Innovative Collaboration Between Forward Theater Company and Goodman Community Center Offers Much More Than A Free Ticket

Madison, WI - September 3, 2013 – Professional theater is alive and well in Madison, and one local patron is giving some Madison residents the chance to discover that for themselves.

Efrat Livny, a longtime fan and supporter of Forward Theater Company, has lots of enthusiasm for live, local theater. So, as a gift in memory of her parents who instilled the love of theater and art in her, she is making it possible for Forward Theater and the Goodman Community Center to collaboratively launch an exciting program. This unique program is designed to give community members who have not had the experience of seeing a live theater performance and for whom cost may be a barrier, an opportunity to do so — complete with a ride to the Overture Center, dinner and child care for those who need it.

This November, 50 program participants at the center will receive tickets to see Sons of the Prophet, by Stephen Karam, which focuses on a family keeping their sense of humor in the face of hardship. In addition to tickets for the play, Forward will provide a teaching artist who will meet with everyone the week before seeing the show to introduce the play and then again after they have seen the show to discuss the play and their experience, to answer questions and to converse about whatever people are curious about. Participants will choose one of two performances to attend, the center will provide transportation and baby-sitting services and Livny is arranging for each group to have a meal at Ian’s Pizza before or after the show. To wrap it all up, Forward artists, Goodman staff and Livny will meet to discuss the program and the possibility of repeating it or expanding it. Livny is hoping that the program’s success will inspire others to help fund it and/or to establish similar programs in other community centers.

Jennifer Uphoff Gray, Artistic Director at Forward Theater Company, is thrilled. “Forward Theater Company was founded on a commitment to the civic life of our community. Thanks to Efrat’s gift, we can fulfill that commitment by giving people in our community who may not have access to the arts — especially live theater — an opportunity to not only see a great performance, but to talk with actors and directors and share that experience with their friends and community.” And, according to Gray, Livny’s gift will also help Forward understand how they might increase audience diversity and engagement across the community, which is a core part of their mission.

Becky Steinhoff, Executive Director of the Goodman Community Center, knows these tickets will be popular, “Last spring, Forward made it possible for several of our low-income teens, their parents and some of our staff to see their production of Good People and it was a total hit. Clara, a receptionist here who grew up in poverty and still struggles, had never been to the Overture Center, much less seen a live play. The next day she was telling everyone about it, ‘I loved it. I can’t believe how much I loved it. It was SO good. I’ll go every chance I get.’ And with the chance to meet the artists and learn about the play before going, I think they are guaranteed to have a rich experience again.”

Forward Theater Company is a not-for-profit theater company in residence at Madison’s Overture Center that was founded in 2009 to provide a home base for Wisconsin theater professionals and audiences that expands the cultural and economic life of the greater Madison area. For more information about Forward, visit forwardtheater.com.

The Goodman Community Center is one of the busier neighborhood centers in Madison. The Center offers many programs to strengthen the lives of preschoolers through teens, meals and social activities for older adults, a food pantry, a gym, an exercise facility and community space. For more information about Goodman, visit goodmancenter.org.