Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Theatre VCU

So in my report card story for this week’s Style, I tried to cram a lot of ideas and information into a very short space with a predefined format. I spoke to many people who all gave me great quotes and opinions, which I mostly had to boil down to about a sentence per person. So, while I think the piece accurately reflects the big picture of what’s going on in town, obviously there is all sorts of stuff left out. This is unfortunate but is also just the way it goes.

Of all the comments I had to truncate to the bare minimum, I’m most sorry about David Leong’s. I’ve known David a long time and appreciate what he has done at VCU. It’s unfortunate that 30 minutes of his insight and explanations had to be summed up in one rather negative comment about the market for actors in Richmond.

I had contacted David to ask him what Theatre VCU was doing to support the local theater scene, what he was doing to bolster opportunities in town for graduates of his program. What he clearly and concisely explained to me was that his program is populated with people with great ambitions and one of the jobs of the program is to foster those ambitions. While he had many nice things to say about the local scene, he was unapologetic about the fact that the University tries its best to get its graduates in front of producers and directors in bigger markets. His focus is clearly on serving his students, not on serving the local theater-going public. Which I think is appropriate.

David expressed some regret that TheatreVirginia wasn’t still around, saying that partnership with a LORT theater used to be a great aspect of the program. He also said that, while placing people locally wasn’t a specific focus of the current program, he was very proud of the VCU graduates who have stayed in Richmond and done well here.

So that’s the full story behind David’s brief comment in the published piece. FYI.


Andrew Hamm said...

I think the impact of Theatre VCU graduates and current students in the Richmond theatre scene is substantially underrepresented here.

I can mostly speak for our company, but half of the cast of Richard II got their Shakespearean voice training from Janet Rodgers. Four of the five actors in Measure for Measure are Theatre VCU MFAs or MFA candidates, and four of the five actors in As You Like It hold BFAs from Theatre VCU.

Richmond Shakespeare has hugely expanded the number of actors we hire in the past three years (from about 20 in a year to about 50), and we bring in very little talent from outside the area. We have instituted high-level workshops and classes for local actors to enrich the scene. No, we can't afford a large number of Equity contracts in a season. Yet.

Theatre VCU grads and students frequent the stages at the Firehouse, Triangle, Eureka Science Theatre, the Empire and Henley Street, just for starters. Theatre VCU grads are on the staffs and boards of arts organizations all over this city.

Yes, many leave. That's the goal of a good BFA program: to place their graduates in large markets. But many stay. Some stay for a few years then leave, and some stay for a long time.

For the record, I'm a VCU BFA and MFA, I'm on the staff of Richmond Shakespeare and the board of RAPT, and I just bought a house.

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

Thanks for making me look good. :)

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Kudos to Richmond Shakes for the workshops and classes, which is exactly what the Richmond theatre scene needs!

A giant sucking sound?! Wow, man. That really seems to negate everyone's work in Richmond.

I don't know that I understand how that opener is supportive for anyone?

So much to comment on.

Probably requires it's own blog post, so I'll give it that.

Andrew, CONGRATS ON THE HOUSE! That's awesome!

Dave T said...

The "giant sucking sound" is a reference to talent leaving town, not to the work done here sucking. I can understand the confusion. The reference is back to the infamous statement about the North American Free Trade Agreement and how jobs would be sucked from the US market down to Mexico. Probably works better for an older crowd. Just thought you'd want to understand the reference before getting too deep into criticizing it, Mr. Maupin. I look forward to your additional thoughts.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

It doesn't seem to read that way and perhaps that's just my knee-jerk reaction in being defensive.

Would wager that the demographic for STYLE probably doesn't include so much of the older crowd. But, is probably just more so my limited knowledge of history.

Thanks for the clarification. It still seems to not be helpful?

(Side note: I'm told the American Theatre magazine this month features critics and how they function/or should in theatre, which is very relevant to this and even more so to an earlier thread of discussion.)

But I think clarifying the comment would be similar to an actor defending a choice that he/she made onstage that led the audience/show one way but he/she wanted to justify their choice even though it didn't serve its intended purpose. It still doesn't do anything for the audience (well, other than the blog readers here) and therefore, in my opinion, remains to be mis-step.

The public out there is depending on you to tell them what they should think of theatre. When you make a statement like that then people (general public) go with that. So it further supports the opinion that in order to see good theatre, then one must go out of town to see it, because the good ones have left.

