For nearly five years, the Actors' Studio of Hope has offered area residents the best in community dinner theatre. Co-founder Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle recently spoke about what makes the organization different than others in the same arena, how it has been received by the Hope community and her hopes for the studio's future.
What is the mission of the Studio?
To bring good quality community theatre to this area.
What makes the Studio different from other actors' organizations?
We are different than any other theater in that they are just a theater. We hold our plays at WiLLow LeaVes, which is an antique shop, restaurant and theater stage. Most theaters in Indiana are just a community theater. We are not just that. All our plays are dinner theaters. We are strictly a dinner theater.
How has the Studio and its plays been received by area residents?
We have quite a following. Most of the people we have following us are not from Hope. We have had them come from New Albany, Greenfield, Columbus, and out of state, like Tennessee.
What is the age range of those involved on and off stage?
Between those acting, anywhere from the age of 8 to 68. The audience, the mean audience age is probably mid-50s. We do get some younger adults, but we usually hit more of the upper side of the age scale.
Aside from your Facebook page, how do you keep people up-to-date about upcoming events?
We have mailing and email lists. We also send out post cards, put up posters, etc. People can sign up for our mailing list when they come to see a play at Willow Leaves.
How was the idea for the Studio hatched?
Our co-founder Pete Law had a fellow actor bail on him - during a two person play - and he called and asked if I would fill in and I did. Willow Leaves wanted us to do plays there and encouraged it. So we decided we would and after three or four plays we knew we needed a name and came up with the Actors' Studio of Hope.
Aside from plays what does the Studio do?
We offer plays and acting workshops.
Looking back over the past few years, are there any challenges you've faced?
Nothing serious. We've been cookin' right along. I tend to produce most of the plays.
What are your hopes for the Studio in the coming years?
I want us to be able to offer the public a season. We would like to put together a season of plays. Right now as we are getting established we aren't like a lot of theatres in that we don't have a season set. I hope this is a long-term relationship between the Actors' Studio of Hope and Willow Leaves.