Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

The PIT – Performance Venue & Classroom Space on Franklin Street

We are thrilled to report that 462 West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill is returning to use as a arts performance venue and classroom space. People’s Improv Theater, which has two New York venues already, has recently completed a renovation of the upstairs performance space and bar and “The PIT- Chapel Hill” began welcoming performance acts to their stage on December 16 and are already hosting a weekly Pitch Jam and Open Mic nights. The new stage is handicapped accessible and has flexible space for multiple performance types. Despite the name, The Pit will not be just an improv venue, but is currently open to all genres of performance. “We want to be open 7 nights a week and be a multipurpose arts venue”, explains Will Neville, Artistic Director at The Pit.

Interested?  Here is the form to submit a performance request.

IMG_8621_previewA more dramatic renovation is taking place in the downstairs space at The PIT and in the lobby. The lobby is getting a coffee shop, while the basement will include two classrooms, a podcast recording studio that can be rented out, and a gathering/co-working space for classroom participants, as well as customers of the coffee shop. Classes will start in January. Current offerings include classes on improv and podcasting, but Neville says he is open to discuss proposals for new classes in any arts discipline. Find the current class schedule here.  Contact information is here.

Neville recognizes that the venue is a work in progress. “We want to be here to serve the arts community” and will adapt use of the space and programs to meet that goal.  “Our first year will be very different from our third year”. To find out more about The Pit, visit their website or Facebook page.

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NCCU Debuts Teaching Artist Certificate Program for Visual and Performing Artists

North Carolina Central University has introduced a new online certificate program for visual and performing artists who want to bolster their arts education credentials. The NCCU Teaching Artist Certificate Program (TACP), will concentrate on skills required to plan, design and implement arts experiences for general audiences, such as auditorium performances, school residencies, and cultural-arts programs for schools and community-based organizations.nccu logo

The Teaching Artists program, offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, is open to junior and senior NCCU students and members of the general public who have either an Associates degree and background in the arts, a Bachelors degree in an arts discipline, or five years as a professional practicing artist with a high school diploma. The 16-hour program consists of seven courses such as Cooperative Learning for Teaching Artists, The Business of Art for Teaching Artists and   Methods and Teaching Practicum for Teaching Artists.

According to According to Carlton E. Wilson, Ph.D., NCCU interim provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, the program is ““The certification is unique to the University of North Carolina System and the first of its kind at a Historically Black College or University.”

More information on the program is available on the NCCU website.

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Artist Link Project – Arts Access Promotes Accessible Arts & Artists with Disabilities

821364.aa-artist-link-projectby Annie Poslusny

Arts Access recently launched the Artist Link Project – a directory of North Carolina artists, teaching artists, and advocates. Program Coordinator Jennifer Marshburn explains, “The Artists Link Project is primarily designed as a database for artists of all mediums who identify as having a disability, and for arts educators who offer (or wish to offer) inclusive arts programming.” The Artist Link Project will allow the public to search for a unique artist based on a variety of search criteria or to search for teachers of varied art disciplines who welcome all abilities in their programming. Inclusion in the database will enable artists to exhibit and promote their work and fully participate in the cultural and artistic life of our state. To join the database, click here.

“We suggest three broad categories of art form: Visual Arts, Performing Arts and Literary Arts and allow our artists to categorize their work however they see fit.” Marshburn states, “Our current database is populated with 32 artists ranging from painters, photographers, actors, musicians, and writers. All of our artists range in skill level from the Novice or Hobbyist to Professional. The purpose of our program is to support and promote the work of artists who have disabilities and wish to develop in their craft.”

Arts Access also offers monthly opportunities for the group to get together and enjoy cultural events around the Triangle. These events double as a networking opportunity for the artists. Future meetings will include an evening at Imurj’s Just Make Something and a tour of the Museum of Natural Sciences’ current featured exhibit “Race: Are We So Different.” These events are determined based on polling members and venue availability. Check Art Access’s website for more details.

Arts Access, a nonprofit organization based in Raleigh, enables North Carolinians with disabilities to have full access to arts programs and facilities. Arts Access provides audio description, consulting and training services, as well as on online resources on their website which connects individuals, artists, educators and organizations throughout the state. To learn more about Art Access’s programs, click here.

