How our 2016-2017 season was created

execdirector News

When I first began to conceive of the 2016 -2017 theater season at Theatre Harrisburg, I knew two things: (what I call the “knowns”)

  1. This being my first season at Theatre Harrisburg, I wanted the upcoming season to set the tone for the future of the theater;
  2. and I wanted to curate a season of theater that capitalized on all the strengths of Theatre Harrisburg; our Resident Costumer (and his volunteers) and the superlative vocal and acting talent of the actors and actresses that bring our productions to life. (To have so much talent in one location is truly exceptional!!)

In addition, after speaking with so very many patrons, subscribers, actors and volunteers I had heard – loud and clear – that more contemporary, bold and risk-taking productions were hoped for.

I then began the truly difficult process of choosing shows that would meet all of these “knowns”.  Show after show was considered. Most of them were discarded since so few met the “knowns” list.  Once I had shows that met the “knowns” list, I then had to explore if I could curate them: could I put one against another in such a way as to tell a larger story than any one show on its own? That curatorial process resulted in some shows being thrown out and new ones added. The shuffling continued for months.

For me, the journey to producing a season of theater is not about what shows appeals to me personally, but what larger story can I tell when certain shows are positioned against one another.

After months and months of juggling older, more known shows with newer, lesser known shows, I arrived at a blend of old, new, known and unknown and a nod towards the future. My choice of shows met the “knowns” and, collectively, tells a powerful and moving story about our own lives and stories.

This year’s theater season is also a “homage” to the earlier days of Theatre Harrisburg when our sold out productions boldly challenged audiences to think and feel and stimulated discussions about change and our place in this community and world-at-large; A RAISIN IN THE SUN (1975), EQUUS (1983), STALAG 17 (1962) and THE COURIOUS SAVAGE (1951) to name but a few of the many.

Theater can do so much more than simply assail us with entertainment. I measured the success of the shows I chose for this upcoming season by the opportunities these shows presented to be more than simply entertainment.

The Greeks create theater to explore three themes: Man vs. Nature, Man vs. God and Man vs. Self. The Greeks believed so strongly in the power of theater to transform lives that it’s attendance was mandatory!  (King Thespis even created a fund enabling all Greeks to attend theater even if they could not afford to do so!) This years season is about the power of theater to transform us, to challenge us, to uplift us, to challenge what we believe and to entertain us. This year, theater – the very core of it’s creation – is onstage at Theatre Harrisburg!

I am exceptionally enthusiastic to present this season with Theatre Harrisburg audiences! It achieves the “knowns”, works curatorially and pays “homage” to the deep and vibrant history of a bold and adventuresome Theatre Harrisburg of all the years past. This year is going to be exceptional!!

Brett Bernardini
Executive & Artistic Director