March 2018

This month's blog comes from our Public Relations Director, Michael McBurney, who is an active member of the Pittsburgh theatre community and avid comedy fan and performer:

The theme for the 2018 season is “Make ‘Em Laugh,” and there are a number of reasons I’m excited about that. On a very basic level, comedy is a wonderful salve for the many stresses and injuries that can happen in life, whether in the sense of everyday mishaps or much larger concerns (say concerns over the state of the global climate, the political health of the nation, or how we can ultimately come to properly treat each other as human beings, just as completely random examples). On a personal level, I’m excited because comedy has always been, and continues to be, an important part of my life. I remember getting books out of the library as a young boy to try and teach myself how to make sound effects with my mouth and vocal chords, and while I recall failing spectacularly, I think that started me down the path of trying to mimic voices and accents. That in turn, along with having an English teacher for a father, almost certainly set me down a path to be drawn to theatre and performance.

Now, years later, I find myself lucky enough to be using those skills regularly in many different ways - not least of all at Arcade Comedy Theatre on a team called Penny Arcade. The team performs in the afternoon twice a month, on the second and fourth Saturdays, for an audience of children and adults, and we get to engage everyone by taking suggestions from them and asking for volunteers to help with the short form improv games we play during the show. It is a constant source of joy to see the connections people can find through comedy in these shows, regardless of what was happening in their lives before they walked through the door, and to know that they leave feeling happy, and perhaps a bit recharged and ready to face the world again.

For similar reasons (and for the fact that many of us have had thoughts of numerous comedic plays we’d love to perform), Throughline hopes you will come and join us for this season’s shows. Whether the comedy is witty or bizarre or highly satirical, they all provide opportunities for us to take a pause and revel in a moment outside of our personal lives and be entertained. In taking such a moment, we can sometimes, if lucky enough, gain a moment of perspective that allows us to see things as we hadn’t before, and realize that with the right amount of good humor at our side, almost no task is impossible.

One of the aspects of improv that Penny Arcade emphasizes to our audiences is the necessity of collaboration – in order to perform a truly entertaining scene, the performers have to work together and support each other. Similarly with Throughline, all productions are naturally collaborative efforts, dependent upon the talents of actors, directors, crew, company, and board of directors. Through all of this, though, the collaboration of patrons is an integral part; without an audience to come and see (and truly be engaged in) a performance, everything is somewhat academic. To that end, helping us by becoming a sustaining patron through our Patreon account, a one-time donation, or volunteering to usher or assist with other behind-the-scenes aspect of a show is a collaboration with Throughline that helps immensely and also allows us to connect with the community on a deeper level.

So again, I hope to see you and laugh with you this season! A long-maintained comedic trope is the happy ending, and the more we come to collaborate and laugh together, the more I’m certain we’ll find our way to happiness in each and every day.

February 2018

This month's post comes to us from our Volunteer Coordinator, Shannon Knapp! She gives us the scoop working with us:

Hello friends of Throughline! As one of the company's newest members, I would like to take this moment early in the New Year to talk about getting involved.

The news seems to get worse daily, and the arts seem to be in the news more and more as politicians debate funding for education and public arts grants. Our season theme "Make 'Em Laugh" feels more and more like an insurmountable challenge than a fun way to engage more people. This summer, I will be directing our production of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, a play about a gross, violent, and petty man who seizes power and wrecks a country. But since that has nothing to do with anything, let's talk about another type of getting involved!

You are probably here because you like theatre. At some point in your life, you were in or saw or worked backstage for a show that Mattered. A show that touched your life and made you different. Or maybe you just like to pretend to be someone you're not (or to see other people pretending to be someone they're not). Whatever it is, you've made the choice to follow Throughline Theatre. I made that same choice several years ago and then I went a step further. I emailed them and asked how I could help.

