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July 2006
A Fairy Tale, pt. 2 PDF Print E-mail

The Story Continues… by Ron Wartzok

This is the continued story from our last newsletter, a fairy tale story about the “Second Life” of the Pulse Opera House. First constructed in 1884, by Civil War Captain Silas Pulse, the theatre’s early history is important to this story; but it’s the “Second Life” of the theatre that these series of articles will focus. Celebrating our 20th anniversary; this fairy tale was an ongoing dream by restoration founder and artistic director, Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok. Inspired by her grandfather, Elijah Gephart, his childhood memories of this glorious little theatre in downtown Warren, and with the help of her parents, Nancy & Bob Smyth, it’s Cynthia’s dedication & passion for the arts that kept the “Spirit” of Pulse Opera House alive for these past 20 years.

In the last Newsletter, we learned about the inspiration to reopen the Pulse after its lying dormant for over 50 years. Before the actual start of restoration, the beginning of the Pulse entailed learning about the past life of the theatre; it’s history since it’s first day of construction in 1884. Cynthia researched the history of the Pulse Opera House for her Indiana University Masters Degree Thesis by going back through approximately 20 years of old Warren newspapers and area newspapers from 1884 to about the mid 1920s. At the time of the late 1800’s, there were three daily newspapers in Warren. Researching these newspapers, Cynthia found articles about the construction & opening of the Opera House in 1884 and many detailed stories about the theatre vaudeville acts touring the state and appearing at the Pulse.

In the 1980s, the only way to research old newspapers was to view these newspapers from microfiche film and view on a large rear-projected microfiche reader at a public library. There was no Internet or computers to read these old publications and the microfiche reader was physically too large to remove from the library. Cynthia first started hand copying articles from many newspaper articles she would research at the Warren Library; but she discovered that duplicate copies of the Warren newspapers were at the Indianapolis state library, of which could be loaned to the IU Bloomington campus. She spent three years basically living at the IU Library while attending graduate classes at the Bloomington campus. These notes and copies were then transferred, by using a manual typewriter, to create her notes and quotes for her final thesis. By comparison to today’s technical advancements, this process was extremely tedious in 1983.

Before finishing graduate school in 1986, Cynthia and her parents, Nancy & Bob Smyth, organized the first Board of Directors with the mission to restore the theatre. Cynthia had ambitious dreams for the Pulse and the community of Warren. She hoped the theatre would someday be completely restored and hoped that the town of Warren would become an arts community with little shops and art galleries, similar to Indiana’s Brown County or Ontario’s Stratford Festival in Canada. Today the theatre is very active and Pulse productions have grown from small town community shows with cardboard sets to high quality theatrical performances. The Pulse is recognized statewide through the Indiana Community Theatre League and has twice represented the United States at International Theatre Festivals in Germany in 2000 and 2004. In 2004, only one other community theatre in the US received the same honor as the Pulse to represent the United States overseas. With over 3000 community theatres in the United States and considering the size of the community of Warren, this is an enormous accomplishment of the people involved at the Pulse and Cynthia’s dedication to the theatre and it’s success.

The first necessity was to raise money to start just the basic renovations needed in the theatre, of which, included building new audience seating risers, purchasing seats and rebuilding the stage proscenium. After the first year of organizing the Pulse Opera House Board of Directors in 1986 and months of planning, in January of 1987, Cynthia and the Board of Directors organized their first $50 a plate fund raising dinner. Even with one of the largest snow blizzards of decade happening the evening of the big fundraiser dinner, every reservation showed up to the dinner in support of the theatre. We even had to have the State Police special escort one of the performers into Warren for the evening’s entertainment. For a community the size of Warren and the economics of the time, $50 per plate was quite a commitment for the near 200 attendees. With funds raised at this first fundraiser and the private assistance of a few key board members, construction started in the theatre with just enough time for a planned grand opening on July 4th, 1987.

In 1986 & 1987, the “Second Life” of the Pulse was just in its infancy. Throughout this 20th season I will continue the story in articles appearing in the Pulse Press Newsletters

 
Kudos! PDF Print E-mail
Pulse Artistic Director Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok was the 2006 winner of the Samuel Jones Award in Warren, Indiana.  She was recognized for 20 years of service to the Warren Community.
 