There do seem to be some positive comments about the actors that are here, but the bulk of the article seems to focus on what's lacking and why Richmond theatre sucks.

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

I don't think he's disqualifying the work that already goes on here so much as pointing out that the scene needs reinvigorating if they want to keep young talent here for more than a few years.

That's not to say that young people and VCU grads don't work here at all, but the lack of available options for them does make staying in Richmond an unappealing choice, especially if they want to make any money at all.

Mary's article also focuses on how Richmond theatre is lacking. And while the work being done here is good and compelling work...dude, the scene as a whole IS lacking. It's lacking options. And not options for creativity, but options to actually make money.

I think the vacuum image was pretty clear, and BC, you should remember NAFTA. :)

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the last post. Here is a small example. I am in my early 40's, there are at least 2 dozen or so really talented women that are also in their 40’s that live in Richmond. As you know the parts for women in this age group are slim. Barksdale, Firehouse, Theatre IV and Swiftcreek do make an effort to pick shows that have some women in this age group…but it is slim pickings out there. There are just not enough parts to go around. Then you add outside talent into the mix and the chances to land a role go down even further. I don’t see how any of us in this age group could make a living at theatre in Richmond…and to be fair this problem is not Richmond’s alone. Plays and musicals are men heavy and the pool of women is always larger. We are staving for work…I have been involved in more kitchen room conversations about plays that my girlfriends wish we could do if we had a space or sponsor. But it is so hard to find either...I can only imagine how many requests Bruce Miller gets for the black box space alone. It’s hard and there is no ready fast answer…but I truly believe Richmond can do better.

Anonymous said...

thespis litte helper wrote:
The public out there is depending on you to tell them what they should think of theatre.

As a member of the public (as opposed to a member of the professional theatre community), I absolutely do not depend upon critics to tell me what I should think of theatre. I would think that most members of the public will approach that article with ideas already in their heads about the state of theatre in Richmond, and can therefore use what they already think to agree or disagree, in whole or in part, with what they read.
The "public" (especially not the part interested enough to read an article on theatre) is not a blank slate.

Not meant as a personal attack here at all - but merely some food for thought when approaching this issue.

a member of "the public"

Anonymous said...

Let me see if I’m reading this right:
1. We want a strong pool of talent in Richmond.
2. We also don’t want to see the same people all the time.
Hmmm… The only way to keep talent in Richmond is to keep them employed at a living wage, which means we’re going to have to see them over and over again, doesn’t it?? OR – can we pay actors for NOT performing? (Sign me up!!)

Bottom line is, if Richmond wants to keep artists here (not just actors, but directors, designers, musicians, painters, sculptors, etc.), we need to be able to pay them a living wage. To do that, theatres will need to pay actors more, which means they will need to charge more, which will no doubt lead to a decline in attendance because people won’t be able to afford it. We need the community to realize that the art we create right here is at least as good as the 50 million channels of reality television they can watch in their own homes for a fraction of the cost.

I'm not sure I agree with the correlation of Theatre Virginia closing and the "talent drain". Frankly, I saw Theatre Virginia bring in more talent from outside than any other major theatre in Richmond. They occasionally used local talent, many of whom got their Equity cards and then didn't know what to do with them. Theatre Virginia made no commitment to keep those new Equity actors employed, so if they were going to keep up with their union dues and work enough to keep their benefits, they had to seek work elsewhere.

There are some who feel I have little credibility here, given that I am one for whom, to use Jack Parrish's quote, Theatre has become "more of an elevated hobby...than a profession". I will admit I got tired of starving a long time ago. And I became depressed -- going to audition after audition for shows I didn't really want to do, being told I was too "old & sophisticated" (at age 26) to work at King's Dominion, taking a job as a Gatorade can in an expo hall, hoping to get a job as an extra in a Circuit City spot shooting at 3:00am just so I could afford something to eat.

Once I stopped NEEDING to work just to survive, I found renewed creativity, energy, joy & passion for the Art that I had lost along the way. I auditioned better because I was having FUN! I got more work when I didn’t NEED it than I ever did when I desperately had to have it. It supplements my income, which is great.

