Get to know Theatre 29, The Morongo Basin's LARGEST Community Theatre - Celebrating it's eighteenth consecutive season! Thanks to Theatre 29 President, Gary Daigneault for this great interview!
Theatre 29 has a great variety of committees, from building to play selection to special events to volunteer. How do your committees impact the day-to-day operations, and what are some ways in which committees can succeed in their duties?
Theatre 29 has broken down areas of responsibility for each of our 11 Board members, they are;
Technical Bridge Area
Outside, Shop and Storage Areas
Stage Area Manager
Box Office Operations / Mailing List Manager
Sponsorship and Patrons
Program Advertisement Sales
Snack Bar Manager
Props and Costumes Storage
Insurance Coordinator / Corporate Compliance
If there is a maintenance, repair any other issue in any of the areas, that Board member deals with it. Each Board member gives a report on their area at each monthly Board meeting so we all know where we stand. If there is a committee for any of these things, the board member is the committee chair.
Tell me about working with and promoting guest groups, such as your comedy and improv performances.
We do have resident and guest groups. Our Improv troupe is a resident and performs 10 times a year during dark time when other shows are rehearsing. Everybody here, Board included, is a volunteer so it brings in extra income while training our performers. Guest groups or travelling shows come also. We provide the tech staff and the facility, we usually publicize their performance and split the house with them. This has worked very well for many travelling shows.
An annual event for Theatre 29 is your Tri-Chamber Mixer Season Announcement event. How does this event help patrons get excited about your upcoming season? If a theatre is interested in hosting an event like this, what advice do you have for them to best work with a local Chamber of Commerce?
Our Tri-Chamber mixer gives us and the participating Chambers of Commerce a unique opportunity to network with area communities and bring them to a centralized location to unveil our new season. The Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley Chambers get an opportunity to present their events and projects to the other cities. This year’s event was very successful with the venue packed. We publicize that those that attend get first crack at season tickets.
Theatre 29 is currently in its 18TH season- congratulations! Are there any plans for the big 20th anniversary year?
This is indeed our 18th Season, we have been so busy we have not even thought about our 20th!!
What do you consider one of Theatre 29's greatest successes - either a specific production or season, or a turning point or milestone reached, for example?
Our greatest success is our Summer Youth Theater program. We get 60 kids in two age categories that participate by putting on a show. My philosophy is “We are not training performers, we are training audiences”. When a child goes though the entire audition, rehearsal, production, and performance cycle they now understand what goes into the live arts and will appreciate attend them for the rest of their lives. Added bonus..these kids are now growing up and coming back to try out for regular adult productions!
Describe your audience - visitors, locals, etc?
Our audiences come from all over the region. By using the data from credit cards used to purchase tickets we have determined that about half of our audiences come from outside Twentynine Palms. Those figures were received with great joy by our City Council and reinforced their support.
How do you get to know your audience on a personal level?
I and other Board members welcome our patrons personally as ushers and we know many of our regulars by name. We also work in the snack bar.
What kind of support do you have from your community for your community theatre?
The support from our community is wonderful! They regard us as “their” theater and are always willing to put up posters, place brochures, etc. In the 17 years I have been active with Theater 29 I have never approached a business or service club for support and been refused. The support we get from the City of Twentynine Palms is remarkable. They lease us the building for $1.00 a year and are always willing to assist with any problems with the building. They City is now making plans to expand our Theater from 95 seats to 150.
Have you worked with or been involved with any other California community theatre?
We act as the “Mothership” for the three other all-volunteer theater companies in our region, We loan them sets, costumes, props, furniture and sometimes manpower for their shows.
What do you think 'makes' community theatre community theatre?
The magic ingredient that “makes” Community Theatre Community Theatre is the people! Our enthusiastic, driven, hard-working performers, stage hands, set builders, costumers, make-up technicians and all the volunteers become like one big family. (We have already had three weddings amongst our merry band)
Are you a California native?
I have been in California since I was 8 years old, in theatre since 1 was 11.