Apr 23, 2013

Oddfellows Beginning Search for Artistic Director

Oddfellows Playhouse has embarked on a search for an Artistic Director.  The position has been vacant at the Playhouse since May of 2011, when Artistic Director Jeffery Allen departed to become the Assistant Director at the Center for Lifelong Learning at Ivy Tech in Bloomington, IN.
The artistic and programmatic responsibilities have since been led by Executive Director Matt Pugliese. 

"Restoring the role of Artistic Director is a critical need for the Playhouse.  This is an investment in the capacity of the organization, and most importantly, the experience that our young people and our community enjoy," said Pugliese.  "After much discussion, the board and I agree that this is the right move for Oddfellows."

The Search Committee seeks to identify candidates who will work closely with Oddfellows’ Executive Director and Board of Directors to build upon the theatre’s 38-year history of artistic and educational achievement. The Board intends to identify the successful candidate in late June, with a starting date and introduction to the community in July. 

Oddfellows Playhouse seeks a dynamic artistic leader to oversee its artistic and education programs. The Artistic Director will select and produce a diverse season of plays and programs for the Teen Repertory  and Junior Repertory Companies, develop engaging and quality educational Afterschool Programs, oversee the Children’s Circus of Middletown, develop In-School Programs & Residences, lead new ventures and initiatives and special events. Successful candidates will have proven leadership acumen, excellent communication skills, a commitment to theatre education and mentoring young professional artists, and experience in community building.

Send substantive letter, resume, and references by May 15 to: info@oddfellows.org (preferred) or AD Search, ODDFELLOWS PLAYHOUSE, 128 Washington St, Middletown, CT 06457. No phone calls please.

Oddfellows Playhouse will offer the successful candidate an opportunity to steer a Connecticut’s largest youth theater program.  The new artistic director will find Matthew Pugliese, an accomplished Executive Director, committed to working to steward Oddfellows’ artistic and organizational ambitions. The artistic director should feel comfortable to work with the Executive Director to create programming that adheres to Oddfellows’ mission and also aligns with the theatre’s fiscal needs. The new artistic director will have the opportunity to work with the board, staff, and Executive Director to strengthen his or her own role in the organization.

Oddfellows’ next artistic director will find that the organization has a committed Board of Directors that works in collaboration with Oddfellows’ leadership to ensure the Playhouse’s success into the future. 

Qualifications and Qualities

Candidates must demonstrate:
• The ability to select, produce, and/or direct exciting, vibrant theatrical experiences;
• A commitment to balancing artistic initiatives and risks with     responsible fiscal management;
• The ability to form collaborative partnerships with the Executive director, board, and staff to provide the theatre with clear, unified direction;
• A history of artistic/educational achievement and an inspiring creative vision;
• A dynamic public presence that will inspire the board, staff, and patrons to support the artistic and organizational vision;
• A commitment to integrating artistic and education initiatives to maximize synergy while maintaining high-quality programming;
• The desire and ability to participate in fundraising activities on behalf of the theatre and to engage as a civic leader to further Oddfellows’ organizational interests;
• A dedication to developing education programs that utilize theatre as a tool to teach the youth of the community;
• The ability to provide innovative responses to organizational challenges and to exercise effective artistic and organization leadership within a complex organizational environment;
• A commitment to diversity throughout the organization; and
• A strong desire to lead in all aspects of institutional advancement and development.

Compensation will be commensurate with the leadership role that this position represents for the theatre and the community.  The range of benefits includes medical insurance, paid vacations, and personal and sick leave.

Oddfellows Playhouse builds essential skills for life through the theatrical arts.

We believe in the creation of artistic work that invites our participants to pose questions about their world. We believe in work that creates a foundation of theatrical knowledge. We believe in an artistic product that is relevant to our world, our lives, and our time. We believe in an artistic environment that welcomes innovation and allows for the full exploration of new ideas, and welcomes creative risk.


William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead: A True and Accurate Account of the 1599 Zombie Plague
By John Heimbuch

Huck Finn
Adapted by Eric Coble from the novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration
by Paula Vogel, Music by Daryl Waters

Alice Threw the Looking Glass: Based on Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style

By John Walch

Nightmares & Streetscapes: An Evening of One Act Plays
By Edward Albee, Christopher Durang, Eric Lane and Peter Tolan

Recent Productions:
Our Town by Thornton Wilder
Snow Angel by David Lindsay-Abaire
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 adapted by Eric Simonson
The Farnsworth Invention by Aaron Sorkin

Apr 19, 2013

Liberty Bank Foundation Awards Grant to Oddfellows

MIDDLETOWN, CT - The Liberty Bank Foundation has awarded a $5,000 grant to Oddfellows Playhouse to support its Neighborhood Troupes and Arts Explorers programs.

