Author Archives: Paula Jones

A Letter to our Patrons

November 1, 2020

To say 2020 has been an extraordinary year is an understatement! A year that began as a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of M&D Playhouse became a year of challenge never before faced by this company as well as all of you.

Through much deliberation and soul wrenching scenarios, we made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of our 2020 season and to postpone the opening of the 2021 season until April. As much as we would love to keep producing live theatre, we are now exploring potential virtual alternatives.

Thanks to your generous support in the past, M&D was able to move into the historic Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse in 2019. Throughout that move we continued to produce the award-winning plays which inspire, nurture, challenge, amaze, educate, and empower artists and audiences until March of this year.  Community theatre relies on its community to survive, as ticket sales cover a mere 35% of our operating expenses. As we have had 8 months of zero income and anticipate another 5 months until reopening, we need your help more than ever. Even though the lights will be off at the historic Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse, rent, maintenance, insurance and more constitute a monthly payment that is unavoidable.

We cannot continue to do this work without financial support. A gift today of $50, $100, $250 or whatever you can afford would go a long way to helping M&D to survive.  We hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible gift to support our theatre so we may continue our productions and programming. With over 35 NH Theatre Awards and the NETC Award for Excellence in the American Theatre, M&D has proven that quality live theatre has a place in this vibrant community.

Community theatre enriches the lives of those who take an active part in it, as well as those in the community who benefit from live theatre productions. On either side of the footlights, those involved represent a diversity of age, culture, life experience, and a strong appreciation of the importance of the arts.

Thank you in advance for your generous support! Best always,

Deborah Jasien – Executive Director

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M&D Playhouse announces cancellation of season

October 11, 2020

M&D Playhouse at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse has announced the suspension of the remainder of the 2020 season. Citing current news predicting further COVID surges and a re-evaluation of the spread through ventilation systems and potentially more dangerous transmission the organization’s board of directors has made the tough decision to cease operations until spring 2021.

A year that began as a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of M&D Playhouse became a year of challenge for this company as well as all businesses in the community. After a tremendously successful presentation of THE ODD COUPLE, programming was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic just weeks before the opening of the Theatre Arts Studio production of MATILDA the Musical. In addition, the theatre lost the ability to present the much-anticipated summer season which included CLUE Onstage, CABARET and a return of the singing competition VOICE OF THE VALLEY.

M&D ventured to bring a series of plays in September/October abiding by CDC guidelines and all precautions to keep actors, staff, volunteers and patrons safe, but attendance was minimal and they had to take a hard look at the future of the company.
“We are so disappointed to come to this conclusion”, said Deborah Jasien, Executive Director. “Our organization maintained the highest level of security protocols during this time and while we feel confident in the safety of our theatre space we have come to the undeniable reality that our audiences are not ready to come back to the playhouse.

With 37 NH Theatre Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award for founding director Ken Martin, and the NETC Award for Excellence in the American Theatre, M&D has proven that quality live theatre has a place in this vibrant community.

“While we wait to see what the long-lasting effects Covid-19 will have on entertainment venues, we are hopeful we can get back to producing live theatre to the community in 2021 and will be announcing our new season by the end of the year,” said Artistic Director Mark Sickler. “In the meantime, we are now exploring potential virtual alternatives, including a one man presentation of A Christmas Carol”.

”Our community has been very generous through these challenging times and we are grateful. We hope for continued support as it will be instrumental in launching our 2021 season,” said Jasien.

M&D Playhouse, an IRS 501(c)3 non-profit organization, became the theatre in residence at the historic Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse in 2019, after 10 years at Willow Commons. For more information or to make a donation, please visit MDPlayhouse.com.

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Ken Martin to receive the Francis Grover Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award

JANUARY 17, 2020

We’re thrilled to share that the 2020 recipient of the Francis Grover Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award is Ken Martin, co-founder of M&D Playhouse!

Ken was bitten by the theatre bug while attending Kennett High School (New Hampshire), landing the lead in GODSPELL under the kind direction of Roger Corriveau.

