On Friday, October 28, Ensemble Theatre Company (ETC) threw a “spirited benefit bash,” Ghost Light Night, a fundraiser unlike any other in this town. Thanks to generous sponsorships, they were able to refrain from speeches, auctions, paddle raises, etc., and guests had a blissfully grand time. The evening began at ETC’s home, the New Vic, for a lovely courtyard reception and then an entertaining concert presentation of an X-Files episode with the show’s creator, Chris Carter.
The party continued at “The Lair” at the Fess Parker DoubleTree hotel, where more than 200 guests were greeted by the Lord of the Cello and his otherworldly sounds, a balletic, ominous crow, and a risen-from-the-dead mortician.
“The Lair” was an enormous tent which had been elegantly furnished with a mix of comfy lounge chairs and formal dining furniture. A red theme permeated the space: table clothes, exquisite flower arrangements and accent lighting augmenting the crystal chandeliers.
The talented Replicas Music played party tunes throughout the evening, while guests mingled, dined on a wide assortment of gourmet fare from multiple food stations, had their faces painted, and danced to great tunes. This evening, ETC showed that not only does it consistently put on world-class performances, but it can also throw a world-class party.
ETC, Santa Barbara’s only professional theater company, has much to celebrate this year. In 2013, ETC completed a $12.6 million restoration of the New Vic, which transformed it into a magnificent venue, and this year acquired full ownership of the theater. While full ownership has always been within sight, it has been a long road and was made possible by a $950,000 grant from the former City of Santa Barbara Redevelopment Agency and the vision and generosity of Kandy Luria-Budgor and Lee Luria.
Thanks to funding from the Léni Fé Bland Performing Arts Education Fund and Sara Miller McCune, this year ETC introduced a program in which practitioners from Globe Education — part of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London — provided in-school programming for students who attended matinee performances of Macbeth. The practitioners also lead programs for teachers, groups of children with their families, and adult groups.
ETC has been offering $10 student matinees for years, and the matinees typically include a post-performance talk-back. ETC also offers student group pricing and $20 tickets to those younger than 30. For those who want a more immersive theater experience, the run of each production includes two pre-show talks and one post-performance discussion.
ETC staff regularly visits various schools, universities, theater clubs and retirement communities to discuss themes found in upcoming productions. A Summer Theatre Intensive program will debut in 2017, check the website at a later date for details.
ETC, which has produced several American and West Coast premiers, presents both new plays and new interpretations of classic works. It also makes the facility available to other organizations. Upcoming plays are Neil Simon’s Chapter Two, George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Tennessee Williams’s Baby Doll, and Allan Knee’s Syncopation.
For more information, go to etcsb.org.
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By Gail Arnold