The Providence Journal recently reported that Jason Nodler, the newly appointed director of Perishable Theatre has stepped down after four months on the job. Apparently, Perishable's finances were a little bit different than he expected, and he felt that he couldn't continue with his planned course of action. He directed one play while at Perishable which closes tomorrow night. (To purchase tickets, visit ArtTixRI)
While I don't really know the inside story at Perishable, this reminds me very much of Anne Bogart's entrance and departure from Trinity Rep. (This happened in 1988-89)
Anne Bogart also had a "different idea" of the finances of the theatre when she took over (although to be fair, part of that was caused by her producing 8 dark and depressing plays in a row, which started a precipitous drop in theatre subscriptions)
Both Anne and Jason had excellent pedigrees from the artistic side-- Jason had co-founded an amazing Houston theatre Infernal Bridegroom, and had helped to raise it from scratch. His concept was to do something similar with Perishable-- re-create the energy and excitement that has made Infernal Bridegroom one of the small theater success stories from around the country.
But Providence is not Houston-- we are much smaller, much less population, and much more (dare I say it) provincial in our beliefs (the nice way to say it is SET in our ways)
It's really difficult to replace somebody who has come to exemplify or personify the theatre to funders and to theatre goers. When Adrian Hall stepped down, and Anne Bogart took over, it was a momentous job for her to replace him-- he had been there for 20+ years-- and it was hard to imagine the theatre without him. And subscribers, funders, and even board members couldn't warm up to her--
I believe that a similar situation has happened at Perishable. Mark Lerman was the heart and soul and living body of Perishable-- the glue that hung it all together. Replacing him requires somebody who is capable of being that glue, and the question remains-- who is the person who can do that, but in their own way. It took Trinity a while to find Oscar Eustis (Dick Jenkins came in as the director and helped right the boat, but it was Oscar, who spent a lot of time fundraising, and less time directing shows, that made Trinity back into the healthy financial institution that it is now.
Whoever Perishable chooses as their NEXT artistic director, they have a tough job ahead of them. They really need to glad-hand the funders, and show that they have the energy, fundraising skill, and personality to keep Perishable vibrant and alive. And they have to show that they have their thumb on the pulse of the audience. Jason had the artistic pedigree, but having never seen him work the room, I don't know if he had those chops, and it's possible he was never given the chance to display them.
If I were to choose somebody as the next artistic director (and indeed, if you had asked me last year who should be the artistic director), I'd suggest Vanessa Gilbert, who was the associate artistic director at Perishable for a number of years, the recent director of the Magdalena Festival in Providence, has a good handle on how Perishable works already, and is a familiar name and face to the Providence theater and funding scene. Of all the local people in town, she'd be my first choice . (Not that Perishable has asked me for my opinion.)
Perishable is a great theatre, and serves an important role in the local arts scene. It would be a LARGE SHAME to see it (pardon the puns) go bad just as it starts to ripen.
Please note: Years ago, I was an actor with Perishable theatre, and worked extensively there. I occasionally do continue to perform there. (My Punch and Judy show was performed at Perishable last year). The above is just my opinion, and contains no real "insider knowledge."
Thursday, October 27, 2005
It may be chilly, but the stories will be hot -- and spooky.
On Saturday, October 29, starting at 7pm, the American Story Theater will produce the final installment of WaterFire Presents Tales for October. We've moved the stories later, and added a 10pm show!
All events are free, and there will be chairs and carpeting to sit on.
Storytellers include Jeanne Donato, David Mello, Mark Binder, Marvin Novogrodski, Jeanne Jordan Bent, Marilyn Meardon and Carolyn Martino
Shows will be at 7, 8, 9 and 10 pm. The early evening shows will be more family-oriented, and the later shows will have a more mature content.
(Please do NOT bring kids to the 9 and 10 pm shows unless you're willing to be responsible for their nightmares.)
More details are at americanstorytheater.org
More information about WaterFire is at http://www.waterfire.org
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
An acupuncturist has moved into my building, and I thought I'd point out her services. She is a licensed Chinese acupuncturist, and in talking to her, one of the things that I really liked is that she wasn't all "space-agey" about the benefits of acupuncture. We talked for a while about the placebo effect, and the fact that some people are going to feel better just because somebody spent an hour or so really talking and listening to them. I'm not denigrating acupuncture or its effects-- I'm sure that there's something to it- but I also think that part of it is just people don't get enough touching/caring/listening in their lives. (Hmmmm.. who's getting all touchey-feeley now?)
Anyway, her name is Dr. Mary Claire Dilks, and her practice is called Emerging Energy Acupuncture Check it out, if you'd like!
Monday, October 10, 2005
RITE, Rhode Island Theatre Ensemble presents QED by Peter Parnell. Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman, holds forth with wit and wisdom in this fascinating play. One of the twentieth century's great physicists, Feynman was also one of its great eccentrics. Not only did he develop the atomic bomb and quantum electrodynamics, buy he played the bongos, frequented topless bars and relished his bit parts in university theatre productions. Chris Perrotti portrays Feynman with honesty, joy and a full understanding of the true character of this great man.
QED opens October 11 at 7pm and runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 7:00 pm through October 22.
RITE is in residence at The First Universalist Church, 250 Washington Street, Providence.
Tickets are $15 & $12. Thursday is Artist Night -- all tickets are $10. Call 383-5146 or log onto http://www.ritetheatre.com