Why CTC?: Board Member Gail Perlman shares why CTC holds a special place in her life

Recently I was discussing with one of our board members Gail Perlman the importance of theatre and, specifically, Chester Theatre Company  to her life. I found her response so eloquent that I asked her if she would be willing to share her thoughts with the broader CTC community through our blog. Gail is our most recent addition to the CTC board, where she serves as our clerk. Gail is the engine behind our annual Drama For Dinner event, and also volunteers weekly in the CTC office assisting with a multitude of projects.

I’m a long-time Massachusetts transplant from South Bend, Indiana where I grew up with parents who loved language and literature and made theatre and poetry a prominent part of our lives from an early age.  So it’s no surprise that I became enthralled with CTC after I moved with my husband, son and daughter to Northampton in 1976.

Last Train to Nibroc

Favorites among the many plays we’ve seen at CTC are The Nibroc Trilogy with its quiet wisdom and Pride@Prejudice with its bounding exuberance and faithful rendering of Austen’s brilliance.

After a long and varied career in social work, family law, mediation and thirteen years on the Probate and Family Court bench in Hampshire County, I was ready, upon retirement, for a switch to the arts.  Why CTC?  

Well, there’s Byam, of course, with his encyclopedic knowledge of theater and his eagerness to share that knowledge.  Then there’s London and Dublin, the two annual trips the theater leads.  My husband and I have installed them in our calendars now so that they’re as regular as April 15.  One week, five plays, five TalkBacks with Byam and Bob King of the Elms College, all air and ground transportation and hotel accommodations arranged by the theater, a lecture by the drama critic of the International Herald, free time to explore the cities, new friends and old.  I find very little to complain about in this scenario.

TalkBack from 2012 Dublin Tour

TalkBack in Action: (L. to. R.) Anne Furman, Bill & Dina Weisberger, and Dorothy Benzian.

But there’s a bigger “why,” too.  Theater is a delicate commodity in this time of reduced resources and strapped budgets.  It won’t survive without our care and our unremitting support.  We think about how to attract new audiences with broad age and geographic range.  We think about how to strengthen our financial health.  For me, the world would be pale and dull without really fine theatre, without this particular theatre’s courage to experiment with new forms and new ways of exploring complex ideas, keeping us thinking hard and laughing hard.   I’m involved with the Chester Theatre Company because I want to help ensure that the coming generations in Western Massachusetts will have an accessible, professional teaching theatre to delight and challenge them in the years ahead.

Do Gail’s words strike a chord with you? Would you like to take part in CTC’s work as a volunteer? We can always use extra skills, hands, and ideas at CTC. And what better way support theatre you love than by actively taking part in the wonderful work that makes it possible! 

Contact Managing Director Todd Trebour at todd@chestertheatre.org or 413-354-7770 to find out how you can help.