Northwest NEWS

January 4, 1999


The joys of community theater

by Deborah Stone

   Viewing the Agatha Christie vintage mystery Mousetrap at Redwood Theatre reminded me once again of the joys of community theater.

   Being able to travel a mere ten minutes from my house to the Redmond Senior Center, where all of Redwood's performances are held, sit in an intimate informal space, and be entertained by a group of dedicated local actors is definitely a win-win situation in my book.

   With the number of Eastside community theaters on the increase, including Woodinville, audiences have many choices, all within close proximity to their neighborhoods. The talent in these local productions ranges from novices to full-fledged professionals who have appeared in films and on stage at well-known venues in Seattle.

   The common bond that seems to exist between actors is the desire to perform, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Sue Buckovinsky, director of Mousetrap, sees much variety in the types of individuals who get involved with community theater. "I see everything from people without a speck of acting experience to retired folks and kids right out of high school who may have done some previous stage work, as well as those who are very talented actors wanting to stay busy," says Buckovinsky. "There's also a number of actors who do the community theater circuit, and they are quite experienced."

   Buckovinsky claims to like directing brand new players best of all. She explains, "They're like a clean slate, and it's fun to see their confidence grow in rehearsals. It's rewarding to get new people involved in something as worthwhile as community theater."

   There is a welcoming and supportive feeling in community theater, and according to Buckovinsky, the friendship-building that occurs becomes very important to those involved.

   As a director, she enjoys seeing a group of diverse individuals bond. "I love seeing each part of the process and watching the chemistry occur," comments Buckovinsky. "It's exciting to see it all come together."

   Each director has his/her own style of directing and perceives the role differently. Buckovinsky, a director with numerous credits, views her job as a guide. She says, "I feel like it's very parental at times, because I try to let actors make their own mistakes and then learn from them. I help nurture the self-discovery process along, and this seems to achieve successful results."

   This is Redwood's fourteenth year in the community and its future is tenuous. The Theatre operates with a shoestring budget and lives hand-to-mouth from year to year.

   "The financial support is always hard," explains Buckovinsky, "but what we desperately need is continued community support. Our audience numbers are erratic, which is perhaps due to the many choices out there for entertainment and also the fact that even though we've been around a long time, lots of people in nearby local communities don't know we exist. Publicity costs money, and that's something we don't have a lot of."

   Redwood puts on three shows a year and a small core group of four to five people run the theater. They do the mailings, sell the tickets, build and haul sets, and do the grunt work and day-to-day operations.

   According to Buckovinsky, the number has dwindled over the years, and those who remain are dedicated and committed to the continuation of the theatre, but it becomes increasingly more difficult to shoulder all the responsibility.

   "It's important for the public to know that community theater has a worthwhile mission," says Buckovinsky. "It is a stepping-stone for both actors and audiences and serves as a mark between high school drama productions and professional theater. It offers a relaxed, informal theater experience that's accessible and affordable to everyone."

   Upcoming productions at Redwood Theatre include Measure by Measure, a western adaptation of the Shakespeare classic, and Charley's Aunt, the well-known humorous farce about impressions and false identities.

   For ticket information, call 206-525-3493.