Staff Annual Report for 2019
Sara Reuschel, Executive Director:
During my (almost) first year at Quincy Community Theatre, one of the discussions I’ve had many times with staff and volunteers is about the volume, scope, and reach of the theatre. It has been eye-opening to witness the hours and hours of work and hundreds of volunteer hours it takes to produce a show and the collaboration, communication, and preparation invested to bring high-quality theatre education to our community. On top of that, there are many, many hours of work on the administrative side to ensure our ticketing system runs smoothly, our marketing is effective, our budget is in line, and our community is meaningfully engaged through volunteerism. The level of professionalism, dedication, and community involvement in our theatre far surpasses what I realized as a patron in the seat before I joined the organization.
As we prepared for the Spring Social, we talked about the community and what we could do to better tell the story of QCT and our accomplishments. We are proud to present our first annual report. We hope this report provides a more transparent picture of our work, our accomplishments, and our impact. Last year was a year of transition. Leadership of the organization changed hands, and we spent nine months with the Head of Education position vacant while we searched for the right candidate. Yet, we were still able to reach 5,000 students through our education programs thanks to the efforts of many; our volunteer involvement in the theatre grew as we welcomed new faces throughout the year; more than 22,000 tickets were sold; and donors generously provided financial support to support our mission. There is so much to be celebrated, and we couldn’t do it without your involvement.
As we look at our current year, it clearly has already had some challenges of its own. But, if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize more than anything else in my almost-first-year it’s that this community is strong; this community is passionate; and this community will continue to surround the theatre with support in all forms. See you soon!
Brandon Thomsen, Artistic Director:
Sheltering in place provides a good opportunity for reflection, and two things have been coming to the forefront of my brain. The first is my goal/mantra for the year, which is the word “father.” In 2020, I am challenging myself to lean into the calling to be a father by listening, nurturing, speaking with confidence, offering advice, and being a shepherd. Over the past four months, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to and support the production team of Frozen; nurture the company of Chicago, and connect the themes of the show to ourselves; speak with confidence on the essential nature of human connection through theatre and generate content for #QCTatHome; offer advice in the development of Edward Tulane; shepherd the planning and programming of QCT’s artistic voice and its 2021 season.
My second reflection is my absolute love of directing. As I watch theatre performances on YouTube, read books by artistic directors, sit in online meetings with QCT directors and designers, I gain a renewed spirit, knowing theatre is what I want to do. I love being in a room with a group of people, analyzing words and seeing actors and designers breathe life into those words. When we are given the green light, I will be ready to go, ready to celebrate the gift of live theatre.
Brendan Shea, Head of Education/Director of Student Theatre:
Although I have been at Quincy Community Theatre for only half of this reporting period, I have already experienced so much professional and personal growth as Head of Education. In a sea of QCT education department highlights since January 2020, two stand out as particularly impactful. The first is arriving at QCT and diving into Frozen Jr. rehearsals. I was able to quickly assess the tremendous amount of talent among our student theatre performers, as well as the determination and work ethic of our adult volunteers. Additionally, the experience allowed me to add value to the production process through my own directorial and leadership experience. Most importantly, Frozen Jr. provided a much-needed avenue to forge relationships with both community artists (like Mindy Holthaus, Drew Quintero, and Susan Job) and student performers.
The second highlight, which I believe became emblematic of how I am guiding the future of the QCT education department, was our 2020 QCT Spring Classes. As the first suite of classes offered to the QCT community after a hiatus, it was important to me to preserve the feel and quality that the student body has come to expect from us while remaining true to my own pedagogical style and aesthetic. I believe I successfully navigated that balance this past semester, with classes that felt both familiar yet also challenged students’ assumptions about the art of performance. Surveys administered after the final class confirmed the community’s enthusiasm for and engagement with the material across all six courses. The results were gratifying not only as a measure of the semester’s success, but also as a milestone for me personally– though freshly Midwestern, I’m now an accepted part of the Quincy Community Theatre family. With 2020 QCT Summer Classes already developed and close to announcement, an exciting future lies ahead.
