Stepping Out of the Script with Ann Marie Pereth, Co-Founder of A Public Fit Theater Company
In 2014, local couple Ann Marie Pereth and Joseph Kucan founded A Public Fit, a professional theater company based in Fremont East dedicated to staging smart, provocative and engaging plays with local cast and crew. Over eight cleverly curated seasons, it has done just that, delivering productions as memorable and innovative as A Tinkerer’s Summon to gather the members at the usual placewhich began, almost surreptitiously, in an alley behind the performance space (and which gave the company the name of its downtown hall, the usual place) and the great silence Small mouth sounds.
Many of these productions are directed or co-directed by Pereth, an actress, dancer and choreographer whose relentless creativity extends far beyond her work as artistic director of A Public Fit. Longtime Las Vegan (“I lived here when this town was only 500,000 people”) teaches acting at CSN and assists other local theater companies and schools, working toward the goal of building something lasting and durable for Las Vegas. “I want the theater community to succeed; to rise above,” says Pereth. “I really fight for this cause.”
What motivated you and Joseph Kucan to found this company? I lived in New York [for a time]; it’s a tough place. You know, it’s the center of so many industries: fashion, journalism, theater. But I was so skinny and sick there, living in a very small space; I was really alone. So when I got back to Las Vegas and all the people I was with in college were like, ‘We’re going to New York’, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to do that. .”
Joe and I have always been in the same circles, but there was no romantic interest, ever, until I finished graduate school. I said to him, “You know, our relationship is going really well and I have to make a decision: am I going to apply to become a theater teacher or am I going to go back to New York and try to work? professional?” I love Joe’s family, and I love Joe, and I was actually kind of saddened that there wasn’t a professional theater in town that paid people enough to make it worth it. difficult to do theatre.
So, [A Public Fit] started from that time to go OK, artists are valuable. If I have a way and a way and use my connections, I would like to find a way to pay the artists. We started reading plays at Joe’s parents and it exploded; we started doing public readings and then the staged readings turned into fox seeker and A Tinkerer’s Summon. And we’ve only been building and building ever since; every year it grows, and we change, and we change, and we become more and more professional. But it all really started with the simple desire to take care of the artists.
Theater is a hard sell here. Where do you get the money to pay the cast and crew? individual donors; we have a lot of people supporting us. Subsidies. Corporate sponsorships – at this time we have sponsorship with Findlay [Automotive Group] for our current production, The things that I know to be true. And the ticket sales, but the shows are so expensive [to produce] that even though we’re sold out—and we’ve had a great run for this show—we don’t pay the cost of producing the show. So it’s not really a lucrative business. It’s really a community service that we provide in Las Vegans so in order to be able to do that we have to tap into all of these different resources to make sure the quality stays high because if you pay people then you attract more skilled artists.
What makes theater companies like yours such a vital part of a community? I would say that theater is conversation. If you do it really well, people will lean in, because it’s happening in real time right in front of you. It’s really provocative… it forces us to look at ourselves; this requires us to book in our community. It encourages us to argue with people we disagree with, and it also tells us where we’re doing really well. [chuckles].
So it’s really about creating that conversation for there to be more humanity on the planet. The way we do it in the theater community is, you know, we rehearse, we get to opening night, we get all the audience members in the house, the lights go out, and we sit together peacefully. And the reason I’m saying that right now is simply because we’re in the context of what’s happening in Ukraine. Their people also fight to have a conversation, but they have to defend themselves [with] bullets and missiles. … It’s a really sad, sad situation. We manage to demonstrate peacefully, under the lights, in a gentler way.
In an ideal world, what would the theater scene in Las Vegas look like? We have an actress who just moved here from Indianapolis. Her husband is in the graduate program at UNLV. … I asked her what the theater scene was like in Indianapolis, and she said, “Well, it’s bigger there than it is here.” I was like, “Damn it!” And deep down, I already knew that was true. We let ourselves be swallowed up by the animations of the Strip.
A lot of [this city’s] entertainment resources [have] not been in the theater community, and that’s what APF, Majestic Repertory and Vegas Theater Company are really fighting for right now, because we need our local leaders to invest. They call it “the arts district” because of what artists have done. So if we’re kicked out because of retail and restaurants, it’s a disservice to the artists who built that infrastructure and made it cool.
There is no regional theater in the state of Nevada. This is what differentiates us from other theatrical cities; we don’t have that in our city or even in our state. I don’t know if it’s a goal that I’m actively pursuing, but what I’m actively pursuing is to create a body of actors and administrators who have work and who are financially valid. We’re looking to keep building and growing, just to keep validating everyone’s hard work.
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