An Electrifying Image: The Northeast Theatre Announces Name Change

The new resident company of Electric Theatre Company, formerly known as The Northeast Theatre. Photo Credit: www.electrictheatre.org.

By Mandy Boyle
Advertising Sales Manager/Entertainment Editor

Downtown Scranton is welcoming again an old friend vital to its arts revitalization scene. The local professional theatre company, The Northeast Theatre (TNT), has made the creative shift to a much more exciting image. The result: a complete overhaul and the formation of Electric Theatre Company, a culmination of new programming, a new resident company, and a new image to the public.

“Electric Theatre Company” describes the kind of theatre its artists strive to present. According to a recent press release, the ETC was inspired by energy to make the change. “Electricity travels from person to person, from thought to thought. It is the medium of creativity. It is quick, fluid, and manifests constantly in different shapes as it leaps from one thing to another. It is the stuff of life.”

“We associate electricity with excitement, light, movement, and warmth,” says David Zarko, the company’s Producing Artistic Director. “…and Scranton is electric.”

As part of the name change, Scrantonians can expect a packed season featuring the resident company of six professional actors, all of which are locals.

“Usually we’d have to hold auditions here, in Philadelphia, or New York to find talent,” said Rob Parry, the Director of Audience Development & Relations for Electric Theatre Company. “Now, we’re able to utilize a core group of local actors, which is great for us.”

In addition to the new residents, the ETC’s next show, Richard Atkin’s The Men of Mah Jongg, is set to make its world premier in Scranton – a big step for the company. Directed by Tony Award-winning playwright Mark Medoff, the production will tell the story of four elderly men, who secretly take up the traditionally female game of mah jongg: a heartwarming tale for any audience. From Scranton it will move directly into New York as a co-production with Queens Theatre in the Park. Audience members can start expecting previews on November 5 and an open on November 8. This show is just part of the exciting season ahead.

Active theatre goers can also start taking advantage of Green Thursdays, a time where the ETC hosts a party after the performance and holds a discussion on an important environmental issue. This ties in very well with the emerging “green” scene in Downtown Scranton with the opening of Greenbeing, an eco-boutique, and eden, a vegan café.

With these innovations taking place, it may not come as a surprise the company has long established itself as a driving force in the Scranton community.

The Northeastern Theatre was originally founded in1992, a large step in revitalizing the theatre arts scene within the area. In May 2005, it took up residency on the second floor of the old Hotel Jermyn, still its present location. The space is a blend of historic charm and modern creativity, combining high quality theatre production materials with antique décor (and definitely one of my favorite spots in the Downtown).

According to the company’s website, Electric Theatre Company is the only theatre between Philadelphia and Ithaca, NY operating under a seasonal contract with Actors’ Equity. This level of professionalism is a breath of fresh air for Northeastern Pennsylvania, setting a new standard for performance. However, aspiring actors shouldn’t be discouraged. ETC often opens up auditions to the general public, opening the door for new acting and production talent each season.

As a formidable force within the community already, the company has attracted over 15,000 people to more than 350 performances since its move to Downtown Scranton in March of 2005.

Continuing on this reputation of community excellence, the company has also reached out to several education institutions, including Marywood University, in an effort to raise awareness, appreciation, and involvement in the theatre arts.

“Electric Theatre Company has made a difference in the life of the community,” said Dr. Catherine Richmond-Cullen, a curriculum specialist and a member of the Arts Education Council. “The Theatre has enabled countless students to discover the wonderful world of professional theatre. Productions and classes have provided the youth of this community an opportunity to further their knowledge in and enjoyment of the theatre arts.”

Currently, Marywood University collaborates with the Electric Theatre Company through The Portal Project, an initiative that partners education with professionalism in a production environment. Programming from the project includes workshops, commedia dell’arte training, and performances at both the ETC’s performance space in the Hotel Jermyn and the Sette La Verghetta Center for the Performing Arts on campus.

For more information on the ETC and the upcoming season, visit www.electrictheatre.org.