8 Aug

Believe it or not Evansville Community Theatre is still alive. We have taken a couple of summers off but we’ve been itching to get something, anything, going. So in an effort to relaunch we are pleased to announce auditions for the fall radio production of Frankenstein.

If you think you might want a part, auditions are this Saturday, August 12 and Monday August 14 at our new home, John M Evans Hall, 104 West Main Street in Evansville. (Yes we finally have a home but that’s another story.)

Just because we haven’t done a play for a while doesn’t mean the Board hasn’t been busy – we’ve been looking at our organization and deciding how to best move forward. With any small community theatre it’s a struggle–a balance of having enough volunteers and money to produce a show. When we have a production in process the people naturally come to help out, but they soon drift away after the production is over.

We have looked at the organization from all angles over the last several months and continue to develop our ideas and mission and just how we fit in this community. The journey has been exciting, scary, and daunting but we keep at it because we feel that theatre plays an important role and adds another dimension to our growing community.

Over the next several weeks we will be letting you know about our progress, about our new home, about our revamped organization. And if you want to get involved now–be part of our planning, throw out new ideas, and help promote our group–drop us a message on Facebook or e-mail. We are looking for you!

If you want to audition for our radio production of Frankenstein check out our Auditions page at etctheater.com.


A Good Sign

14 Jul
Sharon and Chris

Sharon and Chris

The fact of the matter is Chris Felton, our sign language interpreter, and Sharon Cybart, the White Witch, had discussed it before but many productions don’t lend themselves to sign language interpretation. This time though, Chris looked over the script and felt it was workable. So not long after the rehearsals moved to the high school Chris started showing up with a script, a stool, and a watchful eye.

Then during tech week she sat in front of the stage on a short ottoman and proceeded to take on the role of all of the actors. Honestly, during tech week, I didn’t have much time to notice, I focused a few lights on her and we discussed the basic light cues I would use, but I was more concerned with the lights on stage.

Chris no longer carries her certification but still volunteers from time to time on occasions such as these. Chris taught in Madison for 40 years, interpreted for Deaf students at UW Madison, and has even signed the musical Annie at the Fireside Theatre and a poetry reading by the late Maya Angelou.IMG_2058

So on Sunday, when she took her seat in front of the stage and started interpreting the pre-show announcement, my finger was on the slider that ran her light. Her arms and hands moved fluidly through the scenes and when she placed her hands in her lap at the end of each, it was my cue to dim her light as well. For an hour and a half she interpreted while a dozen from the Deaf community got to see a show.

Chris taught the cast to sign both “thank you” and “I love you” before the show and the cast used them in the curtain call. And in return the members of the Deaf community that came signed “I love you” as the curtain closed.

While it may not rank up there with all of her accomplishments, Chris can now add that she is the first to interpret an Evansville production. And because of all of her hard work to be a part of this show, a group of people who don’t have many opportunities to enjoy theatre got a chance to do just that.

We’re very pleased that Chris will be there Friday evening (July 17) to do one more show.IMG_2074

Come See The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

10 Jul

Sign Language Interpreted Show Friday, July 18!11148631_10206224566445835_1155580563267647677_n

It’s been a long week of rehearsals, refining the rough spots, finishing the costumes and props, painting and decorating the set, setting lights, checking the sound. We’ve done all we can do and now it’s time to finally share ECT’s production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Since early May, the cast has been working toward tonight–finding their character, memorizing their lines, understanding where they needed to go an when. The set was built, the costumes were begged, borrowed, and sewn, the backdrop was painted.

11695990_10206224560605689_4578250083221592674_nEach night, with the performances well on the horizon, the cast directed by Dave, and the crew, under the watchful eye of Melissa, worked with this weekend in mind.

We did this all in the hopes that people will come and see the show.

So come see a beautiful and engaging production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe this weekend.

Cast photo by Marissa Haegele, other photos by Kathleen YurkonisDSC09470

Where Not to Stand (or Preparing for Battle)

26 Jun

The art of producing a play is a lot like a big game of tag. One actor says their line which is a cue for the next actor to say theirs which then either gets a response from the first actor or is a cue for yet another actor to say the next line. And to throw in another dimension, the lines may be the cue for one of the technical folks to get into the act–play a sound effect or change the lights. In essence, each line ends with an unspoken “tag, you’re it.”