Here’s a question (and one I’m sure will stir up more debate): does being an actor or theatre professional REQUIRE that you have no other job or source of income? I’ve often wondered if my work was not considered “art” by some, or perhaps not “professional”, because I have a “real job”. Does that somehow interfere with the necessary creative flow or energy or whatever? Am I less talented because I work during the day? If an actor without a real job gives a worse audition for a role than I, is the director obligated to give the role to the guy without a “real” job?

(OK, I know that’s like 4 questions, but I thought it would be fun to debate…)

Frank Creasy said...

Joe Pabst - always good for both an entertaining AND provocative comment!

More on that in a moment - but first, to Anonymous Public Theatre member: You make TONS of sense. I'll digress for a moment...a recent posting questioned Susan Haubenstock's criticism of "Rumpelstiltsken's Daughter". I've not seen the show, and I'm sure it's terrific, but I have to wonder: Would you have questioned Susan's criticism, Dave, had your colleague Mary not loved the show so much? Does one critic disagreeing with another critic prompt more questions about a show's merits than the majority of the AUDIENCE disagreeing vociferously with a critic? Or maybe, just MAYBE, Susan Haubenstock came to see the show and do her job as a CRITIC, and Mary Burress forgot about being a critic for 90 minutes and just came to have a good time - like a real AUDIENCE MEMBER! Maybe her response to RD was less like a critic, and more like someone who just loves the theatre. Don't fault Susan for her opinion, but don't give Mary's opinion more weight than any other audience member just because she occasionally writes theatre reviews!

Anon, good for you. Theatre audiences come to be entertained, and if a production accomplishes that, they are happy and don't care what the reviews say. Having said that, BC, I do agree some will choose to see a show - or avoid one - based on a review. There will be those who accept the critic as the expert. That may not extend to Dan Neman's movie reviews, but probably applies more accurately to theatre reviews in town.

Now, Mr. Pabst: You and I, sir, are cut of the same cloth. Many years ago, wishing to pursue a full time acting career, I met and worked with wonderfully talented actors, some of them Broadway veterans, who waited tables or sold real estate or other odd jobs when they couldn't get acting jobs. I knew I'd have to work when I wasn't acting, and chose a professional career over a series of audition rejections. I wish many blessings on those who choose to act full time and can do so without starving. But I must agree completely with Joe: I want to act regularly because it feeds my SPIRIT, not my bank account. Without any financial duress, I can accept theatre roles for little money in lieu of a commercial or TV role that requires a hunk of flesh meeting certain physical requirements that have NOTHING to do with acting talent. Having tons of real-life experience, I believe, helps inform my acting and feeds my passion for my craft. Learning lines, creating a character, crafting a performance worthy of an opening night audience requires so many hours outside of my regular job that it demands a tremendous sacrifice of time with my wife or other pursuits. But I'd be no better an actor with more time away from my daily job, I believe. And I'm probably better as a result. If nothing else, I know the stresses and pressures of working folks like our friend Anon above. My performances are geared to take them away from their everyday stresses and pressures for a few hours, and give them food for their brains after they walk out of theatre, if I can. They pay hard earned money to see us perform, and they have no time to waste on crappy theatre or other lame entertainment. I have no intention of giving them a half hearted effort.

Jack Parrish? I love Jack as much as the rest of you...but Jack just says stuff like that, now doesn't he??? But hey, if Jack is back this summer in "Henry IV/II" at Agecroft, I'll be there to watch for sure!

Dave T said...

Howdy all,
I appreciate all of the comments and hope to get some more time to reply with a little more thought. But I want to be clear about a couple things.

Frank, you're injecting intentions into my words that were not intended. My post about "RD" at Theatre IV was not meant to call into question Susan Haubenstock's review. Here's exactly what I wrote:
"I’m curious what the folks who are so enamored of “Rumplestiltskin’s Daughter” think about Ms. Haubenstock’s criticism about its coherence. Any contradictory opinions?"

I have not seen "RD" and probably will not. Given that Susan mentioned something fairly specific that I had not heard from anyone else up to that point, I was honestly interested in whether other people agreed or not. Based on the responses, it sounds like a couple people agreed to some extent with Susan's critique. In general, I think she does a great job so that doesn't really surprise me. If you'll look back, I often ask for dissenting and consenting opinions in this space -- especially to my own reviews.

