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 The new City Players...

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QuantumCowboy
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PostSubject: The new City Players...   Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:05 pm

So... what is everyone's opinion of the changes going down with the Palmdale City Players?

For those not in the loop, PCP management has been using this year as a growing year for the group, bringing in new actors and crew and providing a wide variety of theater experiences in order to get the group meshed and versed in different aspects of theater. This week, they have announced the creation of a Drama Council, ceding broad managing of production selection, director selection, and technical coordination to the group itself, with the goal of having PCP operating as a repertory-type theater company starting next season.

Is PCP ready for higher quality shows with longer runs? Can we compete with other theater groups in the valley?

In which roles within the new organization (council + committees) are you planning on participating? Why?

Does PCP's egalitarian approach to theater as a learning experience for everyone a hindrance or a strength?

How have you grown this year as a PCP actor or crew member, and how will this help you approach the new season? If you aren't a City Player, how have you seen those you have observed grow?

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:21 am

Being a newbie to any kind of troupe, I'm not sure what the norm is. However, having been on several committes of various kinds, both at work and church, I know that councils, committees, and boards have a tendency to get political. I have done my best, when serving in those capacities, to keep politics and personal gain out of the mix, and try to make decisions that are for the good of the group. It was not always popular, and sometimes I had to make decisions that affected my personal time and in some cases, my paycheck. These are not easy decisions, and are not to be taken lightly.

That said, I think that the people that are in a theater group should have some kind of say as to what productions they put on. If people felt pretty passionate about a show, they would probably work even harder to make it the best possible. There would be more involvement in something you had invested your energy into. I'm not sure if I'm making my point clear, but bottom line, my opinion is, given the opportunity, I would be very much interested in deciding the kids of show I would personally be involved in.

I plan to be part of this process, and I hope it turns out to be every bit as useful and productive as I think it can be.

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:55 am

Ready for an earful?

I wish I was optimistic about the new changes being set forth by PPH for the PCP's. In some ways I am, but what I really want to shout is, "What the heck took so long?"

I'm exceedingly frustrated by some of the comments I've heard over the last several weeks about growing the theatre into a rep-type establishment by integrating "actors" into technical and production-type positions. The sentiment seems to be that we, or some of us, have been resting on some sort of hoity-toity actor laurels from which we now must descend to join the ranks of the real laborors of the theatre. Every time I hear this, I look around at my fellow PCPs and wonder just who the heck this is being addressed to.

For the last year I have begged--literally begged--to lend my professional technical skills as a makeup artist and hair/wig stylist to the theatre, as well as my amateur skills as a set painter, button-sewer, prop-handler, and all-around-helper to PPH. It was like pulling teeth to convince someone--anyone--to let me help. I know for a fact that I am not the only one who has had this experience. Another (unnamed) Player with far more technical theatre experience than me (and a BA in Theatre!) was turned down as well! I'm not sure who these "actors-only" people are, but when I look around at my fellow Players, I only see people who are trying their darndest to truly be team players in all aspects of theatre. What gives?

My only guess is that now that PPH is looking at severe budget cutbacks with the very real possibility of losing some extremely qualified and knowledgable staff and may possibly need volunteers to fill once-staff positions. The problem I see is that there has been such dissonance between staff/tech and PCPs, at least for the year I've been there, that it will take more than these committees to bridge these gaps.

For one, Players are seldom even in the building when most technical/production staff are present. Do they even know who most of us are? Do we know who most of them are? How are we expected to integrate/shadow/learn from them when we don't know them from Adam, and vice-versa? Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but many times over the past year I've gotten the distinct sense from certain staffers that I'm merely a guest actor in THEIR theatre, and need to be told my place. Now I'm being asked to integrate--as though I was the snooty one??--into the staff/tech? Wow. That's a bitter pill to swallow.

