by Lorie Lewis Ham
The San Joaquin Valley is filled with theatre companies producing a bunch of different shows each year–making us a very lucky community. Curtain 5 Theatre Group is the new kid on the block in Fresno, having just begun this January. We took some time to chat with the founder and artistic director of Curtain 5, Gerald Palladino, to find out what they are bringing to the theatre community.
KRL: Who started Curtain 5 and why?
Gerald: Founded by myself, Gerald M. Palladino, for the primary purpose of producing and staging original works for the theatre by writers from the local community.
KRL: Who else was involved in forming this company?
Gerald: Myself alone, but in discussions with and counsel with Fresno writer, Andrew Champagne, retired California State University Fresno professor, Robert G. Ware, and Founder and Artistic Director of former Fresno Theater 3.
KRL: Can you share a brief history of the company?
Gerald: After considering the opportunity to concentrate on having a resident community theatre company, dedicated to encouraging local writers and new theatrical works, readings and entertainments, improvisation and occasional known works for a small intimate venue, a mission statement was developed and published, new writers were solicited, staging venues were investigated, and budgetary considerations examined, the decision was made to establish Curtain 5 Theatre Group and produce a premiere showcase and original play.
Curtain 5 Theatre Group Mission Statement
Curtain 5 Theatre Group is the artistic home of writers, playwrights, actors, new creative works, classics and entertainments that exemplify the standard of excellence and expectations of a quality community theater company.
Curtain 5 Theatre Group serves to nurture, educate and empower local writers, playwrights, artists and audiences in a creative atmosphere to inspire and entertain. We are a creative ensemble dedicated to encourage, challenge and develop local writers, playwrights and artists. We offer opportunities to explore and more fully realize ideas, craft and writing via professionally staged productions and frequent laboratory dialogues and readings.
Curtain 5 Theatre Group plans to apply for a 501(c) 3 resident nonprofit theater group designation by year end 2014.
KRL: What inspired you to create this company? What is your past background in theatre?
Gerald: I saw an opportunity to offer the community original theatrical works by local writers, an activity not being pursued by other local community theatre groups. I have been involved in acting, producing and directing for over 30 years in San Jose, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Fresno.
KRL: Why do you feel theatre is important to the community?
Gerald: Local theatre is important to the community as an entertainment that would otherwise only be available to local residents unless they traveled to major cities in California and around the country. Theatre is an important opportunity to encourage local writers and young, talented performers to further acquire skills in performing and stagecraft.
KRL: What types of shows will your company be performing?
Gerald: Original dramas, comedies and entertainments, skits, readings, improvisation, as well as an occasional classic or play by noted playwrights.
KRL: Do you hold open auditions for each show?
KRL: Is everyone volunteer?
KRL: How do you pick your shows?
Gerald: I advertise for writers to submit their works for consideration, and after reading and assessing the original works, I decide those works worthy for production by Curtain 5 Theatre Group.
KRL: Will you have shows all year long?
KRL: Do you have a schedule of shows for the rest of the year?
Gerald: Yes. An adaptation by Steve Martin of the 1910 German farce by Carl Sternheim, The Underpants, in July; an original drama, Ben Minus Jake, in September; another original comedy, Ashes, slated for November.
KRL: What shows have you done already?
Gerald: Our premiere was a showcase of original skits and improvisation, and original one-act thriller, Sunrise! Sunset over the Valentine weekend in February. An original entertainment, TMI–Too Much Information, developed from Craigslist personals and featured six actors.
KRL: Where are you located?
Gerald: Curtain 5 Theatre Group productions are all staged at the Fresno Soap Company Stage, Gallery & Studio, a 50-seat venue located at 1470 North Van Ness Avenue in Fresno’s Tower District.
KRL: What are your future hopes and goals for this company?
Gerald: Our first two productions produced a net profit, and we are hopeful to have sufficient funds to apply for and obtain a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit status, so we can do productive fundraising. We are building an audience for our work, word of mouth has helped immensely, and eventually we hope to invite local media to critique our work. We have developed a Mission Statement (possibly post here). We eventually hope the community recognizes the entertainment value we offer in presenting new theatrical works for our local theater-going residents and community.
KRL: How do people purchase tickets and what are their costs?
Gerald: Advance ticket sales are offered through brownpapertickets.com and at Fresno Soap Company box office the day of each performance. Our range of ticket prices are usually $10 and $15 advance sales and $15 and $20 at our box office the day of the performance.
KRL: Anything else you feel would be important to share?
Gerald: It has been exciting to accept a challenge to produce and stage new works against the advice of my local theatre colleagues that new works would not draw an audience and could not be insured profitability. I took the chance and have proven to them that there is a viable audience for original theatrical works in Fresno.
You can keep up with the latest news from Curtain 5 on their Facebook page.
Check out more local arts and entertainment articles in KRL’s A & E section.