If you, like me, spend a lot of time on websites of theatre companies in this city, you find that there are many different ways each organization approaches talent acquisition. Most post jobs as they become available, some have a Contact Us form, some accept resumes year round. Some I have no idea, because it's impossible to figure out how to become involved from their websites. Sometimes you can't even figure out a person's name to address an email to! At Throughline, we want it to be easy because we WANT you to be involved. At our Work With Us page http://www.throughlinetheatre.org/work-with-us/ we not only have a form you can fill out if you don't want to email someone directly, but we have company members' names and email addresses where you can specifically address whomever you want to talk to. In fact, don't even click that link, just email me, Shannon Knapp, at sknapp@throughlinetheatre.org

"But I don't have enough experience!" you cry, longing to click send, but afraid of the reaction. Tell those fears to be silent. Why? Because two years ago I sent an email to Associate Artistic Director Sarah McPartland with my resume and YouTube links to radio plays I had made, asking to try my hand at sound design. I can't overstate the support I have received from this group of people. Since beginning my sound design work with Throughline, I have developed my skills on four shows here, booked three paid gigs with other companies and assisted the resident Sound Designer at Pittsburgh Public Theatre.

Few companies can say that they are willing to take chances working with people they don't know; even fewer will accept you so much that they feel like a family. As we are gearing up for our 2018 season I want to encourage everyone to try their hand at something new with Throughline! Audition, volunteer as an usher, submit that script you've been writing, sign up to assist me with sound design, become a patron! I promise that you will learn new things and be surrounded by a supportive group of fellow artists. You may even meet your new squad.

Still not convinced? Consider becoming a sustaining member (yes, just like for public radio!!!) You will get fabulous prizes, exclusive content, and those warm fuzzies that come from supporting local artists. 

 It's very simple; just click this link https://www.patreon.com/throughlinetheatre 

January 2018

January's blog post is from our Business Manager, Eric Leslie, who has been with the company since almost the very beginning:

This is going to be a little sappy, coming from the business guy. Sorry not sorry.

You can do good theatre without a lot of things. And in the eight(!) years I’ve worked with them, Throughline has done good theatre without most of them. You can get by without a lavish set, or any set at all. You don’t need expensive props, or fancy costumes. Elaborate light and sound designs are optional. (Having lights is very tough to forego, but even that is possible in a pinch, though I don’t recommend it.) Having all those things is nice! Given the option, I don’t know many people who would turn them down. But you can go without them, and still have a great show.

But you cannot, cannot do good theatre without heart. You can’t do it without enthusiasm and honesty and gratitude. Audiences know. If you’re not putting up something you believe in, something you’re excited about, something you’re eager to invite them to take part in, they’ll check out. And then you’ve spent a lot of time and energy making something that in the end, didn’t reach people, because the work isn’t enough. It’s about connections. It’s about people. You, whether you’re on the stage or behind it, need to reach the people in the seats.

I think everybody who’s done theatre has had a couple of shows (or more) where that equation doesn’t fully come together. I don’t think any company, Throughline included, can swear they’ve never fallen into that trap for a performance or even a run. But I can say that since I joined the company back in our inaugural year of 2010, enthusiasm and honesty and gratitude have never been missing from this team. I was lucky enough to be brought into the company by friends, I’ve brought in friends of my own, and I’ve made new friends that I treasure along the way; all great artists and just as importantly great people I’m lucky to know. Watching Throughline grow - in size, in capability, in prominence - for what is quickly approaching a decade has been full of proud and grateful moments, and those have often centered around the artistic quality of our shows. But for me personally, the most satisfying pride and deepest gratitude has been in seeing how many people are excited to work with us and excited to see our work. Excited to know what Throughline will do next. Excited to hear when auditions are coming around again. Excited to become or remain part of this family.

