A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest


Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister sites Kings River Lite and KRL News & Reviews for bonus articles.

Previous post:

Next post:


What’s Ahead For Valley Theatre in 2013

IN THE December 29 ISSUE

FROM THE 2012 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment,
andLorie Lewis Ham,
andTheatre
SECTIONS

by Lorie Lewis Ham

This past week we took a look at the awesome theatre that graced this Valley in 2012, and recently KRL chatted with several local directors about their thoughts on theatre in 2013.

Heather Parish

KRL: What companies have you directed for?

Heather: The New Ensemble Theater Group, Woodward Shakespeare Festival, Rogue Festival, and the Visalia Community Players.

KRL: How long have you been involved in local theatre?

Heather: I began in Visalia area theater when I was in college in 1992. While I was studying in the Pacific Northwest I was involved in local and university theater there, then studied briefly in England. When I returned home to take a teaching position in 1998, I picked up where I left off in Visalia and then in Fresno.

KRL: This Valley seems to have a very strong theatre community–what do you feel are the reasons for that?

Heather: In places like Fresno, it is just big enough to do your own thing, but just small enough to make a splash doing it. As long as you’re doing it well! That means lots of great stuff gets off the ground here. It’s keeping it in flight that’s the trick!

KRL: Over the last couple of years I have seen more edgy, contemporary theatre in the Valley–why do you think that is and do you believe this will continue?

Heather: Valley audiences are much more willing to take chances than people give them credit for. Sure they like the old chestnuts. So do I! But when they go see something new or edgy, they are often surprised at how much they like it. It is like exploring new territory for them.

But it really takes artists to lead them there. The wide variety of work being produced here is a testament to the growth of our theatrical artists and the risks they are willing to take– both as performers and as producers. When the artists relish the new and the challenging (as well as the old and the challenging), audiences will rise up and meet them to take the challenge together.

KRL: What if any changes or growth do you feel may be in store for local theatre in 2013?

Heather: Honestly, I think 2013 will be more about stabilization rather than growth. All of the companies that have sprung up in the last several years now have to figure out what life is going to be like for them on a year-in-year-out basis. It’s the growing years that can be the hardest for any arts organization. It is in those years that audience support and volunteer loyalty count the most.

KRL: What exciting things are you personally involved in for the new year?

Heather: I will be directing TNE’s production of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, which opens mid-April. The New Ensemble is also going to be expanding its Play Reading series to throughout the year. Beyond that, I’m looking forward to all of the great theater my friends will be producing in 2013!

Corey G Ralston

KRL: What companies have you directed for?

Corey: I have directed for the Visalia Players, Kings Players and Fourth Wall Theatre Company.

Kings Players Temple Theater

KRL: How long have you been involved in local theatre?

Corey: I have been involved in community theater since 1986.

KRL: This Valley seems to have a very strong theatre community–what do you feel are the reasons for that?


Corey:
I am not sure what the reasons are for the strong theater community. I think there is a new interest in theatre and there are so many companies that are feeding the masses with quality productions.

KRL: Over the last couple of years I have seen more edgy, contemporary theatre in the Valley–why do you think that is and do you believe this will continue?

Corey: I can’t speak for the rest but I strive to push the envelope for community theater. I think for a long time there was a theory that Central Valley audiences did not want to be challenged and I am here to disprove that notion and will continue to direct “on the edge” productions.

KRL: What if any changes or growth do you feel may be in store for local theatre in 2013?

Corey: As our audiences are growing larger I hope that the talent pool continues to develop to staff all these wonderful projects.

KRL: What exciting things are you personally involved in for the new year?

Corey: I am very excited for Les Miserables to come to the Valley as an adult production.

J. Daniel Herring

KRL: What companies have you directed for?

J. Daniel: I have directed for Fresno State University Theatre, StageWorks Fresno, The New Ensemble Theater Group, Good Company Players and Rogue Festival 2012.

KRL: How long have you been involved in local theatre?

J. Daniel:I began directing at Fresno State in the spring of 2008 for the Theatre for Young Audiences program. All of the other directing gigs began in the summer of 2011 and continuing through the end of 2012.

KRL: This Valley seems to have a very strong theatre community–what do you feel are the reasons for that?

J. Daniel:I think the Valley has a strong base of talent (actors and directors) who are passionate about creating and producing high quality theatre. I also think there is diversity in taste from theatre to theatre and that is important so a variety of work gets produced.

KRL: Over the last couple of years I have seen more edgy, contemporary theatre in the Valley–why do you think that is and do you believe this will continue?

