Snow Library Explores Local Theater Appreciation

by Jennifer Sexton-Riley
On Tuesday, April 9 Janine Perry, producing artistic director of Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster, will reveal the hard work behind the onstage magic at Cape Rep. On Tuesday, April 9 Janine Perry, producing artistic director of Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster, will reveal the hard work behind the onstage magic at Cape Rep.

As part of its Lifetime Learning Series, Snow Library will welcome representatives from local theaters in the month of April to share insights from behind the scenes in a four-class sequence titled “Appreciating Local Theater.” In four classes, the casts and crews of four local theaters will shine a spotlight onto what happens behind the curtain to make the onstage magic happen. Instructors will include artistic directors, playwrights, actors, set and costume designers and marketing directors. Attendees will learn all about what goes into a theater production, including how shows are selected, who writes them, how performers are found, who directs and manages the shows, how sets are made, how lighting and the sound are designed, how much it all costs and many other aspects of theater life. Theater representatives will also give a sneak peek into their upcoming seasons.

The first class was taught on Tuesday, April 2 by representatives from the Academy of Performing Arts in Orleans and featured Artistic Director Judy Hamer, who gave a history of the iconic theater on the hill. She was joined by costume and set designers, and followed by a brief live performance from the Academy’s current production of “Annie.”

Next up on Tuesday, April 9 Janine Perry, producing artistic director of Cape Rep Theatre in Brewster, will share the unseen creative process, a candid “fly-on-the-wall” look from choice of script to opening night utilizing a previous production to demonstrate vision, set, lighting, costume design, casting and budgeting. “​​I hope to give the audience a clear sense of who we are and what we do, and, using one of our productions, a visual and verbal inside look at the creative and collaborative process they never get a chance to see,” Perry said. “The creative institutions embedded in a community allow everyone in that community to take a journey together and become a part of the world around them.”

The third installment will feature Christopher Ostrom, producing artistic director of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater (WHAT). Ostrom will share the 40-year history of WHAT, from its humble beginnings on Wellfleet Harbor through the construction of the state-of-the-art Julie Harris Stage, and its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. He will discuss his approach to programming and producing an eclectic season, and the unique circumstances that WHAT faces as one of the Cape’s only fully professional theater companies, including negotiations with the three major theatrical unions (Actors’ Equity Association, The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, United Scenic Artists Local USA-829 of the IATSE) and negotiating with agents. Ostrom will discuss WHAT’s sustainability initiative, which encompasses adopting environmentally friendly business practices, programs to strengthen and engage the community, and creating fiscal resiliency.

“We are blessed on Cape Cod to have such a vibrant and diverse theater community,” Ostrom said. “I am eager to share WHAT's unique 40-year history, and to pull back the curtain on our approach to season planning, and the process that brings a script to life onstage. Theater provides us with a lens through which we examine the human condition. Few forms match the power of live theater to provoke, perplex, entertain, engage, and transform an audience.”

The fourth and final class will focus on Harbor Stage Company in Wellfleet. Co-founder, playwright and actor Brenda Withers will explain the history and mission of Harbor Stage Theatre and give an overview of the theater’s past and upcoming productions. She will also engage participants in an interactive theater workshop discussion based on plays they know and love.

“We're grateful for the chance to share the Harbor's story with more theater lovers on the Cape,” Withers said. “Once the season's in full swing, everyone's attention is (rightly!) on the plays being presented, but an event like this gives us a chance to fill people in on our history and mission. Every theater on the Cape has its own priorities and personality — we're looking forward to discussing the things that make the Harbor the Harbor: an artist-run organization, a resident acting company, and a commitment to affordable, adventurous performance.”

“Appreciating Local Theater” will take place on three remaining Tuesdays, April 9, 16 and 23, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Snow Library’s Craine Room. This series is presented by the Friends of Snow Library. Attendees are asked to pay a suggested $10 donation to attend the course and can participate in person or on Zoom. To register or for more information, visit