Joe, you wrote:
"1. We want a strong pool of talent in Richmond.
2. We also don’t want to see the same people all the time."
I don't know where you are getting #2 but it certainly isn't from my piece in Style. In fact, I specifically say Angie Shipley has been in many roles in succession without any commentary on that being good or bad. For the record, I'd love to see Angie and Jill Bari and Justin and Jack Parrish (and even you Joe!) in many many more things. Part of the impetus for writing the piece was despair over people like Jack (and Justin and Stephanie and Susan Sanford and Foster Solomon I need to go on?) leaving town and fear that people like Angie will be soon to follow.

Again, I appreciate the feedback -- and am heartily hoping people take a good look at what's going on and try to make positive change. People putting words in my mouth isn't as appreciated but is part of the nature of the biz, I guess. Any more thoughts out there?

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

Joe: First of all, I love you. :)

I do not at all think that you're not a theatre professional if it's not all you do for a living. But for those of us that have chosen to make acting our sole source of personal income, Richmond is not a good market. They're just aren't enough theatres in town, and in order to get paid well, one has to be Equity, but if you're Equity you can only work at like two theatres in Richmond, and they don't have enough money to throw whole lot of Equity contracts around 'cause the community interest in theatre just isn't what it could be.

It's a scene filled with amazingly talented people, and I don't in any way negate the hard work and talent of those who maintain other jobs outside of acting.

But I did work non-stop all last year, doing theatre and camera work. And I made a grand total of like $6000. If I weren't married, I'd be living in a garbage can right now on that salary!

I don't think people need to act full-time to be considered worthy or talented or professional, but for those of us who aren't really good at anything else but performing, there isn't much here to compel us to stay, you know?

As for maintaining a talent pool/seeing new faces, both can happen so long as new people are allowed into the pool by the old guard, which is hard to do in almost any theatre community.

Also, did I mention I love you and miss you? :)

Dave: You're too, too sweet to me. Don't ever change. :)

Frank Creasy said...

Okay, fair enough on your clarification Dave. I meant to play devil's advocate, so hope you can appreciate why I wanted to do so...appreciate my perspective if you will:

1) Susan H. writes an overall positive review about a show (RD) that Mary writes about glowingly on this public blog.

2) One day before the T-D review of RD, Susan wrote an even less glowing review about Sisters Rosensweig at CAT, which features a talented cast and director.

3) Not knowing who you might have possibly spoken with about EITHER production, you singled out RD as one "folks" (what folks? Mary for sure, who else?), are "enamored" with (anyone out there enamored with Sisters Rosensweig? Gee, didn't they have an audience of "folks" like our anonymous friend?)

So while you've clarified it for me Dave, with the information I read on your blog and in the T-D the disconnect between credence given to Mary's opinion versus folks like Anonymous Member of the Public seemed rather striking. A lot of weight focused on one specific criticism - "coherence" - whereas none was given to specific criticisms (there were several) of CAT's production. I had to wonder why that should be the case.

I would agree completely that you do entertain opinions both consenting and dissenting. Encouraging a free exchange of ideas with clarity of thought and without rancor is refreshing and most welcome. I thank you for that most heartily, Dave, and hope you'll keep it up for some years to come. It's one thing that helps make theatre in this community so compelling. That, and Joe Pabst. ;>)

Andrew Hamm said...

Maury Erickson at VCU, one of those holy-of-holies Equity Actors we're talking about, taught me a long time ago that less than 10% of people who consider themselves professional actors in America make all of their money acting.

It's like this everywhere, guys. There's no Emerald Acting City where you move to and automatically find dozens of full-time acting gigs. In New York, I worked in an optical lab during the day and worked Off-off-Broadway at night. Meanwhile, my new wife got a great gig doing a national tour and left for six months. Fabulous! She was working full-time! It didn't take us long to realize that we were having no fun. Next stop: grad school for each of us and jobs with some stability.

We didn't stop being valid artists because we wanted to teach what we knew. We didn't stop being passionate artists because we wanted to be able to own a home. We didn't stop being talented artists because we wanted to stay in Richmond.

Can we PLEASE get past the idea that because Richmond is not New York it's somehow artistically deficient? Maybe, just maybe, the character of Richmond theatre is valid for what it is, not in comparison to anywhere else.