For most of my childhood and for my entire adult life theatre has been my love and my passion. I chose to study and earn my Theatre degree from a very small university expressly because their program was integrated in such a way that they made no distinction between acting and tech programs. Sure, you could prefer one over the other, but you had to study (and consequently appreciate and respect, and love) both.

If you're still with me after this rant, know that I'm not trying to be the nay-sayer here. I really, truly want this to work. I give up time with my husband and children to show up to PCP meetings each Wednesday, rehearsals on weekends, and shows. I've come to love my fellow Players like a second family. I love this. That's why I want to see it get better.
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:44 pm

So, Kara, tell us how you really feel............. Wink

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 1:48 pm

I have been talking to Mouse and Phil this week about possibly joining the city players. I do both tech and performing in the community theatre groups and I am gettting really sick of all the politics. They have really encouraged me to join and I trust them and know they wouldn't steer me wrong. From what they have told me the changes are a good thing and I am really excited that I might get to be a part of it. If you have any info on what i need to do to join and when meetings are please let me know!!
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:01 pm

CindyYagi wrote:
I have been talking to Mouse and Phil this week about possibly joining the city players. I do both tech and performing in the community theatre groups and I am gettting really sick of all the politics. They have really encouraged me to join and I trust them and know they wouldn't steer me wrong. From what they have told me the changes are a good thing and I am really excited that I might get to be a part of it. If you have any info on what i need to do to join and when meetings are please let me know!!
Thanks

It would be great to have you on board!!! Looking forward to seeing you there!

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:34 pm

When do the city player meet? How much is it to join?
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:50 pm

Cindy,
We meet on Wednesday nights at 8 pm currently. The cost is $65 to join; however, since you'd be coming a little late in the game, so to speak, I believe they may consider pro-rating your fees (but DO NOT quote me on that!). Wink
We'd love to have you! How exciting that you'd consider joining our group--we're a blast, if I do say so my self.
So here's a preemptive "welcome!"
-Kara
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 2:57 pm

I currently have vocal rehersals for Chicago on Wednesday nights...I think they will be getting fewer and fewer soon so hopefully I can comet to the meetings.
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 4:19 pm

Welcome Cindy, it will be great to have you!

I personally think the changes are going to be a good thing. This has been an enormous growing year for PCP, and I for one am looking forward to next year very much.

I do agree with many of your points however, Kara. It's not just the actors that need to step up, the staff does too... that means scheduling enough rehearsal time and space for the shows we do, sticking to the rehearsal schedule promised at auditions, having tech staff available early and often, and making sure that actors and crew are not split into factions.

No system is perfect, and unless you hold the money bags, you don't get to define your own, so my philosophy is to make do with what you've got when you've got it. I think the PPH management really did want for this to happen eventually, though I agree with Kara in that perhaps their hand was forced a bit early due to the budget/staff slashing at the city. No matter... the drama council and its committees are a great opportunity for us to gently nudge (*not* push) this in the direction we want it to go. The best way to improve the system is to work it from within (and know your loopholes).

PCP is ready. This year we've added lots of new talented people, and they are starting to mesh well with the older experienced ones who stayed on. Overall, I see an energetic and largely optimistic group of versatile actors and crew ready to learn and do what it takes. Just think... in this season alone we will have whet ourselves in a family comedy, a radio play done true-to-form, one acts, original work, Shakespeare, and a very poignant and emotional social drama... and through this training obstacle course I've seen nearly everyone step up and deliver.

PCP has been largely ignored by the rest of the AV theater community. The few community theater webpages I have seen out there don't even acknowledge our existence on their links to other groups in the valley. I get the feeling we are dismissed as something of a joke to the "real" community theater "professionals". But this group has come so far lately... look how much coverage we've gotten in the AV Press this season! I remember a PPH staffer telling me in years past that it used to be such that if they could fill 4 rows, it was a great thing... but just last month, we were turning crowds away at the door for every showing of The Exonerated! A sold out run and rave reviews!

