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Gig&Tell: Theatre West Virginia

  • Community Theatre (at best).    
    08/20/2018  12:40pm

    Truly abysmal. The theatre is running without a production manager or artistic director. The general manager has no experience with theatre and takes it upon himself to judge “talent” and casts people who can’t match pitch. We did a new work this summer and the music director had to cut all the harmonies on the ensemble numbers because people couldn’t sing! They didn’t have enough cast members for one of their shows this summer so they invited the parents/families of children already in the show to join the cast... This ACTUALLY HAPPENED! If you survive the 8 DAY REHEARSAL process without killing any of the high school kids and their parents who can’t read music or act, before you can do a show you have to sit through the general manager’s 30 min pre show speech which is complete with the butchering of the national anthem. PLAY BALL!

    The powers in charge call Theatre West Virginia a “professional” theatre, but I regret to inform them I’ve seen more professionally executed shows on a high school level. They do not know theatre and call it a “successful season” as long as the show goes on.

    Other issues of this summer included a gun exploding on stage during a performance, set pieces falling on actors, bees, misinformation about casting (actors being told they’re playing a role to then be told the next day with no explanation they weren’t playing that role), paychecks not being the correct amount... the list is endless. Don’t work at this theatre until it comes under control of people who actually have experience with theatre. Steer clear. You’ll enjoy a handful of professional talents who somehow also ended up there, but having to put up with everything else is not worth it. Save your sanity and do ANYTHING ELSE but work here.

  • Yikes 07/28/2018  9:24pm

    This theatre is an unsafe, unprofessional hell hole. Production quality borders somewhere between high school and bad community theatre at best. It isn't run like any theatre anywhere. No Artistic Director or Production Manager.

    The man in charge is a sleaze bag who generalized and unfairly demeaned (publicly and privately) millennials, African Americans, women, and actors. He made jokes at actors who were injured during performances due to safety issues (which were his responsibility) and made jokes (to the face) of a technician who's friend died and attended a funeral. He made it abundantly clear that he thinks acting is a fun hobby and isn't a career, yet somehow he's trying to run a theatre. According to many in the company, he has been embezzling massive amounts of money or withholding it for SOME SPECIAL reason. Meanwhile...

    -The best "Actor Housing" they could 'afford' to provide was mattresses on the floor. Then, fleas descended on the house when the basement flooded and naturally, the actors were blamed.

    -Rehearsals for each show were crammed into ridiculous 10 day processes because they couldn't 'afford' the actors any longer.

    -Technical staff did not have any of the necessary manpower, tools, or hardware to build safe productions. Only 14 lights worked by the end of the second show. I guess they couldn't 'afford' that either.

    -Bees nests in the sets. So many bees. And it was weeks before anything was done.

    -A .38 revolver stage weapon exploded during a show injuring an actor because they didn't hire a pyrotechnician to oversee safety and purchase of the correct blanks. I guess it was too expensive...

    These and so many more atrocities occurred over the course of ONE summer. They have NO ONE with a degree or working knowledge of how a theatre is run in any position of leadership. And they refuse to listen to those who do understand and take action. The sad thing is this theatre would be so easy to turn around if they would just hire some qualified people and fire their awful general manager, but like some big group of infants, they just don't know any better and stubbornly refuse to learn.

    TL;DR:
    Actors treated like dirt, unsafe conditions, ugly productions, bigot in charge.
    RUN. DON'T WALK.

    I agree with everything said here. Bees, exploding guns, 30 minute pre-curtain speeches with a literal PIGGY BANK passed around to collect money from patrons before the show even started... We really saw it all this summer.

    The people running this theatre don't know ANYTHING about theatre or how one should be run. The General Manager seems to believe that his productions (made up mostly by local high school kids without any musical experience) are Broadway quality, and refuses to listen to ideas on how to make them better. The group of dancers and the few leads brought in from out of town were the only redeeming parts of the productions this summer. The actors are grossly mistreated (the housing is abysmal and the pay is way too low for the amount of time worked), and somehow were expected to pull off a new musical with an ensemble that couldn't even pretend to read music- people were literally FALLING ASLEEP during music rehearsal with no repercussions- in a matter of 8 rehearsal days.

    The sad thing is, is I've heard that this theatre used to be great and produced high quality work. The performance space is huge and has so much potential, but it was wasted with tacky sets and poor direction.

    The community really does love this theatre, though. But until they make some serious changes, specifically in who is running the place, it is not an enjoyable place to work nor the professional experience it should strive to be.

    08/07/2018  1:33pm
  • There's Potential    
    11/01/2015  2:39am

    It's terrible that such a terrific venue with amazing history and potential is so poorly run. Someone please come fix this place. I don't like to bash a company, but they had some very serious problems that start at the top and work their way down.
    -Lack of safety in many areas (black mold on the stage floor, incorrect rigging, etc.)
    -All techs had either quit or were fired and we had insufficient crew to run and build shows.
    -Production manager had no experience in production management and boy howdy it showed. #1 problem.
    -SM was a minor with no professional or collegiate experience (though she did incredibly well).
    -The main production was a high school musical that was remounted at TWV under the same director with the same set and same staging. His main method of directing was giving line readings. Very disappointing.

    I will say, however, that the actors who work there are very tight-knit, there are some seriously talented people, the area is gorgeous, and the community loves the productions.

    I'd only recommend working at TWV if you're in it for the full experience. If you know what you're in for, it can be fun. Still, know that you WILL be working for and with many unprofessional people who have very little idea what they're doing.

  • Beware    
    05/07/2013  1:31am

    You will literally be in the middle of nowhere. Spotty cell service at best and, unless you bring a car, you are at the mercy of other people to drive you to and from rehearsals (about half an hour each way). The company is run now by a rather tyrannical family--the stage manager wife is married to the lead actor and her brother and sister work tech. Mostly everyone else is below the age of 22 and without any professional experience and the backstage drama is way more intense than anything on stage. The community is lovely and so welcoming but it does not make up for the living conditions or artistic experience at all. I wouldn't recommend this gig for anyone who has had any professional experience.

    I usually wouldn't rate a place this way, but just go look up some production photos and ask yourself how you'd feel standing in front of that mess in BFE West Virginia.

    11/30/2013  11:35am

    Great experience. Cell phone service not a problem. Ride to theatre not a problem. Ridiculous what people find to bitch about. Interesting comment about the photos. Very shortsighted. I guess I am old school but I always assumed it was how well you told the story. And to me every show I was in at TWV told the story very well. Photos look rustic and old because that's part of the story.
    Very recently, this theatre has fallen on hard times due to state budget cuts. I worked there for 6 years. Instrumental in shaping me as a professional. I can see how some of the more fragile and pampered colleagues may find there time there a bit tough. However, I would recommend this experience to any level headed, hardworking, true artist and professional.

    08/15/2014  8:49am

    It is truly sad to hear what the 2013 company's experience was like, which has nothing to do with the type of company Theatre West has been for most of it's 54 years of existence. I'm very happy to say that the 2014 cast had a very different, very professional, very high quality experience... Even with the occasional dropped cell phone call! The area is remarkably beautiful and it breaks my heart, after so many incredible experiences there, to hear this kind of false narrative about TWV. Sure, it fell on hard times but thankfully that dynamic is long gone. TWV is a great professional experience.

    08/29/2014  11:49pm

    A great company that seems to have lost its way for a while but is now back on track.

    08/29/2014  11:53pm