haan's A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth) and much much more.

Of course none of those amazing goals would have been possible without the very generous members of Civic Theatre, and the hundreds of loyal and talented volunteers who make it all possible. So from the bottom of my heart, Thank You.

Please have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving holiday.

If you have a chance, please share something for which you are grateful. Not necessarily theatre related.

In the Wings: The Giver. Meet Bryce Robinson.


Bryce Robinson plays The Giver in The Giver, the second production of the 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre season. The script by Eric Coble is based on the book of the same name by Lois Lowry.

"I wanted to audition for The Giver because I had read and enjoyed the book, and I knew that Brent Wick was the director," Bryce said. "Auditioning gave me another opportunity to be involved with a Civic show."

The character whom Bryce portrays is one of the few people who can see colors and emotions. He serves as the Receiver of Memory for the community, and becomes the Giver as he helps Jonas prepare for the position.

"At the beginning, my character accepts that he has to turn into a Receiver of Memory, but then he realizes he can possibly change the world a little bit because of the memories he shows people," Bryce explained. "He creates a plan with Jonas to help people."

The Giver opens December 5 and runs each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 14. Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday afternoon performances begin at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for youth.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, please call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Review Is In: Spoon River Anthology staged reading

The review of the Spoon River Anthology staged reading from the Journal and Courier, Lafayette's daily newspaper, is in. You can read it here. It was written by Dick Jaeger.

On a side note, there are no other staged readings of Spoon River Anthology scheduled for the 2008-2009 staged reading series at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The February 3 staged reading mentioned in the review will be Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead by Bert V. Royal.

To learn about the other scripts included in the 2008-2009 staged reading series, please visit the Web site of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

Announcing auditions: The Man Who Came to Dinner - CORRECTED LOCATION

Auditions for The Man Who Came to Dinner, the third production of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2008-2009 Mainstage season, have been announced. They will be held Sunday, November 30, and Monday, December 1, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The location of the auditions will be in Market Square at the old Teachers Delight space.

Director Scott Haan asks that people auditioning for the show come prepared to read from the script. Copies of the script are available in the office at 313 N. 5th Street in downtown Lafayette.

The play, written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, will open January 30, 2009, and run each Friday, Saturday and Sunday until it closes on February 15, 2009.

For more information about the production, including volunteer opportunities and buying tickets, please call 765-423-PLAY (7529).

Monday, November 24, 2008

In the Wings: The Giver. Meet Brent Wick, the director.


Brent Wick directs The Giver, the second production of the 2008-2009 Civic Youth Theatre season. The script is by Eric Coble, based on the book of the same name by Lois Lowry.

The Civic Youth Theatre production of the script is the first by a community theater; all previous productions were at professional theaters.

Brent read Lowry's book for the first time when he was in 5th grade.

"Reading The Giver was an emotional experience for me, and I always thought it should be performed on stage," he said. "I learned two years ago that it had been adapted into a script, and I knew that I wanted to direct it."

Brent said the story of The Giver occurs in a place that is very different from our world.

"Leaders have decided the entire community will go through 'Sameness,'" he said. "There are no colors, no music, everyone dresses the same, everyone has the same education, everyone is assigned their job, their spouse and their children. There is very little freedom of choice in the community.

"Jonas, the main character, has been assigned to be the Receiver of Memories -- the memories of the entire community will be transferred to him. He begins to see colors and experience things the rest of the community knows nothing about. The story is about how he handles this new information."

Brent concluded by explaining what an audience may leave with after a performance of The Giver.

"It's going to be a very emotional show, but at the end I hope the audience will take with them the idea that nothing should be taken for granted," he said.

The Giver opens Friday, December 5, and runs each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 14. Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 7:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoon performances begin at 2:30. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for youth.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Share Your Thoughts: Proof

Now that Proof has closed, share your thoughts about the production on this blog.