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

I don't think that Richmond wants for talent or artistry in any way. There are a poop-ton of uber talented and passionate artists here. What it does want for, in my opinion, is profitable outlets for expression of all the talent and artistry that is here.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Dave. I certainly didn't mean to misinterpret your words. (And I actually prefaced by seeing if I was reading it right.)

Here are some quotes from the article that I found interesting (one is from the article and one is a quote from Rick St. Peter):

"...the local talent pool has started to dwindle and isn’t being replenished." I read this as a concern, i.e. we want a strong local talent pool.

"'Richmond needs to augment its local talent pool with folks from outside the community,' [St. Peter]says. 'Otherwise it stagnates, the audience gets bored and you don’t move forward.'” -- which I took to mean that we (or audiences) don't want to see the same people all the time.

It wasn't meant as any type of criticism. I just found it interesting that two seemingly contradictory statements appeared in the same article (albeit in different sections).

Rick St. Peter recommends bringing in more outside talent to avoid stagnation and audience boredom. But in doing so, do we not add to the problem of not having enough work to sustain our local artists?

Anyway, that was my point. Apologies to Dave if it seemed like I was putting words in his mouth.

Anonymous said...

Well, since Frank was so encouraging, I want to add another dose of "public" perspective here.
This blog seems performer/professional/critic -centric. There isn't much opinion expressed here by those who do not work in theatre but are simply fans. I wonder if there are other local theatregoers who read this blog, and how the discussions here could be rounded out with more discussion from "the public." After all, the end result of good theatre is to entertain, enlighten, educate and/or uplift the theatre-going public. (Okay, I know there has been previous discussion about what it truly takes to make theatre, and points could be made that an audience, in some cases, may not be truly necessary, but let's put those instances aside for a moment.)

Andrew wrote:
Can we PLEASE get past the idea that because Richmond is not New York it's somehow artistically deficient? Maybe, just maybe, the character of Richmond theatre is valid for what it is, not in comparison to anywhere else.

Well, as a RICHMOND theatre goer, I absolutely appreciate this. While I would like to be able to regularly go to New York (or even DC) to see some shows, I have neither the funds nor the time to do so most of the time. I know there are local theatre-goers who may be able to do this, but I wager than many of us simple do not have the resources.
That said, I enjoy the theatre scene here very much on it's own merits and don't often feel the need to wander. I love that incredibly talented professionals choose to stay here because it affords Richmonders the luxury of a variety of theatres with a miriad of offerings.
I thank you all for being here, and thank you all for the work you do for our community.

a member of "the public"

Anonymous said...

I think for me the characterization of what is or is not professional has nothing to do with what union you belong to or how much money you make doing it. I want my work in the theatre to be my primary job, not my 2nd job or night job and I think, if I can speak for him since he is working at my theatre right now, that is probably what Jack was getting at with his comment. I have a wife and two children at home and I want to work during the day and come home and see my kids at night. I don't want work all day, scarf down dinner in 5 minutes and START rehearsal at 6 or 7 at night. After spending all day at your day job, you will not do your best work, it is as simple as that and I don't believe it can be disputed. My favorite thing to direct in Richmond were Theatre IV tours, because you got to work basically 9-5 or whatever it was. That is professional theatre to me. When I direct at Cincy Shakes, we work Tues-Fri 11-5, Sat/Sun 12-8. I think you do better work in a concentrated amount of time than if you stretch things out to 5-6 weeks working 6-10 or 7-11 at night. And yes, here at AGL, we have to rehearse in the evenings and I hate it. How do you rate the Richmond theatre scene? Compared to Lexington it is like New York, compared to DC/Baltimore I don't believe it matches up simply because of economy of scale. The thing about the DC area (and NYC, Chicago, the Bay Area etc) is that there is more of everything...there are more good actors, there are more good theatres but at the same time, there are more BAD actors and there are more BAD theatres. I often compare Richmond to Louisville and in all honesty, the overall theatre scene in Richmond is better than in Louisville with the (albeit major) exception of Actors Theatre...there is no real theatrical ecosystem in Louisville and certainly not the width and depth of talent you find in Richmond. And VCU is vastly superior to U of L and University of Kentucky, so you are turning out a more talented and better trained workforce in Richmond than you are in Louisville (or Lexington for that matter).

