Arizona Theatre Company launched a new program this year as another way to involve the local community. The program, called the Cohorts Club, gives citizens of Tucson and Phoenix the opportunity to see everything that encompasses a show ATC puts on.
Designated members of the public attend rehearsals, tech runs, dress rehearsals, and opening nights free of charge. In exchange, Cohorts Club members blast information about the performances on social media or a blog.
The program was an idea from Sean Daniels, artistic director for ATC. Daniels had implemented the program at another company he worked for and it was successful, so he decided to try it at ATC.
Will Rogers, ATC director of artistic programs, has been working on this project since June 2019.
“It’s a way to get community members more engaged in the art-making process. It is not a marketing tool, it is not a promotional tool. It is a tool that allows 20 community members at a time to get a behind-the-scenes look at how theater is made.”
Members of the program can attend as many rehearsals as they want and get two tickets for the opening night. They are given a list of what occurs at each rehearsal so they can report on it in their blogs. Cohort members are expected to do this for three shows, and are invited to continue after the third show.
“This is not a donor perk. It’s not something you get from giving at a certain level. We want to really be aware and cognizant that our 20 cohorts in each city are as diverse as possible and represent a cross-section of the community,” Rogers says.
The qualifications for the program are that a person has an interest in theater or the art-making process, the eagerness to write and share their experiences, and can follow the rules for cohorts. Cohorts are not there to give feedback to the actors and other crew members, but are simply observers of the process.
“Cohorts really do become a part of the fabric of the institution,” Rogers says, adding that cohorts are part of the theater family and often become friends with the cast and crew. ATC encourages people to apply for the program.
Sara Lopez, a member of the Tucson cohort, is interested in continuing as a Cohorts Club member.
“In 2018 I had the inspiration to become a theater director within the Jewish community. I wanted to advance the arts and I needed some education [on] what the rehearsal process looks like. I got in touch with the ATC and they referred me to Anna Jennings, ” Lopez says. Jennings, then ATC’s artistic manager, recruited Lopez for the Cohorts Club and she fell in love with it.
Lopez sees value in the program beyond making the community more aware of what plays ATC is presenting. She has noticed growth in herself.
“My love for theater and appreciation has advanced and grown because I’ve never had this experience before, getting to see the rehearsal process,” Lopez says. “My favorite part is building relationships with artists.”
Lopez says that in every play she has seen, she has been able to find significance to the Jewish faith.
“Every show I see if there is no Jewish theme specifically, I always see a connection to the Jewish stories,” Lopez says. The Jewish themes were obvious for “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Cabaret.” Others plays she saw this season include “The Royale,” a drama about a black boxer in 1910, “Silent Sky,” a true story about a female astronomer in the early 1900s, and “‘Master Harold’ … and the Boys,” set in apartheid South Africa.
To read Lopez’s blog about the shows, visit