Brad Byrd goes In-Depth to find out about the challenges of the Evansville Civic Theatre and what the future holds.
Brad Byrd – Welcome to In-Depth. It’s been part of the Evansville cultural landscae for almost a hundred years. The small venue on Fulton Avenue on the near west side has been there since the early 70s. Evansville Civic Theatre kicking off another season and tonight we’re talking about the challenges that the theatre has faced, and what the future now holds. Joining me tonight is Kevin Roach. He’s the Managing Artistic Director of Evansville Civic Theatre. Kevin, good to see you tonight. Before we get going, what was the bug that bit you to get you into theater?
Kevin Roach – It was really starting in high school. It was doing those shows that really just fostered the love for theater that I had. But, it was really when I went to college at IU and I got involved with this theater company that I got really set in, this is really what I want to do with my life. But at that time, it was acting.
Brad – And you fell into directing.
Kevin – I fell into directing. It started with just a couple shows here or there, filling in for somebody or being asked to direct a show here or there. It just kind of snowballed and became what I really enjoy doing.
Brad – Well, Civic Theatre really has a tremendous undertaking each year. And we’re not just talking about one show or two. You’ve got a full season. You’re in the middle of one right now and tell me about this particular season and what has gone into that.
Kevin – Well, we’ve had six main stage shows. We’ve done five of them so far. And four underground shows. We’ve done three of them. And those are by separate directors at different venues, smaller scales shows that we do. But we do six main stage shows a year, and we’re pretty much on rotation the whole time. We start in August and we don’t stop until May.
Brad – And you can get information on that theater schedule. With that being said, each production, if someone wants to just be a part of that, what does that person do?
Kevin – If you go to our website, there’s a box where you can click “Contact Us.” I get emails all the time of what can I do, how can I be involved. We’ve had a lot of new people come in that just want to build things. We’re hoping to bring in more people this season into more areas of volunteering because we’ve had such an overflow of people being interested in what we do.
Brad – The funding for all of this is, you tell me, private donations. It’s almost right out of a Hollywood script, keeping this together. It takes a lot of work per production. You were telling me it’s hard work before you even get to the stage.
Kevin – Absolutely. Ticket sales only go so far to fund what we do. You know, we have bills to pay just like anybody else and we’re a nonprofit organization, so the great majority of our money that comes in comes in through donations and that’s what keeps the lights on and helps play for the royalities for shows. So, you know, the money we make from one show will go directly into the next show.
Brad – It’s really a piece of history we’re talking about here dating back to 1925, almost a hundred years. With that said, getting young people involved in this, especially in today’s world, how challenging is that?
Kevin – We’re seeing more and more young people take an interest in what we’re doing. That’s why this next season we’ve got some shows for young actors specifically, because I’m noticing more and more young people wanting to get more involved.
Brad – If you’re directing a production, where are you?
Kevin – Once the show starts, I’m in the back. But, I’m near a radio if something needs to be said or goes completely wrong but the show at that point is in the hands of my stage manager, who’s a volunteer.
Brad – One thing that has often amazed me is the stage fright. But you tell me that you didn’t get much stage fright while acting.
Kevin – No.
Brad – What about directing?
Kevin – Directing is very different because when I go up there, I am myself. I’m not a character from pages on a script, I’m Kevin Roach. It’s almost because I grew up in acting it’s almost easier to kind of take on a character than it is to get up and there and just be you.
Brad – You do have some productions that are kid friendly.
Kevin – Yes. We’re trying more and more to do shows…not necessarily geared towards kids but shows that families can bring their kids to. People really love that we do Christmas shows.
Brad – Thanks so much for joining us.