A Community Theater Board of Directors' Letter to Santa...

Skip Maloney

To: Santa Claus
From: The Players' Club Community Theater of Anywhere, USA
Dear Santa,

We, the Board of Directors of Anywhere, USA's Players' Club Community Theater would like, this year, to make something of a special request. We've been quite happy over the past few years to have a few of our technical requests granted. The digital light board is working fine, and those new fixtures (I think the 'techies' call them 'instruments') just make everything on stage look great. I'm not sure our patrons are noticing, but we are.

We're looking for something a little different this year; a dynamic, theater-knowledgeable man or woman to chair our Play Reading Committee. I know we already have someone in this position, but she's retiring and moving to Florida. She still hasn't gotten over our decision not to produce Fiddler on the Roof for the third time in a decade. We tried to explain that three was enough in a decade, but she just kept reminding us that we were in a new decade.

We were thinking of asking for good play readers, but we have quite a few of those. Some of them on our board of directors, in fact. We're trying to weed out those people who think because they saw the movie on-demand a couple of weeks ago, they don't have to actually read To Kill a Mockingbird, but it's hard because they insist that they've read the play. We can't quiz them because that'd be rude.

What we figured, though, was that if we got a really good chairperson on the committee, he or she just might inspire the crew of readers that we've got. We were even talking about arranging play-reading nights, where everybody on the committee gets together and reads through a play. Then afterwards, we talk about it. The benefits, the challenges. Thinking about whether we have the performance talent to pull off the major roles.

Nobody thought much of that idea. These people volunteer their time, and there's usually not a lot of it around, what with families and all, so whatever they can do is appreciated. We can't exactly ask them to think that it's a job with any kind of serious responsibility to it.

Can we?

We're hoping if you're as kind to us this year, as you have been in the past, you'll find us a Play Reading Committee Chairperson who knows what's at stake, which frankly, Santa, is nothing less than the future of our group, and its ability to excite the people of this community with top-notch live theater. Theater with relevance to the community, offering not just another tired production of Annie, with a cute child and a dog, or some avant-garde piece of drivel that no one understands, but carefully selected, well-written plays and musicals that the community can enjoy.

We need someone in this position who knows the group's artistic, and technical capabilities, as well as knowing the audience here in Anywhere. He or she has to know them well; what attendance figures and conversation indicate about their preferences, as well as how willing they are to take some risks.

And then, this Play Reading Committee Chairperson has to have some serious organizational skills to plot and plan the consideration of anywhere between 10 and 20 plays and musicals and their reduction to a number that the readers can handle without overly interrupting the flow of their everyday lives.

This person will need to have some serious persuasion skills because in order to conduct an intelligent conversation, come selection day, each and every reader will have to have done their job. The chairperson we're looking for is going to have to exude a strong sense of purpose about the task at hand, and successfully transmit this sense of purpose to everybody on the committee.

If you could toss in a little creativity, too, that'd be great. Every once in a while, we get someone who suggests a theme for an entire season, like we did a year or two ago here in Anywhere, when every show we produced was celebrating some sort of milestone anniversary. But we're thinking something maybe a little 'out of the box,' too if you know what I mean. Like maybe a series of plays and musicals in chronological order from the time they were first produced. We have good marketing people, and I think the right kind of idea could lead to all sorts of promotions, but they need to emanate from this play selection process and the man or woman who organizes and engineers the process to its conclusion.

There was some discussion among the board members about requesting a director or two, but we seem to be . . . well, okay in that department. We have a list of capable directors in the area, but you know how it goes, Santa. Those of us who've been around the boards for a while, get to know when a show is just not clicking on all eight reindeer, you know what I mean? And there's a lot of us involved with this company who just don't know how to fix something that's happening on stage even when we know, in our hearts, that something isn't working right. Directors are right up there with the Play Reading Committee Chairperson when it comes to determining the present and future success of our company. Heck, any company.

Having submitted the above to the entire board for their approval, it was suggested that by elevating the status of two positions within our organizational flow chart, I have diminished the contributions and value of other important positions, like actors, musicians, stage managers, music directors, lighting designers, set designers, and house managers.

Okay, they're important, too.
Sincerely yours, and Merry Christmas,
The Board of Directors
The Players' Club
Anywhere, USA