Firm Thinking - Episode 11

Discussion on the Wyoming Valley Theater Community - 4/14/21

Firm Thinking is a podcast created by the Law Firm of Hourigan Kluger and Quinn. Topics vary from legal matters to current events. Host Attorney Lars Anderson talks with Dave Reynold's, King's College Theater Chairperson about local theater and opportunities for those interested.

HKQ Firm Thinking -Episode #11- Dave Reynolds Kings College_01.mp3: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

HKQ Firm Thinking -Episode #11- Dave Reynolds Kings College_01.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Lars Anderson:
Welcome, everyone. We are filming Episode 11 of Firm Thinking I'm Lars Anderson, a shareholder here at Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn doing labor and employment work. And I have with me my good friend Dave Sugarfoot Reynolds. Today we will be talking about the theater community in the Wyoming Valley. Dave, watch it yourself and tell everyone who you are and what you do.

Dave Reynolds:
Hi, I'm Dave. Apparently Sugarfoot Reynolds. That's a that's a real in-joke and it looks very little league circles. But I'm the I'm the chair of the theater department at King's College, and I serve on a number of local theater boards, the Gaslight Theater Company, kids children's theater, and work in lots of different theater companies in the area.

Lars Anderson:
So tell me, what are you working on? What are you doing?

Dave Reynolds:
I got a couple of things I'm working on right now. I'm directing currently a musical at King's called The Last Five Years. It's got its two actors. It's pretty cool. It's it's the story of their relationship. But the woman tells the story from the end of the relationship to the beginning and the guy tells it from the beginning to the end. Do they meet in the middle? So we're doing that live streamed April, I believe, 14th through the 17th, directing also A Midsummer Night's Dream at KISS Children's Theater. The rehearsals start for that this weekend. And that goes up in June, I think. And I'm working on a number of different sort of. Podcasts and things for GasLog, we're not producing in person yet, but some different things that we've been working on throughout the the pandemic,

Lars Anderson:
What exactly is Gaslight or company? What is that?

Dave Reynolds:
So gaslighted. Your company is a company that myself and a couple of friends formed back in 2003. Most of us were graduates of the theater program and kings, and we sort of formed it because we sort of saw a lack of the kind of theater that we're making a king. So classical theater, things like Shakespeare and stuff like that, and under produced works. So that's where it started. Since then, we have continued with that mission, but also really brought into our mission doing the work of original regional playwrights. So that's been really cool. We just wrapped up an eight year series of one I plays called Playroom, where we would we do the set of a specific room in a house, and then eight to 10 different playwrights would write a one act in that room and we would play them all in one evening. So we've been able to feature I think the number was like over fifty five different playwrights in the past couple of years. So that's been pretty great for us. Wow.

Lars Anderson:
So there's fifty five different playwrights in our region.

Dave Reynolds:
Yeah. Yeah. And so when I say region it's casting a pretty wide net. We have some people writing in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and stuff like that. But there's, there's actually a lot of a lot of regional like Eastern playwrights working in the area.

Lars Anderson:
So let me ask you, you know, most of us have heard the name Jestina. What exactly is cast and what does it do in our community?

Dave Reynolds:
So KISS is a children's theater. KISS actually stands for kids innervating stage in sound, which I think is an interesting name, not my favorite name, but I don't I'm not going to besmirch the good the good people of cast. But there it's a children's theater for age ranges. I think for up to 18. There's three different groups. There's the Littles, which is like three to eight, the middles, which is eight to 13, and then seniors, which are 13 to 18. And their mission really is just to educate children in theater. But also, you know, it's a it's a really inclusive space. One of the things I like most about Kiss is that, you know, regardless of who you are, you're included and in casts. I've done a lot of work with, you know, a couple of the actors there and have Down syndrome and they integrate writing the cast with everybody else. And it's a it's really kind of great to see that that's that in action. Right. Because, you know, when you're when you're seeing it happen, there's there's there's no difference. Right. Like nobody's looking at anybody differently. They're all just part of the part of the group. And that's kind of great.

Lars Anderson:
That's great. So can like any child who wants to start getting involved in acting or theater and like they can go out outside and try out.

Dave Reynolds:
Absolutely. There's they run a number of different workshops throughout the year. I think they sort of do it on like a summer fall, winter basis where they'll have a workshop for each age group. You can learn more just by going to I. I think it's his theater dog. Let me look it up real quick. I think that's correct. But yeah, the artistic director is Jessica Suda and she's fantastic. So you could just send an email and you can get involved kind of immediately. I think that that website's right. Yeah. Kice theater dog with an R e.

