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Posted on 07-30-2018

From seeing their smiling faces on Opening Night at the entrance of the Performing Arts Center to making tough decisions regarding productions and finances, these officers of the theatre make our Circle complete. We had the pleasure of sitting down with these special volunteers and learned more about their backgrounds and thoughts on all things theatre. Read more about our Executive Board and their important roles with Circle Theatre.

Membership: Three years
Occupation: Coordinator for the Graduate Programs for Aquinas College

Membership: Eight years
Occupation: NetSmart Plus Division Manager at Applied Imaging

Membership: Three years
Occupation: The Director of Operations and Productions for ArtPrize

Membership: Two years
Occupation: Adjunct Professor of Photography at both Kendall College of Art & Design and Grand Valley State University as well as a Policy Service Advocate for Farmers Insurance

Membership: Four years
Occupation: The Director of Global Audit + Travel for Steelcase Inc.

Membership: Four years
Occupation: Manager of Conferencing Services at Aquinas College

What is your favorite part of being on the Circle Board?
MARK: My favorite part of being a Board Member for Circle is being able to offer my time and talent to an arts organization that is a vital part of the Grand Rapids community, the place I call home.  The people that I have met and the relationships that have formed as a result have been extremely rewarding. I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity!

BRIAN: I enjoy getting to see all the aspects of the theatre from the financial and business aspects to the rehearsals and the performances.

DEREK:  I love seeing this group of individuals get together for the greater good of Circle Theatre and thus the greater good of the West Michigan Theatre Community. The Board volunteer so many hours to make our Circle operate and function and I find them and the work they do very inspiring.

How did you get involved?
MARK: I got involved many years ago as a result of my work at Aquinas College and providing logistical support for Circle and its mission.  I volunteered my time and was awarded Circle's Volunteer of the Year in 2011 and was approached by a dear friend, an outgoing Board Member, about playing a larger role in Circle's development, which I gladly accepted.

BOB: I had been attending productions for several years and was approached by the former Treasurer, Gary Malburg, to see if I had an interest in becoming involved as more than a patron.

DEREK: I used to be involved performing theater in high school and college but went away from it for a long while. When I moved to Grand Rapids four years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Noddea Skidmore and made her promise to keep me involved and active in the theatre community. She is doing a great job on her promise. 

What do you tell your friends, family, and colleagues about Circle?
LYNN: I am one of the biggest cheerleaders for Circle. I love talking about how wonderful and accepting the Circle family is to the community. Once you become a part of the Circle family, you are a member for life. It is wonderful to see how many people have supported Circle for so many years.

BOB: I tell them about the quality of the productions, the community and social issues we tackle in some of the shows, the value of being a member of Circle.

DEREK: That it is a very special place that produces amazing theatrical experiences for our audience. Everyone is welcome at Circle and is welcome to be a part of our Circle Family however they choose. I love that we provide this safe space for people to reside and that they are able to opt into our Circle. This can range from being a performer, an usher, a crew member or an audience member. It’s a very special place that loves everyone involved.

What's your favorite part of coming to a show at Circle?
LYNN: I enjoy chatting with patrons before and after the show. I view it as an opportunity to thank them for supporting 
Circle Theatre.

BRIAN: When the house lights go down and the show starts.

ASHLEE: The quality of shows that Circle puts on is top notch. You can really tell that the people involved love what they do.

DEREK: I know that I am going to see a solid piece of theater and be entertained. Seriously, we produce some top-notch theater and I know I’m going to be blown away each time. I also love seeing the camaraderie around the theater. Whether it's the team of ushers, the box office staff or the troupe of performers there is great camaraderie visible with every experience.

What's your favorite Circle show you've seen?
MARK: I have many favorites, picking one would be difficult. I love both plays and musicals.  The one play I think back on most often is Proof, which had a profound effect on me, even to this day. To Kill A Mockingbird is my 
favorite play in recent years, which I saw three times last summer.  In regards to musicals, A Chorus Line was amazing last summer. I both laughed and cried numerous times throughout the production. The staging of it in our space was well thought out and lead to a more powerful experience.

ASHLEE: Spamalot is totally my favorite.

BOB: Oh…that is tough.  There have been so many good shows.

Which show are you/were you most looking forward to seeing this season?
MARK: Fun Home, hands down.  I was involved in vetting the play for approval for the upcoming season to a greater extent than the rest of our summer lineup due to the subject matter, which was challenging.  I was very impressed by the production and the subject matter throughout and believe it was the right time to be seen on stage in West Michigan.

LYNN: I was most looking forward to seeing A Few Good Men this season.

BOB: Fun Home…I had never seen it and was looking forward to being challenged by some of the issues it addresses

What's your vision for the future of Circle?
LYNN: It is my hope that Circle will continue to grow and that we will see more diversity overall in the theatre community.

ASHLEE: I would love to see Circle Theatre as a leader in educating and cultivating community engagement through performing arts.

DEREK: I think we are in a really good spot and have won the hearts of our audience. They also know they are going to be entertained right when they take their seat. I would like to see more diversity in our audience base as well as even more diversity in the shows we produce.

What makes you most proud of your involvement with Circle?
MARK: I am most proud to be a small part of an amazing organization entrusted with the production and proliferation of the performing arts in a community that I love and call home. The benefits that I receive from volunteering my time to Circle far outweighs any contribution that I may ever make to the organization.  I will always be indebted to my time with Circle.

LYNN: Supporting a theatre that has proven reputation for excellence, integrity, and honest storytelling.

ASHLEE: The Circle family. I’m proud every time I see a new face or someone shy get on stage and command an audience. To see their face as they walk off the stage after a performance is priceless. Helping to foster that experience and growth makes me proud to be a part of the Circle family.

Why are the theatre arts important to you?
LYNN: Fostering and supporting creativity is always important. The ability to show beauty through the arts is life-affirming to me. I am a creative soul, so I understand the passion that artists have for their craft.

BRIAN: Because it is art in the present. Theatre can serve to push out all the distractions of life one act at a time.

BOB: Arts are the backbone of any community…behind any thriving community is a strong commitment to the arts.

DEREK: Because we can bring life experiences to people while they sit in the comfort of their seat. They might love what they see in front of them or they may feel uncomfortable with a show. I love that we can bring this wide array of emotions to people. I actually love when someone is a bit uncomfortable with a show because it sparks dialogue they may have never had in their lives and makes them think, whether they like it or not! 

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