Annie Poslusny is an art history major and interior design/studio arts minor at Meredith College. She enjoys drawing and creating three-dimensional works of art, writing, and research.

“Establishing Shot” Highlights Triangle Screen Talent

Like many in the Triangle, local filmmakers, producers and actors Andrew Martin, Paul Kilpatrick and Olivia Griego saw a need and simply jumped in to fill it. The need? A way to promote the strength and diversity of local talent to a broader audience. Martin explains, “We have talented neighbors, who excel in theater, improv, stand up comedy, music, dance, burlesque, roller derby, wrestling, fashion, photography, and film. Being filmmakers by trade, we wanted to encourage and showcase these incredible people and bring these diverse talents together on screen.”  So they created the website An Establishing Shot.

Establishing Shot is a series of short improvised films, starring local Triangle & NC-based talent, invoking the spirit of old Hollywood’s screen tests. An “establishing shot” in filmmaking terms is typically used to open a new scene and provide a wider view of a setting or location in the story. It’s a traditional way to tell the viewer where the action takes place and to initiate a contextual understanding of what is about to happen on screen.

Establishing Shot provides an easily accessible online resource for local talent to showcase their work and makes it easier for business seeking talent, both from NC and beyond, to easily view the breadth of local talent.  “We see Establishing Shot Raleigh as the first time many people outside the community will become aware of the range of screen talent we have living here. This is designed to be an intriguing tease of dramatic and comedic possibilities, casting light on many of the gifted performers who call this region home.” say Martin. The hope is that rather than bringing talent in from elsewhere for productions filmed here, Establishing Shot will make it easier for those casting films or other productions to view the work of local talent and “hire local”.


Katie Barrett, Liam O’Neill and Mikaela Saccoccio in “Why Do You Need to Get Away” on Establishing Shot.

Another reason for creating Establishing Shot was to reveal a new side to the Triangle’s well-established theater and performance talent, by giving them the opportunity and confidence to do more acting in front of the camera. Martin adds, “We also wanted to give the behind-the-scenes crew the chance to have some raw unscripted fun, play around with cameras and lights in a non-corporate or commercial setting, and to create a positive experience for everyone working together as a well-orchestrated team.”

Short term, the project will provide Triangle actors and performers the opportunity to create original material for a reel. Long term, the creators hope to generate increased interest and enthusiasm for the Triangle’s brand of unique characters and creators and inspire more original works of film, television, and visual art.


Paul Kilpatrick and Germain Choffart film a scene.

Getting the Project Started 

“We originally reached out to over 250 vetted and proven performers and were only able to make the scheduling work for 30 of them this time around. The wealth and depth of talent in this community is strong and growing.” says Martin. They shot 50 scenes over 2 days of filming and have been very gradually releasing each one. Having full time careers and families, the labor-intensive and time-consuming aspect of this project has been the editing.

What’s Next? 

Once Establishing Shot Raleigh becomes established, there will be an even greater chance for visual artists, musicians, writers, and creative people of all kinds to naturally integrate into the design and delivery of the scenes.  The creators are open to meeting and working with the large, diverse group of artists and artisans throughout our creative community. In the meantime, Martin adds, “We need editors, or even people who are dabbling in editing, to help us finish. Adobe Premiere only, since the project is organized and ready to share most easily in this format.  Next time around we will need help in every department.”

They also ask the Triangle Arts Community to be sure to share and comment on the video scenes to help get the word out. To be successful, they want to be seen in our local market, but it will be of even greater benefit if filmmakers and audiences outside our community begin to discover the talent available here.

Visit to get more info and contact Andrew, Olivia and Paul through the website.

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Triangle Hidden Gem – Learn about Hayti Heritage Center’s arts spaces & programming

This article is part of a continuing series on creative resources in the Triangle that are either little known, or you may have heard of them, but may be unaware of the extent of the services and resources they offer. Have an idea for a future article? Let us know.

By Taryn Oesch

With all the new arts events, venues and groups popping up all over Durham, long-time arts organizations and events are often overlooked. Last weekend was the 29th Annual Bull Durham Blues Festival at the Performance Hall at Hayti Heritgage Center.  To find out more about the Organization behind this longstanding Durham arts event, we visited Hayti Heritage Center to learn more about its mission and programming.

