Posts Tagged New Repertory Theatre

A Tale of Two Openings

By Christine Toohey

In mid-September, I attended two opening nights in the same week. Monday night was Boston Marriage at New Repertory Theatre, and Thursday brought a punk-rock version of Romeo and Juliet by the Independent Drama Society. As you may expect, the Boston Marriage opening was greater in scale (bigger audience, better production values, better food), while Romeo and Juliet was edgier (mohawks, stamped hands, exposed fluorescent lighting). Both openings, though, had same exciting energy. As theater professionals, we love to go to the theater on opening night–partially for the free food and drinks, but mostly to meet people and discuss the show. We love being part of the action.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to build an audience who is invested in your company, who feels the same excitement going to the theater that we feel on opening night. For a small company like IDS, it’s easy. Yes, we advertise, send out press releases, and hand out flyers, but the biggest reason people come to see our shows is because they know someone in the production; most of our audience are friends and family of actors, designers, or staff. We can make audiences feel like part of the action simply by inviting them to stay for a reception with the cast and crew after the show is done.

At New Rep, it’s a little harder. Yes, audiences will come see a show if it features an actor they know, but usually that’s not enough to fill our houses. We have to build a reputation for consistency, for electrifying, compelling, and poignant productions, so audiences will come out to Watertown even if they don’t know the actors or the play. We also hold post-show talkbacks and behind-the-scenes tours to give audiences an exclusive opportunity to learn about the show and the company. Perhaps more importantly, as Rachael Donnelly said so eloquently in her post a few days ago, we strive to build personal relationships with New Rep patrons, so they feel a closer connection to their theatre.

What about you and your company? Why do people come to see your shows? What connects your audience to your company? For that matter, why do you go to the theater? What makes you feel connected to the theatres with which you work and play?

Christine Toohey is the Management Associate at New Repertory Theatre, the Director of Marketing for the Independent Drama Society, and a cast member of the Family Show at ImprovBoston.

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The Experience of Creating Community

By Rachael Donnelly

A typical meal in my house is based largely around the produce that comes in my weekly farm share, and flavored with herbs from my backyard.  It is important to me to eat food that is local and in season, produced without chemicals and hormones, and that comes from nature, not a plastic bag or cardboard box.  In other words, “real food.”

A typical day at work for me is based largely around exchanging tickets for subscribers, working with volunteers, talking with donors, and planning events in which our theatre’s patrons can have a closer and more intimate involvement with the theatre. Most of our patrons and I know each other by name, and even more at least by face.  There have been more times than I can count when a patron has told me that it is so nice to talk to a “real person.”

I think there is a relationship between the two.  I want to know where my food comes from.  The experience of rinsing dirt out of food and preparing a meal both delicious and nourishing connects me to my body and my self, in a way that packaged food cannot. I’ve also discovered new foods and flavors that I would not without the surprises in my weekly farm box.

In the same way, I want to know the people who come to the theatre.  The experience of building relationships with theatre patrons creates a community in a way that social networking and reality TV cannot.  The Boston Theatre community has become my neighborhood.  My point of view has been expanded through the discussions fostered by the theatre experience.

The basic tenets of the Slow Food Movement are “Good, Clean, Fair.”  The theatre can be that too- Good theatre that is entertaining, engaging, and appealing; Clean theatre that speaks to essential truths and sparks questions; and Fair theatre that find a way to reach audiences diverse in age, culture, and wealth.

Rachael Donnelly is a member of Slow Food USA and is the Development and Front of House Associate at New Repertory Theatre, where she serves locally produced baked goods at Behind-the-Scenes Tours.

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Running After a Shared Experience

By Desiree Pedrami

I recently ran my first marathon and as a theatre professional/geek/fanatic I could not help but think how similar my marathon experience was to the experience of seeing a play.

The thing that struck me the most about running a marathon was everyone was affecting each other’s experience just like every audience and cast member affects the overall experience of a theater production.  Everyone’s journey to the start line was different yet everything from my fellow runners, to the one million spectators, to the thousands of volunteers, made the race feel like a community and a one of a kind race experience.

Like different road races, each performance is completely unique and everything from an unexpected laugh or a missed cue can make the performance go a different way.

As a marketing professional at New Rep Theatre, I love thinking about ways to further connect patrons to a production and the artists.  I don’t want to just market a show; I am after deeper audience engagement and connection to the art. Whether its through a facebook posting, a tweet, a podcast, or posting pictures of a set being built, I want audience members to connect on a deeper level to what they will see on the New Rep stage.

As a theater patron, once the house lights go back up all I want to do is talk about the journey I went on with anyone in sight!  I love engaging with audience members and actors after a show, but one of my favorite things about live theater is talking about the show with the people closest to me.  I love sharing a live performance with a friend because that experience then becomes a part of our relationship.

The shared experience at the theatre goes even deeper as I become more connected to the Boston theatre community.  Knowing the process everyone went through to get to the final product makes my theatre experience richer and more thought provoking.  One of my favorite things about my job at New Rep is connecting our patrons to the process of theatre so they too can have a well rounded theatrical experience!

