By Philip Pearce
Marketing, conditions of membership and the future of the incapacitated Outdoor Forest Theater highlighted Monday night’s annual meeting of the Monterey County Theatre Alliance at Paper Wing Theatre in New Monterey.
MCTA President Teresa Del Piero’s announcement that the production company behind this month’s State Theatre production of Anything Goes has bought the theater and wants to join MCTA set off friendly but heated discussion. Members weighed in on what requirements actually exist for membership and whether the prospective applicant will maintain the close ties of cooperation and sharing of resources that exist among current Alliance members.
Tom Parks of the Carl Cherry Center and Fred Herro of The Western Stage argued that the newcomers are theater, they’re now local and they should be welcomed.
But Gary Bolen of the MPC Theatre Company and Paper Wing’s Koly McBride called for caution and a closer look at potential implications. Would the Redwood City based group, Bolen wondered, recognize the need for close communication between production companies? Would they, for example, give advance notice of coming productions to ward off duplication? Emphasizing the importance of a sharing of resources, McBride felt the applicant needed to be asked whether they are “just a Bay Area outfit coming down for some vacation time?”
Well-known local designer/director Walt DeFaria was for “welcoming them but with restrictions,” but Cindy Womack of Pacific Rep doubted that the gentlemen’s agreement cooperation that now pertains between members is backed by any actual provisions in MCTA by-laws. Could restrictions be placed on one particular member that did not apply to all the others?
President Del Piero agreed to contact the group and sound them out on the issues raised in the discussion.
Reopening the furloughed Forest Theater was reportedly running into challenges and delays. A planned opening in May 2015 has already been advanced to July, according to DeFaria. Continued contact with the project rebuilding process, he admitted, has led him to conclude that “if they open again in May 2016, that will be good.”
Marketing of local theater companies and events, Teresa Del Piero reported, has included a paid advertisement in The Herald and a February 2015 MCTA benefit performance by the Listening Place, possibly at the Wharf Theatre.