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Theatre Geeks

community theatre and the performing arts

Last Build Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2017 01:27:48 +0000

Copyright: 2017 Dufour Creative Services

Episode 156 — Playwright Elaine Liner

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 01:27:48 +0000

This episode, Texas playwright Elaine Liner joins us to talk about her latest work, Finishing School, which gets its world premiere September 8 at the Geeks home theatre, Elkhart Civic Theatre at the Bristol Opera House. The heartwarming comedy was chosen as one of the 12 winners in the AACT (American Association of Community Theatre) 2017 playwriting competition. It was the first choice for production by Elkhart Civic Theatre and is set to open its 2017-18 season at the Bristol Opera House in September. . . . → Read More: Episode 156 — Playwright Elaine Liner

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155 – Speak up and don’t talk with your mouth full! Enunciation and diction on stage.

Sat, 06 May 2017 23:06:17 +0000

The Geeks return to the issue of enunciation and diction in community theatre productions, how to deal with actors that just don’t get it, and why it’s so important.

Music provided by Music Alley.

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154 – Interview with a college intern for a community theatre

Sun, 30 Apr 2017 16:43:47 +0000

In this episode, the Geeks chat with Bronson Bontrager, Elkhart Civic Theatre’s college intern for the spring 2017 semester. We discuss the benefits of internships, for both the theatre and the student.


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153 Return episode: Old or New? What sells best?

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 03:46:28 +0000

We are finally back on the pod. After a lengthy absence John, Dave and Marcia are recording episodes again. More will be coming your way, as there are several in the can and we have plans for more in the near future.

In this episode we discuss a problem that plagues most of our theatres: do we do the old familiar shows, or risk something new that audiences are less familiar with? It’s hard because many audience members don’t like the idea of going to something that is outside their experience. We all know people who love seeing a classic . . . → Read More: 153 Return episode: Old or New? What sells best?

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152 Audition: Great, Performance:Not so much

Sun, 28 Feb 2016 23:56:48 +0000

What do you do when you give a new actor a chance, based on a good or even great audition, but they never seem to rise to the same level in performance? The Geeks discuss.


Music provided by Music Alley.

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151 Deirdre Lovejoy, Ang Lee and cell phones in theatres

Mon, 10 Aug 2015 11:54:07 +0000

Deirdre Lovejoy

Ang Lee

Deirdre (Dede) Lovejoy joins the Geeks to talk about the recent Patti Lupone cell-phone snatch, working with Ang Lee in the upcoming “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” plus her own autobiographical play, “Bird Elephant China.” Join us for great conversation.


Music provided by Music Alley

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150 — Interview: Jill Olson of Chicago’s StoryTown and Funny Bones Improv

Mon, 20 Jul 2015 02:08:30 +0000

Jill Olson of Funny Bones Improv and Storytown, Chicago

Improv artist making a difference in Chicago

Jill is the founder of Storytown, a Chicago improv troupe that performs every Saturday morning in an interactive show for young people. Through Storytown , she works to cultivate creativity and arts appreciation while introducing audiences to story structure and problem solving. Storytown uses the core improvisation fundamental of “yes, and” so every suggestion and idea is accepted, embraced and developed. Storytown is a interactive improvisational musical that gives children hands on ownership of the arts. Children are encouraged to take an active . . . → Read More: 150 — Interview: Jill Olson of Chicago’s StoryTown and Funny Bones Improv

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149 Scenic Painter Jeff Barrick

Tue, 14 Jul 2015 15:04:00 +0000

Love of all art styles gives scenic painter Jeff Barrick a lot of inspiration to draw upon

Scenic painter Jeff Barrick working on the grand olio for “Zombie Prom.”

Jeff Barrick is a scenic painter working at Indiana University South Bend, but who also creates wonderful backdrops for The Geeks’ home theatre, Elkhart Civic Theatre in Northern Indiana. He has created backdrops and scenic elements for such diverse shows as Count Dracula, Assassins, Company and many others.

Collaboration with the set designer, (in this case, Geek John Shoup) is critical to successful design, but so is research. Barrick almost . . . → Read More: 149 Scenic Painter Jeff Barrick

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148 Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival

Sat, 25 Apr 2015 15:31:30 +0000

Aaron Nichols

Aaron Nichols, Director of Audience Development for the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival and other events at ND, joins us to talk Shakespeare, festivals and other things theatre. Great conversation with the Geeks.


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147 Putting music on stage

Sun, 05 Apr 2015 13:15:43 +0000

Live music, clicktracks and other music-making options

This time the Geeks discuss use of live vs recorded music for musicals. Budget is always a concern when considering music on stage. But what about quality? Some musicians are very good, but they may cost money. You may be lucky enough to have volunteer musicians that are good — or not. Likewise, some recorded soundtracks sound good, others, are pretty chintzy. The Geeks talk about various options and considerations that can make or break your next musical.

