By Ron VandenBoom
The small group of actors that came together a few years ago and said, "let's do this thing," has this week announced that it has come of age.
Articles of incorporation that will give the Montana Actor's Theatre (MAT) a 501c3 non-profit status were finished Monday and after a few finishing touches are ready to be submitted to the Secretary of State for approval.
Mike Zook, one of the members of the acting troops ad-hoc board of directors, said a public meeting will be held Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Havre High School auditorium to accept nominations for an official board of directors and for officers.
The troop will also announce plans for their next season of plays and will soon be holding auditions for those plays.
"We have enough people in the organization and there seems to be enough interest in the community and we want the community to know that we are an open group."
Zook explained that the Theatre has attracted a great deal of local attention since the days when Jay Pyette first assembled the troop of local actors several years ago. Today they have managed to assembly a great deal of support from sponsors and members of the community who appreciate live theater.
"Now we want to open it up to anyone in the community interested in furthering the performing arts," he said.
Furthering the performing arts does not just mean people that want to act.
"We're not just interested in people that want to be in plays," he said. "We're looking for those that are interested in building scene sets, doing publicity, and all the various facets of the organization."
Sam Stuart, also a member of the ad-hoc board, said the troop had early on developed a dues structure, or membership fee, of $1 a year.
"The flip side of that coin," Zook said, "is that you must participate in one show."
That too could mean painting sets or hanging posters.
Zook described the last several years of operation as "catch as catch can" as they strove to create quality shows for Havre audiences.
"Now we're looking long-term," he said.
Zook noted that MAT has sponsored or assisted in acting workshops for preteens, junior, and adult theatre productions as interest in acting has continued to spread through the community.
Stuart said they were very surprised when almost 150 people showed up at the gazebo in Pepin Park earlier this summer to see the the kids perform in a show they had written, directed, and produced themselves.
"There were 12 kids in the show and to get that kind of outpouring for one time is just phenomenal," he said. "That was so positive and people were so appreciative we would be foolish not to go farther with that."
The show was sponsored by a local chapter of PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization).
"It gave those kids such a creative outlet," Stuart said.
Also this year was the summer production of "10 Little Indians" by the junior arm of MAT that consisted of high-school age actors.
As their success and impact continues to grow, Zook would like to see their success spread along the Hi-Line.
"We would like to be a part of what draws people to Havre," Zook said. "And we think we can do it."
MAT's next effort will be a dinner theater production of a play called "Art" that will be presented in Havre at the Mediterranean Room and in Chinook at the Chinook Motor Inn.
Described by one board member as an examination of art, relationships and friendships it was also described as three guys arguing over a picture.
Dates for the performance will be Oct. 7, in Chinook, Oct. 14 and 21 in Havre, Oct. 28 in Chinook and Nov. 4 in Havre.
Each evening will begin at about 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. The play is expected to begin at 8 p.m.
Ticket prices and where to get them have not yet been set by the troop, but the cost of the meal will be included in the price of the ticket, Zook said.
There will be limited seating for each performance and tickets will be available by advance sales only.