Rachael Kennedy, Marketing Coordinator:
2019 was my first full season at the theatre, and it was a wonderful one. We had a year of successful shows, great feedback from our audiences, and it ended with one of my favorite events, QUILTAs, where we got to celebrate all of you! One of my favorite things about my role is how lucky I am to capture the connection taking place at the theatre as the in-house photographer. A goal of mine for this year was to interact with patrons on various platforms and create connections. Though, this year has played out a little differently than I think any of us could have imaged, QCT at Home has been a great way to interact with all of you and stay connected through our social media platforms. I hope it continues when we are back to normalcy as well. Here at the theatre, we love engaging with all of you and we hope it continues on screen and in person!
Lorne Kelley and DannyWhite, Technical Department:
Hello Everyone, since we last met in the fall, we had a wonderful closing to the 2019 season that started with our beautiful and extremely talented production of “The Curious Incident…“. Then we had the unique opportunity to work with two very talented guest directors. We in the shop and backstage had a lot of fun mounting the classic tale of “The Boxcar Children” putting a half-sized boxcar on stage and creating the fun, but simple, holiday backdrop for the extremely humorous “Every Christmas Story Ever Told…”
The 2020 season opened with a bang as our Educational Program dazzled the community with a magical production of “Frozen Jr.”. The Tech Department has had the privilege to work with many talented individuals to bring a lot of creative and exciting technical innovations to the QCT stage over the past months. With the state of our world’s affairs we may be temporarily inconvenienced with the inability to currently gather together for shows at QCT, but we want you to know that we hope to soon bring you our bold and exciting production of “Chicago”. It is a sight to see. We are also not letting these questionable times bring us down, we are currently working with the production teams (via video chats other technical wizardry) on the designs for our upcoming 2020 season productions which will give us many projects to work together once again. Stay safe and we hope to see everyone soon to begin working with you on our upcoming shows.
Shari Mulch, Volunteer and Patron Experience Manager:
So much has happened since we last got together in September. We wowed with Curious Incident. We entertained with Every Christmas Story. Season ticket sales for 2020 were record-breaking and had to be shut off early for the first time in the 6 years I have been at QCT. We opened with a fantastic student production of Frozen Jr., and we were gearing up for a sold-out production of Chicago. Then, as you all know, things came to a screeching halt. Packing up my desktop and files and taking them home was a very sobering; that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are experiencing so many emotions at once. I love my kids like crazy, but working from home while trying to keep my kids up to date with their school work has not been an easy task. Staying connected with my coworkers and our fabulous QCT family through social media has kept me sane and focused on the great things to come.
By April 1st, the goal was for me to be fully transitioned into my new role as Volunteer and Patron Experience Manager. Instead, I am kind of preparing for that role and kind of continuing my prior role, but in a very unique scenario. Our current situation has challenged me to find different ways to meet my goals for my new role and for 2020. This year I wanted to put myself out there more and build stronger relationships with those I interact with; to improve the experience for everyone who walks into the doors of (or calls or emails) QCT. While social distancing has not allowed me to personally interact with people on the level I was hoping for, it has reinforced how important personal interaction is. I miss people!! Coming from a shy introvert, that is huge. During this time, I have researched and developed new guides for volunteers. I look forward to when we can implement these new guides, continue to streamline and improve our volunteer program, work to enhance the QCT experience for all our patrons and volunteers, and dig deeper and build stronger relationships. Stay safe and healthy out here until we can be together again!
Susan Scholz, Costume Shop Manager:
Frozen, Jr attracted more volunteers than any other production in my tenure, with more than 20 individuals contributing their energy and talents to the Costume team effort. Included among them group were five youth volunteers. Audience response was enthusiastic, and the result was a visually stunning performance.
Costume rentals had been on pace, slightly higher, than last year until the quarantine. A marketing brochure and outreach plan is underway to raise awareness among schools and theaters about our stock, with a focus on specific shows, including the puppets and main characters from Frozen, Jr.
The 2019 season welcomed guest designers Tania Ballve, Christianne Bakewell, Valerie Hernandez and Bonnie Furniss. It is always a great opportunity for staff and volunteers to work with outside professionals.
We are missing our volunteers, but as soon as we can welcome you back it will be full speed ahead for the reorganization projects. Costume storage in the theater basement was improved greatly by reworking the hanging bars. A group of more than 20 volunteers from Operation Serve from St. John’s Anglican assisted with moving over 1,000 costumes into their new home. Projects to clean and organize the shop and storage areas are planned as soon as we return.