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146 – Care and feeding of community theatre volunteers

Mon, 16 Mar 2015 01:41:54 +0000

Volunteers are the lifeblood of most community theatres. Michael Beatty has worked with volunteers in all types of not-for-profit organizations (including theatres). Listen to the conversation and Michael’s insights in this lively episode.


Music provided by Music Alley.


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145 – Putting history on the stage — conversation with playwright Michael Beatty

Thu, 19 Feb 2015 02:33:58 +0000

Avery Brown, Drummer Boy of the Cumberland, Youngest Soldier of the Civil War

Heartland: The Civil War comes to the stage in Northern Indiana later this year, and the Geeks asked Michael Beatty, the developer and playwright of this new original work, to tell us about it, and about the process of bringing history to life. Heartland is based on the experiences of Northern Indiana people, and is being produced as an artistic work with an educational component. It will be performed by South Bend, Indiana’s Acting Ensemble, as part of a five-month Northern Indiana arts & music commemoration . . . → Read More: 145 – Putting history on the stage — conversation with playwright Michael Beatty

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144 Say What? Theatre sound.

Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:31:44 +0000

All of us have attended a play or musical where the sound is less than perfect. This can be because of the facility or the actors themselves, among other reasons. And bad sound can harm the theatre experience for the audience. The Geeks discuss various sound problems, and possible solutions. Use our contact form to send us YOUR thoughts on this issue.


Music provided by Music Alley.

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143 Putting on the California State AACT Festival

Wed, 14 Jan 2015 03:47:51 +0000

It’s been a number of years since California has participated in the AACT Festival cycle with its own state festival, so resurrecting the tradition presents a number of challenges. With the Geeks to talk about them are Andrew Vonderschmitt, Executive & Producing Artistic Director for the Long Beach Playhouse, and Gil Savage, AACT’s Region 8 Representative and AACT Board Member. Join us for some interesting conversation about the festival process.


American Association of Community Theatres Long Beach Playhouse

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Merry Christmas from the Geeks!

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 23:56:41 +0000

Why Community Theatre?

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 19:32:02 +0000

Dave’s presentation at Pecha Kucha Chicago, Volume 32.

Check it out. Thanks to Dylan Dufour for recording this. And thanks to Peter Exley, Thorsten Bosch and Sharon Exley for allowing me to get on the stage at Martyrs in Chicago.

Martyrs Peter Exley Thorsten Bosch Sharon Exley

142 Festival tips from Ron Ziegler, AACT

Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:03:16 +0000

Ron Ziegler, Field Services Coordinator,

We already into the 2015 festival cycle and the excitement is building. Festivals are a great deal of fun, but also a lot of work for the planners. Ron Ziegler of the American Association of Community Theatre joins the Geeks with some great tips for states or regions mounting their first festivals, along with some interesting tidbits about the festival process, the reasons for some of the rules, and how some of theme have changed over the years.

NOTE: This episode was recorded in November. Dave has been slow in posting new episodes . . . → Read More: 142 Festival tips from Ron Ziegler, AACT

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How to save your theatre, part 2

Thu, 13 Nov 2014 02:28:16 +0000

Build more bars?

This episode is part two of our discussion of Brendan Kiley’s, article in the Seattle-based The Stranger. “Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves.”

In this episode the Geeks talk about Kiley’s suggestion that a little alcohol makes for a happier audience. There are pros and cons, not the least of which are liability, audience composition and of course the legal and licensing issues. Also, can a theatre really make money offering alcohol to patrons? All this and more in this episode.

Music provided by Music Alley

Link to The Stranger

. . . → Read More: How to save your theatre, part 2

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How to save your theatre, Part 1

Thu, 13 Nov 2014 02:17:30 +0000

Enough with the Shakespeare already?

A few months ago, the Geeks came across an article by Brendan Kiley, writing in the Seattle-based The Stranger. The post in question is titled “Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves,” and it’s a pretty good read, even though some of the content is more geared toward professional theatres rather than community theatres.

This is the first of two episodes in which the Geeks discuss a couple of Kiley’s assertions, and part two will post simultaneously with this one.

In this episode we talk about Kiley’s comment that maybe Shakespeare . . . → Read More: How to save your theatre, Part 1

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139: Some thoughts about theatre promotion

Tue, 07 Oct 2014 01:11:43 +0000

Broadcast, print, direct mail and the web — sorting out theatre promotion

The Geeks discuss some options, discuss what works and what doesn’t and a bit about how the landscape has changed.