We are ready, they just have to trust us; which may be hard for them considering they've been waiting 14 years for this program to grow. So lets get as involved as we can with the council and demonstrate to the PPH and the rest of the valley just how great we can make this!!!

PCP, I love you! Like Kara, I consider you my second family!

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 04, 2008 4:24 pm

Oh, and I definitely intend to join the play selection committee... I need to become better-read in theater, and this sounds like a great opportunity to do so. I may also request a directing apprenticeship for one of next year's shows. On the technical side, lighting and sound design certainly pique my interest....

I'll have to take a look at the lineup in July and sort out what I'd like to do for which show.

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PostSubject: Question   Sat Apr 05, 2008 9:57 am

A while ago I was part of PCP. Since then I got very involved in community theatre. I have been Vice President of PRT and have been Directing, stage managing, set designing, light designing, choreagraphing and performing in PRT, DOT, IOT and CST shows. My question is ifI join the PCP will there be some kind of prejudice against me because I have been involved with "community theatre"? I have been told that I will not get a bad responce from one person and then from another I got that I would possibly be shunned. I just want the honest answer.
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:24 am

CindyYagi wrote:
My question is ifI join the PCP will there be some kind of prejudice against me because I have been involved with "community theatre"? I have been told that I will not get a bad responce from one person and then from another I got that I would possibly be shunned. I just want the honest answer.

Shunned? Why? For bringing in a wealth of knowledge and experience to a growing group who needs it? I can't imagine that any sane member of PCP would shun you for that, Cindy. Currently I know of at least two members of PCP (myself included) with relatively extensive backgrounds in theatre--years of practical and/or professional experience and formal (B.A./B.A.E) degrees in the subject. The Players THEMSELVES seemed very interested and happy to welcome us and into the fold, and I'm happy to say that we feel like family to our fellow Player thespians. It was actually with some of the staff that we (or at least I) seemed to take issue. The breakdown of communication appears to happen at various levels, and my frustration, as I've posted before, is that I actually have wanted to give MORE to the theatre than they seemed interested in. Right or wrong, I felt like I was being percieved as a threat by some of the staffers, and trying to clear that up was nearly impossible because communication was so difficult.

Until now, that is. I'm hoping that the new committees being formed will help resolve some of these isues. And while I think that a play selection commitee and a director selection commitee is certainly a great start, I also believe that regular round-table meetings between PCP's, production staff, and tech crew to share ideas, meet and greet, and basically form some cohesion and comeraderie is certainly in order. Our shows are simply short and stressful to act as the only sort of opportunity for that.

In short, we'd love to have you. We need all types of people with all skill sets to join our family and help it grow into the magnificent thing it's about to be. I encourage you to come and try--see for yourself and you decide.
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Sat Apr 05, 2008 10:57 am

CindyYagi wrote:
A while ago I was part of PCP. Since then I got very involved in community theatre. I have been Vice President of PRT and have been Directing, stage managing, set designing, light designing, choreagraphing and performing in PRT, DOT, IOT and CST shows. My question is ifI join the PCP will there be some kind of prejudice against me because I have been involved with "community theatre"? I have been told that I will not get a bad responce from one person and then from another I got that I would possibly be shunned. I just want the honest answer.

I have no idea why someone would have told you that you would be shunned... everyone here in my experience has been very friendly, especially the actors. Though I do see some of the things Kara is talking about, perhaps they don't hit me as hard because I am not as experienced as she ans some others are, and I have no expectations beyond just learning and having a good time.

I get the feeling that the "old guard," including some of the staff and actors, are a bit defensive about all the new people coming in and the new direction and standards that have implicitly been put into place just by the fact that there is such a flux of talent and energy into the group (in addition to what was already there). Keep in mind that PCP was not formed over a decade ago as a repertory-type company, or even a serious community theater. It's primary purpose has been, and probably will remain at the core, as a learning theater.