What will you most remember about the show? What were your thoughts about the performances? The design? The story and theme? What were the standout moments?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In memory of Marilyn Zimmerman


Marilyn Zimmerman passed away this past weekend in Indianapolis. She was a young woman who had a very big impact on Civic Theatre's production of The Diary of Anne Frank.
Marilyn played the demanding role of Mrs. Frank in Civic Theatre’s 2006 production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Marilyn only appeared on Civic Theatre’s stage in the one show, but her presence and talent will be missed.

If you would like to share a brief memory of Marilyn, please do so.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Getting to know Steve Koehler, the managing director



Wrapping up the Civic Theatre staff "Getting to know" series is Steve Koehler, the managing director. He was kind enough to take time from his schedule to provide answers to the "Inside the Actors Studio" questions.

Q: What are your favorite words?
A: Thank you – both to say and to hear. I may be making myself sound older than I need to, but it seems that in today's busy world, simple courtesies are far too often overlooked. Theatre worldwide, but in this case specifically at Civic, is filled with many hard-working people who are doing hours of hard work for little to no pay, and often little to no recognition. I cannot begin to express the gratitude I have toward the entire Civic Theatre family. First for welcoming me in so generously, and secondly for all the incredibly hard work you do.

Q: What is your least favorite word?
A: Meeting. Some meetings are wonderfully productive, however most are painful and repetitive.

Q: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
A: Creativity itself. The thing I love most about my chosen career path is that I am pretty constantly surrounded by creative people. I am not individually incredibly creative, but being placed in a creative group of people really helps get my creative juices flowing. There is no other art form that I could excel at, and the very collaborative nature of theatre is what makes it possible for me to be an artist.

Q: What turns you off?
A: Did I mention meetings? Seriously though, I would say that over-structuring something, making too many "rules" on the process, tends to stifle me. I worked for a few years early in my career at a theme park, corporate theatre at its cheesiest. Although I had a wonderful time working at the park, the very nature of businesspeople running art seems to kill its soul in some way.

Q: What sound or noise do you love?
A: My children laughing.

Q: What sound or noise do you hate?
A: My children crying.

Q: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A: History teacher or political pundit. One is very useful, the other is just a chance to tell everyone how smart I am, whether I am or not.

Q: What profession would you not like to do?
A: Anything that is always the same. One thing I love about theatre is its temporary nature. As a designer I am usually ready for the next project by opening night. This continues as an administrator and producer; by the time a show opens I am already well onto the next project.

Q: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
A: "Oh, you shouldn't be here yet, go back for another 20 years or so."

You can contact Managing Director Steve Koehler at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's main office by calling 765-423-PLAY (7529). Or send an e-mail to steve@lafayettecivic.org.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Getting to know Melanie R. Buchanan, CYT Director

Melanie R. Buchanan is director of the Civic Youth Theatre program at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. She was kind enough to take time from her schedule to answer the "Inside the Actors Studio" questions in this second installment of the "Getting to know" series about the Civic Theatre staff.

Q: What is your favorite word?
A: Phenomenal.

Q: What is your least favorite word?
A: Get.

Q: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
A: Laughter.

Q: What turns you off?
A: Lack of motivation.

Q: What sound or noise do you love?
A: Thunder and cicadas in the late summer.

Q: What sound or noise do you hate?
A: Ice scraping on the windshield, in the freezer or anywhere, really. I cannot stand it. It's like nails on the chalkboard.

Q: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A: Going for "chemist" on this one.

Q: What profession would you not like to do?
A: Lawyer.

Q: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
A: God would say, "Wait a second, you aren't on my list." But maybe I would like for her to say, "Okay, I'll let you through this time."

To contact Melanie, call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or e-mail her at cyt@lafayettecivic.org

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Review Is In: Proof

The review of Proof from the Journal & Courier, Lafayette's daily newspaper, is in. You can read it here. It was written by Dick Jaeger.

Proof begins the second weekend of its three-weekend run this Friday with shows at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evening, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The show closes Sunday, November 23.

