Ensemble sets stage for 2013
Blowing Rock’s Ensemble Stage has become an outlet for our
As the High Country’s only professional theater group, the company’s productions run the theatrical gamut, from radio dramas to comedies to children’s plays, such as the upcoming “Marmalade Gumdrops.”
Rather than limiting the theater to long-experienced actors, Ensemble Stage has successfully given the chance of theatrics to local students, as well as professional actors. This shepherding of the community through theater is part of the reason behind its recent grant from the Blowing Rock Community Foundation.
Managing director Lisa Lamont hopes that with the grant, the company will soon have its children’s theater program “off the ground.”
In the meantime, Ensemble will continue its weekly play readings, in which anyone, regardless of acting interest or voice, can help chose the next play.
The readings help narrow down many single-set plays from Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing Company and Dramatist Play Service.
“If it’s boring and you don’t care about the characters in the play, no matter how well written it is, we wont bother doing it,” Lamont said.
More than 80 plays have been read since the beginning of winter, Lamont said. She sends out an email every week to about 80 interested people, arranges their availability and holds the reading for either Monday or Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. at various locations. To be added to the email list, send a request to (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Based in the Blowing Rock School Auditorium at 160 Sunset Drive in downtown Blowing Rock, Ensemble Stage is preparing to present its first show of the season – a triple play performance that narrates the emotions and realities of bullying.
The production, “Stop Bullying Now,” will be held twice for students during school hours and will present to the general public Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m. The hour-long play is free to attend.
During the first month of rehearsals for “Stop Bullying Now,” the 14 student actors told their stories of being victimized by bullying or being a bystander of bullying, which refined the “direction” of the plays, artistic director Gary Smith said.
Smith had been contacted by Blowing Rock’s Wendy Estes and the principle of Blowing Rock Elementary after the string of news stories about the emotional and physical damage done by bullying.
Now that the play is on board, one of the Ensemble Stage board members is organizing a campaign for donations in order to caravan this play to other state schools.
“Three Billygoats Griff” is designed for kindergarteners through fourth-graders and is a light moral taught about the contagiousness of bullying.
Beginning with an hungry troll, the act of bullying gets passed to a billygoat and its brothers, affecting a mail carrier, ballet dancer and land developer who try to cross the troll’s bridge.
“Bystanders,” designed for fifth- through 12th-graders, looks at the space around the aggressive action of bullying and confronts and emboldens the bystanders.
“It explores the thought process behind being a bystander and the guilt they feel,” Smith said.
“It’s not just for the kids or adults being bullied,” Lamont said. “It’s also for the kids and adults standing around.”
“Final Testimony,” also for fifth- to 12th-graders, is the chilling story of a bully who finds herself on trial for the outcome of her menacing. After both the victim and bully testify about the realities of the abuse, the play ends with a surprise.
“Theater, all theater, provides an outlet for these kids,” Smith said. “They get to protect themselves, but they can still say exactly how they’re feeling.”
This summer, Ensemble Stage is hoping to produce five plays instead of the typical season’s four, a decision that will be settled in March. Auditions for the summer plays will begin on Saturday, March 9, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium. Updated information will be available at http://www.ensemblestage.com.
Also in March, the summer camp themes for ages 9 to 15 will be decided, and registration will begin, available by calling to reserve a slot of registering online. The camps are limited to 12 kids who will write and perform their own show.
During the first week of March, tickets will be available by phone or online for the next musical interactive murder mystery. The murder mystery takes place during the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival on April 13 at 10 p.m. Seating is limited, and the event has sold out every previous year.
For Arts Month in September, kids will be producing a play on painter Mark Chagall.
Ensemble Stage became a nonprofit organization in December 2009. All donations are tax deductible. Ensemble provides acting opportunities for actors and singers ages 8 to 80, as well as for designers and interns 18 and older.
For more information, visit http://www.ensemblestage.com or call (828) 414-1844.