I think you have a lot of people who have been defaulted into acting, technical, and production roles for a long time, just because there hasn't been much of anyone else involved. Now all these people come in, and all of a sudden you need to compete and step up the game and hey maybe even cede something you've been doing a lot of to someone who knows it better, and its bound to make some people feel like their toes are being stepped on. That attitude needs to change if we are to take this to the next level, and I think it is in the (slow) process of changing.

I'm optimistic. I think we have a lot of great people and we've learned a lot this year. Kara's idea is brilliant; the first task of the new council should be to arrange some sort of round table with the whole theater. In this summer's off season, there is so much we can do to step up everyone's game, but only if we are positive and forward-thinking about it. We have so much potential, and we are almost through the growth spurt pains... Cindy, I think this is actually the best time you could join; the growing will continue, but if the major changes we want can be mostly effected by summer's end (and I think that is perfectly doable with the right attitudes), this fall will be the "dawning of a new era" so to speak for PCP, and you will be there from the beginning. And your extensive experience and what you can teach us, is going to just reinforce the new way of things around here. Come on in!

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Sat Apr 05, 2008 11:44 am

I apologize for not sticking my 2 cents worth in earlier. (Just noticed the postings.) The incenption of the PCP happened only 5-6 years ago and was made up of just a few people, off and on throughout the years. It has just been last year and this year, really, that we have maintained a steady, reliable, and talented group of folks of more than 5 people. Yes, we have some who have been here since the beginning; however, it is just a handful. The others have trickled in throughout the years. Having said that, it has just been recently that we have experienced the growth you see now. As for growth in talent, that is something that has sprung up w/in the last couple of years and the playhouse has tried exceedingly to accommodate with shows that are more of a stretch. Now is the time that a progressive move forward must occur. Growth, in any program, happens in stages and I believe that this is the next stage for PCP.

As for the actor/tech relations, I, too, felt the strain. However, I grew up in theatre programs where everyone did everything, within reason. You helped where needed, etc. And, it has only been with the PPH that I have experienced the separation. I believe part of that is due to the employment situation there. (Whereas before everyone was a volunteer, student, etc.) Having a theatre where employed people do the work has been an adjustment for me, as well. (Along with the limitations that this brings to the table.) Using us as volunteers to run the shows, etc., is a great sign. It means that they know us, trust us, and believe that we are more than capable of handling the work that someone else was hired to do. And, I will be taking full advantage of it. I have a costuming background. I tracked in Acting/Costuming while receiving my degree and miss being in the costume shop. So, I plan to help Susana as much as she needs. Perhaps, even volunteering to costume design a show. (Obviously one that I'm not previously involved in. lol)

These are my suggestions:

1. When the new season is released decide early what you want to be involved in and in what capacity. Then, let them know, in writing, so that they have a record of it. (Talk to me about this so I can make sure it gets through the right channels.)

2. Show your face. Pop in, on occasion and let them know you are available to help out. If you want to file, show your face in the office. "Hey, I've got an hour, what can I do to help?" This increased face time will encourage them that we are serious about helping out. Walking the walk, not just talking the talk, so to speak.

3. Apply to join the drama council. It is easier to make changes within, than without. So, go for it; get in there, and git r done. This council will be a great way to have an inside look on the changes and possibly be a part of making the way for them. And, I agree with Jay on politics to a certain degree; however, I don't believe that this will be the case for the council. They are going to have a heavy work load and major responsibilities. I believe that everyone will be working toward the same goals, using the same guidelines, and such to where politics won't have much of a say, if at all.

Finally, these changes are for the greater good of the group. We are lucky to have such dedicated thespians eager to do the work, from the planning, to the production, and strike of a show. Yes, QC, I believe that the AV hasn't seen the best of us, yet. But, it hasn't been for trying over the years. The playhouse shows over the years have tried to appeal to a variety of audiences and it may have cost them the press that a musical, etc. might allow. But, with that, much responsibility has been demanded for the best in all of us. Now, let us shine and let the AV stand back and bask in our glow.