That’s the “community” part of “community theatre”, and it’s why I’ll never have a problem with that label no matter how big our organization or our stage might get. It doesn’t indicate a lack of quality, and it doesn’t tell you how much money was or wasn’t behind a show (though hey, have you considered becoming a Throughline patron over on Patreon? because we do actually still need money. Okay, sorry, business manager talking). It says that the focus is on the people; the people who make the art and the people they present it to. People who need this, who fill their nights and weekends driving their families nuts and giving up their time and their sweat because they just can’t not. I believe that’s what has always gotten Throughline’s family excited, and why folks come back. It’s why I come back. 2018 will be another year of change for this crew, and change is both exciting and scary, but I can’t wait to see where we go next and I hope you’ll all come with us - on stage, backstage, and in our seats.

Happy New Year.

Season's Greetings!

Nothing makes us happier than seeing the curtain rise on a Throughline Theatre performance, but for that to happen we need your support. So this is a love letter - to all of you, our artists and patrons past and present - because performing a good, challenging play for an intelligent group of people who want to reflect on the world through a work of art is absolute heaven to us.
 
After leaving the Grey Box Theatre in the fall of 2015 we have worked hard to select a theatre we can call home. We have identified Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater as our new venue for the 2018 season and we need help raising the funds to secure our future there. We are a small community theatre with big dreams; and our past few seasons have been important milestones for all of us. We’ve taken on a series of challenging and vastly different plays (from the trials of Nuremburg to the trials and tribulations of being a woman). We’ve provoked hundreds of discussions about the nature of family, the government, the search for meaningful existence, and the impact of unjust persecution.

However, a few seasons isn’t enough time! And it’s not even a long time; but it does mean a lot of seats to fill on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, or Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights! That’s where you come in. Just as love takes two, so does our future. We are asking all of our donors, past and present, to join our sustaining member campaign on Patreon. By giving a $10, $5 or even $2 dollar monthly donation, you’ll make our new home a reality.

Rest assured, this will not be a one-sided relationship. In return for your generosity, we’ll grant you backstage access to members-only material; director’s concepts, artist interviews, and pictures of local actors and technicians, just to name a few. You can reach our portion of the Patreon site by following this link, creating an account, and choosing Throughline Theatre as a creator to support https://www.patreon.com/throughlinetheatre. Your Tax-deductible donations make a huge difference in our ability to bring you the best Throughline plays with some of the best talent in Pittsburgh.
 
So please help us continue, dear theatre-lovers, as we have more issues and stories to tackle. Together. Thank you for your compassionate support of our mission.
 
We’ll see you at curtain (with our undying love and gratitude),

Sean Patrick Sears     Katherine Stienstra
Artistic Director        Managing Director

 

November 2017

Our November update comes from our Assistant Production Manager, Dan Freeman. He fills us in on some of upcoming events and why we chose the plays in our 2018 season:

"Hello, friends of Throughline! Here we are in the doldrums of autumn, but the Pittsburgh theatre scene – as well as our company! – are vibrant as always. I am very excited for what’s to come to Throughline with our 2018 season. We have decided to curate a season of comedy! With the seemingly ceaseless stress of living in our world today, we at Throughline thought it would be a welcome relief to take a step back and let our wonderful audiences laugh their cares away. We will be producing The Inspector General, Ubu Roi, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile; these shows come from different times and different places, and represent a dynamic range of comedic techniques – but each is sure to have something to make ‘em laugh! I’m so thrilled to be able to work with such a talented group of theatre-makers, and hope you’ll be able to join us in 2018!"

October 2017

For our first post Hannah Brizzi, Marketing Administrator, discusses one of her favorite Throughline performances and some of the reasons why she loves volunteering her time with us:

"I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in numerous seasons of Throughline Theatre Company. A couple years back, I acted in their all-female production of "Everyman." It was incredible to work with a bunch of fierce, talented, incredible ladies (plus our fearless co-director Joey Yow). I love how this past season, The Fair Sex, featured numerous plays with female centered plots and a bunch of juicy roles for us to play. I remember when Sean Sears announced we were doing “The Vibrator Play.” I gasped at the table out of excitement. It’s a fantastic show with a solid message, and not nearly as scandalous as it might sound. Throughline always does exciting work that is inclusive to all. I’m proud to be a part of it."