by Celia Klehr
There are times when it is important to stop for a moment, reflect on the past, contemplate the present and dream about the future. June marks the beginning of our fiscal calendar and a brief window of calm before the exciting rush of our 6th season. As I clean out my desk, organize files and make initial contacts with all the folks that make up the "Forward Family," I find myself thinking about our first full season with fondness and gratitude for the progress we have made. To begin with, this desk! In an actual office! During those beginning months, the Forward Theater "office" lived in everyone's home and in the little black bag that was attached to my side. I toted that bag everywhere. In it were contracts, founding papers, my ledger and the all-important checkbook. Today, I sit in an actual office with desks, file cabinets and our checks are "cut" instead of being hand written.
In 2010 and 2011, a lot of time was spent moving to different locations. Sometimes it felt as though all I did was pack boxes, scour sinks, mop floors and clean toilets. Today it is an absolute pleasure to have our "home" at the Overture Center for the Arts. Not only are the spaces lovely, but we are surrounded by a professional staff that goes out of their way to make things run smoothly. I am often met at the door by an Overture staff person eager to tell me of a new idea they had that would make things "just that much better."
The first full production that FTC presented was Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them by Christopher Durang. At the time we didn't have a Production Manager because, well, who knew? This meant that our design team, Stage Manager and Director worked together as a unit to solve everything from working within the budget, timing of production, transportation and to final production. That collaboration set the tone for the way we work today. Happily, we now have an outstanding Production Manager and yet managed to retain that spirit of open communication and truly working as a team. I am especially proud of the fact that the professionals who work with us find the working atmosphere of Forward Theater to be one of genuine collaboration. There is a deep respect and understanding of the work each individual brings to the stage. From the carpenter to the backstage hand to the lead actor to the board operator to the director, there is an open flow of communication and creativity. The end result shows in the quality of work we have been able to present on smart, tight budgets in a short amount of time. Our "Tech Week" is a time of calm excitement. Not something that can be said all the time. I am constantly pulled aside and told that working with us has been a joy both creatively and professionally.
The most wondrous part of the last five years has been watching our audience grow. We sold single tickets that first season. It was anybody's guess as to whom, and how many people would actually come. And come they did! Today, we have a subscription base of over 2,300 that is lovingly processed by hand before it is turned over to the Overture Center's Box Office. From the very first performance, we have greeted the audience in the lobby. We have made it our mission to create a sense of "family" and the audience is a huge part of that. I love that our lobby feels like a celebration. I love that over the last five years, the audience members have been making new friends amongst each other. And I REALLY love that the "audience" has become individuals that I look forward to seeing.
As for the future? I love big dreams! Personally I am aiming for the regional
Tony Award ☺