by Lorie Lewis Ham
A new theatre company has arisen in the Valley during the pandemic called Madera Theatre Project. I spoke recently with those behind the project: Ginger Latimer, Artistic Director, Jim Kocher, Executive Director Madera County Arts Council, Brandon Gilles, VAPA Director Madera Unified.
KRL: When did it first start?
MTP: Started planning last fall 8/21.
KRL: Who started it and why?
KRL: How did you got involved with the company and why?
Ginger: As a longtime theatre educator at Madera South, I saw a real need to build a community theatre in Madera, for our entire community to get involved with for our young kids, and adults. Madera had a community theatre back in ‘80s but never had a permanent home, so faded after a few years. I built a strong high school program and produced many shows. But there was a need for more. Families asked how they could be involved. Parents wanted theatre for their younger children. And we wanted more culture in our community. Talking to members of the Madera County Arts Council, they wanted theatre opportunities too. So we came together to build the Madera Theatre Project
KRL: Why do you feel theatre is important to the community?
MTP: The arts are crucial in our lives.
KRL: What do you feel your company has to offer that may be unique or different from other local theatres?
KRL: Will you hold open auditions for each show?
MTP: There will be open auditions for all three of the year’s shows starting on April 1.
KRL: Is everyone volunteer?
MTP: We will offer paid staff as designers, directors, sound and lighting designers, costuming, stage managers. We will also provide volunteer actors, and support staff from our community and the students in the Madera Unified School District. Our kids will work in all areas of production, from painting the flats, to performing onstage. Some will intern backstage.
KRL: How do you pick your shows?
MTP: We allow our potential directors to propose several shows, we then meet to talk about the season, and which shows might fit best.
KRL: Will you have shows all year long?
KRL: What type of shows are you planning to do?
MTP: This year we will present Beauty and the Beast, Harvest Moon, and All My Sons.
KRL: Where are you located?
MTP: Our business office is located at Madera County Arts Council at 424 Gateway Dr., Madera. This summer our shows will be held at the new Matilda Torres High School Performing Arts Center in Madera.
KRL: What challenges do you face starting a new theatre company while still in a pandemic?
MTP: We are conscious of Covid restrictions and state mandates, and strive to keep our facilities and members safe.
KRL: When is your first show?
KRL: Do you know yet how much tickets will be and where they will be able to purchase them?
MTP: Our online ticketing is not yet in place, but those interested can check out our website for updates. @maderaarts.org/mtp
KRL: When are the others shows that you have coming up still this year and when?
MTP: Harvest Moon July 7-16, All My Sons July 28-Aug. 6
KRL: Website and social media?
KRL: Anything else you want to share?
MTP: Theatre enhances the lives of our community. It brings creativity, imagination, and a love of the arts.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.
Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.