about the Players - Join us!
January 1, 2005
FREE FOR MEMBERS AND SUBSCRIBERS!
Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson
Veteran Concord Player Patricia Till portrays Diana Vreeland, legendary editor of Vogue Magazine and High Priestess of Fashion, in this intimate and hilarious one-woman show. Tête-à-tête with a true original, a gutsy and outrageous “monstre sacré,” determined to survive on her own terms ... and in style. Long time patrons of the Players who recall Ms. Till as Princess Winnefred in “Once Upon A Mattress,” as Beatrice in “Much Ado About Nothing,” as Amanda in “Private Lives,” as Vera in “Auntie Mame,” and as Mme. Armfeldt in “A Little Night Music” will know that this is a performance not to be missed! Call (978) 369-2990 and make your reservation today! General admission for nonmembers is $15. Tickets may be purchased on-line.
"We all need a splash of bad taste - it's NO taste that I'm against!" - Diana Vreeland
Got a case of creeping cabin fever? Handy with a hammer? Prefer to paint? Get on down to the 51 Walden workshop and join the carpenters and crafsmen (and craftswomen) who are building the scenery for our next show, the arch and atmospheric “Angel Street.” You can whet your enthusiasm by taking a look at designer Mike Finke’s drawings at http://www.finkelinks.net/Theatre/AngelStreet.html. Be there or be square - every Saturday morning between now and opening, on February 11.
Thomas Caron will also direct “The Log Beneath the Leaves: a Chronicle of Carlisle, Massachusetts,” a new play by Anne Marie Brako Sayde, celebrating our neighbor’s bicentenial, in February. For audition details, go to http://www.thetowncow.org.
Concord Players’ Kate Blair and Sheryl Peters, late of “Sunday In The Park With George,” along with Susan Condit Rice and Kate Beattie, will appear in “The Women,” directed by “Sunday’s” Celia Couture, at the Arlington Friends of the Drama, January 28 through February 7. Tickets may be ordered at http://www.afdtheatre.org.
JulieAnn Govang recently completed a “wonderfully successful run” in “Criminal Hearts” at Acme Theater Productions, and is set to make a return engagement there, along with fellow Player Scott Giangrande, in “Tom Foolery,” February 11 - March 5. The Acme’s website is http://www.acmetheater.com.
“Should The Concord Players foster and support a core company of actors, or do we benefit more by casting each show on an ad-hoc basis, with performers whose first allegiance is to their resumé?”
- from the December issue of “In The Wings.”
“I joined The Players sometime during the fifties. At that time, there were no tryouts of any sort. The casting committee made the choices and then the lucky candidates were phoned and offered the roles. The directors were all Concord Players. Plays were chosen mostly to suit the talent of the prominent members of the organization. All this gave the impression of a distinctly elitist organization run by and for the chosen few. On the plus side, the membership all pitched in to build sets, do costumes, etc; actors were workers as well. It was more like a club, and everyone had a lot of fun. Even when auditions became a fact of life, they were, at first, limited to Players’ members, and then an outside director was brought in once a season and so on down the slippery slope to democracy. With the passage of time, actors became itinerant, so that allegiance to a single group became the exception rather than the rule. Every group I know of across the country is struggling to find a balance bewteen “professionalism” and member involvement. He who solves the problem will indeed be remarkable!” - Patricia Till
“There are two groups in the area who have core companies from which they cast (primarily) chorus roles: The Savoyards in Carlisle, and the Sudbury Savoyards. However, they cast principal roles from outside their core groups if they feel it is better for the shows. It should be noted that they each produce only one show per year. I am not aware of any other community theaters (except The Town Cow) that casts only from a core group. Since the Concord Players mission statement is to produce three quality shows per year, a static group of actors, directors, and crew would be mighty burned out by May. Therefore, I strongly believe that the Concord Players should continue to cast and use crew from outside its membership, and to encourage its members to go elsewhere to learn more about their craft, so that they can return to the Concord Players with more knowledge. To insinuate that we care only about our resumes is insulting and short sighted. Our experience will support the Concord Players, so that we may continue to produce three quality shows a year.” - Kate Blair
“It is an age-old question - one we've tossed around for as long as I can remember. I doubt that we could ever be again a "community theater" in the strict sense of the term. Competition is too great, people are too mobile and willing to go wherever the material beckons. At least we make the gesture and say "all things being equal, the member wins," though things seldom turn out to be "equal." But it is good to keep the conversation going and try for a compromise.” - Dorothy Schecter
