By Carrie Chapter, Philadelphia Theatre Company
Philadelphia Theatre Company rang in its 2011-2012 mainstage season at its annual Season Preview event. On September 26th, we invited our Board, subscribers, and patrons to a special behind-the-scenes glimpse into our season selections and upcoming events. In the upper lobby of the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, our company hosted a small reception during which our Artistic Director, Sara Garonzik, toasted our imminent season and introduced our new Managing Director, Shira Beckerman, to our PTC community for the first time. After the toast, we urged everyone to join us inside the theatre for our season presentation.
We were pleased to have as our esteemed guests, Anders Cato, the director of our first show of the season, RED, as well as veteran PTC and Philadelphia director, James Christy, who is directing Bruce Graham’s THE OUTGOING TIDE in the spring. The conversation on stage, which was moderated by Sara Garonzik, spanned everything from artistic vision to childhood aspirations. As Literary Manager and Dramaturg, it was my turn to speak on behalf on our most ambitious productions to date – Kander & Ebb’s THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, which is set as our second show. The director of the production, Jeff Whiting, then addressed the audience via video interview on a screen behind me, which really invigorated the audience. Our Education Director, Maureen Sweeney, discussed the impact of our school outreach programs, like Philly Reality, which allow students to write, direct, and perform in their own work on our stage. The students then sent a video message, which was greeted by thunderous applause by the audience.
We knew we wanted a powerful closing statement to the evening, so I was proud to end the night by announcing our revamped PTC@Play New Play Festival, whose expansion was only possible by the generous support of the Knight Arts Challenge Grant. For many, it was their first time to hear the exciting details of what’s in store for the festival, and how they can become a part of new play development. The event was truly a triumph! For now, I, along with our PTC@Play Festival Director, continue to pore over the script submissions, and anticipate our round-up of finalists.