Local company brings powerful theater to Fitchburg

Shows are performed here at the NPTG Performing Arts Center photo by Samantha deManbey

Shows are performed here at the NPTG Performing Arts Center; photo by Samantha DeManbey

By Hillary Arsenault

It sounds like the plot to a movie, or an episode of a sitcom. An intrepid group of creative types bands together to put on a show for their community. But for the people behind the area’s newest theater group, this is real life.

Fitchburg Theater Company is the brainchild of Fitchburg State alumnus and artistic director Jack Crory. Armed with previous experience in producing plays and a team of dedicated individuals, Fitchburg Theater Company opened its first show – an outdoor production of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” – in June 2012 on the quad at Fitchburg State.

After losing their first venue for the show, Crory says the university “saved”  “Love’s Labour’s Lost” by allowing them the use of the quad. The support from the university is fitting, since nearly all of the staff, crew, and actors of Fitchburg Theater Company are either current students or alumni of Fitchburg State.

Michael Vanderpool, Kim Connor and Thomas Karner in A Christmas Carol, photo by Jessica Killam

Michael Vanderpool, Kim Connor and Thomas Karner in “A Christmas Carol”; photo by Jessica Killam

FTC has gone on to produce two more shows,” Autobahn” by Neil Labute and a unique version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” adapted for just six actors. The company is currently producing their shows at the New Players’ Theatre Guild Performing Arts Center on Rollstone Street in Fitchburg. The NPTG Performing Arts Center is a new addition to the Fitchburg theater community. It was recently transformed from an old church into a theatre space, which opened officially on Aug. 4, 2012.

The relationship between the two companies began when Crory saw a Facebook post mentioning the New Players’ Theatre Guild. After doing a bit of searching, he discovered a blog tracking the progress of the NPTG Performing Arts Center’s transformation and contacted them about the possibility of renting the space. The New Players’ Theatre Guild welcomed Fitchburg Theater Company to produce the remainder of their first season in the space.

Crory says that the new space has been great for both groups, since they each can help contribute to the other’s success, and have one place where audiences know they can find them.

After a Shakespearean piece, a contemporary piece, and a classic holiday show, the team behind Fitchburg Theater Company realized that what Fitchburg audiences were responding to most was contemporary theater. They decided to make a change to the end of their first season and close it out with “Burn This”, a play by Lanford Wilson. “[The play] deals with what it’s like to live your life after you’ve suffered loss, and about how art can help you move on and heal,” Crory says.

It will demonstrate the beginning of the company’s new focus from here on out–powerful contemporary theater. He says that he wants to bring in people who don’t normally go to the theater, as well as regular theatergoers,

Justin Nelson and Samantha DeManbey in Neil Labute's "Autobahn"; photo by Mary-Frances White

Justin Nelson and Samantha DeManbey in Neil Labute’s “Autobahn”; photo by Mary-Frances White

by producing plays where the characters are “people that talk like they do, and are dealing with problems that they recognize.”

“Burn This” not only display these aspects through the theme of life after loss, but also touches on issues related to sexuality, which Crory says he hasn’t seen explored in a lot of theater in this area.

If you would like to know more of the upcoming shows and events hosted by The Fitchburg Theater Company follow this link: http://www.fitchburgtheatercompany.org/index.html

For more details about “Burn This” and ticket information follow this link: http://www.fitchburgtheatercompany.org/burn-this.html 

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