Since that time he has appeared on stages from California to Hawaii and across the state of New Hampshire. He has had the honor and privilege of working with the incredible Art Manke of Los Angeles, CA, the masterful David Johnston of Maui, HI, the brilliant Neil Pankhurst of Meredith, NH, the indomitable Kim Barber of Lincoln, NH, and the passionate Richard Russo and Dennis O’Neil of North Conway, to name a few. Ken has grown from a fearless young actor to become a producer and director in his own right, winning accolades and admirers for his vast body of work. A great believer in the mantra of the late great Van McLeod, “If you’re not on the edge, you are taking up too much space,” Ken has strived to keep the work at M&D profitable and edgy. He would like to think he has succeeded in this attempt to some degree, creating an environment which fosters the winning of over 25 NH Theatre Awards and the NETC Regional Award for Excellence in the American Theatre for this small community theatre in North Conway, NH.

Ken’s great love for the people in the theatre will probably drive him back to the stage at some point, but for now he will retire to the audience knowing he has made some small difference in his hometown, at least as it relates to theatre.

Join us in celebrating Ken’s accomplishments on Awards Night!

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‘Constellations’ a poignant look at relationships in the multiverse

THEATER REVIEW

BY ALEC KERR
THE CONWAY DAILY SUN

The theory of the multiverse postulates that, what if, instead of one existence, there are an infinite number of universes with every possible permutation of reality all playing out simultaneously? Nick Payne’s play “Constellations” uses that concept to explore a series of interactions between two people in multiple different ways — some subtle, some completely divergent. Under the direction of Ken Martin, M&D at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse in North Conway is presenting “Constellations” Thursday through Sunday for the next two weeks. Roland (Joe Borsody) and Marianne (Christine Thompson) keep meeting and re-meeting as the play jumps between universes. The jump to different timelines is denoted by a whooshing sound effect and the flashing of the of the star like lights that are hanging both the bare stage. There’s no set dressing or furniture in Deb Jasien’s elegantly simple set design. There are the lights above and a mural of the galaxy painted on the stage below as if Roland and Marianne were floating between the various universes in which the scenes are playing out. Some scenes are as short as 30 seconds, while others go on for several minutes. In most cases, the dialogue is nearly identical, with a slight change that creates a divergency. Maybe Roland has a significant other and Marianne doesn’t or vice versa.

Joe Borsody and Christine Thompson star in M&D at the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse production of “Constellations” which opened Thursday, Jan. 9. (LISA DUFAULT PHOTO)

In other examples, there’s no change in the language but it is emphasis on the words, the tone or inflection that changes. Other times, it becomes the distance between the actors that makes the difference. This is a fascinating exploration of how the slightest deviations in our interactions with our world can result in completely different outcomes. It is a reminder that not only is it the words that we choose but how we say them that impacts those around us. It is also an apt metaphor for theater itself. So much of theater is about how a scene is performed and staged. The smallest changes can transform an entire scene. The ways in which Borsody and Thompson choose to play the dialogue from scene to scene is able to transform it from playful banter in one instance to a bitterly barbed exchange in another. It is an acting challenge that Borsody and Thompson prove up to as they find subtle variations to add or subtract from their performances as they keep going over the same dialogue from different angles. In some universes, Marianne has a neurological disease that causes her to lose her words, which is beautifully, affectingly and authentically performed by Thompson. One scene plays out using sign language. These scenes even change how we understand the universe transitions. The flashing lights are meant to represent the constellations of the title, but also become like synapses fi ring in the brain. Some of the scenes could have benefited from more alterations, shadings or different levels, but that’s the beauty of this play: change is encouraged. Theater is an organic process. Each performance is supposed to replicate the last, but at the same time it is always growing and changing. No two performances will ever be the same. Perhaps more so than any other shows, “Constellations” is open to those variants over the run of a show. “Constellations” is a beautiful show that captures all the variations of life — from small to big from joy to pain — in an easily digestible 70-minute package. For more information or tickets, call (603) 733-5275 or go to mdplayhouse.com

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