Lars Anderson:
So tell me what the pandemic and affected in person and my performances, how, how that affects the theater community and value. And what do you see going on now because

Dave Reynolds:
I mean, it affected the theater community greatly. No one has been able to do real live events, you know, towards the last summer. And people sort of started doing outdoor events and things and that kind of worked. And then the winter has just been there's been not a lot of actual live event things happening. You know, gaslights been sort of shifting focus to putting together a number of podcasts we're looking at potentially doing, there's a Ray Bradbury piece called Kaleidoscope, which is about astronauts in space, but it works really well in this kind of format and zoom. So we're looking at trying to do that at King's. We've been we've been producing stuff, but we've been doing it for the camera, for film. So we just wrapped filming last week on our 71st annual Shakespeare, which was as you like it. So we set it up like like a movie, which is kind of great. We ran three cameras. We're editing it, doing it just like you would do with three camera sort of film or sitcom. So what's missing is the audience. So it's not really theater, but it's getting as close as we can get. And it's been really great for the students. You know, they're learning a lot of stuff they wouldn't normally be learning about working with cameras and stuff like that. So that's been cool. We can't wait to actually have audiences again because that's what makes theater theater. But we've been getting by

Lars Anderson:
Well, with the new governor's order coming in April, we're going to have an easing of the restrictions. Right. So, yeah, more indoor gatherings are allowed. What do you see for the theater community and productions coming this spring and summer?

Dave Reynolds:
I think that a lot of the companies that I've talked to are going to continue with the outdoor model probably this summer. I know the production I'm directing at midnight of Atkiss Midsummer is going to be outside, which actually works really well for that show. Right, because it takes place like in the forest and stuff. So Kids is up at the East End Center and one of the side faces Woods. So we're actually building a set back into the woods, which is pretty cool. We're hoping that that will become a permanent structure of Atkiss. I don't I can't speak for all the other theaters, I know that some people are probably going to start doing limited seating things indoors. I have a meeting coming up with John Mayday, who's the head of the Riverfront Parks Commission here, and we're going to bring back we've done a couple of years now, Shakespeare on the river. That's a gas project that we'll be coming back. I don't have details yet, but that the hope is to bring that back to summer. So I think people are going to be producing. And my hope would be that once we get back to the fall, it gets a little bit chillier, that the restrictions will have been lifted enough, that we feel comfortable having indoor gatherings. Again, more

Lars Anderson:
So I'm going to change topics a little bit. And during the pandemic, I don't know if you have give me an idea and I got to watch that streaming of Hamilton. That's something that I didn't think I was going to enjoy or was even applicable to me, but I very much did enjoy. Do you see, like, successes like that changing musical theater in our area or making people do more musical theater in our area?

Dave Reynolds:
Yeah, I mean, I'm not sure. I mean, I think that I think that your experience with that is the experience that a lot of people had with the you know, being a theater person was very much on my radar. Yeah, we have Disney plus I have three kids. So of course we have Disney plus. But I was looking forward to it right by my family, actually, my my two sons and my wife saw a live version of Hamilton in Philadelphia. I got left at home with Rosie. But, yeah, I was very much looking forward to it. I've actually used it in classes. I use it in class this semester, an intro to theater class with a bunch of people who didn't know what it was. And I said, all right, we're going to watch a musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton. And I watch their faces all sort of like, oh, God, this is going to suck, right? And then I showed it and like, oh, that was awesome. So I think it's going to definitely maybe do with the experience that you had will be translated for lots of people that it it super accessible. It's the music is not it's it's rap. It's a hip hop musical. And I think it's going to bring a lot of people to musical theater. Whether that makes them continue. I mean, I hope it does. But I think that, you know, they did a really wonderful job with with the way they shot that, capturing what it's like to actually be in a theater. That was what we were trying to set out for when we shot our Shakespeare, too, is that feeling of you're watching a play, but it's shot on film. So, yeah, I think it's going to certainly bring people more, hopefully more people to theater.

Lars Anderson:
So with the experience you just had and by doing that the filming, what was the new experience the kids were your students were exposed to typically aren't exposed to it?

Dave Reynolds:
Well, so, I mean, I think, you know, on both sides of the of the camera, right. My my background's actually in design more the technical stuff. You know, I like the act, and that's fun. I have fun with that. But I'm I come from the from the design side. So the kids on that side of the table were learning stuff that we never do, things like, you know, cinematography or where to place cameras and how to make sure you have all the stuff that you need so that you can go back and edit it later and how to integrate sound to cameras, which is different than what we normally do for the theater. If you're doing a live event, sound runs completely differently for the kids on the other side of the camera. Acting for a camera is completely different than acting on stage. So they had to learn, you know, like when when to turn to play to one camera and one to turn to play to the other one, which is something that we don't typically do ever. Right when you're playing to a live audience. So it was a really great educational experience.

Lars Anderson:
You see, as the pandemic changes, do you see your program continuing to do things of that nature or you're going to go back to just strictly by performances?

