Saturday, June 26, 2010

Choosing a Season

I thought that today I would let our readers in on my thought process for picking a season. There are a lot of things I consider. I try to think about what work is going to serve our artists. This includes our designers, our actors, and our playwrights. I also think of our audience. I view our season offerings as an exchange in a relationship we share with the community here in Central Virginia. I try to think about where are audience is in our relationship. Where are they ready to go? What will bring them back to us? What will increase their size? What do they need right now as a community?

This year's production of HAMLET allowed us to both explore local history as well as produce another site specific outdoor Shakespeare

The last three years we have offered an outdoor Shakespeare. This has been a good compromise in our relationship with the community because Shakespeare is recognizable, has confirmed greatness, is associated with outdoor performance, and it still allows us as a company to explore and push ourselves. We love the Bard and the depth of the work. We can also seek out exciting performance locations for our shows. We will do this for at least another year. I want our audiences to learn to love our particular outdoor approach to theatrical work and Shakespeare is a good gateway drug. My hope is that we can offer other kinds of work outside once our audience is coming to see us and not just outdoor Shakespeare.

Almost as soon as I arrive on campus I start to look for a location for next year's outdoor show. This year I took advice from Krista (scenic designer) and Dan (lighting designer). We are always wandering around campus scouting locations. This year I went with the location first and then picked a show for that location (I have selected a show... this announcement will come by the opening of HAMLET). This year I went with Dan's spot. It is gorgeous. It is near parking and close to Babcock. It is adjacent to the old train station and caboose. There is a perfect grass area for audience and it has natural back drop (see below). Next year we will build a set and utilize this natural backdrop.

The back drop of next year's outdoor location

This year was our first year doing theatre for young audiences (get your tickets today for Alice and Wonderland!). This is an experimental year for us. I have a firm belief that there is an audience for TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) but we have to find them and we have to build a tradition in the area that we do a TYA show every year. This year is a first and just like our first season, the audience will be there but the tradition will have to come with time and with that tradition audiences will grow. We are currently preparing for a NYC Fringe production of company member Josh Mikel's children's play Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island. I really love the idea of producing original and new work for TYA and this may be something we continue. I am also re-considering where in the season we place the TYA show. It might be effective for us to do a show while schools are still in session to maximize our educational outreach associated with the show.

This year's production of ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Our final slot is up in the air right now. This show would be indoors and would run along side our outdoor Shakespeare. For sometime we have been organizing and planning a theatrical production that involved the Monacan Indian tribe. This project was slated for next year but because of various circumstances the project has been pushed back. I am always looking for a show in our season that plays on local history and culture. I would love ideas and thoughts from YOU! If you have any, email me with them at

I will announce the 2011 season during the HAMLET run. Stay tuned...

Geoffrey Kershner
Artistic Director


Caitlin C said...

Brecht! Or The Government Inspector. Uh... I must admit I didn't really take local culture into consideration, but I'm sure they could be angled that way! 8D

Will Shakespeare said...

I have a couple of ideas that might work. One is to explore a vanishing way of life. For instance, tobacco farming was once the whole reason for settling this area, but is rare now. Another is furniture making. This used to be a large part of the economy in Southern Virginia,but is disappearing now.
Another idea is the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalacchian Trail in the 30's.