Theatre Group Hires Outreach Director As Community Comes Together

Wednesday July 8th, 2020

Posted at 8:30am

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Photo by Emily Robinson

As social distancing continues, a local theatre company is focusing on reaching out.

Remaining active during the Covid-19 pandemic, Post Productions recently made a big announcement: Partners Michael K. Potter, Fay Lynn and Michael O’Reilly are welcoming a fourth member to the group.

Being on their minds for a while, Nikolas Prsa has been named outreach director.

“By the end of 2018 we started to wonder whether it might be a good idea to consider a fourth partner as Post Productions was growing rapidly,” said Potter. “By the spring of 2019, it was impossible to ignore the fact that there was just too much work for the three of us to handle – that is if we wanted to achieve some of our larger goals beyond simply creating great theatre experiences. Because of those larger goals – which have been central to Post Productions’ mission since [O’Reilly] and I founded the company in 2016 – we knew that the new position would need to involve outreach and community-building.”

Little did they realize, Prsa also wanted to help the company in a bigger way.

“Oh man, I had thought about how sweet it would be to be a part of Post’s creative team for a while,” he said. “Mind you, this was mostly kept to myself while watching or performing with them. There’s a certain level of intimidation that comes with that kind of fantasy but it’s not because the team isn’t great. Quite the opposite: the recurring question was, ‘Would I be as rewarding to work with as [Lynn,] O’Reilly and Potter?’ When they actually extended the offer, it was incredible.”

Excited by the invitation, Prsa didn’t accept immediately, however. After Potter sent the proposal via text message, the new outreach director replied with many questions. Taking the opportunity seriously, Prsa wanted to know what it involved before committing fully.

Conversations continued for days and after finishing, the fourth partner asked for some time to think it over. This reaction was what Potter wanted and for a good reason.

“I wanted to hit the ground running when the position was first offered, so I had far more questions than could be answered in just one conversation,” said Prsa. “Again, the other partners have set a high bar and there’s that rush to get as much done as you can right away. That first meeting as a partner felt pretty surreal, but having everyone there to reiterate Post’s values and principles reminded me exactly why I was so pumped to get to work in the first place.”

His determination will be put into practice immediately too. With local theatres closed, the group is communicating with past associates and local creators. Committed to a collaborative theatre community from the start, they remain focused on tightening bonds between artists, other business partners, and themselves moving forward.

After several theatre companies gathered in January, somebody dedicated from Post Productions was needed to focus on these elements on their end. It’s hoped this will benefit everyone involved.

“[Prsa’s] position as Outreach Director is pivotal to the growth and sustainability of Post Productions and The Shadowbox Theatre as part of the greater artistic community of Windsor-Essex,” said Lynn. “No company, of any type, can expect to make it on their own. In addition to focusing on our own productions, we need to build positive relationships with other companies and local businesses – that’s what we’ve always aimed to do. [Prsa’s] role with the company will primarily be to research and seek out ways to work with other theatre companies and local businesses to mutual benefit. By working together, we can all lift each other up creatively and economically.”

The newcomer will also learn many things with Post Productions. He’s already been easing into producer responsibilities split between partners. From there, he’ll also be assistant director and stage manager for The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

As a do-it-yourself theatre company, plenty of support is being given to him as well.

“To help him get started with [The Beauty Queen of Leenane,] we’ve had him do some dramaturgy – learning as much as possible about the script, its history, its interpretations and so forth,” said Potter. “Normally, whichever of us is directing a play does that themselves, but we thought it would give him a comfortable foundation to contribute to the discussions about how that production will look, sound and feel. We don’t want him to feel overwhelmed.”

It’s something Prsa doesn’t mind either.

“I don’t plan on putting my magnum opus on the Shadowbox stage anytime soon, mostly because the stage rights to Garfield are so elusive,” he joked. “In all seriousness, the actor’s experience and that of the producer, stage manager, or director are vastly different so I want to make sure I’m well-acquainted with those expectations and duties before I fully transition to those positions. I look forward to assistant-directing some upcoming productions so that, down the road, the ideas I’m bouncing around in my spare time will provide a great experience for everyone involved.”