Director, Angela Lee, in Hayti's historic 400 seat performance venue.

Director, Angela Lee, in Hayti’s historic 400 seat performance venue.

The center opened in 1975 under the management of the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation. It’s a cultural enrichment and arts education facility whose mission, according to executive director Angela Lee, is “to preserve historic Hayti and to promote the African American experience through arts programs and events that benefit the broader community.” Booker T. Washington called the historic Hayti district “Black Wall Street,” and the Hayti Heritage Center works to honor that legacy, along with using the arts to bring communities and races together.

The center itself is the former St. Joseph’s AME Church, a national historic landmark. The beautiful venue is available for rent, with over 35,000 square feet of available space, including an auditorium that seats up to 400, community and meeting rooms, and a dance studio. There’s even affordable small office space.

Community and class rooms at Hayti, such as this Dance Studio, are available for rent.

Community and class rooms at Hayti, such as this Dance Studio, are available for rent.

The Hayti Heritage Center celebrates multiple art forms. Members of the community can sign up for classes on dance and martial arts, some for as little as $5 per class. The center also shows local artists in its Lobby Gallery – in February, the center hosted a Black History Month exhibition. At the Jambalaya Soul Slam, a staple program since 2005, local poets compete for a cash prize and membership in the Bull City Slam Team, which competes in regional and national competition every summer. The Heritage Music Series and Heritage Film Festival add to the cultural offerings.

Hayti's Lobby Gallery

Hayti’s Lobby Gallery

There’s a variety of ways artists and arts supporters can get involved with the Hayti Heritage Center and help, in Lee’s words, “preserve the heritage and embrace the experience of the arts.” Take a class, try out for the Bull City Slam Team, come to an event, rent their facility, and, of course, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  Stop by, see the art, tour the performance venue, meet the hard-working staff and thank them for their work to continue to impact of this longstanding venue on the Durham arts community.

Taryn Oesch is an editor, writer, and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School and Meredith College. She volunteers with local arts organizations and Miracle League of the Triangle. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books. Website 

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Triangle adds THREE new theatre companies.

By Taryn Oesch

I often think that the only thing that would entice me to move to New York would be access to Broadway. To see great shows, planned, managed, and performed by talented people, anytime I wanted? Paradise.

But then I remember: I have that here in the Triangle.  There are so many great theatre companies here, from well-established icons like Raleigh Little Theatre to several newer companies.

I spoke with three companies that recently joined the Triangle theatre community and can tell you now that I have absolutely no need to move to New York.

Seed Art Share

Seed Art Share has its roots in a ministry founded in 2010 at Capital City Christian Church by a group that included teachers, artists, performers, nutritionists, psychologists, social workers, parents, children, and other “lovers of people.” However, it grew into its current form more recently, in 2013. Its goal, according to director Renee Wimberley, is “not just to produce, but to create opportunities to partner” with other organizations to enrich Raleigh’s creative community.

There are three main components to Seed. The first is its theatre classes. Wimberley says her passion is arts integration and Seed’s classes reflect that passion. They integrate the arts into academic content areas like math or history and provide materials to help parents extend the education at home.

The second component is Share the Show. Seed partners with local theatre companies to provide free childcare during performances. Share the Show is more than daycare, though. Volunteers provide age-appropriate programming connected to the show’s themes as well as parent resources so they can discuss it with their children.

christine and lazarus moving pieces 2

Christine Lane and Lazarus Simmons on Peace St. in Seeds performance of “Moving Pieces 2” Summer 2015 – In this show, the audience followed along with the cast live and on social media!

Seed doesn’t only augment other theatres’ productions; it also produces its own interactive, site-specific performances. For example, at First Night Raleigh 2016, Seed produced “Who’s @First?,” a play by local playwright Ian Finley in which audience members followed Sir Walter Raleigh, the Wright Brothers, and other North Carolina characters throughout various Downtown Raleigh sites. Coming this summer is another historical, downtown production called “A Night at the City of Raleigh Museum.”

