Tag Archives: Board and Staff

Learn More about Actors’ Managing Director, Debbie Playford

Recently there were several articles about Actors’ Managing Director, Debbie Playford. Want to learn more about our fantastic staff? Check out this article by Jan Hoist on mlive.com.

Debbie Playford of Actors' Theatre

Debbie Playford of Actors’ Theatre

East Grand Rapids woman taking new role in hopes of expanding live theater

EAST GRAND RAPIDS – Debbie Playford, an East Grand Rapids resident, found a love for theater through her two school-age children.

Playford has an extensive business background, including the building of a successful business with her husband of 18 years, Brad Playford, but until last fall had never worked in the theater world.

Today she is the managing director of Actors’ Theatre – a decision made by the board of directors in a move members hope will expand the horizons of live theater.

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We’re thrilled to have Debbie as part of our team. When you see her at the theatre, be sure and say hello!

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Actors’ Welcomes Interim Staff for 30th Season

Following the departure of former Managing Director Kyle Amanda Dutkiewicz on May 14th, 2010, Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids is pleased to welcome the following individuals who have assumed interim responsibilities for the business of the theater:

Chris Carnevale has assumed the responsibilities of Interim Director of Operations. Chris brings a diverse background and range of community theatre experience to his role as Interim Director of Operations. In the past 20 years Chris’ involvement with Grand Rapids theatre includes both work and performing for all area theatre groups, as well as Opera Grand Rapids.

Prior to beginning his responsibilities at Actors, Chris served as volunteer managing director for Heritage Theatre Group (HTG) where he took on the task of organizing and running that theatre company – with great success. In addition to his work at Actors’, Chris also is the office manager for MP Talent Agency as well as the assistant to the Executive Director of Kids Food Basket.

Jonathan Clausen has assumed the responsibilities of Interim Director of Development and Marketing.  Jon brings a diverse background in the arts, as well as business, to his role at Actors’ Theatre. Prior to assuming his current position with Actors’, in May of 2010, he served as an actor, director for the Ten-Minute Play festival Living on the Edge, and as an office volunteer for the theater.

Jon has performed locally for a number of theaters, in addition to his involvement in over 30 theatrical productions outside of the Grand Rapids area. Originally from South Dakota, he attended South Dakota State University, The Theatre School at DePaul University  and Aquinas College in Grand Rapids.  Jon’s prior business experience includes a variety of leadership positions over a 14 year period with a Fortune 100 retailer as well as serving as President of an Internet Software Development company.  He was most recently seen at Actors’ in the title role of the 2010 production of Mr. Marmalade.

Actors’ would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all who expressed interest and who applied for these positions.  We continue to appreciate our patrons and supporters for their ongoing commitment to the theater and its mission.

Actors’ Theatre is committed to providing West Michigan with the best in entertaining, innovative, challenging, and thought-provoking theatre.

We believe in the inclusion of all.

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Actors Theatre: In The News

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…

(Read the full statement)

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:

Become a Season Subscriber Today!

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!

(Read more about the benefits of a subscription)

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!


Filed under Communication, In The News

Internship Opportunities at Actors’ Theatre

Actors’ Theatre of Grand Rapids, celebrating its 30th season of bringing West Michigan the best in entertaining, innovative, challenging, and thought-provoking theatre is now accepting applications for the following internships:

Position: Arts Marketing and Communications Intern
Term:  June 14, 2010 – August 13, 2010

The Arts Marketing and Communications Intern will be responsible for assisting the Director of Development and Marketing with the preparation of promotional and underwriting materials for the 30th Season of Actors’ Theatre.

Position:  Development and Administrative Intern
Term:  June 14, 2010 – August 13, 2010

The Development and Administrative Intern will be responsible for assisting the Director of Operations and the Director of Development and Marketing with the ongoing process of securing underwriting for the 2010-2011 season and the reporting and administration of financial information for the organization.

About Actors’ Theatre:

From its inception, Actors’ Theatre has been committed to productions which address issues that reflect the dilemmas, conflicts and joys of human existence. Often the plays stimulate dialogue for some and discomfort for others. To that end, Actors’ has produced such plays as Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians, Angels in America, Corpus Christi, Intimate Apparel, A Lesson Before Dying, Boy Gets Girl and The Waiting Room, dealing with issues important to the African-American, women’s and LGBT communities.

Many Actors’ Theatre productions have been West Michigan premieres such as Bat Boy the Musical and Side Show. Actors’ has been recognized for its work, including awards from the American Association of Community Theatres, Between the Lines newspaper, On The Town – Townie Awards and over 70 Grand Awards for excellence in Grand Rapids theatre.

Actors’ Theatre is committed to bringing West Michigan the best in entertaining, innovative, challenging and thought-provoking theatre.
We believe in the inclusion of all.

For complete descriptions of the internship and application information, please see the Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids web site.

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Attention Students: Apply Now for the Mickey Sebulske Scholarship


Actors’ Theatre will award a scholarship of $500 to an individual who, by his/her own contribution to theatre, has demonstrated ability, talent and dedication to theatre arts.

The applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Enrollment in an accredited college or training program, with preference given to a theatre arts major
  • Work experience at Actors’ Theatre, either on stage or behind the scenes

Actors’ Theatre may contact finalists for an interview during June/July 2010 to determine the recipient. The Board of Directors will base its decision on information contained in the application, any attached documentation, and, if conducted, the interview. Actors’ Theatre will announce the winning recipient by July 12, 2010, and will grant the award after verifying the candidate’s academic enrollment.

Because this is an annual competitive award, previous recipients must reapply each year. No person is eligible to receive the award more than two times.

Click here to download an application.

Please send completed applications to:
Actors’ Theatre
Mickey Sebulske Scholarship
143 Bostwick NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Applications may also be submitted via email to: ecboard@actorstheatregrandrapids.org

Deadline: Applications must be postmarked by or emailed before June 14, 2010.

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Filed under Communication