Your fearless friend,
Tamitha
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Sat Apr 05, 2008 12:38 pm

Well I guess it's all been said already, but I'd like to say for my part that I think no matter what we do to the structure of PCP and PPH NOTHING will truly change if the attitudes and mentalities don't follow along.

We can have all the committees in the world, but if the techies don't see any reason to mingle or the actors are hesitant to get their feet wet, it will be a serious uphill battle.

So, if we all take this on with as much positive energy as possible, and we look at it as a way to create the change that so desperately needs to happen, then I think it can work.

Despite some previously frustrating experiences on this specific front I am trying to stay positive, though hesitant to get my hopes too high.

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Sun Apr 06, 2008 2:58 am

Reading what evertyone is saying I find it kinda funny that the techies are the ones who are encouraging me to do the PCP. I am friends with most of the tech staff and they are very positive about the PCP.
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:28 am

CindyYagi wrote:
Reading what evertyone is saying I find it kinda funny that the techies are the ones who are encouraging me to do the PCP. I am friends with most of the tech staff and they are very positive about the PCP.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I think there is a distinction between tech and staff attitudes, and also there are definitely two camps of tech. Mouse is the perfect example of the great camp; he's friendly, open, and willing to do what it takes to get things done right. It's just the few that make it seem like we are stepping on someone's toes when we try to help that create a negative vibe.

As for staff, I don't think it's really an attitude thing, its just a whole set of bad policies, and I don't know if they are at the theater level or at the city level:

1. What's the point of volunteering if we aren't allowed to anyway? Case in point, keltron yesterday at rehearsal offered to help with costumes because for some reason no one at the staff has scheduled the costumer to see us and its two weeks to show. The response was that we can't, because the rules say that a staff member has to be in the room with us, and they can't pay more staff hours. Prior to the staff cuts, the official line was that there is a staff person to do that, and regardless of your skill level relative to theirs, they are going to do it, not you. Either of these scenarios has been repeated for several people this entire year.

2. The theater has not scheduled enough rehearsal time for this show. We asked if we can get together and rehearse on our own. Can't do it... staff member has to be there and they can't take the liability otherwise.

3. We aren't allowed to bring our own props in, despite the fact that the staff isn't sure whether or not we will be able to pull props from the theater's stash for May's show.

WE WANT TO HELP AND PUT MORE TIME INTO THIS BUT ARE SO HOBBLED BY BUREAUCRACY WE CANT.

Seriously, I'd be willing to sign a liability waiver and accept responsibility for damage if thats what it takes to get more than lip service on how involved with all aspects of theater we can get.

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Sun Apr 06, 2008 12:43 pm

QuantumCowboy wrote:

1. What's the point of volunteering if we aren't allowed to anyway?
2. The theater has not scheduled enough rehearsal time for this show.
3. We aren't allowed to bring our own props in...


WE WANT TO HELP AND PUT MORE TIME INTO THIS BUT ARE SO HOBBLED BY BUREAUCRACY WE CANT.

Seriously, I'd be willing to sign a liability waiver and accept responsibility for damage if thats what it takes to get more than lip service on how involved with all aspects of theater we can get.

QC, you are my hero! (Don't tell my husband!)

Seriously though, QC is exactly right. My jaw nearly hit the floor at the scene I witnessed during rehearsal when Keltron offered to help costume our show. First, we've been chastised for not volunteering enough (don't get me started on THAT rant again) then when we do, we're told that we CAN'T.

AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!! Mad

What a messed-up, sad-excuse for a system that is! Something's got to give, and soon. Because I don't want to hear ANOTHER WORD ABOUT HOW WE AS ACTORS NEED TO DO MORE ABOUT HELPING OUT IF WE'RE JUST GOING TO BE CASTERATED BY OUR OWN THEATRE.

I'm at wit's end here. If I didn't think this theatre was thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to being something spectacular, and if I didn't love--truly love-- and respect my fellow PCP's and our talented and hardworking, dedicated director so fervently, I'd have gotten up and walked out yesterday.