Another benefit of Prsa’s role is the freedom it gives partners for outside productions. Long considered as free agents, each member is allowed to work with others. If it doesn’t interfere with the group’s responsibilities, participation in the larger theatre community is even encouraged.

This was evident with Lynn starring in Korda Artistic Productions’ 2018 presentation of MacBeth. She and Potter also worked on a radio play with Tall Tale Theatre Co. this past spring. The two, along with O’Reilly have all volunteered as front-of-house staff for local groups in past years as well.

Having their workload lightened, everyone hopes to be more active again. Even Prsa will be on stage in Korda’s 2021 production of Something Rotten.

“I’m extremely excited to have that duality,” he said. “With Something Rotten at Korda, it’s the double-hit of a company I’ve been a fan of since I first began going to shows and I was lucky enough to have a blast in The Fantasticks back in February. As well, director Jeff Marontate is such a remarkably kind and creative guy and I can’t wait to be able to rehearse with such a killer cast. I joined it well-before being brought in as Post’s Outreach Director, but I would have taken it up even if the order was flipped; the team has always encouraged free-agency with regards to participating throughout the community. After all, it’s one thing to say you’re community-oriented, but this also shows that I play ball when I do so.”

While unrelated to the pandemic, the announcement continues momentum from when local groups met in January. Since then, the Windsor-Essex Theatre Alliance (WETA) was created and will focus on industry-wide lobbying. It’s also hoped they can get the area recognized as a place for theatre tourism.

Adding more significance to his role, it’s something Prsa’s partners believe he can handle.

“He is clever, enthusiastic, reliable, and generally well-liked,” said Lynn. “We’ve always enjoyed working with him and quite simply, he’s a great person to be around. As artists, we strive to surround ourselves with like-minded people who bring their own unique talents and energy to the table. We’ve been very fortunate in our creative endeavors thus far because we’ve been able to assemble great teams of artists, actors, musicians, tech and stage crew, etc. for our individual productions. [Prsa] has always fit in well with these creative teams. Getting to know him better over the past year or so, we’re certain that he also fits in very well with the business side of things.

While it may seem like Post Productions isn’t doing much publicly, the group is hard at work. Development continues on Harold Pinter’s Betrayal and Matt St. Amand’s Negatunity: The goal is to stage them when the Shadowbox Theatre can re-open safely.

Second round Entries from the Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest are also being assessed and future plans are underway.

“[We’re] planning the 2021 and 2022 seasons,” said Potter. “Our 2021 season is going to blow people away with its storytelling diversity and creative risk-taking. As soon as we brought [Prsa] on board, he came up with a great idea for a charity fundraiser we’re hoping to do in December. We can’t say much about it yet but it’ll be utterly unique.”

After joining up with Tall Tale Theatre Co. recently, the group is also in discussions to collaborate on a series of radio plays. Being released as podcasts, those involved are hoping to get started next month. This would begin with original scripts Post Productions has already put on stage while they write new ones for future releases.

Speaking of which, the group has also talked to others about productions they’d like to stage at Shadowbox Theatre in 2021. It’s all a part of coming together.

“When the first meeting of what we now know as the Windsor-Essex Theatre Alliance was held in January of this year, we had no idea how fortuitous the timing would become,” said Lynn. “Thanks to that alliance, we’ve kept in fairly good communication with other members of the community through this strange time. If we had waited another year, we may all be feeling much more alone.”

This isn’t lost on Prsa either.

“Windsor’s theatre community has always deeply appreciated theatre, but COVID-19 has shown us how vital theatre is to our lives in a way no-one could have predicted,” he said. “Joining Post during this time has given me the opportunity to be very focused, but that comes with its own caveats. Personally, the social aspect of catching up with friends in other companies and each other’s progress in rehearsals is something I appreciate even more deeply now that things are at a bit of a standstill. That genuine sense of wanting to see and celebrate each other’s success is helping everyone look forward to seeing each other in the spotlight once again.”

Whatever the case may be, the new outreach director is fairly sure of one thing though.

“I was 40-per-cent joking about Garfield,” he concluded.

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