Sunday, November 15, 2009

Your Sneak Peak of Sneak Pique

Tonight Susan and I attended a play put on by a new theatre group in Dickinson: Sneak Pique Productions (see this and this). Their very existence is exciting: we have access to community theatre again! There are theatre productions in the local schools and at the university, but Dickinson adults who wish to act or direct or work backstage or have some other kind of involvement in theatre haven't had many options in recent years other than an annual murder mystery dinner theatre production put on in the winter as a fundraiser for the public schools' foundation.

Years ago, Susan tells me, there was Sosondowah Summer Theatre, a group that performed several plays each summer at an amphitheatre on the lawn of the university. However, that group was inactive by the time we moved here, and the amphitheatre has since been removed. We came here from a community in which we had been very involved in local theatre for years and years, so it was with some regret that we resigned ourselves to adapting and just becoming audience members instead. Now it looks like we may be back onstage in the future!

In the meantime, we had a good time tonight in the audience supporting Sneak Pique's first production. They were supported by other groups, as well.
  • The university's Foundation and Alumni Association was one sponsor, creating superior publicity materials and other behind-the-scenes support.
  • The local Odd Fellows Lodge was another, lending Sneak Pique its facility (on the second floor of a building downtown) to use as a performance space.
  • One downtown business, JP Frameshop and Western Edge Gallery, not only lent several framed works of art to decorate the walls of the theatre space, but they also framed a portrait of the university's long-time football coach that was painted by a local artist, unveiled at the opening performance of the play, and signed by both the coach (Hank Biesiot) and the painter (Troy David).
  • Another downtown business, Stix n' Twigs CafĂ©, which normally has limited hours of operation (late morning to late afternoon), reopened after each performance [except for tonight's] to serve dessert and wine at a post-show reception. (I forgot which additional local business supplied the wine in support of the production.)
  • Burn the Floor Dance Studio sent troupe members to perform a routine between acts at most performances and before the show tonight.

Outside the Odd Fellows Lodge building downtown, an usher was stationed in black clothes and a red vest to welcome audience members. A red carpet was laid out on the sidewalk for us to walk upon into the building. We ascended a staircase that had strings of white lights lining each side of the steps, and more ushers greeted as at the top of the stairs and guided us into the performance space: a rectangular meeting room with a stage set up at one end and rows of chairs lined up to the back wall. The sight lines weren't terrific because the "house" (where the audience sits) wasn't "raked" (built on a gradual ramp with seats in the rear higher up than seats in the front); but by leaning to the right and left to see between people's heads in front of us, we ended up seeing most everything just fine.

The play was a comedy by Christopher Durang: The Marriage of Bette and Boo. It was pretty funny, and the cast (including several of our friends and coworkers and even one of my former students) did a great job. They were scheduled to run Thursday through Saturday and were sold out each night. They added a performance tonight, which also sold out, so we were lucky to get tickets. It's too bad that there was no post-show reception tonight because Susan and I were looking forward to the cuisine, but it was probably best to get everybody home and to bed at a reasonable time on a Sunday night.

The show of support by local businesses that sponsored the play and by audience members that sold out each performance bodes well for future productions by Sneak Pique. Keep your eyes open, Faithful Reader, for future posts; you never know when I might be writing about a play with Susan and/or me in the cast!

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