To order tickets, please call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette box office at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Theatre: A Mirror and a Window


Theatre is one of only a few art forms through which people view other people in real space and real time. Because of this, audiences can see an imitation of real life – whether realistic or not – when they attend a theatrical performance.

Two functions of art – and therefore, theatre – are to serve as a Mirror and a Window. Theatre as a Mirror reflects our own lives back at us; theatre as a Window allows us to view other people's lives.

For my own tastes, I prefer theatre that allows me to view the lives of other people and gain some understanding of what they feel, how they behave and who they are. Plays like Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun or Arthur Miller's The Crucible -- which present aspects of the lives of contemporary women, African Americans and people who lived during the paranoia of the Salem Witch Trials, respectively -- interest me because they tell stories of lives that aren't my own. This type of theatre experience expands my understanding of the world.

I fully understand the function of theatre as a Mirror. Far too many people in different demographic groups are starved for images and representations of themselves. When a person does not see his or her own life reflected in popular culture, it's possible for that person to think (incorrectly) his or her experiences aren't worthy of being shared with others. The cathartic effect of being able to connect 100 percent with what one sees onstage is very important.

However, theatre as a Window offers so much more possibility to my imagination, growth and understanding of the world. It may astonish me, confound me, anger me, confuse me or delight me, but theatre that presents viewpoints that are not my own ultimately enriches me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Share Your Thoughts: Spoon River Anthology

The staged reading of Spoon River Anthology took place last night at 7:00 p.m at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette, with more than 70 people in attendance. As with other staged readings in the series, it was followed by a question-and-answer session between the audience, the cast and the director, Robert Spaulding.

Did you attend the staged reading last night? What did you think about the characters, the presentation, the inclusion of folk songs and other elements? What were some high points? What will you remember most about this staged reading?

Getting to know Bob Sauers, the box office manager and costume shop manager


Bob Sauers manages both the box office and the costume shop of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. He was kind enough to answer the "Inside the Actors Studio" questions for the first of this "Getting to know" series about the theatre's staff.

Q: What is your favorite word?
A: Joy.

Q: What is your least favorite word?
A: "Hon." I can't stand it when a stranger calls me "Hon."

Q: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
A: Chocolate.

Q: What turns you off?
A: Snow and cold weather.

Q: What sound or noise do you love?
A: Water falling over rocks.

Q: What sound or noise do you hate?
A: Sirens.

Q: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A: Something that would allow me to work with animals.

Q: What profession would you not like to do?
A: Car repair.

Q: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
A: "Nice outfit." What else would a costumer like to hear?

To contact Bob Sauers, call Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette at 765-423-PLAY (7529) or send an e-mail to bob@lafayettecivic.org.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

An Election post mortem





No matter who you voted for on Tuesday (I do hope you voted) there is no denying that we have witnessed a truly historic moment in the election of Barack Obama.

As a private citizen in this great country I freely spout off my political leanings, but as a leader of Civic Theatre, I do not. The main reason is that I think it would be inappropriate when representing a not-for-profit company to announce my political leanings. A not-for-profit company is "owned" by the public, I am charged with leading this company that is not mine. I have always felt that by announcing my politics too loudly when representing Civic could alienate some of the very people that I work for. The second, and in some ways more important, reason is that it could jeopardize our 501 (c)(3) status, in other words take away our not-for-profit status. From the IRS website:

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

Therefore I did not talk about this before the election, and would still not use this forum to support any individual candidate. So all that out of the way, I do want to direct you a story published in Bloomberg news that does give me reason as an arts administrator to feel optimistic about our future. There are two presidents that are given a lot of credit for increasing the state of the arts in the United States, John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Under these two men the National Endowment for the Arts flourished, the Regional Theatre movement took off, and the arts were given a national stage. Barack Obama may join that list. His platform statements on arts and culture is the most extensive ever presented by a presidential candidate. Governor Huckabee also had put forward a rather extensive plan for the arts and has a wonderful record of supporting the arts in Arkansas as governor.

