Donate Toiletries to Imagine No Homelessness Project

We are currently running a drive to collect toiletries for Norristown Hospitality Center and Laurel House. If you want to get started with your own drive or would simply like to donate some toiletries, we are looking for sealed, unopened items such as:

Laurel House

  • African-American hair care products
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Liquid soap (body wash and hand soap)
  • Toilet paper
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste

Norristown Hospitality Center

  • Travel size soap
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner
  • Travel size lotion
  • Travel size toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Floss
  • Deodorant
  • Disposable razors
  • Shaving cream

Contact Rebecca@TheatreHorizon.org to organize a drive and drop-off. Whether you can make a contribution big or small, your donations will go to people who really need them. Thanks!

A big thanks to organizations who have already donated:
Jackie McAllister and the King of Prussia Ski Club

Imagine No Homelessness in Montgomery County

by Erin Reilly, Artistic Director of Theatre Horizon

One of Theatre Horizon’s goals is to apply the skills of artists to the community’s most pressing problems.

That’s why we decided to tackle the issue of homelessness in Montgomery County alongside our upcoming production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ moving drama, In the Blood.

The resulting project, Imagine No Homelessness, came from a conversation I had with actor Forrest McClendon over a year ago.  Forrest is not only a Tony Award nominated, in-demand actor, he is also an endlessly giving, deeply compassionate human being.  Forrest urged me to not just produce the play, but use the play to advocate for social change around issues of homelessness and poverty.

When David and Linda Glickstein, frequent producers of some of Philadelphia’s most exciting shows, joined the project as Honorary Producers, they had the idea to connect me with Sister Mary Scullion at Project H.O.M.E. Sister Mary is an internationally recognized expert on homelessness.  Sister Mary told me to help people who are homeless “tell their stories.”  Mike Whistler, head of MCCC’s theatre department, volunteered his students to carry out the project, as did a class at nearbyCabrini College The Patricia Kind Family Foundation and the Virginia Brown Martin Fund of the Philadephia Foundation wanted to fund this work, and suddenly this ambitious project had legs!

It was the right moment to bring In the Blood to Theatre Horizon’s stage because Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro recently launched a robust effort to end homelessness in Montgomery county through “Your Way Home,” a county program.  We felt Theatre Horizon could shine a bright spotlight on the issue, and humanize the statistics behind poverty and housing insecurity in the county.

THE CAST

We have assembled a cast of consummate professionals, and are excited to welcome Forrest McClendon to the production in the role of Reverend D.  The gifted Cathy Simpson will return to our stage in the role of The Welfare (Theatre Horizon audiences will remember her as the actress who brought the house down every night in Pretty Fire in 2012).  And I’m thrilled to introduce our audience to Akeem Davis, Ashley Everage, Christina May, and Sam Sherburne, who round out this stellar cast.

Suzan-Lori Parks’ script  calls for each actor to play an adult and also one of Hester’s five children.  So this is a fun challenge for the cast and entertaining for the audience, as the dialogue Parks wrote for the children reflects the often hilarious and true insights kids voice about the world.  Audience members will see a family onstage that likely resembles their own — the main difference is that Hester’s family is homeless.

SHELTERS & ADVOCATES GET INVOLVED

Check out our other blog posts to learn how our actors and college students from MCCC and Cabrini are working with men in women in Norristown’s CHOC and Hopeworx to create a HUGE AND BEAUTIFUL art installation in Theatre Horizon’s lobby, open to the public every night of In the Blood.  Three savvy Theatre Horizon staffers – Suzana Berger, Rebecca May Flowers, and Victoria Cano – are helming this work.

When Sister Mary at Project H.O.M.E. advised me to tell the stories of the homeless, she said that in so doing, we would model empathy in our community.

COME SEE, STAY FOR THE DIALOGUE

So that’s what we are doing, by sending our actors to homeless shelters, creating art together, presenting the play, and then holding community dialogues every night after every performance.  I hope audience members leave this show with a renewed commitment to extend kindness to strangers.

Hope to see you at the show!

montco
Photo caption: Alternative spring break students at Montgomery County Community College and Montco Drama Club built this amazing symbolic “home.” It’s all part of ‪#‎ImagineNoHomelessness‬ and ‪#‎InTheBlood‬. Our friends and housing insecure partners from Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center joined the students in the theatre lobby to use this constructed house and found objects to retell the stories of homelessness in Montgomery County.

A Note from the Director of INTO THE WOODS

The origin of fairy tales stems from folks gathered around the fireside telling each other stories to escape their tedious proclivities. Those stories were often quite sinister and violent, teeming with vulgar language and depicting characters that were full of anxieties, fears and sexual desires. They were also not read from a book but told orally, with each narrator getting a chance to put their own spin on it. To quote contemporary English novelist Angela Carter, “asking where a fairy tale came from is like asking who invented the meatball.