This highly regarded program provides free, weekly, after-school interdisciplinary arts classes for at-risk young people, in grades 1-8, in the Middletown area. The goal of the Troupes program (grades 1-5) is to use theater and related arts to help these youngsters grow up to be more successful adults by building essential life skills such as creativity, confidence, communication, empathy and discipline.  The Arts Explorers program (Grades 7-8) provides students with mentorship and instruction from professional artists for an entire school year, where they learn new artistic skills, and also financial responsibility. 

“The Liberty Bank Foundation has been a tremendous partner for many years in this program.  We are grateful for their consistent and continued partnership to bring high quality theater programs and experiences to our community’s youth.” Said Elizabeth Bobrick, Chair of Oddfellows’ Board of Directors. 

Since its inception in 1997, the Liberty Bank Foundation has provided almost $6 million in grants to nonprofit organizations within Liberty Bank’s market area. The foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for people of low or moderate income by investing in the areas of preventative programming for children and families, affordable housing, and non-profit capacity building. In addition, the foundation is providing support to address basic human needs during these difficult economic times. Along with its grantmaking, the foundation strives to foster the convening and collaboration of nonprofits, funders, business, and government to address community issues.

Apr 16, 2013

Food Improv Event to Benefit Oddfellows Playhouse

Food Improv: Eat Your Art Out

Oddfellows Playhouse is excited to announce the return of Food Improv: Where the Performing Arts Meets the Culinary Arts- Take 2!.   This year it will be taking place on Thursday, June 6 and again be held at the Wadsworth Mansion of Middletown.  Food Improv is a fundraising event to help the Playhouse raise money for scholarships and program support.  They are also excited to announce this year’s host is WNPR Connecticut Public Radio Host and Correspondent Lucy Nalpathanchil.

The inspiration for Food Improv came out of the similarities between the performing arts and culinary arts.  Both forms of art build a foundation of life-skills, especially for young people, through working on a team, poise under pressure, responsibility and preparation, and especially how to improvise.  The children who attend Oddfellows are learning these types of skills on a daily basis.  Oddfellows received an overwhelming response of how much fun the event was last year and the connections  made between these two fields that they decided to hold it again this year.

A tasting style event, Food Improv will showcase a variety of dishes created by some of the best chefs and restaurants throughout Connecticut.   Returning restaurants include: Riverhouse Catering , Miya Sushi of New Haven, The New England Emporium, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, NoRA Cupcake Company, Tschudin Chocolates & Confections, Mattabesett Canoe Club, and Cold Stone Creamery of Middletown.  New participants include Lan Chi Restaurant and 2Hopewell.  The event will also feature a signature cocktail mixed and created by RIPE Craft Bar Juice.

“A fun twist to the event,” says Elizabeth Cipollina of Durham, Co-Chair of the event, “is that each chef has picked a play title from Oddfellows’ production history as inspiration for their dish.  We thought it would be a great way of incorporating theater into the food, while giving each chef an added culinary challenge.  We are excited to see what they come up with.  How they improvise.”  

“Not only are we grateful to all the restaurants, but we’ve also had amazing support from our major sponsors, Citizen’s Bank, Connecticut Rental Center and the law offices of Farrell, Geenty, Sheeley, Boccalatte & Guarino, PC, and Updike, Kelley and Spellacy, PC” says Mary Murphy, who also Co-Chairs the event.  She goes on to say that “Each of these organizations has generously donated to Food Improv and we can’t thank them enough for all they have done.

Tickets for the event are $75 for individuals and $125 for couples.  All proceeds from your ticket will go directly to benefiting Oddfellows Playhouse.  The event runs from 6 p.m.- 9pm.  There will also be a live auction.

If you have any questions about the event, or want to purchase tickets, you can contact Director of Development Courtney Antonioli at 860-347-6143 or email her at Courtney@oddfellows.org.  Tickets can also be purchased online at www.oddfellows.org.

“Nightmares & Streetscapes: An Evening of One Act Plays”

Oddfellows Playhouse’s Teen Repertory Company
presents Nightmares & Streetscapes: An Evening of One Act Plays

Middletown, Conn. –  Oddfellows Playhouse’s Teen Repertory Company will present Nightmares & Streetscapes: An Evening of One Act Plays.   The evening features comedies and dramas by Edward Albee, Christopher Durang, Eric Lane and Peter Tolan and runs May 3-4, 9-11 at 7:30pm.

The evening consists of four student directed one-act plays, including the dark comedies “The Actor’s Nightmare” by Christopher Durang, “Dancing on Checker’s Grave” by Eric Lane and the light hearted “Pillow Talk” by Peter Tolan.  The evening is appropriate for high school students and older, with some of the plays touching on mature themes and humor.  The project is the first time in several years that members of the Teen Repertory Company have had the opportunity to direct.  The process has been guided by director Ken O’Brien.

