Here We Go Again

Kristen Coury is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director at Gulfshore Playhouse

Here We Go Again!!

It’s hard to believe we’re headed into our fourteenth season here at Gulfshore Playhouse. When I think back to our very first show, David Mamet’s Oleanna starring Tony-nominated Actor Alan Campbell, I am amazed by how far we’ve come!! Back then the room was white with no curtains in the windows, there were no lights above the stage and we had NO staff whatsoever!

As we head into the 19-20 season (the best season ever!) we have the best staff ever right alongside it. With 43 full-time staff and interns, we are rockin’ and rollin’ and ready to create our upcoming fantastic cornucopia of offerings between our educational programs and our mainstage productions.

Each year, along with The Naples Philharmonic, we create a fully-orchestrated adaptation of a Shakespeare play, and we present these to the entire 11th grade of Collier County free of charge. For the first two years, we did Starcrossed, an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, but TOMORROW we will begin performances on this year’s adaptation of The Tempest entitled Shipwrecked. We are absolutely thrilled by this continuing partnership with Collier County Public Schools and Artis⁠—Naples.

Samuel Ashdown and Laura Sohn in Starcrossed (2018). Photographer_ Matthew Schipper

Laura Sohn and Samuel Ashdown in Starcrossed

In just a couple of weeks we will kick-off our first show of the season – Bedlam’s Saint Joan. We’ve never “brought in” a show before, but I saw this rendition of Shaw’s Saint Joan at the Folger Theatre last year and was absolutely blown away. I hope you come check this out – if you are interested in an edgy, scaled down retelling of a beloved classic with incredible professional actors, this is your bag for sure!

dria brown saint joan

Dria Brown in Bedlam’s Saint Joan 

Last year, over 5000 students saw our school tour of our play In Flight: The Story of Sabine Van Dam by Hester Kamin. This play is presented in schools and in other cultural centers in our region. Several years ago, leadership at the Holocaust Museum came to us and told us that they needed a new way of telling their story, as their old model of bringing survivors into the schools to recount their experiences was becoming challenging. We responded by saying that storytelling was our specialty and Hester, our Director of Education and a Dramatist Guild playwright, embarked on this project. This year, we already have many in-school performances reserved and look forward to bringing our shared teaching to the schools once again. What I mean by shared teaching is that staff from the Holocaust Museum teaches the first class period, talking about the history of WWII, and the Holocaust, and what it means to be Jewish. We follow that with a performance of our play and a workshop on peacemaking, consequences, and how to make better life choices. It’s a great partnership and we are grateful to be able to play a part in this way.

In November, we open our production of It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play which is going to be EXCELLENT. The year is 1945 and a group of five radio professionals are re-creating the beloved tale…doing all the voices, making all the sound effects (like stepping in corn flakes to sound like crunching through snow, or hitting a metal sheet to make the sound of thunder). This heartwarming story will be brought to life in a unique and emotional way directed by the renowned director Peter Amster. Get your tickets now for it will be difficult to do so later with this fun for the whole family holiday delight.

While Wonderful Life graces our main stage, we will be in the midst of our latest community partnership with Lighthouse of Collier, creating theatre for people who are blind and visually impaired. This is a pilot program that we have never heard of being attempted before anywhere in the world. We are excited to dive in under the leadership of one of our Education Committee members, Joanne Grady Huskey who has an enormous amount of experience creating theatre with people who are disabled. I’m sure there won’t be a dry eye in the room at their culminating presentation.

Whew. That’s a lot and that only gets us til the end of 2019. (And honestly that’s only the half of it – I didn’t even mention meeting with architects, engineers, graphic designers, landscape designers, capital campaign events, and all the excitement around our new Theatre and Education Center. That will have to wait til the next installment!)

In the meantime, I’ll look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

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