I think the Boston theatre community is accessible to patrons, and I think we are all moving in the direction to make the arts more transparent for theatergoers.   We are trying to allow patrons to experience theatre in a deeper and more profound way by making the shared experience a part of their life routine.  I am excited about what is going on in this city, and I am so excited to see how we are going to continue to grow together as a community. Marathon runners have a shared goal to cross the finish line, and Boston theatre companies, administrators, and artists also have a shared goalto make Boston a more vibrant and engaging theatre community one theatre experience at a time.

Desiree Pedrami received her BBA in Arts and Entertainment Marketing at Baylor University.  She is the Marketing & Group Sales Associate at New Repertory Theatre in Watertown.

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Why Boston?

by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary

When Stage Source’s Stage Page comes out, I get giddy.  I have this ritual of first circling all of the things I know I want to see and then I open my calendar and make my plan for the next 2 months or so.  This quarterly practice of mine isn’t just about keeping my schedule up to date – it actually pumps me up for the months ahead.  Since graduating from BU in 2008 and joining the staff at New Rep, I have had the privilege to attend many different kinds of theater in many different venues.  There’s a certain amount of theater that I see because “I should.”  Don’t get me wrong, I can get excited about obligatory theater too, but the majority of what I see is because I love theater, and specifically I love the theater here in Boston.  I am constantly inspired by other people’s work.  I have watched actors, designers and directors grow and change over the last several years and there is something thrilling about that.  During New Rep’s General auditions I can sometimes forget I’m there in some kind of “official” capacity and just get wrapped up in the work happening in front of me.  It is truly a wonderful experience.  I am still in awe when I run into people like John Kuntz, Anne Gottlieb, Scott Edminston, Ronan Noone, Kate Snodgrass, Will Lebow, Ben Evett, Nancy Carol, Karen MacDonald, Paula Plum and many others.  Their work has such an impact on me.

We have so many amazing and talented people that have chosen to make Boston their artistic home and this number continues to grow.  During the Stage Source auditions, my favorite moment is  when a brand new, just moved to town, actor shows up, totally nails the audition, and you feel the joint excitement in the room – like we all know the next “get me…” person has just arrived.  It’s happened every summer I’ve been here.

Over the last year I have tried to challenge myself to get off the beaten path and see more fringe work.  Sometimes the bigger our subscriber base and budgets get, the more afraid we can be to take the kind of risks that some of the fringe companies are taking to uncover all kinds of important, powerful stories.  Whistler in the Dark is flying this year!  How awesome is that?

I do what I do because I have to.  Quality people exist everywhere.  So, really for me, the “where” in what I do has to do with where I want to make my life, and who I want my community to be.    I stay here because this area is big enough to continue to surprise me yet small enough to still feel like my home.

Bridget Kathleen O’Leary received her MFA in Directing from Boston University.  She is the Artistic and Education Associate at New Repertory Theatre and lives in Watertown with her husband Chris.

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Choices

by Marie Polizzano

When it came time for me to graduate from the Boston University School of Theatre in May 2007, it seemed like the only question to be answered was, “New York City or Los Angeles?” Most of my classmates were dividing themselves between those 2 cities to pursue their acting careers. LA for those interested in film/TV, and NYC for those interested in theatre.  It seemed like there were no other options. The idea of staying here hadn’t even entered my brain as a possibility.  Until one day in late August, when I had started packing up my apartment in preparation for moving to NYC in September with most of my other classmates. On this day, I got a call from the New Repertory Theatre, who offered me a part in their “On Tour” production of The Crucible.  I had auditioned for them earlier in the summer.  “Ok!” I said, “I’ll do it!”  I accepted the job and was thrust into rehearsals at the end of September.  We were touring schools by the second week in October, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience from which I learned so much. I got to work with an fantastic ensemble of talented actors, I was learning so much from the dialogue we had with our young audiences, and the gig paid well!

By the time The Crucible closed, my “network” of theatre people in Boston had grown tremendously. I had met and worked with many talented actors, and as a result met a lot of their fellow Boston actor/director/producer-friends.  I already felt like I was a part of a community.  One job led to another, which led to another, and before I knew it I had performed in 3 touring shows with New Rep, auditioned for at least a dozen other companies in town, and formed lots of close relationships with fellow actors, directors, administrators.  Because Boston is a smaller community of artists, I found it easy to build a network here. Everyone is so supportive of each other’s work, and you start to see the same faces at auditions time and time again. I loved how quickly I was able to feel integrated into the community of such talented artists here. And I am proud to say that I am a Boston actor.  In the 3 years since graduating, I’ve had the experience of working with vastly different companies on very diverse shows, I’ve earned both my SAG and AEA cards, and I feel very inspired and challenged by the work I’m able to do.

The fact that we are talking about a Slow Arts Movement is so exciting to me, and is already something that we are starting to do here in Boston without even realizing it, I think.  The Slow Arts Movement is a way for us to reach out to the community and help develop cultural taste and appreciation.  How can we create art that is sustainable,local, and accessible? How can we inform our citizens of why doing so is essential to our well-being?  I hope that by coming together to consciously implement this awareness in our city, we can deepen and make even more rich and lasting the wonderful arts community that is already here.

About Marie Polizzano

Marie is currently working with the Huntington Theatre Company through November 14th, performing in Circle Mirror Transformation as a part of the “Shirley, VT Plays Festival.” When that closes, she’ll have a short break before beginning rehearsals with Whistler in the Dark Theatre on The Europeans, which will open in February.

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