One final note then I go away for a rare daytime rehearsal here: I remember when Benny Ambush sent me to NYC to hold TVA's EPA auditions at the Equity office. I was there for two days and the morning of my first day, I was so nervous I almost threw up on my way in. I thought the worst actor I would see in NYC was going to be better than the best actor I had worked with in Richmond. I was quickly disabused of that notion! Talent is talent and shit is shit and neither one of them is beholded to area codes!!

One more finally, Joe I think TVA bringing people in from outside helped make us all better...I would see their stuff (before I worked there) and it would totally stoke my competitive fires...I could do that! Or I could do it better or what have you but it drove me to want to be better AND it provided an entry point into a larger world that I wanted to get to. Very few people outside of Richmond knew what Barksdale Theatre was but most people knew about TheatreVirginia...I wanted to use it as a platform to go beyond just working in Richmond and in some respects it worked and in others, I wasn't there long enough to really capitalize on it, if that makes any sense...

I believe I am rambling...anyone up for a road trip, come out to Lexington and see Jack Parrish's production of Boston Marriage opening tomorrow night!!


Anonymous said...

Oh and one more thing...

I want to say to Angie, Jack Parrish, all those who do make their livings as actors: I have nothing but great respect for all of you! My questions about acting & "real jobs" were in NO WAY meant to slight anyone who strives to earn their living as an actor. I didn't mean to insult, merely to start a discussion. I'm not bitter, searching for compliments or ego boosts. I just wanted to hear other thoughts.

(Sometimes I hate blogging... I try to be brief, but then I end up not being clear... or is it that I end up being UNclear?)

Angelika HausFrauSki said...

Oh, love for you, Joe! I didn't think you were insulting my choice, nor did I want you to think I was insulting yours! :)

I think that the focus we've lost here is that this is an article about not just theatre but acting in general, and I will agree that almost no one can make a career doing just theatre alone. There are commercials, industrials, film, television, voiceovers, etc.

And even still, even with all those opportunities out there, Richmond still doesn't meet MY PERSONAL needs. When I say that, it's not a statement about the artistic integrity or talent or professionalism or any of that about those who live in Richmond.

I DO think that many local Richmond theatres and casting directors do not fully utilize the talent pool they do have, preferring to mainly stick with people they've known for years who they are confident will bring the product they want to present. And why should they take risks on new faces who may or may not deliver when they have so little financial support as it is?

Many of my reasons for wanting to leave Richmond go far beyond just the availability (or lack thereof) of good-paying work. I'm taking into account my type, my family, my age, my health issues...a jillion other factors.

Bottom line, my personal choices should in no way be taken personally or deemed insulting by those whose choices differ from mine, because we're not the same people.

Anon, I would love if these discussions included audience as well as critics, actors and other theatre professionals! Encourage your other theatre-going friends to join up!

Frank Creasy said...

Rick's point is well taken. During rehearsals for a show my day is usually 8 to 5, then find time for a workout (you have to stay fit to be your best in a production, IMO), and grab something to eat on the way to rehearsal - there's often not time to go home! Back home and in bed around 11 to start it all over the next day. I typically end up burning some vacation days to study lines, or around opening to make SURE I'm at my best and not distracted. It's quite a challenge, Rick, you're totally correct. I think it can be done, but the demands are tremendous. And for Angela and Jack and those who can pursue the profession full time, fantastic (I miss Jack but am glad he's delighting your "Lex Vegas" audiences). But it IS liberating to know you can do it totally because you are passionate about it, not because you can't eat if you don't get the gig.

Anonymous friend, I believe your astute comments reflect those I've heard from your audience brethren (and when I'm not acting, I'm among you as well to see shows): Richmond theatre audiences have seen shows in NY and London and regionally. But they can't go there all the time for those very good reasons you mentioned. It's exactly why we need to keep a vibrant theatre scene here. It's GREAT to have talent from outside the area come and work here, not only onstage but directors as well.

I've personally benefitted greatly from working with directors such as Kate Powers, Anthony Lucianno, and John Michael McDonald; and working with a veteran actor such as Stephen Lorne Williams (RSF's Prospero in last summer's The Tempest), as well as seeing terrific talents such as we've seen grace local stages recently (case in point: Barksdale's production of Full Monty featuring great out-of-town talent) helps this theatre community to grow.

Different point: Dave, I finally grabbed a hard copy this evening of the arts scene and read the pieces you and Mary wrote. I found them informative and very well written, and commend you both for your work on that collaborative piece. Good job.