Dave Reynolds:
I think we've been talking about it. I think there's absolutely going to be a hybrid of stuff that happens. You know, the thing about, you know, you'll ask any theater person and the best thing about theater is making it in front of a live audience. So we're never going to go away from that. That's that's the best part of theater that it's like, you know, theater is different from film in the sense that it's live. Right. And it's you know, it's the unique experience that, you know, you could see the same show three times that it would it wouldn't be the same show. Right. It's only that what you saw on Thursday nights different what you see on Friday night. So we're going to keep that for sure. But I think that we might integrate more events that are films, more sort of student showcase pieces that we film. You know, we got this equipment. We're learning how to use it. So I think it would be it will be sort of dumb of us not to continue to include that educational experience for our students.

Lars Anderson:
So for a guy like me who's never been involved, never got involved in theater, you know what? If I were the age of 40, decided I want to start doing some work, I go where I work, I get involved in anything.

Dave Reynolds:
You're never too old to get involved in theater, even 40. So I'm older than you, though,

Lars Anderson:
And raised my age to make you feel so bad.

Dave Reynolds:
Yeah, I'm forty three but like very spry. Ask him I can wrinklies like unbelievably, there's tons of ways to think about theater that make maybe everybody doesn't understand is that it's kind of like a microcosm for the whole world. Right. In a sense that like you could do anything in the theater. Right. Because I work in technical theater, I know how to wire lights and I know how to weld and I know how to I could build houses and build things and like not to code. Right. But I you can in any one of your talents that you have, you can you can do that in a theater. So you want to get involved with coming to build sets or learning how to do lights or any of that kind of stuff. There's lots of companies that will have you if you want to be an actor, you can there's lots and there's a really great community theater scene in Northeastern from the companies I work with more frequently, like Gaslight and Kiss. There's little theater of Wilkesboro is music box. There's I'm sure I'll get in trouble if I don't mention everybody. But there's lots and lots and lots of opportunities to share your talents in any way that you want to write. Some people really don't want to be on stage, like I said, but you can come and design or build or, you know, work in a box office. You can do marketing. All these things are available in the theater.

Lars Anderson:
So I'll leave you with the last question. What's your favorite show of all time and what not bad

Dave Reynolds:
That I'm involved in or that I saw?

Lars Anderson:
You, man, it's your house.

Dave Reynolds:
It's really that man that's real hard.

Lars Anderson:
Give me a double what you've seen and that you've been involved in.

Dave Reynolds:
Ok, that I've seen years ago, I went to I'm a big fan of Shakespeare. I went to the Stratford Festival of Canada to see some Shakespeare with a bunch of students. And the professor who had booked the trip set up a day for us where we were seeing Henry, the sixth, part one and part two in the same day. And it was kind of like, oh, my God, this is going to be horrible and long. And it ended up being like one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. The that's the Shakespeare play. That's sort of where Shakespeare touches on the War of the Roses, which is like, you know, the war between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. And you've got Joan of Arc. And like there's so much it was awesome. Right? And they're like they had the actors in the audience, like shoot and bow and arrow. And there was a really cool thing. It's impossible for me to pick a show that I've been involved in, but I'll give you one in twenty eighteen here at King's. I was lucky enough to direct the show called Ragtime, which is a show that I've always, always wanted to do.

Dave Reynolds:
It's about. It's it's a pretty big sweeping story, but it takes place in New York and the turn of the century, and there's a group of upper class, rich white people that live in New Rochelle. There's a group of Eastern European Jewish immigrants and there's a group of African-Americans who live in Harlem and their lives sort of intertwine. And it's a show I've always want to do is super hard. It required us to have diversity in casting, which we never had before. And we did it and came off and it was awesome. And since then, it's it's been great to see, you know, more and more actors of color coming to do shows that King's very, very proud of that. So I would say that one's up there, but I don't know, man. There's something great about every show, every show, seriously. So it's a really good friend of mine said that the best thing about our jobs is that we get to make pretend for a living. And that's kind of like I feel like the luckiest guy in the world, because every day I get to do something new and different,

Lars Anderson:
Somebody is going to get involved. Where can I find the theater groups or production groups to to to try out or get involved?

Dave Reynolds:
Yeah, I think the easiest thing to do, really is social media stuff. If you look for Nepsa and North-Eastern Theater on Alliance, they usually will list when there's auditions and things like that. Also, just following the local theaters on social media, a little theater music box, and then any scene we'll often post

Dave Reynolds:
Things is usually also

Dave Reynolds:
The Times leader used to run in their arts section when there's auditions and stuff like that. So the easy things, probably social media just go on Facebook and look up Nepeta, and that should probably get you a link to everyone else

Lars Anderson:
That's asking you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. So all those out there listening to firm thinking, we thank you for taking time out of your day to listen to this great podcast. Please turn it in the future. Is Lars Anderson signing off and Dave also saying goodbye?

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