J. Daniel:On a very personal note, I have directed several edgy contemporary theatre pieces during the last 18 months — T.I.C. Trenchcoat in Common, The Velocity of Gary (Not His Real Name), Next to Normal and Baptized to the Bone and I will do my best to propose these types of works in the future.

KRL: What if any changes or growth do you feel may be in store for local theatre in 2013?

J. Daniel:I’m not sure about specific changes and growth, but I will say because there is so much theatre going on that theatres will perhaps make their specific marks stronger as to what audiences might expect from a particular organization or artist.

KRL: What exciting things are you personally involved in for the new year?

J. Daniel:I will be directing The Bully Plays for the Fresno State Theatre for Young Audiences, I Am My Own Wife for StageWorks Fresno and The Importance of Being Earnest for Good Company Players.

Joel Abels

KRL: What companies have you directed for?

Joel: I have directed for both of the original companies I created, Children’s Musical Theatreworks and StageWorks Fresno, as well as Centerstage Clovis Community Theatre, Playhouse Merced, Good Company Players, Fresno Children’s Playhouse, and most recently Clovis North High School.

Joel Abels at work

KRL: How long have you been involved in local theatre?

Joel: I have been involved in local theatre since 1981 when my family relocated from San Jose.

KRL: This Valley seems to have a very strong theatre community–what do you feel are the reasons for that?

Joel: I feel the strength in the Valley’s theatre community lies in the amazing amount of talent locally both on and off the stage. As the city has grown so has the pool of talented artists- actors, musicians, designers, and technicians.

KRL: Over the last couple of years I have seen more edgy, contemporary theatre in the Valley–why do you think that is and do you believe this will continue?

Joel: There will always be an audience for more classical theatrical fare but sometimes directors and actors want to challenge themselves. My roots are in musical theatre. Without the pioneers such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter, we wouldn’t have Andrew Lloyd Weber, Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown or Kerrigan and Lowdermilk. As a director I like to introduce audiences to pieces that may not have been on their radar but once they experience it become fans. I do believe that this trend will continue, again, because audiences and actors like to make discoveries…contemporary theatre allows for that.

KRL: What if any changes or growth do you feel may be in store for local theatre in 2013?

Joel: That is a toughie. Every year I keep thinking that the ceiling has been raised and we have reached a saturation point and then new and exciting companies come on the scene. What I really wish would suddenly materialize would be a few new state of the art venues to allow us to all to keep moving forward artistically.

KRL: What exciting things are you personally involved in for the new year?

Joel: 2013 will be a crazy ride. Since creating StageWorks Fresno I have also taken on a full time teaching position at Clovis North High School, so it is like I am running two theatre companies. Challenging but extremely rewarding. StageWorks Fresno will be producing: Grey Gardens and God of Carnage. On the horizon for Clovis North: Little Shop Of Horrors and Damn Yankees. In addition StageWorks Fresno is working to develop a series of play readings as we look to develop our 2014 season as well as an annual subscription package for our ticket buyers. Boy does that look exhausting.

Mark Norwood

KRL: What companies have you directed for?

Mark: Many.

KRL: How long have you been involved in local theatre?

Mark:I was hooked in 1972 in Dan Pessano’s Drama Class at Clovis High. I have been involved in theatre ever since. I have worked in many places. The Valley was where I wanted to raise my family.

KRL: This Valley seems to have a very strong theatre community–what do you feel are the reasons for that?

Mark:I keep my head down and keep working and trying to create the best work I can. I look up from time to time and see great work being done by many and it is wonderful.

KRL: Over the last couple of years I have seen more edgy, contemporary theatre in the Valley–why do you think that is and do you believe this will continue?

Mark:Everyone has to find their audience. I know my audience and edgy is not what they like. It is important to realize that what is mainstream today was edgy back in the day. West Side Story, Oklahoma, were cutting edge. All of theatre’s “Old Chestnuts” were once ground breaking new works.

KRL: What exciting things are you personally involved in for the new year?

Mark:I am most excited by my work with Kings Canyon Unified and Reedley High School. The students are teaching me a great deal about the power of the performing arts and reinvigorating my love of theatre.

I am excited to revisit the first Blossoms Up! I am rewriting the show and am fascinated by how differently I am approaching my writing from several yrs ago. Preparing to direct Les Miserables [this summer] is like preparing for climbing Mt. Everest.

Keep an eye on KRL’s Arts & Entertainment section to know what’s headed your way!

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales