P.E.C.T. …selecting the plays. A Director’s Note by Lynn Fennell.
When it comes to selecting shows for each Season, my first & last consideration is always our audience…After reading several plays I narrow my list to 5 or 6 that I think would be entertaining & popular. With such a wealth of scripts to choose from, there is an ample selection at hand, but our mandate first & foremost is to entertain our audiences. If I’m amused from reading the script then chances are so will our audience.
I don’t wish to stage identical productions each Season so I try to select new playwrights whenever possible. I hope that our audiences will be interested as we expand our repertoire, as long as what we stage meets their expectations. With all that in mind, I select 3 plays that offer a variety of theatrical experience & emotional range. If we take a closer look at the Season 5 lineup, you’ll see what I mean. For example, “Tuesdays With Morrie” deals with a relationship between 2 men in which questions of how to live a meaningful life and how to accept its end are central to that relationship. “Morrie” addresses these universal questions with empathy & humour. “Moon Over Buffalo” was selected partly to capitalize on the success of Season 4’s “Leading Ladies”, also by Ken Ludwig. It involves a large cast & crew and is a very demanding play to stage successfully. It will be our “grand production” of Season 5 & offers pure hilarity to our audiences. Finally, and once again shifting away from the high emotion of “Morrie” & the nonsense of “Buffalo”, I wanted to stage a suspenseful play that relies on the subdued but intriguing interplay among its characters, a play with a charming villain…”Dial ‘M’ for Murder” is exactly what I was looking for. Very different from the previous 2 selections but nevertheless a highly entertaining play. I have an affectionate bond with this play…in 1995 I appeared in a Domino Theatre (Kingston) production as “Max”, the romantic hero of the piece who tries to save his beloved Margot from the fatal scheming of her treacherous husband, the villain of the play, Tony Wendice. That role was the first in a long line of shows I appeared (& directed) in for Domino, up to last year’s “Later Life” by A.R. Gurney.
Audience first, variety of play selection that entertains first & foremost and finally…the issues involving casting & staging. This has become less of an obstacle for me since the success of our Season 4 line-up. We are yet in the early stages of establishing our credentials within this community but our audience response & the influx of new personnel in the past year clearly indicate that we can move forward with confidence that people will want to get involved. When I began this venture 4 years ago my commitment was to 5 Seasons & then, if the support was not there, to quietly fold P.E.C.T. and move on. I expect to “move on” one day but I am hopeful, even confident, that P.E.C.T. will continue to thrive as the County’s only subscription-based community theatre. The future looks promising indeed.