Marti Leisinger and her husband, Shawn, have been TCT Season Members for many years and both have served on the Board of Directors. Along with her love of theatre, Marti wanted to bring her finance and legal experience to the Play Reading Committee where she now serves as chair. “I’m also on the Finance Committee,” Marti said. “We have some really great people that have talent on the committee. I’m more of a numbers person. I thought I’d bring that to the table.”
The Play Reading Committee selects the adult shows for the Mainstage, Studio and Helen Hocker. “We have 12 people on the committee: four staff members, four board representatives, and then four community members. Usually the community members are a mix of volunteers and season ticket holders.”
When looking for inspiration, members search near and far. “Some people on the committee, they go to a lot of shows in the community,” she says. “What is Holton doing, what is Lawrence doing, and what is Kansas City doing?” Other committee members will research community theatres across the globe or even ask friends about plays to get a feel for what our audience wants to see. Committee members bring those titles and ideas to the committee. Scripts are requested. Then the reading begins. Each member will read several scripts to share with the committee in order to find the right balance for each stage.
“It’s interesting how one person can read something and really, really like it. Then someone else reads it and has a totally different perspective.” Marti believes that having a committee with many perspectives allows them to submit a season line-up of productions that reflects our audiences and community as a whole. “There may be something at the beginning of the season I really don’t like but I listen to what everyone else has to say. Then I say, well, you know, you’re right. It would be a good show for us to have.”
Sometimes factors like the availability of a show in our area can change throughout the process. “What’s so odd about this is sometimes something is available in one part of the world or country, but not everywhere, so we don’t always know what will be available to us,” she says. “It can show as being available but by the time we go to get it, someone decides they want to do a tour. Well, then it’s not available.”
Once the Play Reading Committee selects productions for the upcoming season, they are presented to the TCT Board of Directors.
Board members then review the selected plays in advance of voting on the next season. “The entire process takes months and months,” explained Marti.
“We try to have a ten year rule. We try not to repeat anything. But we do break that rule occasionally for classic holiday shows,” Marti said. “This past year we did a really good job of getting new, fresh stuff that we haven’t really done before,”
“We have season members who have come to our shows for 10, 20, 30 years,” Marti said. “They want something new and fresh.” Over the next few months the Play Reading Committee will continue pouring through scripts and discussing each one to bring you a new and fresh live theatre experience that you just can’t find anywhere else.
The 2024 – 2025 season for Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy and Helen Hocker Theater will be voted on at the beginning of 2024 and announced in spring of 2024.