Seed doesn’t only augment other theatres’ productions; it also produces its own interactive, site-specific performances. For example, at First Night Raleigh 2016, Seed produced “Who’s @First?,” a play by local playwright Ian Finley in which audience members followed Sir Walter Raleigh, the Wright Brothers, and other North Carolina characters throughout various Downtown Raleigh sites. Coming this summer is another historical, downtown production called “A Night at the City of Raleigh Museum.”

The great thing about these productions, Wimberley says, is that their organic nature means the “audience is able to connect with each other in a way they aren’t normally able to during a play.”

Get Involved: Seed can be booked for school or community events and they also help actors with childcare when they are busy with performances. The organization is currently presenting Bard in the Yard, an interactive Shakespeare workshop, and bringing Shakespeare to children in local parks and outdoor events as part of the Triangle’s Artify and Wherefore projects. Visit Seed’s website for more information on these and other programs.

Ward Theatre Company/Ward Acting Studio

Wendy Ward is a Triangle newcomer who also works in the space created by the intersection of theatre and education, although hers is more targeted and aimed at a different audience.

Founded in 1996, Ward Acting Studio uses the Meisner acting technique in six-week acting intensives, part-time acting classes, Skype acting classes, and professional coaching. In 2005, Ward moved into theatre management as well by establishing Ward Theatre Company in New York City. Two years later, its piece “I Wish You A Boat” received two nominations for New York Innovative Theatre Awards in Outstanding Acting.

Jacuzzi, photo by Robbie Wiggins

Emma Jo McKay and Brandon Cooke in a scene from Ward Theatre’s “Jacuzzi”

Since then, Ward Theatre Company has moved to Philadelphia, Australia, and now Durham, debuting with “Jacuzzi” in February. I went to see the play and was blown away by the caliber of everyone involved. “Indy Week” gave the production a great review, so I won’t do the same here. What I can say is that I will definitely be returning to the small theatre.

Size works to the company’s advantage both artistically and pedagogically. The set was surrounded on three sides by one row of seats for the audience – that’s it. It created an intensely intimate atmosphere (especially considering it was largely set in a hot tub), but it also, according to Ward, gave the actors a chance to really hone their skills. They can’t afford to get it wrong when the audience is up-close and personal.

Get Involved: Ward Theatre Company’s next production is its signature piece, “I Wish You A Boat” (based on the voyage and sinking of “The Stella” in 1899) from July 9 through August 28. Actors interested in studying with Wendy Ward at Ward Acting Studio can check out her website.  Ward Theatre’s Durham studio space is also available for rental for rehearsals. See pictures of the space here.

Mortall Coile

Mortall Coile (name and spelling taken from a first folio version of Hamlet) was created by Jesse Gephart to, in his words, “produce stories that moved me, stories about lives at their most extreme moments.” Their first production, in 2013, was Adam Rapp’s solo piece “Nocturne,” about a 32-year-old former piano prodigy and the destruction of his family. The company tends toward such works that center on “pivotal, explosive moments in characters’ lives.”


Ben Pluska, George Hill and Gil Faison in a scene from “Master Harold and the Boys”. Photo by Alexa Rose Photography.

Mortall Coile’s latest show was “Master Harold…And the Boys” by Athol Fugard, a South African playwright who has used the art of theatre to fight apartheid. The production received a five-star review in “Indy Week.”

Get Involved: Like Seed, Mortall Coile puts a lot of emphasis on collaboration, which Gephart believes “leads to stronger art.” He collaborates with not only theatrical artists, but artists in other mediums in order to create innovation in the theatre. The company is always looking to meet on-stage and behind-the-scenes artists to join them. Mortall Coile performs at various venues across the Triangle, making its schedule sporadic. Following its website, follow them on Facebook or joining its mailing list are the best ways to find out about auditions and upcoming performances.

Taryn Oesch is an editor, writer, and long-time Raleigh resident, graduating from Wakefield High School and Meredith College. She volunteers with local arts organizations and Miracle League of the Triangle. In her free time, she plays the piano, spoils her godchildren, and battles for apartment space with her uncontrollable collection of books. Website

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New Theater Opens in Durham with a Unique Approach


By Kathleen O’Rawe Clabby

The Bartlett Theater is not your typical theater – it is the only theater in the Southeast to explore and perform the works of just ONE playwright each season. Founding Artistic Director Jonathan Bohun Brady adds “In the five play season, we will do three plays by them, one play by a playwright that influenced them and one play by a playwright that they influenced. That way you can see how they are interconnected and how theater changes with each new voice.” In the future they hope to explore the works of Eugene O’Neill, Tony Kushner, Sam Shephard and David Mamet to name a few.