Please take a moment to read the article from Bloomberg News here
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=email_en&refer=muse&sid=ap7gUJzSjIYs

I would also like to send you to a fact sheet prepared by Americans for the Arts here, as described by their website, Americans for the Arts is:

Americans for the Arts is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America. With 45 years of service, we are dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.

With offices in Washington, DC and New York, and more than 5,000 organizational and individual members and stakeholders across the country, we are focused on three primary goals:

  1. Foster an environment in which the arts can thrive and contribute to the creation of more livable communities.
  2. Generate more public- and private-sector resources for the arts and arts education.
  3. Build individual appreciation of the value of the arts.
They are a non-partisan group, in the interest of full disclosure, Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette is a member organization of Americans for the Arts.

Take all of this as you will, we are all a part of what makes Civic Theatre wonderful, but we are all a part of the larger community of The United States. Look over these facts if you have time, and share your own opinion. Tell us how you feel about the issues of public funding for the arts, specifically through the NEA. What opinions do you have on arts education, and arts IN education. How about foreign exchanges with other artists. Health Insurance for artists and arts groups. What about letting artists take tax deductions for their work, should that deduction be based on the material value or should it be based on the Fair Market Value of the piece, a very different number. Finally any other issues of the arts and culture.

In the mean time, make sure that you come see Proof, opening tonight and playing through November 23. No political statements in Proof, but a powerful show with a wonderful cast.

What do you love about community theater?

There is a lot to love about theater, community theater specifically. I imagine if I were to ask 20 people what they most love about community theater, I'd receive 20 different responses. It's that personal.

Erica D. of the Mid Hudson Valley Theatre Blog -- mhvtheater.blogspot.com -- has written a post that lists the reasons she loves community theater. She graciously has allowed the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette blog to link to that post, which can be found here.

Although New York State is a bit of a distance from Lafayette, Indiana, it's clear community theater is loved in both, between both and definitely beyond both ... and often for the same reasons. When you read Erica's post, consider how many of her Top 10 reasons would be included in yours.

Which leads to the question behind this post: What are your favorite things about community theater? Leave a response below, if you wish.

Look for more commentary and opinion to be included on this blog. Some of it will be written by yours truly and other Civic Theatre bloggers. Some, as in this instance, may be links from other theater blogs. This blog will continue to promote Civic volunteers, Civic productions -- Mainstage, Civic Youth Theatre and readings -- and special events, but it will also offer more points of view about what theater is, can be and more.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Staged Reading Series: Spoon River Anthology on November 11







Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2008-2009 Staged Reading Series continues with Spoon River Anthology by Charles Aidman. The script is based on Edgar Lee Masters' collection of short poems of the same name.

Robert Spaulding directs the cast, which includes Trish Anderson, Brian Bennett, Rod Dimmick, Jane Hampton, Linda Jeffries, Denise Laussade, Tony Lavish, Janet Mauck, Jake Ott, Marylin Howland Ross, Kira Stephenson, Eric Taylor and Esther Weiner.

It will be performed at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette on Tuesday, November 11, at 7 p.m. There will be a question-and-answer session immediately following the reading.

Audience members are encouraged to pay what they can for admission. To learn more about Spoon River Anthology or the 2nd annual Staged Reading Series, call 765-423-PLAY (7529) or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Share Your Thoughts: Tour of Terror

The 2008 Tour of Terror has concluded, delivering eerie and spooky true tales of downtown Lafayette to a high number of people. Stories of murders, beheadings, accidents and more were told each Friday and Saturday night between Oct. 17 and Nov. 1 by a group of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette volunteers. Tasty treats including hot apple cider were served before and after each tour as people entered the theater to begin or end their night.

What did you think about this year's Tour of Terror? Feel free to share your thoughts on this blog.