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2001 - 2002 SEASON:
We opened the theater in March 2001 to an enthusiastic audience with our first production, Greater Tuna, a riotous comedy about life in a small town in Texas. Greater Tuna was also Acme's entry into the 2001 EMACT Festival, where it was chosen as a Finalist, received several award nominations, and received the Festival Award for Best Actor (Tom Berry). At the end of the 2000-2001 season, Acme produced the Neil Simon comedy, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, which brought new talent to the group and a growing audience.
Team Acme poured its energy into its first full season in our new home. The Fall 2001 production was James McClure's two 1-act plays, Lone Star and Laundry and Bourbon, both dark comedies set in the small town of Maynard, Texas. This allowed Acme to present our award-winning, highly acclaimed and much-loved 2000 EMACT Festival production of Lone Star as a regular production. Audiences were still small, and we found that most people who called the theater were actually trying to reach the Maynard movie theater, but we kept hope alive and were encouraged by the steady word-of-mouth increase in our local audience attendance during the performance run. Still new to our local community, Acme initiated the Downtown Maynard Walk, to post and hand out show flyers as a way to spur interest with local shoppers and businesses about the theater. Since that time, the Maynard Walk has been a regular part of Acme's community outreach program.
In December 2001, Acme performed its first musical in our new home, Celebration of the Season, with 6 cast members performing holiday songs, poems, and stories. This Holiday Revue was highly successful, showcasing our group's musical talents, but the Board of Directors felt that there were too many local competing events during the holidays, and agreed to re-evaluate the timeframe for future musical showcase productions.
In January 2002, Acme produced the intense drama, 'Night, Mother. An intentional departure from our usual play selections, the play brought Acme new volunteers, talent, and creativity during the production. Audiences were small but appreciative of the high quality of the production. After the play closed, it was re-produced under Harvard Community Theater in preparation for the 2002 EMACT Festival. 'Night, Mother was awarded Best Production and several other awards and nominations at the 2002 EMACT Festival, and was selected to compete at the subsequent New England Regional Festival in New Hampshire.
Through the efforts of Rob Mattson, Acme launched its inaugural New Works Winter Festival (NWWF) in February 2002. NWWF was created to:
provide a venue for local Massachusetts playwrights to have their unpublished works performed,
to gain greater visibility and cultural recognition for both Acme Theater and the Town of Maynard, and
to provide a unique entertainment opportunity for Acme's audience.
Acme received over 40 play submissions ranging from 5 minute short pieces to full 1 hour one-act plays. 20 plays from 14 playwrights were included for production over a 3 night span. Open auditions were held in early January to provide actors for each play. As part of Acme's mission and established program of mentoring, first-time actors and directors were especially encouraged to participate. Acme was also awarded a grant from the Maynard Cultural Council to support the Festival, another clear sign that Maynard was taking notice of its community theater. Each night of play performances were full, loud and appreciative. At the conclusion of each evenings' performances, the playwrights whose works were shown that evening were asked to come up on the stage and receive applause for their efforts. The audiences also had the unique opportunity to give feedback and ask questions of the playwrights, to gain a better understanding of the play's intentions and to help the playwrights with these and other "works in progress." At the end of each evening's performances, the audience was asked to vote by secret ballot for their favorite New Work of the evening. After the votes were tallied, the NWWF "Charlie Award" was announced, and the Playwright was awarded a handsome plaque.
The Spring 2002 production was Leonard Gershe's Butterflies are Free, a romantic comedy that would be also performed at the 2002 EMACT Festival in May. We again saw increased and enthusiastic audience attendance from the local area, and felt comfortable adding, Maynard's Own Community Theater, to our publicity announcements. Butterflies was well received by audiences, acknowledged with acting and directing achievement awards, and was an audience favorite at the 2002 EMACT Festival. Although not a Finalist production, Butterflies was nominated for the Best Actor (Gordon Ellis) award at the Festival.