Pittsfield Town Players Move Forward in New LocationBy Joe Durwin
Special to iBerkshires
06:20PM / Monday, January 30, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The second oldest community theater group in the country is overcoming obstacles and pushing forward in a new, more central location in its 91st season.
The Town Players are moving downtown because of flooding in the group's old home on Lebanon Avenue last year. Board members said the new location at 31 South will offer better visibility and more publicity.
Board members are hopeful that the new headquarters at 31 South St., facing Park Square, will increase visibility and involvement of the community in its productions.
"We want to grow membership, and we want to really expand our fundraising and development," said board President Monica Bliss. "More visibility and more publicity will help to do that."
Bliss said that as part the move and invigorated efforts to push the organization forward, Town Players will hold its first major fundraising gala since 1986 this June.
The organization's former headquarters, known as "The Workshop," located at 148 Lebanon Ave., sustained major damage because of flooding when Hurricane Irene struck the Northeast on Aug. 28. An ailing culvert in the street outside caused floodwaters to inundate the basement, which in turn caused an oil spill. It is estimated that the total cost of dealing with the cleanup and damage will run between $3,000 and $5,000.
The loss of the Workshop makes the move downtown "bittersweet," said board member Melanie Rivers. The unusual-looking 130-year-old structure, once home to the St. John's Temperance Society, has been a home base for the Players since 1958.
"Prior to that, we were performing at the [Berkshire] Museum," said Rivers, "and we were just building sets and things in garages."
Rehearsals have already begun in the new space for "Somewhere in Between," with which Town Players will kick off its first public performance on Park Square on March 23. The troupe has also planned a reading for Sunday, April 22, and one for the city's first downtown 3rd Thursday of the season in May. The space, most recently home to Storefront Artist Project, which closed its doors in December, will accomodate seating for up to 80 people, depending on the nature of the performance.
Town Players is open to the possibility of renting the space to other groups for meetings, art exhibits, live music and other events as appropriate during times it will not be in use for theatrical purposes. Anyone interested in such arrangements, or in contributing donations to help support the troupe's efforts to keep community theater thriving, should contact Town Players via the information provided on their website.
Updated Jan. 31, 2012, to correct spring reading dates.