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A first of its kind conference hopes to connect those in community theater across the state

Casper Theater Company

The Wyoming Community Theater Coalition is hosting its first ever conference Sept. 16-18 in Casper. The event gives those who participate in community theater across the state the opportunity to meet others interested in their craft.

“We've just formed the coalition and we were trying to do a festival for the American Association of Community Theater last year [but] because of the COVID stuff, it got canceled, so our very first event got canceled,” said Donna Fisher, Artistic Director for theCasper Theater Company. “We decided rather than go for a competition festival, it might be a better idea just to get to know each other and to do some networking, just meet each other before we actually went into a full coalition mode.”

Around 25 people are scheduled to attend the conference, which will be held at the Casper Theater Company on CY Avenue. Fisher said there are several major community theater programs across the state, which will have some of their members attend the conference.

“Cheyenne has a very long running community theater called theCheyenne Little Players,” she explained. “And we are having people fromTorrington [Goshen] Community Theater,Pinedale community theater,Gillette Community Theater. We have a whole bunch of them coming in—it’s very exciting.”

Pinedale’s community theater scene is one of the newest in the state, she added. In addition to the attendees that will participate, Brad Moore with theColorado Community Theater Coalition will also present on how to make Wyoming’s coalition successful.

“We have six roundtable discussions on all kinds of community theater, things that community theaters at this moment in time are concerned about, audience retention,” she said. “After retention, volunteer retention, those kinds of things because people are sort of fading away because of the COVID. And we're trying to bring them all back together now.”

Other topics of discussion may also be raised by attendees, including ticketing software and advertising, prop making, lighting, and other theater-related issues. Another topic of discussion will focus on what kinds of shows can be performed in different communities.

“[We’ll discuss] shows that work in our area and shows that don't, because Wyoming is a very conservative state,” Fisher said. “And there's a lot of things that we can't do in Wyoming that just won't go over well.”

Members from the Gillette community theater scene will perform a short one-act performance. An optional tour of Highland Cemetery is also available for attendees who wish to participate.

The host venue Casper Theater Company was established as a 501(c)(3) in December 2014 and began producing plays in February 2015. They currently have about 100 members. The hope is that the coalition will be able to hold conferences on an annual basis. And as a member of theAmerican Association of Community Theatre, they would also like to participate in theater competitions at the national level as well.

A list of scheduled events for this year’s conference can be foundhere.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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