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Maigan Kennedy and Chris Wright


The Theater is named after a man who is often credited as Durham’s founding father and first physician: Dr. Bartlett Leonidas Durham who lived on land that he eventually donated which is now the American Tobacco District. He was a jovial man known for storytelling, public singing, and occasional brawls. Like their namesake, the Bartlett Theater wants to be provocatively entertaining while caring deeply about the community.

For their inaugural production opening November 6, the Bartlett Theater chose an American Classic that is one of the most famous plays of the modern theater and one they feel will set a powerful precedent, Tennessee Williams’ THE GLASS MENAGERIE.

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Adam Poole and Shannon Malone

Rehearsals are currently at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Durham and the performances will be in the PSI Theater at the Durham Arts Council, while they are exploring options for a permanent home.

The Bartlett Theater will have auditions for each play throughout the ten-month season and are excited to tap into the robust community of talented performers that live in the area. Read more on their website.

Kathleen O’Rawe Clabby has been involved in the arts for most of her life as a performer, director, teacher and advocate. She’s most passionate about collaboration within the artist communities and advocating for arts in education.

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Sonorous Road Opens in Raleigh – Brings performance space, studio, classes.

1440614847878Michelle Wells has always had an incredible passion for theatre and the arts in general. After living in Boston and the UK, she recently retuned home to Raleigh and is pursuing her dream of opening a studio to teach film and theater classes for both new and professional artists.


Sonorous Road’s Black Box Theater.

The studio is centrally located near Cameron Village in Raleigh and, during the week, has a range of classes including acting for film, acting for theatre, filmmaking, musical theatre, theatre production, piano lessons, public speaking, and even history. Sonorous Road produces their own professional performances throughout the year and holds productions and film screenings for their students.

For those looking for a venue for a performance or showcase, the Black Box theater seats 99 and the facility is equipped with a spacious lobby, restrooms, and box office space. The stage space and audience seating can be customized to suit your needs including seating risers, dressing rooms, and control booth. There is space to produce your next play, film your next short, or showcase art of any kind! The studio is currently booking rentals through May 31, 2016.


Sonorous Road also has space for filmmaking.

In filmmaking classes, students will receive a hands-on experience of the entire process from screenwriting and directing to lighting, sound, and editing. Most Musical Theatre and Theatre Production courses are year-long classes and teach the elements of putting on a show from the auditions to the final performance. Sonorous Road also offers a wide array of classes during the school day for homeschool students to supplement their at-home curriculum during the year.


The coffee bar, lounge area.


If you want to see the space, Sonorous Road’s Grand Opening is set for Saturday, August 29th with events starting at 10:00am. The studio is located at 209 Oberlin Road, Raleigh, NC. Feel free to reach out by email or (919) 803-3798 if you have any questions.  Or visit their website to learn more.





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Common Wealth Endeavors Brings Global English To The Triangle

by Sarah Hagar

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Common Wealth Endeavors is a theatre company that brings drama from English-speaking countries outside of the United States to right here in the Triangle. Through this, locals are able to enjoy stories from different cultures told in a medium that is easy to understand.

Gregor McElvogue was inspired to start Common Wealth because of the passion and confidence he found in actors, directors and dramas that didn’t yet have a home. After coming across a Toronto theatre blog reviewing “The Innocents,” he contacted the playwright and asked for a copy of the play. The script fell in line with the Common Wealth mission and he felt it would be well accepted by the audience here in North Carolina. Creating something concrete out of an idea and a thirst takes time, but McElvogue was able to bring it to fruition within eight months after this encounter.


A scene from Common Wealth’s current production of “MANY MOONS”, Left to Right -G Scott Heath, Mary Guthrie, J Evarts, David Sweeney. (c)Alex Maness Photography.