IMG_1859This week a new type of blocking was introduced into ECT’s production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe–fight choreography. And after watching our fight choreographer work for a few hours, nowhere on stage is the next cue more important. No question, when two or more people start wielding (fake) swords or other battle implements, missing a cue means someone can get hurt.

Stephen Eliasson works with ECT on fight choreography and had scheduled a few hours to work with Fenrus Ulf, Peter, and the White Witch on their battle scenes. Before he came he had obviously spent some time thinking about the two scenes and how they were going to play out. He had taken notes and knew the steps that each actor would take, how they would stop, lunge, lean, twirl, and block a strike. And even how they would meet their end.

IMG_1824But one of the things that was utmost in his mind was the safety of the actors and the only way to ensure that was to make sure the actor was aware of the cues of their fellow actor. They need to prepare for the possibility that an actor may fail to jump the right way when the sword comes at them. Advice like “wait for her to get her arms fully stretched above her head and holding the staff up in the air before you bring you sword down.” And, “make sure you can see him before you start bringing the staff around.”

IMG_1832Who appears to be in control of the ensuing violence may not be the one who is in control of the actions at all. The appearance of actor A getting shaken by actor B is actually actor A creating the motion while actor B follows along. Such is the illusion of live theatre.

IMG_1910The choreography of battle is no different than the choreography of a dance except the perceived violence involved. And the art is just as difficult. So difficult that there is the Society of American Fight Directors that trains and certifies people like Stephen. Stephen only does this occasionally for groups like ours, but his enthusiasm and understanding shine through, making actors comfortable with swinging objects or their fists at each other and making you, the audience, believe they have landed their blow.IMG_1948


Where to stand

15 Jun
This side.

This side.

Until the Evansville High School Class of 2015 graduated, we practiced on the Middle School stage. It doesn’t compare to the EHS stage but I marvel at old pictures that show past large musical productions that were held there. The pit band didn’t have a pit, often it appears they were set to the back of the stage. And there aren’t any wings to speak of, so I can’t imagine how there was room

That side

That side

for set pieces, let alone actors, back there. Yep, we are spoiled now.

Most theatre groups don’t get on stage until a few weeks before the performance, so we are lucky to get on five or six weeks before opening night. That said, the rehearsals in the Middle School are more of the actors working on lines and getting to know each other and because the stage is only half the width it’s hard to really work on where the actors should be on the stage.

How about over there?

How about over there?

Entrances, exits, where to stand, how to time the delivery of the lines is difficult because it will take longer and require a completely different timing on the big stage.

So everyone was happy last week when they arrived at the EHS Performing Art Center (PAC). The directors can move and reassemble each tableau–known in stage terms as blocking.

Hannah said it was feeling like high school again as she told the story about a normal week with the high school director: “Monday: ‘all of you come in from the left and stand there, no, maybe a little further downstage.’ Tuesday: ‘No, no, it’s not working for me, try upstage and to the right, that will be much better.’ Wednesday: ‘It’s not speaking to me on the right, it just isn’t, well, right. Let’s try front and center!’ Thursday: ‘I just think it works best on the left and downstage.'” With that she threw up her hands and walked off.

Sure Hannah, that way works.

Sure Hannah, that way works.

Sometime Director Dave is standing on the floor in front of the stage, sometimes on the stage, sometimes sitting a few rows back in the seats. Melissa isn’t quite as transient but tries to judge it from the audience perspective. They talk to each other and then to the actors, the actors make suggestions and then they run the scene all over again.

Dave on the floor.

Dave on the floor.

In another few weeks, after Dave and Melissa have tried scenes upstage and down, stage left and stage right, and all of the combinations in between, they will finally decide the best place on stage and there simply won’t be time to change it any more.

And after this first week of rehearsals on an empty stage where things were starting to feel right, a small crew came in on Saturday and built the platforms that will become the set. So that means we will need to reconsider the blocking one more time. At least.

Dave on stage, Melissa (19) hangs tight.

Dave on stage, Melissa (19) hangs tight.