“During my years at M.I.T. (late 1970's), the M.I.T. Musical Theatre Guild would assign one of three numbers to every auditioner to "quantify" (oh, how "M.I.T.!") who would, supposedly, be given preference in casting for any given role. The system worked like this: An auditioner would be designated as a "1" if they were a student, either undergraduate or graduate; as a "2" if they were a "non-student member of the M.I.T. community", i.e., faculty, staff, administration, or alumni; or as a "3" if they had no affiliation with M.I.T. The idea was to try to cast as many roles as possible from the 1s, then the 2s, and then finally the 3s, in that order-of-preference. What happened in practice was that the chorus would usually end up being packed with 1s, and the lead roles would often be packed with 3s. This was a function of two things: (1) M.I.T. students in general did not have a whole lot of time to spare for extracurricular activities, which tended to shrink the available pool of student talent, and, (2) The large and vibrant theatre community of greater Boston was always awash with plenty of talent looking for something to do to build their resumes and stay sharp in-between paying gigs. From my experience at M.I.T., I come to this month's question with mixed feelings. On the one hand, The Concord Players must consider box-office - a theatre does not live on every word that proceedeth out of the mouths of its actors alone, bread is also required - but to draw the requisite box-office, it might sometimes be necessary to cast the casting-net rather far-afield to snare the requisite talent - to use the old M.I.T. parlance, the " 3s ", if necessary. On the other hand ... the concept of repertory is altogether entrancing, I must admit. There are pros and cons both ways ... I don't have the answer, but I appreciate being given the opportunity to voice my concerns in this forum.” - John Small
“I am assuming that fostering and supporting a “core company of actors” means that any casting at Concord Players would first be done from this pool of “resident” actors, with “outsiders” being used to supplement roles not filled from within. I can think of no better way of bringing about the decline of creative energy within any organization. I fear that, in turning to the same pool of talent time and again, by not welcoming “new blood”, the result will be that of restricting growth and development, and discouraging change. Not to mention the fact that, should this practice become common knowledge, you wouldn’t have to worry about non-core actors auditioning for Players productions; they wouldn’t bother. You might even find it difficult to attract Directors who might not want their creative license restricted in that way.” - Sheryl Peters
“I could not agree with Sheryl more. We were two of the producers of “Sunday on the Park with George,” a huge show that would have paled significantly without the creative, artistic efforts of all the designers and crew involved. These people gave countless hours to strive to create a piece of art that was the best they could possibly produce. I find it very difficult to believe that the Players has chosen, in what is an official Players document, to deliver the message that theatre, first and foremost, is its actors, as their way of saying thank you to all these people. It certainly seems that for many years now the Players have found it more difficult to find all the non actors to support their productions than they have to find actors. Is this the way to encourage people to return? This is the second newsletter in a row that has contained a question that seems to be moving in the direction of a "core" group being involved in Players productions. The feedback that I have seen from the board to recent presentations by the play selection committee has also appeared to be going in this direction. I must say this confuses me. I have always thought that the board of the Concord Players was supposed to be an example of representative government. As I read the responses to the question in the prior month's newsletter they all seemed to me to be saying that the responders do not think the Players should go in this direction. Why is it then that another question of a very similar nature was asked? Is there an intent to listen to the answers or just to keep asking questions?” - Marlene Mandel
“My assumption has always been that The Concord Player's prime responsibility is to strive for "the highest level of entertainment possible." Even if it were possible to establish a core company of actors (doubtful in my opinion) we would not necessarily insure this "highest level." I think we'd also have problems attracting top Directors who would not necessarily be enthused about having to deal first with the core actors. I think Actors would hesitate to audition knowing that preference would be given to the core group. Congratulations on posing interesting, practical & provocative questions!” - Bob Asher
"If we did have a large group of talented actors dedicated to playing at 51 Walden, then I suspect directors would come and perhaps other actors might even try to join. It does seem that other local theatres have a stable of more dedicated talent: Acme, Vokes, Arlington, QP seem to me all have more regulars appearing on their stage than we have. I don't know why." - Rik Pierce
How does The Concord Players pick its plays? Some would say, in a process as arcane and secret as a Masonic rite! But in fact, the way we pick plays is not difficult to understand, though mightily laborious. There is a Play Selection Commitee, whose job it is to read plays (in its latest incarnation, over seventy), prepare a list of those titles deemed most suitable for The Players, present them to the Board, by whose input the list is whittled further, and, eventually, exhaustingly, a list of finalists is put to a vote. The operating rule of thumb is usually “a drama, a comedy, a musical,” which has proved to be a flexible guideline. Nevertheless, season subscriptions, as well as membership, have seen a drastic falling off in the past several years. This is hardly a problem specific to The Players; theatres all over the country are hurting for patrons. What is the solution? More crowd-pleasers? Or new plays? Or lesser-known plays by well-known playwrights? The comfort of the familiar or the shock of the new? Describe the greatest satisfaction The Concord Players has given you as a member of the audience, as well as your greatest disppointment, and what you would like to see in the future.
* * *
A SHOW? LET US KNOW!