Common Wealth operates as an LLC and is a sponsored project of non-profit service organization Fractured Atlas. Outside of the United States, theatrical cooperatives are more popular routes than sole ownership.  “As we all know, profits are few and far between in theatre,” McElvogue said. “So, the idea of making this a cooperative is to underscore that everyone is being paid the same amount and being recognized as equally important, equally invested, in the success of the production and the company.”

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Matthew Hagar in Common Wealth’s production of “The Innocents”. (c)Alex Maness Photography.

When seeking plays to perform, McElvogue wants ones that bring fresh ideas and plots that resonate with their audience. Then, the challenge of finding the right team, space and time narrows the process. Each of the plays Common Wealth produced in 2013 have been United States premiere productions, with hopes that future plays are also North Carolina premieres.  “I’m interested in plays that come from cultures where English is a part of the everyday – not where it’s a foreign language or where the culture itself needs a major translation to be understood in the US. Other groups in the Triangle are successfully exploring those types of work,” said McElvogue. Rather than trying to assimilate a script to American culture, the settings will stay true to their original intentions. By holding true to writers’ original work, one must respect regional diction and slang. Therefore, some programs will include glossaries so audience members can follow along instead of getting hung up on a word or phrase or distracted.

Currently, the plays are being produced at Common Ground Theatre, which as a capacity of 55-65 people. Common Wealth welcomes volunteers interested in areas such as box office, set building, actors, and street team marketing.  Common Wealth is currently performing “Many Moons” by Alice Birch, a U.S. premiere and finalist for the 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. The shows are at Common Ground Theatre located in Durham. Evening performances begin at 8:00 PM and are November 14-16. Tickets are available online and over the phone.

To stay up to date on upcoming productions, follow Common Wealth on Facebook. For more information about Common Wealth, visit their website.

Sarah Hager is a graduate of N.C. State University and currently works in marketing. She DJs at WKNC 88.1 and is enthusiastic about North Carolina’s music scene. In her free time, she enjoys going to shows, reading and playing guitar. You can follow Sarah on Twitter  or email her. 


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Forest Moon brings community theater to Wake Forest

by Sarah Hager

Forest Moon Theater is a new, education-based community theater in Wake Forest. The first of its kind in the area, it is giving Wake Forest residents a chance to cultivate a new hobby or nurture an existing passion closer to home.

Encouraged greatly by the community, Forest Moon’s founders, Bob Baird and Cathy Gouge, began Forest Moon at the ground level with no funding.  Bob and Cathy met via performing arts – Cathy taught Bob’s daughter performing arts in grade school and Bob was in charge of the drama program at Raleigh public schools for a handful of years. They felt the Wake Forest area had a pent up need for an outlet for this kind of art and began meeting with Wake Forest Arts, a local arts support organization. Through the meetings, they had a goal to do a production by the beginning of this year.

Their first production, “Academia Nuts,” had a small cast and a fresh plot, with manageable set requirements. Two antique stores in Wake Forest even donated furniture to use in the set. The proceeds from the show secured enough funding for the royalty fees for the second production, set expenses and a 6-month storage unit rental

Forest Moon actors Colleen Guest and Russell Gentry in "Academia Nuts"

“We want to build an organization, because that’s how you survive,” Cathy said. “In a true sense of community theater, we pull talent from the community. We consider ourselves teachers and seek people with different backgrounds, from no experience to professionals, and try to help each person grow.”

Forest Moon is already looking on to its 2014 season and planning for four productions, including a youth only production, holiday, and two mostly adult performances.  They are currently working to find a space to rehearse regularly and construct sets. Mayor Vivian Jones has shown great support for the organization and arts in general, which is helping Forest Moon move forward.  At some point, they hope to incorporate local playwrights into their productions, giving them the opportunity to perform original work. Other plans down the road include acting classes and a youth program.

The next production is “Harvey” by Mary Chase, a comedy involving a six-and-a-half-foot rabbit imaginary friend to an eccentric adult male. It will be performed October 4-5 and 11-12 at 7:30 PM, and October 6 at 3:00 PM, in Wake Forest.

For more information about Forest Moon, visit their website.

Sarah Hager is a graduate of N.C. State University and currently works in marketing. She DJs at WKNC 88.1 and is enthusiastic about North Carolina’s music scene. In her free time, she enjoys going to shows, reading and playing guitar. You can follow Sarah on Twitter @_sarahnade or email.

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