Every narrator reinvents the tale.” As time went on, these oral renditions – that existed in various versions in virtually every culture in the world – were collected and written down and as their popularity grew, were revised thoroughly and geared more towards children, expunging all material that was deemed unsuitable for young ears; essentially purifying the heroes and taming the monsters. These are the versions that we are familiar with today – and mostly because of their immortalization on screen by Walt Disney – the versions that we continue to tell our children.

When crafting Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine riffed on these famous fairy tale characters by looking at them from the other side of the coin. Their Cinderella is a young woman who can’t make up her mind about loving a prince, Jack is a boy who essentially disobeys his mother and steals from the Giant, Little Red is a bloodthirsty kid, and the Witch is the most honest and direct of all the characters. That examination seems much more in line with the original tellings; by exploring the psychological complexities and motivations of these characters they’ve made them feel less like fairy tale archetypes and instead, more human.

Into the Woods seems to be virtually everywhere these days, showing up on numerous school, amateur and professional stages, and most recently in the glittering film adaptation. The musical, first performed in 1987, seems to have become almost as ubiquitous as its source material; entering a phase in its existence where it is reinvented each time it’s told by the artists that present it. Our version of Into the Woods keeps that in mind, and is inspired by this incredibly gifted ensemble, who are utilizing their skills not only as actors, but also as instrumentalists, puppeteers and creative devisers. We built this production specifically around their talents, in hopes that we might hear the story in a way that is unique to this ensemble while celebrating them as great storytellers.

At its core, Into the Woods is about fairy tales, but I think it also is about taking action, moving forward and making decisions. We all have to go “into the woods” to continue to find, or pursue, happiness and meaning in our lives. Act I of the play is all about each individual character getting what they want, to achieve that goal of living “happily ever after.” But then Act II is all about what happens after “happily ever after” and dealing with the consequences of their pursuits – something that typical fairy tales ignore. That, for me, is where the real magic of Into the Woods lies. When a threat faces the kingdom, the characters must make decisions that are for the good of the community, looking not at the individual want anymore but the communal need. That message – one that calls us to set aside our differences in times of strife in favor of investing in humanity – feels like a welcome and necessary reminder in these times, and what makes Into the Woods a story that deserves to keep being told. (Besides that glorious score!)

Thank you to this fearless group of actors, designers and artisans who have thrust themselves wholeheartedly into this endeavor. And thanks to you, the audience, who are with us this evening. Every storyteller needs someone who’s willing to hear him spin his tale, and whether this is your 1st or 10th year at Theatre Horizon, I am grateful that you’re listening.

Matthew Decker
Director, Into the Woods

Ensemble Cast Comes Together for Sondheim’s INTO THE WOODS

Into the Woods
February 5 – March 1
Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by James Lapine
Directed by Matthew Decker
“Bewitching…Dazzling…Triumphant!”

The New York Post

A baker and his wife journey into the woods to break a family curse by the Witch who lives next door. But when they encounter Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack, and Little Red Riding Hood,  fairytales collide on this quest that reveals that wishes do come true, but at a price. Featuring a cast of  Philadelphia’s most powerful singers, this inventive new  take on Sondheim’s classic musical tells the story of what happens afterhappily ever after.  Directed by Theatre Horizon’s Barrymore Award-winning Resident Director, Matthew Decker.

Cast of ITW

The Barrymore Awards 2014

We are thrilled to announce that we received the prestigious Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award for the production I Am My Own Wife.  The Virginia Brown Martin Philadelphia Award seeks to honor the spirit of Philadelphia by acknowledging a production from any period or genre that demonstrates the ability of theatre to illuminate the way we live and interact with others as we seek to build community.
We also proudly congratulate Charlie DelMarcelle for Outstanding Leading Actor in a play for his portrayal of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in the production of I Am My Own Wife.
To view the full list of Barrymore Award winners, click here.

Director’s Note of THE SYRINGA TREE

By Steve Pacek, Director

Did you know the syringa tree is not indigenous to South Africa? Yet, it has adapted well and thrives there. In fact, in some regions within the country, syringa trees have become so abundant, they even classified as weeds–competing with native species for precious resources and producing poisonous berries…

Quite a fitting symbol Pam Gien used for her coming-of-age tale amidst the injustice of Apartheid.

I won’t pretend to be an authority on the subject of Apartheid or the government that created it. Politics, in general, confuse me. Growing up, I didn’t even know there was a difference between Africans and Afrikaans (I genuinely thought it always involved a misspelling). But I was taught the importance of celebrating, as human beings, what brings us together rather than what drives us apart. And that, I think, is the purpose of Pam’s story.

The world has always known injustice. It’s up to us to determine if it always will. The more we’re able to find things within each other that we recognize, the more we’ll find the power to unite. It requires us to look deeper than what appears to be on the surface. We have to search for what lies within. It’s inside there–in the beating of our hearts and the songs of our spirits and in our ability for compassion where we are one in the same…

…and no one should ever need a pass to go in there.

How’d We Do?

