Bob and I have enjoyed seeing the presentations of Acting 101 at the end of each sequence of classes. A range of people of different ages perform monologues and scenes with honesty and intensity. Why do acting classes have an appeal for people of all ages? We decided to interview students we knew to find out what they enjoyed about studying acting, even if they weren’t interested in careers in acting. Miriam Silver and Maggie Pendergast were most obliging. We also spoke with Dan Silver who had studied acting as a young man, but went on to another career, but has since returned to it, acting with the Dorset Players and with Oldcastle Theatre Company.
The Glass Menagerie is one of Tennessee Williams’ most memorable and frequently performed plays. Set in the 1930s, it is the story of a family in transition. Although the circumstances may be specific to a time and place, the relationships are universal. Often categorized as a memory play, it is narrated by Tom, remembering his sister and mother at a crucial moment in the family’s history.
Christine Decker, the director, has a long relationship with the play. Early in her acting career at Oldcastle Theatre she played Laura, the shy daughter. Later she played Amanda, Tom and Laura’s mother.
The Mount Anthony Union High School Drama Club offers a wide variety of plays, performing American classics such as last year’s production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons along with musicals like The Adams Family. Different casts will play on alternate nights from April 13 through April 16 at 7 pm at the Oldcastle Theatre on Main Street in Bennington.
Christine Decker is a talented actress whose performances in a wide variety of roles have thrilled audiences at Oldcastle Theatre and at Hubbard Hall in New York State. Chris is also the Director of Education at The Oldcastle Theatre Company in Bennington. Her students range in age. She teaches school age children during vacations and adults throughout the year.
Recently Chris talked with us about the Vacation Theatre program as well as about her other acting program, Acting 101. Fortunately, we also have a record of her talking about that program with one of her students, Miriam Silver, when the program first started.
Here is a picture of the first day of the February Vacation Theatre Camp as well as our interview with Chris.
A group of people in Bennington are working together to create The Bennington Community Theatre. One of the reasons for doing so was the impressive work by the students in Chris Decker’s Acting Class. Watching scene presentations at the end of each series of classes, it became clear that there is a great deal of talent in our area.
Bob and I have enjoyed many community theatre productions at the Dorset Players, The Ghent Playhouse and the Vermont Theatre Company. Like Dorset, Bennington is fortunate in having an equity theatre company in town. Oldcastle Theatre Company has been offering stunning professional performances for forty-four years. In its relatively new location on Main Street has continued delighting audiences. Some people have wondered if having a community theatre is any threat to Oldcastle. Experiences in other communities show that not to be the case. The more theatre, the more theatre. What it does mean is year round theatre in Bennington. Oldcastle primarily performs in the summer. Meanwhile, it has shared its space with other performers such as Ida Faiella’s L’Ensemble, Bread and Puppets and other arts organizations. The Bennington Community Theatre’s first full length performance will be Arsenic and Old Lace directed by Christine Decker, Oldcastle’s Educational Director, at Oldcastle at the end of October.
Our son and daughter-in-law have worked in community theatre in New Jersey, a state with many community and professional theatres. We were lucky to have an interview with Chris Decker about community theatre and her teaching as well as a conversation with Paul and Maren about their experiences in community theatre and teaching acting.
There are four segments to each interview, starting with Christine Decker. The second four segments are with Paul and Maren Sugarman. If by any chance, the programs do not appear on your copy of the blog, just click on the url.
For sometime people in Bennington thought that in addition to our professional, Equity theatre company, Oldcastle, it would be good to have a community theatre that could put on plays during the time that Oldcastle was not in production. Part of this interest came about because of Christine Decker’s acting classes for adults that take place at Oldcastle.
Community Theatre involves people who love theatre, but who do not plan to work in it full time. They volunteer their services onstage and backstage and have a wonderful time doing it. Bob and I have enjoyed Community Theatre performances at the Dorset Players and the Ghent Playhouse among others. As Community Theatres produce plays, the members become more and more skilled in all aspects of theatre.
Good ideas need someone to get things going. Robert Ebert is doing just that. He has been an active member of the Bennington Community since he arrived. He has the program News and Views on WBTN and has produced a number of radio plays on the station. He also organized the Play Readings on the Veranda series at the Park McCullough House in 2010 for the Season of Mystery. He started the History Book Club and is an active member of the Baker Street Breakfast Club, a Sherlock Holmes society. He has also served on several boards.
Thanks to Robert’s organizational skills, the Bennington Community Theater is a not-for-profit group with its own bank account and Post Office Box – Bennington Theater Company, P.O. Box 746, Bennington, VT 05201. The email address is email@example.com The company will soon have a Facebook page. Be sure to look for it. They will rent the Oldcastle Theatre for their first production at the end of October which Christine Decker will direct.
Robert wants as many people as possibleas possible involved both backstage and onstage. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to local non-profit organizations. One can become a friend of the project for $50.00, but any kind of help is welcomed either financially or by assisting the company in other ways.
Robert talked about the Bennington Community Theater on Theatre Talk and is willing to talk with any organization that would like to hear more about it. People might also be interested in listening to Christine Decker and Miriam Silver talk about the acting classes that were the inspiration for this project.
Be sure to click on the url to listen to the programs.