Welcome to the official Hamilton Players blog: All the world's a stage...

Thoughts and ruminations on all things theater...and then some!

Friday, September 9, 2011

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it....

The Hamilton Players mission is "to provide high quality live community theater to the Bitterroot Valley audiences, to develop local talent, and to provide opportunities for the public to participate in the performing arts.  Opportunities…will be provided by producing a varied theatrical season... and performing a variety of plays and musicals throughout the year.” 

That doesn't sound like it should be very difficult, does it?  Well, surprise!  It is much more difficult than it sounds.  In preparing to announce the programming for the next season, we have been struggling with a multitude of questions, not the least of which is, "How do we choose a season that appeals to a diverse community, fulfills our mission statement, and still manages to keep us financially sound enough to keep the doors open?"  The Bitterroot Valley is populated by a wide range of demographically different populations - all of whom have varied likes and dislikes, political views, religious views, social views, ethical mores, prejudices, opinions, and sensibilities.  Oh, and don't forget the differences in social circles, financial backgrounds, environmental views, maturity, education, and good old nature vs. nurture.  Now, pick one show that appeals to a large portion of this diverse community; both in audience and performance values.  Now pick a second show...one that appeals do a different large portion of this diverse community...without gravely offending the first group.  Possible, yes. NOW,  pick a third show, that appeals to another portion of this community - without offending  - well, you get the picture.  Now pick a total of 5 shows that offer opportunities to everyone who wants to act or sing or see a show, that cover topics and styles that have broad enough appeal to fully cast and create a show as well as put enough butts in the seats to keep the theater financially solvent.  Not so easy anymore, is it?  Now, add to that the need to find a competent, passionate director AND enough actors to physically make the show happen:  just because it appeals to actors and audience doesn't mean that the actors will be available for the 8 - 10 week commitment it take to put on a show.  Add to this the competition for the acting, directing, and audience pool as well as a very full community calendar with competing events AND the need to duplicate this process (with different results) year after year after year...it can be be far more difficult than you maybe ever imagined.

Topping off this surprisingly difficult endeavor of choosing a season is the need to expand our audience pool.  Now we have to try to step outside of the safe zones to try to bring in a few new audience members for each show, without losing the already existing ones by moving too far too fast.  The same goes for the audition/acting pool.  How do we entice new actors into the fold?  If we cannot continue to expand our patron, volunteer and actor pools, then we fail, because without a slow and steady infusion of new blood, the theater will cease to exist.  Most of the amazing group of people who founded this theater have, in the last 30 years, moved on.  Some of them can be found in the audience and still, occasionally, on stage.  A new generation of artists have inherited their passion and are carrying their torch:  I am one of them.  but who will this generation bequeath the theater to?  If we cannot grow our only other option, in the end, is to turn out the lights and lock the door.  But I don't think that's going to happen.  At least I hope it won't, because if it does, the Valley will have lost something precious and irreplaceable.

So, when you see our upcoming season and are disposed to grumble or criticize, please remember how difficult the task was, and know that we are trying to serve our community - our whole community - in the best way we know how.  Take a risk, step outside of your comfort zone and go on the journey with us...you just might like it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All the world's a...swamp?!

It has now been 3 weeks since the first flood of the parking lot and the subsequent flood of the crawl space and basement costume shop.  We are still pumping water out and desperately trying to save the costume inventory from mold and mildew.  It's a sad, sad situation and in the end, the Players will lose a substantial amount of inventory - much of it irreplaceable vintage clothing.  Ultimately, it will be a loss to the whole community, as those will be costumes that will not be available for the wax museum, or the high school musical, or to any one of a hundred community events.  We haven't been able to do much with the costumes for the last 18 months as we have been sorting and organizing and trying to find a way to make our storage system more accessible and the flooding is essentially the nail in the costume shop coffin.  It's no longer a matter of convenience or organization: now it’s a matter of health and safety.  We desperately need to build an above ground, environmentally controlled costume storage space. 

A new costume shop facility has been on our list of delayed maintenance for a very long time.  With the risk of dangerous mold spores higher than ever before and the sheer monetary cost of losing so much inventory, a new costume shop has to be a priority.  Every show the Players put on increases our costume inventory. Every children's camp production, every main stage production, every fundraiser, every concert.  And when I think of the time and effort that goes into the creation of every costume, and that costume just being...destroyed by our inability to keep it safe...it makes me want to scream.

I am putting this project at the top of my "to do" list.  I know that the economic climate we live in today is not one of financial largesse but this theater has meant a lot to a lot of people over the years - me included - and I will just have to keep my fingers crossed that together we will be able to resolve this problem.  In the meantime, please be patient with our inability to commit our meager costume resources to the full spectrum of community use.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Welcome to the new millennium!

It's finally happened.  The Hamilton Players have opened the gates and welcomed in the new millennium!  We are on facebook, twitter...and now we even have a blog!  Couple that with our outstanding performance history and we may well be nigh unstoppable! 

A little excessive bravado? Perhaps.  But we are still in the game and going strong, and sometimes that alone is enough to warrant bragging rights.

As it has for so many in our country, the first decade of the new millennium has brought both joy and sorrow.  We have welcomed new actors, patrons, and volunteers into the Hamilton Players family and had to say goodbye to some of the same who were very near and dear to us.  We've survived and lauded the changing of the guard in both the Board of Directors and the administrative staff.  Many of the ambitious and dedicated Players who founded our theater have stepped down to allow other, equally passionate, artistic souls to shine in both leadership and in support roles.  Like a family, the Hamilton Players have weathered the storms brought on by so many wonderful and contradictory personalities and come out on the other side closer, stronger, and more dedicated than ever. 

So right here and right now, the Hamilton Players would like to thank every actor, every volunteer, every employee, every patron...every person who for even one minute was a member of the Hamilton Players family.  For every hour worked, we thank you.  For every dollar donated, we thank you.  For every kind thought, smile, moment of applause, for every conversation, recommendation, and constructive criticism, we thank you.  But most all, for all the love...we thank you.  We couldn't have done it without you!  The Hamilton Players have been your community theater for over 30 years, and we look forward to another 30+ more!