We have met our IF Challenge goal 
which means
our $1 million New Horizon’s Campaign is 
officially completed!
  
If you have contributed to the IF Challenge or our annual fund this year, thank you.
Thank you for including Theatre Horizon as part of your charitable giving.
Your donation brings professional, transformational, live theatre to Montgomery County and helps develop communication and teamwork skills in hundreds of students each year.
This season we produced three critically-acclaimed, 
Barrymore recommended shows: 

I AM MY OWN WIFE

CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION

Hitchcock’s THE 39 STEPS

This season we shared theatre with 4,483 patrons in Norristown, driving business to six local dining partners.
“Many of our guests who visit Norristown for a theatre show have returned for lunch and dinner, becoming our regulars.  And with the help of “word of mouth” from those guests, we find our sales increasing weekly.  [Theatre Horizon] helps create a town where people can stay and enjoy the night.” 

Chris Nygen, owner of Bahn Mi Bar & Bistro

Through our After School Drama Clubs, Summer Drama Camps, acting classes and workshops and our Autism Drama Program, we taught drama education to 732 students. If you missed our Autism Playwriting class’ feature on WHYY, check it out here. Thanks to PNC Arts Alive, we provided free tickets to over 100 Norristown residents and free tuition for our acting classes to dozens of Norristown children.

We welcome you to join our family of donors, today.

Pay it Forward

Dear Friends of Theatre Horizon,

Pay it Forward
 
This summer, I’m thinking a lot about what we pass on to others.
That’s because next season — our 10th anniversary — is a journey through the stories of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.  It’s three plays about the lessons we leave our children.
It’s also because this summer, Theatre Horizon is mentoring a brand new theatre company,  New Cavern Productions, founded this year by talented University of the Arts theatre students and an enterprising young theatre producer named Steven Burke.
In response to my challenge to Steven to fill the theater during summer months when Theatre Horizon is dark, this 19-year-old and his equally skilled NCP co-founder, Evan Rieger, created a company overnight! They spent the last six months fundraising and casting, then produced and directed The Who’s Tommy, rockin’ and rollin’ at Theatre Horizon through Sunday.  (Get tickets here!)
My challenge to Steven echoed the challenge put to Matthew Decker and me ten years ago by State Senator Daylin Leach in King of Prussia.  Daylin told us the state could give us a $10,000 grant if we would produce a musical in the park.  So we did Grease on $10,000.  (That’s right!  Theatre Horizon was 100% funded by the government that first summer.  We are now .005% funded by the government, just one more reason why individual donors really ARE the lifeblood of Theatre Horizon, and the main reason art survives in America.)
The Importance of Supporting Emerging Artists
With a pay-it-forward mentality, I transferred the opportunity to create, explore, and discover at a critical moment in the lives of emerging Philadelphia artists.  These young artists are on the road to breaking through, with new solutions to old problems.
For ten years, Theatre Horizon has been an incubator for emerging artists.  These artists, in turn, have become the most sought-after actors in Philadelphia — Rachel Camp, Alex Keiper, and Michael Doherty, to name a few of the many talented, inventive, and highly entertaining actors who’ve lit up our stage.
These are the people moving theatre in our region forward.  Do you want artists in your community?  Well, here they are!  At Theatre Horizon!
Dare to Fail

Young artists are especially brave, because the creative act is a tango with failure.  Every time I produce a play, I leave in my wake piles of discarded ideas and failed dreams:  the many seeds that must be scattered in order for one to finally flower.
Let’s all agree to just accept a certain amount of failure in our lives.  Failure’s okay.  It’s the only way to learn.  Thanks to audiences like you, who continue to give Theatre Horizon room to fail, I believe we succeed more often than not in bringing you great shows about life’s big questions.
When Senator Leach called, Matt and I took the dare.  Steve Burke and everyone creating Tommy are taking the dare right now.
I hope you’ll dare with us, too.  Next season has some knockout shows, like an epic journey through South Africa in The Syringa Tree, an ambitious re-conceptualization by Matthew Decker of Into the Woods, and a searing drama about family life on the streets through In the Blood.
Join us!  Subscribe!
Thank you!
Erin Reilly
Artistic Director

 

Cast of THE WHO’S TOMMY

2014 Summer Drama Camp!

Summer is here!  Although our mainstage season is over, we are celebrating our three Barrymore-recommended productions! It also means the start of Theatre Horizon Summer Camp!

Each summer we run summer drama camps at townships throughout Montgomery County, serving hundreds of students per year.  We have week-long camps for students age 5-14, and they are perfect for all skill levels, from first time actors to budding superstars.

Let me tell you, these camps are tons… of… fun.  Students play drama games, learn the basics of acting, and by the end of the week, create and star in their very own play.  

Do you think your child would enjoy performing a show called “The Rockin’ Californian Magical Mystical Adventure”, “Mischief in the Land of PB and J”, or “The Legend of the Island of Legends”?  Then sign them up today!

A complete list of offerings can be found here.