Arts Talk


The shows must go on

Jeannette Jaquish shares her passion for local theater

By Michele DeVinney
When the Firehouse Theatre closed after 305 performances, Jeannette Jaquish was left without a home for the kind of theater that has been her passion for many years. In forming Ecstatic Theatrics, she hopes to continue to provide an alternate theatre option for a city which offers a variety of more traditional options.

Jaquish began writing plays while living in Tucson, Ariz., the result of her youngest daughter’s involvement in a local theatre. Her contributions helped defray the potential cost of using more well-known and established plays which can run up high royalty fees. When her family relocated to Fort Wayne in 2000, she continued the work.

“I have found my niche and an underserved market wanting affordable exciting children’s scripts. I am good at writing scripts. I go over each line, honing it to be short, catchy and to prompt the next line. I make the stories witty and exciting. Audiences seem to want familiar titles, but I add more twists, dangers and quirky humor, because, really, who wants to see the same ol’ thing again?”

The endeavor clearly runs in the family. Jaquish recently went back to Tucson for a visit with her mother, who runs the Red Barn Theatre there. Jaquish quips, “Insanity is hereditary!”

There have been challenges along the way, and the closing of the Jaquish-run Firehouse Theatre due to high costs was admittedly a defeat for her. But in the aftermath, she began to reassess a few things and consider ways to move forward.

“After some sleep and some time to think, I realized I needed a more structured approach to rehearsals, a more detailed schedule and a checklist for actors so that there were consequences if they didn’t come to rehearsals. I also realized I had to have my assistants, staging, costumes and other necessities in place before I went into a production instead of figuring it out along the way.”

Jaquish sees an interest in performing in plays, both in the children and adults she casts in her productions, but notes less interest in going to plays, seeing mostly parents of her child actors in the audiences.

“So many parents tell me they want their kids to be in plays, but they’ve never taken the child to a play in the first place. I’ve seen some great productions by high schools — North Side’s “Sweeney Todd” and South Side’s “Noises Off,” for example — which are professional quality but are attended only by friends and family of the students in the play. People should consider going to plays instead of movies so everyone can experience live theater.”

With a name in place, 20 scripts at her disposal and more bouncing around in her head, Jaquish is hoping the 2012-13 season will allow her vision to be realized. Her first production, “Harry Potter and the Obnoxious Voice — The sssSPooF!” runs Aug. 10, 11, 17 & 18 at 7 p.m. at the west side bleachers at Franke Park. She hopes to continue to use the venue while finding an indoor stage for her holiday show.

Posted: Mon, 07/30/2012 - 10:44 am
Last updated: Thu, 09/27/2012 - 12:20 pm