The Teen Repertory Company is comprised of students in grades 9-12, from 10 different towns throughout central Connecticut.  The Teen Repertory Company brings to life challenging and fun theatrical productions appropriate for audiences of all ages. 

The production runs Friday and Saturday May 3 and 4, 2013 and Thursday through Saturday May 9-11.  All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for Adults and $8 for Students/Seniors.  Anyone brining a canned food item for Amazing Grace Food Pantry will receive a $2 discount on their ticket.  Tickets are available online at www.oddfellows.org or by calling 860-347-6143. 

The production is made possible by major support from CT State Department of Education, Middlesex United Way, The Stare Fund, Pratt & Whitney, the Middletown Commission on the Arts and Daphne Sebolt Culpeper Foundation.   Media support is provided by WESU 88.1FM. 

Apr 10, 2013

Pulitzer Prize Winner Visits Oddfellows

Playwright Beth Henley stopped in to visit Oddfellows Playhouse on Friday afternoon.  She spent 45 minutes touring the theater and learning about all of the programs.  It was great fun for the staff to meet her before she headed out to Hartford Stage for the opening night performance of her play, Abundance.

Henley was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1981 for her play, Crimes of the Heart, for which she was also nominated for a Tony and Oscar (for her screenplay adaptation.) 

Pictured L to R: Oddfellows' Exec. Dir. Matt Pugliese, Beth Henley, Elizabeth Morgan (former Oddfellows' Exec. Dir)

Apr 8, 2013

MARC: Community Resources and Oddfellows Playhouse Announce New Programmatic Partnership

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Oddfellows Playhouse and MARC: Community Resources are embarking on a new programmatic effort providing weekly theater arts training to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Oddfellows will provide instruction for MARC’s consumers in many theatrical skills, including Beginning Acting, Mask Theater, and Comedy and Improvisation.  The arts training will build important skills for consumers to use outside of the theater.  They will develop collaborative ensemble skills, become more comfortable with public speaking, learn to better communicate ideas, and express their imaginations and emotions. 

“The process of theater is a skill building process, and we believe that MARC’s consumers will strengthen fundamental life skills that will help them live more independently.  The focus on expression and communication should help consumers develop their ability to interact with others, and better comprehend social cues,” said Oddfellows’ Executive Director Matthew Pugliese.  “This is an underserved audience that is in equal need for the experience and excitement of theater and the arts in their lives.”

“Communication, working together in a group, sharing ideas and listening to others are skills that will help our consumers retain jobs, interact with their families and strengthen their self-confidence” said Lou Alperowitz, Vice President of MARC’s Vocational and Leisure Services program.
MARC’s mission of empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to realize their dreams fits well with Oddfellows Playhouse’s mission of building essential life skills through the theatrical arts.  The two non-profits became neighbors three years ago, when MARC moved its administrative offices from Portland to Middletown.  The organizations first collaborated in August 2012 on an original play at Oddfellows.  The overwhelmingly positive response from MARC consumers led to plans to maintain a beneficial collaborative relationship. 

“Our consumers have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else.  They want jobs, they want to be independent and they want to have fun things to do with their friends,” said MARC President/CEO Liz Warner.  “Every consumer involved with this new theatrical program is choosing to be involved, and open to the possibilities.  This will give them an opportunity to try new things and make their dreams a reality.”

The collaboration will begin in April and last for eight weeks.  The organizations are already working on securing funding to make this a permanent part of MARC’s programming for people with disabilities. “We are excited to begin this partnership with Oddfellows and want the community to be involved.  Funding is being sought make this a part of our consumers’ lives year round,” said Andy Heuer, MARC Director of Development.

Apr 4, 2013

Alice Threw The Looking Glass - This Weekend

 The Oddfellows Playhouse Junior Repertory Company
Alice Threw the Looking Glass
A Parody of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style
A Comedy by John Walch
Thursday April 4 - 7:30pm
Friday April 5 - 7:30pm
Saturday April 6 - 7:30pm

Adults $15
Students & Seniors $8
Bring a nonperishable food item for Amazing Grace Food Pantry and receive $2 off on your ticket.
Call 860-347-6143 to make a reservation or purchase tickets online.

First-year college student Alice is in serious danger of failing her English course when she follows her composition paper into the trash -- and ends up in a hallucinatory world where the rules of grammar are turned upside-down.  If she wants to pass, she'll need to deal with gunslinging run-on sentences, thugs hawking colloquialisms, fearsome Modifier Leeches, and more.  Inspired by Lewis Carroll and parodying the grammar and writing style bible The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, this witty comedy explores the fantasy world of language.