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Peterborough Players bringing annual gala to the virtual world

  • The Peterborough Players will host a virtual gala on Saturday, Nov. 7, replacing the longstanding in-person fundraising event as it continues to provide all its content online. Courtesy photo—

  • The Peterborough Players will host a virtual gala on Saturday, Nov. 7, replacing the longstanding in-person fundraising event as it continues to provide all its content online. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/4/2020 6:34:46 PM
Modified: 11/4/2020 6:34:35 PM

It seems like forever since the lights have gone on at the Peterborough Players, but keeping people safely apart hasn’t prevented the organization from bringing them together.

The shift to providing online content has been the mission of the Players since the coronavirus pandemic forced the entertainment world to shut down, and it continues with its virtual variety-style gala.

What is typically a night of celebration in the Players theatre will now be enjoyed from the comforts of home as the Players present their annual gala online on Saturday, Nov. 7.

“The question was how do we still produce that fun event?” Marketing Director and co-host Bridget Beirne. “Because obviously this year, (an in-person gala) was not going to happen.”

The virtual gala is yet another example of how the Players are providing engaging entertainment in a time when their faithful supporters need it more than ever.

While the Players were heartbroken to cancel what would have been their 87th season in April, featuring seven main stage performances and two Second Company shows, they quickly turned the page to figure out a way to bring their one-of-a-kind content to you.

So even though there was no way to safely pack the Players theatre for the annual gala, a celebration of all things Peterborough Players and an important night for fundraising, the show had to go on – some way, some how.

“It’s just a different experience of the Players,” Beirne said.

Hosted by Beirne, Kraig Swartz, and Associate Artistic Director Tom Frey, the virtual gala will be a night filled with enteratining performances, laughs, and so much more, all in the name of benefiting the Players’ Second Company Fund a Future program, which creates the next generation of theatrical professionals.

“It’s very much a celebration of the Second Company,” Frey said. “When we’re able to do plays, we can’t do it without the Second Company so this is a way to honor them.”

While Beirne and Frey didn’t want to give too much of the night’s festivities away, they did share that the gala will feature performances from familiar Players faces that have taped their segment, you will hear from Second Company members and it will include testimonials from the community that has been supportive of the organization over the years, and more specifically since March.

“We have a lot that people are submitting to share that evening,” Beirne said.

As for the details of what the virtual gala will fully entail, you’ll have to tune in Saturday night to see for yourself.

Unlike any previous gala, there were a lot of little details to work through.

“We’ve been inventing this, creating the plan, as we’re figuring it out as we go,” Frey said.

Beirne, Frey joked, has basically been “putting herself through film editing school and learning how to put this thing together.”

They created a story board, much like what would be done with a TV show or film because this was an opportunity to bring people together for an evening of laughs and inspiring performances, while staying safely away from one another.

“It’s to get as much of a feel as being in the theatre as possible,” Frey said.

“It’s getting that opportunity of being able to spend some time together,” Beirne added.

While things looked bleak back in March, the Players have immersed themselves in providing that online experience people so desperately have needed.

“It’s so crazy there’s an opportunity in all of this,” Frey said.

And not only are they creating ways to keep people entertained, but they have also done so for free.

“We decided early on, for as long as we can anyway, our online content would be at no cost,” Frey said. “We see it as an investment in the future.”

Because it’s the people who show up for plays and donate that have made it possible for the Players to survive for more than eight decades.

“The community has been so supportive,” Beirne said. “It’s a way we wanted to say thank you.”

Viewers will have the opportunity to donate online or over the phone during the gala. An online “cocktail half-hour” will begin at 7 p.m.,  with the curtain rising at 7:30 p.m. This special one-night-only online event is absolutely free to view and will be available on the Players’ website and Facebook page.

And don’t forget about the second installment in the Playgroup workshop series on Nov. 13 and 20 with Players Artistic Director, MacDowell Fellow, actor, and playwright Gus Kaikkonen presenting on Shakespeare.

For more, visit https://www.peterboroughplayers.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/peterboroughplayers/.


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