Finally, A Show

18 May

The Read ThroughMaybe the best meeting is the second meeting. At the first meeting we have to go over the rules, fill out forms, answer questions and get acquainted with our new cast mates.

For those of us who have done this before, we know that this is the beginning of a two month journey and some of us find a bit of comfort knowing that the last several months of struggle to get this point are finally over. But the real comfort comes when we finally sit down on a sunny Tuesday evening with the sun pouring in the windows and, in a large circle, the first actor says the first line.

We have officially begun.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe isn’t a musical so there isn’t a vocal director or a pit band which seems like it should simplify things, but it doesn’t necessarily. There is still a lot to think about–costume and make-up, lighting an imaginary world, creating props and special effects, building and painting a set and choreographing a battle scene. But that’s a few weeks away.

Right now we are happy the actors, in a large circle, are reading their lines. We’re happy they’ve signed on for the fun and challenges that lie ahead. We are finally in May and the business of theatre has turned back into the art of theatre.

Finally a show.Read thru 2

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is Cast

10 May

Ad - AuditionsWe are pleased to announce our cast for Evansville Community Theatre’s summer 2015 production of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe!

Check out the What’s New page at our website to see the list.

We will have our first meeting for the cast and parents of the children on Tuesday, May 12 at the J.C. McKenna Middle School.

We’re excited to welcome all of the actors to our summer production and we look forward to a great show!

Additional Auditions Tuesday May 5th

30 Apr

Come audition for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Auditions are for adult roles and children 8 and up.

Audition DaECT Attic Lighttes
6:00pm – 8:00pm Tuesday, May 5, 2015

J.C. McKenna Middle School Auditorium
307 South 1st Street, Evansville, WI

Performance Dates
July 10, 11, 12, 17 and 18, 2015
at the Evansville High School Performing Arts Center

Rehearsal Schedule: Rehearsals start in May and will be weekday evenings, some Saturdays may be required as we get closer to the production.

Check out the Auditions page at ecttheater for more information and sides to prepare.


19 Apr

Come audition for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Auditions are for adult roles and children 8 and up.

Audition DaECT Attic Lighttes
9:00am – 1:00pm Saturday, April 25, 2015
6:00pm – 9:00pm Tuesday, April 28, 2015

J.C. McKenna Middle School Auditorium
307 South 1st Street, Evansville, WI

Performance Dates
July 10, 11, 12, 17 and 18, 2015
at the Evansville High School Performing Arts Center

Rehearsal Schedule: Rehearsals start in May and will be weekday evenings, some Saturdays may be required as we get closer to the production.

Check out the Auditions page at ectstagelignt for more information and sides to prepare.

Sucked In by the Vortex

4 Jul

DSCN5712Once the production shifts from the middle school rehearsal space to the high school there is a sudden shift in the momentum. The crew has been patiently waiting to get into the workshop to start building and painting and the cast is anxious to work on the stage.

There’s Saturday workdays and everyone, actors included, shows up to build or paint or help with props. On rehearsal nights, the actors are working on stage while the crew continues in the shop. At some point the paths of both intersect and some of the actors that aren’t on stage pick up a paint brush to fill in the down time while the crew is building on stage among the actors.

Building Mushnik's Shop

Building Mushnik’s Shop

And then, in the final week before tech week, the suction of the play is so great that everyone involved is moving from their work, to the theater, to home to get some sleep, and back to work again. The actors start arriving earlier then the scheduled rehearsal so they can work together on the rough parts of songs or scenes. The choreographer is working with everyone on dance steps, and, from time to time, an actor will appear on stage in a costume for the directors to review.

Everybody paints

Everybody paints

The pit band and the sound board operator arrive and the light designer is working in the afternoon when the theater is empty and darkness isn’t an issue. The producer even had a meeting with the Front of House Manager, to finalize what is needed there.

Floor work

Floor work

Today is kind of a de facto day off for everyone but a large group was at the school early in the morning converting a trailer to a float for the 4th of July parade.


Costume team and the Director


Mushnik, Seymour, and Audrey rehearse.

The vortex has come to full rotation and everyone who is involved is sucked in. When you go into the theater it is filled with energy, activity, and the sense that in a week the curtain will open. Will we be ready?


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