Music provided by Music Alley

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138 Animals Onstage

Sun, 28 Sep 2014 13:45:22 +0000

Or, how to keep your theatre from going to the dogs

Sooner or later, your theatre will come upon a play that you want to produce, but it requires an animal, or even animals onstage for some scenes. Bell, Book and Candle‘s Pyewacket, Annie‘s Sandy and of course, The Wizard of Oz‘ Toto, are three that spring to mind. While these animals are essential, they also pose some special issues for actors and directors. While the goal is to get the best performance possible from an animal actor, the safety and well-being of the animal as well as cast members . . . → Read More: 138 Animals Onstage

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137 Richard Engling, Chicago Playwright

Sun, 21 Sep 2014 22:14:40 +0000

Chicago playwright Richard Engling remembers friend Fern Chertkow with the Afterlife Trilogy Playwright talks with the Geeks about his friend, his play and his process.

Chicago Playwright Richard Engling

It has been almost 30 years since award-winning author Fern Chertkow ended her own life, but her legacy lives on through the Afterlife Trilogy, a unique undertaking that fuses her writing with the work of novelist, playwright Richard Engling and his creative team at Chicago’s Polarity Ensemble Theatre.

Paying tribute to the late author, the trilogy combines two novels – “Visions of Anna” by Engling and “She Plays in . . . → Read More: 137 Richard Engling, Chicago Playwright

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136 Kids in Hollywood: getting an agent and more

Sun, 14 Sep 2014 15:05:43 +0000

Susan Whitby joins us again to talk more about her adventure helping daughters Maddie and Audrey launch their careers on TV and radio in Hollywood.

Music provided by Music Alley

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135 When your kids want to become professional actors

Sat, 23 Aug 2014 16:36:29 +0000

Midwest mom Susan Whitby tells you what to expect when your children want to take the show business plunge

Susan Whitby (center) with daughters Maddy Whitby (left) and Audrey Whitby.

Susan Whitby joined us for the first of two episodes to talk about her daughters, Audrey and Maddie, who, after starting out in community theatre in Indiana, have moved on, with her help and five years in Los Angeles, to become successful on the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and more in Hollywood. But it wasn’t easy and there were no guarantees. Susan shares what she learned along the way and . . . → Read More: 135 When your kids want to become professional actors

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134 Getting your show shut down — how to avoid it

Mon, 11 Aug 2014 00:59:57 +0000

There are some rules about play production — breaking them can result in getting your show shut down.

Our friend and entertainment lawyer Gordon Firemark recently published this blog post on how producers can make sure they don’t get their show shut down. Gordon’s insights sparked a conversation between the Geeks. Authors and play publishers set down a lot of rules about how you’re supposed to produce their plays. Rules can be both artistic and pertain to the marketing of your production, and you ignore them at your company’s peril. And while most requirements are pretty standard, there can be . . . → Read More: 134 Getting your show shut down — how to avoid it

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To your health: staying well on stage

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 03:55:13 +0000

The Geeks share a few tips and tricks for fighting colds and other ailments that can play havoc with your performance.

Music provided on this Bastille Day (as we’re recording this) by Music Alley.

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132 Up in Smoke: Smoking onstage in a non-smoking world

Mon, 21 Jul 2014 01:21:10 +0000

Smoking onstage and its alternatives

Depending on your venue, audience and local laws, producing a script that requires that characters smoke can be problematic. Where smoking is prohibited in public places it is sometimes allowed in stage performances, but audiences may still not accept it or approve. Some audience members may be sensitive to smoke, and some venues, such as schools, may not allow smoking under any circumstances. What to do? The Geeks discuss the question of smoking onstage and some available alternatives.

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131 Theatre a la carte: using food onstage

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:00:46 +0000

Food onstage can sometimes be a challenge

Whether it’s staging a family dinner or dealing with a variety of beverages, food onstage is a special class of props that has its own set of issues and potential pitfalls. The Geeks talk about their experiences (some good, some not-so-good) with food onstage and how to reduce the problems.

Music provided by Music Alley.

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130 Backstage Etiquette

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 03:01:08 +0000

Be respectful of both your audience and your fellow actors

The Geeks have talked often about the annoying things that some audience members may do that hurt the theatregoing experience for everyone. This time, they delve into the topic of backstage etiquette for both cast and crew. Sometimes little things can cause large problems, even when we may not intend them to. Talking, whispering, being in the wrong position, not being in position at all, etc., are all matters of professionalism, etiquette and respect for each other.

Send us YOUR thoughts on this episode, and we may record a “part . . . → Read More: 130 Backstage Etiquette

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129 Directors — should they be smooth or sharp?

Tue, 17 Jun 2014 20:43:27 +0000

What kind of director are you? What kind of director is best?

Directors come in all styles — from overly easygoing (REAL smooth) or difficult bordering on abusive (REAL sharp). Where’s the sweet spot on the contiuum? The Geeks discuss.


Music provide by Music Alley.

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