Let's get this mess fixed.
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:49 pm

Word on the grapevine is that a few of us will be meeting with theater management next week. I'm looking forward to it. This is long past due... seems like this discussion board is the only place where anything is getting talked about. All you tech and staff who recently joined the board, post your own opinions! If the threads seem one-sided, that's because only one side is taking the time to bring these issues up.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: I'm ready to rock this next year regardless of what happens... By golly, I'm still going to fly in the face of problems I see, but unless I'm kicked out or something, I'm sticking with it.

(Fired from PCP... wait a minute, I pay *them*... I need a better agent!) Laughing (just kidding)

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keltroncybo
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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:30 pm

QC!

You are right!!! I think it is so important for EVERY opinion to be heard. Of course if the people who all feel one way are the only ones who are voicing their opinions, the forum will be very one sided. Personally, I think the most difficult issue the PPH is facing right now is communication. If I feel like my opinion is only heard when it is posted on the internet, then that is where I will air it. I would love to see a voice from every aspect of the theatre on this forum.

On a side note, I really miss feeling welcome in all areas of play production. My education and the majority of my experience is as a "theatrician." I am deeply hurt to feel as if my experience and skills are unwelcome in an area I love so much. This is my art and my passion, I would like to find a venue in which to stretch my theatrical legs once again. I also find a great deal of frustration in seeing things go undone (or done at the last minute) that I am perfectly willing, and skilled enough to at least help with.

*sigh* I really hope an open forum meeting can and will happen so we can work out these issues. If they are "unworkoutable" I'd like to know so I can find a better place to lend my skills and talents.

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PostSubject: Re: The new City Players...   Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:01 am

Ok, I think we got some good closure last night at PCP. It's good that these issues were brought up, I just think it got way out of hand... lots of little stuff and little miscommunications that gathered up over time. Now that stuff is on the table and everyone has had a chance to clarify what they mean in person, it seems like we can move on.

SO... I am locking this thread from further posting. Requests to unlock it later should be posted in the Questions/Comments/Updates forum, and you should have a darn good good reason.

And since I'm the site admin, I will let myself have the last word to both sides, and that will be the end of it:

This is ridiculous. I think this whole mess could have been avoided if we had just requested a roundtable earlier. Some issues are going to remain, at least for a little while (change takes time), but now we know how people feel and what everyone wants to work towards. So, I would say, try confronting issues with people face-to-face (and directly saying what is bothering you) before letting it build like this. Both sides, watch what you say and how it might be interpreted, and please pay attention when people say something so it's not misquoted later.

Also, both sides need to understand that while I am the administrator, I do not necessarily agree with, nor am I responsible for, any users' content but my own. Unless it's obscene or illegal or I think it's getting totally out of hand and personal (one reason I'm locking this thread), I'm not going to censor anyone's right to have their thoughts heard. If you don't like something, post a (civil) reply. Discussion and debate are a part of growing.

And above all, like I've been saying on this thread all along, stay optimistic!!! We can change a lot by our actions and attitudes, especially through the new council. And seriously, this is community theater... relax and have fun, and if something is blocking you from having fun, address it directly. There a few experienced people on staff at PPH that I am thinking of that have to put up with far more BS than we do in order to get their jobs done, and they still stay optimistic and work towards growing the theater... why can't we?

When legitimate problems exist, you can 1) confront them face-to-face, 2) stop whining, or 3) find something else to do that makes you happy. And for the other side, just know that it's outrageously frustrating to not be trusted in a field that you know and love... frustrating to the point where even rational and calm people will go completely outside the 3 steps above.

In short: lets trust each other, stop being so cliquish (everyone), and buckle down to make this theater great.

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"Acting is all about honesty... if you can fake that, you've got it down." --Oscar Wilde.
"You must unlearn what you have learned." --Yoda, Jedi Master.
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