The Let’s Play! free educational series gives local theater talent regular opportunities to develop their skills and interact with audience members. It has a company of volunteer actors who bring the educational series to the community. They will soon take a storytelling workshop to Somerset’s local library for a children’s reading program, Schoch said. The company also hosts free workshops on the second Saturday of almost every month.
“We’ve had nights of improvisation, storytelling, a cabaret style performance and whatever else I can think of that actors might benefit from,” Schoch said. “In June, the second Saturday workshop will be working with props. We have a stage combat demonstration planned, and will play several improvised games to help actors get comfortable working with props in a natural way onstage.”
The educational workshops schedule is listed through July on FbTc’s website. The next event on July 9 is the first reading of Dancing in the Dark, a new work by playwright Stephanie Porter of Russell Springs, Kentucky. The audience is invited to a feedback session after the reading so they can participate in the development of the script.
This interactive experience is not limited to the on-stage product. The company is working to help community members understand the behind-the-scenes aspects that are vital to running such an organization. Schoch feels the need to be “very open about how we spend money, how decisions are made, and what our vision for the future of Flashback Theater Co. is.”
FbTc relies on sponsorships and donations to fund its shows, which can cost more than $5,000 to produce, according to the GuideStar non-profit database. Ticket sales are used to cover regular operating expenses but Schoch also allocates funds so the company can compensate performers.
“Most theatre in this region is volunteer based so I make it clear we compensate our performers for their work and we are on our way to becoming a professional theater,” Schoch said. “Audiences take us more seriously because of that expectation, and I think it will translate to donations and sponsorships as we become more established in the community.”
In order to be transparent about FbTc’s operations, the company has a public profile on GuideStar's website, which provides program, financial and operations details. Additionally, the public is welcome to attend FbTc’s board meetings and Schoch said she will happily share the company’s financial statements with anyone who asks. She also sends current donors a newsletter that details production costs and income for each show, as well as direct audience feedback from anonymous surveys.
The company encourages the public to help in any way they can to help FbTC grow and flourish…and the public has been more than willing to oblige. Thanks to the outpouring of support from the community, FbTc received more than $19,000 in contributions, grants and gifts in 2015, according to the GuideStar account.
“The audiences members we have accrued so far have been very supportive,” Schoch said. “I have been told numerous times they are so glad FbTc is in Somerset and they love everything we do. They are making it possible for Flashback to get established, so I am very grateful for them.”