Day Camp PDF Print E-mail
The first ever Pulse Opera House Day Camp was held in June.  Campers Zack Biddle, Trevor Bracht, Matthew Goings, Rachel Jackson, Brittany Krieg, Brooke Mattson, Kayla Smyth,  Austin Stucky, Alexandra Stanley,   Alex Tolen,   Stephen Willard and Lina Willard improvised, fenced, told jokes, ran lights and made a lot of new friends.  When asked if they wanted to come back next year the answer was a resounding "YES!"  Many thanks to the teachers Scott Nedberg, Darren Turney and Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok.  Watch for some of the campers onstage the second weekend of WILD OATS!
 
Playwright's Project PDF Print E-mail
Work is progressing nicely on the six new plays being developed in the Playwright's Project.  All six writers have completed a draft of their script, and several Pulse players read excerpts at the last meeting.

Comedies include Darren Turney's inside look at community theatre called The Bickerton Players' Syndrome; Steven Weber's take on consultants and management techniques in 8 Magic Steps to a Successful Business; and Katey Wilks' look at on-line dating called Love on the Line.

Dramas include Denise Buhr's examination of suicide called Last Stop Before HomeChris Hoover's tale of unrequited love called Reciprocity; and Kayleen Reusser's story about Jesse Owen's German competitor in Thunder of Heaven.  Public readings of the plays are scheduled on  September 29 & 30.
 
Player Notes PDF Print E-mail
Jana Henly Baker is lead female performer aboard the SS Zuiderdam with Holland America Cruise Lines currently in Alaska. Over the course of the next few months the ship will sail south and wind up in Florida at the end of her 6-month contract. She will be able to see many ports and sights that she'll won't soon forget.

Dan Baker is currently playing Conrad Birdie in Bye, Bye Birdie at Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana. He will also be included in Camelot and Plain and Fancy over the next few months. Dan recently graduated from Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne with a Music Education degree, as well as a vocal performance degree.

Chris Fuller recently appeared as "Old Annie" and in Wells Community Theater's production of Oliver.  She also just became a Great- grandmother for the first time this spring. Her Great-Grandson, Logan Matthew Libby, is a real charmer..possibly future star material.

Audrey and Jason Lucker
are performing a voice and trumpet recital on September 22 at Manchester College in Wine Recital Hall at 7:30.

Tony Sirk just opened South Pacific and is in the middle of the Beauty and the Beast build at  Maine State Music Theatre .  He reports that Maine is tons of fun.

David & Vanessa Haigh, Emily Hartley, Kate Hecht, Justin Perry, and Mandy Stoffer performed in the Southern Wells Summer Drama production of The Princess and the Pea.

Amanda Tolen and Lina Willard were contestants in the Junior Miss Pageant for the Salamonie Summer Festival.  Amanda  was first runner up and Lina was second runner up.   Way to go!
 
Auditions PDF Print E-mail
Auditions for See How They Run are on Monday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the theatre.  Roles are available for 6 men and 3 women of various ages. Those auditioning should come prepared to read.  Rehearsals will begin on Monday, July 31 and run Mon.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m. through the opening of the show.
 
WILD OATS Opens July 14 PDF Print E-mail
ImageYEE HAW!  Have you felt like sowing some WILD OATS lately?   Grab your "pardner" and run to the Pulse where you can let down your hair and kick up your heels as we present an Old West comedy in true melodramatic fashion.

In celebration of the Pulse's 20th Anniversary, we are dusting off some of the characters seen in the early shows at the theatre including cowboys, Indians, dance hall girls, gamblers, lovely women, members of the cavalry, desperados and, of course, a dastardly villain.   Audience members will be encouraged to boo, cheer and sigh as the company tells the story of mistaken identities, evil landlords, long-lost sons reuniting with parents, a slithery preacher, a traveling Shakespearean company staging a Western version of Taming of the Shrew and much more.   

Mark your calendar!  You won't want to miss this loving tribute to the Pulse Opera House!
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