If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news of late, you know that Actors’ Theatre has been a hot topic. In remaining true to our mission, Actors’ often presents works of theatre which would not otherwise be provided a voice in West Michigan. Often these programming choices are subject to criticism and controversy.
Defending Our Mission
On Tuesday, June 7th an article was published in the Grand Rapids Press which contained assertions about the mission in purpose of Actors’ Theatre. Our official response was issued on Tuesday morning:
…from its inception, Actors’ Theatre has provided a forum for many voices and diverse points of view. It is because of this rich tradition that we respect Trustee Ryskamp’s right to express his own passionate convictions. While we do not take issue with the expression itself, we feel it necessary to firmly refute any assertion that Actors’ Theatre is, “a group that definitely has an ideological agenda and maybe a religious agenda.” Our mission of inclusion insists upon organizational independence from both…
The Front Page and National News
On Wednesday, June 8th, a follow-up article made the front page of the Press in which Actors’ founder, Fred Sebulske, attempted to clarify the importance of both the 30-year relationship between Actors’ Theatre and Grand Rapids Community College and public support of the type of work that Actors’ Theatre produces. The subject touched on the convictions of many, in and outside of West Michigan, and soon the subject was syndicated by the Associated Press, appearing in the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, as well as the leading Gay news periodical, The Advocate:
Richard Ryskamp, a trustee at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, wants the school to add a decency standard to evaluate groups that receive funding, according to The Grand Rapids Press.
The decency clause would exclude groups that encourage “evil things,” such as the Actors’ Theater, according to Ryskamp. “Corpus Christi portrayed Jesus Christ as the ‘King of the Queers’ and they’re planning another play that portrays Jesus Christ in an unflattering way,” Ryskamp said.
What You Can Do
Preparations are already under way for our 30th Season. Despite our long-term, mutually beneficial, relationship with GRCC, our work and our relationship with the college will always be subject to external scrutiny. The timing and intensity of this scrutiny will, at times, have an effect on our efforts to obtain corporate and organizational funding for our work. Contributions from private individuals are always necessary and greatly appreciated in ensuring artistic freedom. Beyond those contributions, however, there is much, much more you can do to support Actors:
Measures of public participation are very important in obtaining foundational and corporate support. Our key measures of public participation are ticket sales and dedicated season subscription base. Obtaining corporate support and organizational grants is year-round work and being able to demonstrate these measures of commitment is a key component. With such an exciting lineup for our 2010-11 season, there is no reason not to express your support for Actors’ today!
Volunteer Your Time!
Preparation for our 30th season requires a great deal of time and the efforts of many. During the season, we are always in need of volunteers to assist in promoting productions, serving our patrons as ushers, and assisting with preparations for our many season events. If you would like to become a member of our corps of volunteers, please let us know.
Since everyone seems to be reading the news lately, we’ve come up with some unique ways to accessorize your experience! Check out the *NEW* “Fred is My Homie” mug (to match the t-shirt) at the Actors’ store and much more. Keep checking back! You never know when or at what time of the day inspiration may strike…
As we enter our exciting 30th season, we remain dedicated those who have played an important part in the previous 29. Stay tuned for future announcements including:
- An exciting lineup of 2010-11 workshops on contemporary theatre for both performers and non-performers alike!
- Special 30th Season events celebrating our history and providing glimpses into our future.
- Detailed insights, information and previews on our productions for the upcoming season – plus much, much more…
Actors’ Theatre is committed to providing West Michigan with the best of innovative, entertaining, challenging, and thought provoking theatre.
We believe in the inclusion of all!