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Island Theatre 2012 Play Fest - I See France

Super-Citizens, Bank Robbers, & More at 10-Minute Play Festival

Either there is a lot of math involved in 10-minute play festivals or the overall focus on time gets me into a calculating state of mind.

For this year’s Second Annual Island Theatre Ten-Minute Play festival, three judges had to sift through 630 minutes of plays submitted by playwrights, new and experienced, from all over Kitsap to find the 14 winners that will be performed next weekend, August 24 and 25, at BPA.

The judges awarded First Place to Connie Bennett’s “Assigned Blessing,” and Steve Palay’s “Super-Citizen and the Parking Space” was Runner-Up. Both will be performed on each of the two evenings, with the remaining 12 finalists divided six and six over the two nights.

The playwright’s names were concealed from the three theater professionals who did the judging. Playwrights were allowed to submit up to three plays, with the understanding that an artist could have only one play selected for performance.

Island Theatre 2013 Ten-Minute Play Festival PosterThe plays are ten minutes long, and one woman, Kate Carruthers, is the overall managing director of the festival, but the number seven seems to enjoy special prominence in this year’s festival. This year there were seven more entries than last. Of the 14 featured plays, seven were written by 2012 winners: Connie Bennett, Jeff Fraga, Paul Lewis, Steve Palay, Karen Polinsky, George Shannon, and Wendy J. Wallace; the other seven featured playwrights are Judith Glass Collins, Robert Dalton, Charlie Hamilton, Keiko Green, Miller Shor, Ned Thorne, and Erik Van Beuzekom. And seven directors—Diane Bankart, Brian Danzig, Tim Davidson, Rozzella Kolbegger, Bob McAllister, Fred Saas, and Steve Stolee—will each direct two plays.

Is it a coincidence that the actors number 34, two digits which, if added, equal seven? Here they are: Caleb Adams, Joseph Adams, Michelle Allen, Tia Bannister, Kate Beddoes, Victoria Brown, Nathaniel Buechler, Darcy Clements, Robin Denis, Tracy Dickerson, Shannon Dowling, Ted Dowling, Paula Elliot, Todd Erler, Miranda Feldtman, Sean Fraga, Carolyn Goad, Keiko Green, Charlie Hamilton, Rilla Hughes, Hayden Longmire, Justin Lynn, Bob McAllister, Marybeth Redmond, Tell Schreiber, Robin Simons, Sandi Spellman, Bob Tull, Ruth Urbach, Diane Walker, Nathan Whitehouse, Meredyth Yund, Andrejs Zommers, and Kat Zommers.

Island Theatre 2013 Ten Minute Play Festival - Playwrights

Winning Playwrights: Front row: Connie Bennett (First prize), Karen Polinsky, Miller Shor, Judith Glass Collins, Wendy Wallace; Back row: Robert Dalton, George Shannon, Jeff Fraga, Steve Palay (Runner-up), Charlie Hamilton. Not Pictured: Paul Lewis, Erik Van Beuzekom, Keiko Green, Ned Thorne.

Twenty-eight years ago (a number divisible by seven), Island Theatre was formed as a nonprofit. Members stage play readings every other month at the Library. In the in-between months, they host potluck dinners at which guests are welcome to join in play readings. The group also preforms staged readings of Kitsap Regional Library’s One Book, One Community selections.

This year’s festival is funded in part by the Maggi Rogers Fund and the Bainbridge Community Foundation. BPA is providing technical and publicity assistance. Island Theatre also receives support through One Call for All and donations.

The festival starts at 7:30 both nights, August 24 and 25, at Bainbridge Performing Arts (220 Madison Ave. N.). The event is free, but donations are welcome. Organizers recommend that the under-13 set be left at home as some of the plays feature strong language and themes.

All of this numerology adds up to my vote that next year’s festival feature seven-minute plays, which, despite the increased difficulty for everyone involved, is clearly what the universe is demanding.

Here is the schedule:

Island Theatre 2012 Ten-Minute Play Fest - That Undiscovered Country

“That Undiscovered Country” from 2012 Festiuval

Saturday, August 24

Act I

  • Helping Hands, by Keiko Green (Directed by Fred Saas). A young couple deals with a question: If you could change one thing about your significant other, would you?
  • iChat, by Judith Glass Collins (Directed by Diane Bankart). An email conversation between two opposing political views becomes an intimate chat.
  • The Consortium, by Eric Van Beuzekom (Directed by Tim Davidson). An all-female group of  “Weather Underground” radicals take on a mission that may save or destroy their friendships.
  • Supercitizen and the Parking Space, by Steve Palay (Directed by Brian Danzig). There’s an open parking space in downtown Seattle. Why are you still sitting there?

Act II

  • The Opening, by Jeff Fraga (Directed by Steve Stolee).  An art gallery owner and artist both want the same thing, but go about getting it in complete different ways.
  • The Butler, by George Shannon (Directed by Rozzella Kolbegger). When the craft project at the Sunrise Assisted Living Facility is “draw something that brings back a sweet memory,” the results at one table of women are not quite what you’d expect.
  • Lunatic, by Miller Shor (Directed by Bob MacAllister). A teenage girl attends a therapy session, only to discover that things are not as they seem.
  • Assigned Blessing, by Connie Bennett (Directed by Fred Saas). Two playwriting students become increasingly competitive in their efforts to complete their homework assignment.

Sunday, August 25

Act I

  • Hoffmeister’s Hypothesis, or, Lucky Ducks, by Paul Lewis (Directed by Bob MacAllister). A Depression-era bank robber and his girlfriend, on the run from the law, unwittingly step into a time machine and travel forward in time to 1959.
  • Anastasia, by Ned Thorne (Directed by Brian Danzig). A young real estate agent gets more than she bargained for when her first clients prove to have some VERY specific requirements for their dream house.
  • Gingerbread, by Wendy Wallace (Directed by Diane Bankart). Simple becomes complicated when two souls meet in a kitchen.
  • Supercitizen and the Parking Space, by Steve Palay (Directed by Brian Danzig)

Act II

  • Scuzzy Bunny, by Karen Polinsky (Directed by Tim Davidson). Jill, a therapist counseling other women on how to find love, finds herself attracted to Sam, an arrogant egoistic selfish slob.
  • dinner table, by Rob Dalton (Directed by Rozzella Kolbegger). The play explores a cathartic, late-life moment when a woman finally says what she never had the courage to say.
  • Andrasteia, by Charlie Hamilton (Directed by Steve Stolee). What begins with two elderly men ruminating about past events progresses into a drama about retribution.
  • Assigned Blessing, by Connie Bennett (Directed by Fred Saas). Two playwriting students become increasingly competitive in their efforts to complete their homework assignment.

All photos and the poster are by Steve Stolee. Featured photo is from last year’s I See France.

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Deer in Headlights at Public Meeting, Humane Society Board Loses Potential $500K Donation

The only surprise at Saturday’s contentious annual public Kitsap Humane Society (KHS) Board of Directors meeting was how surprised the Board looked as they faced over two hours of fiery public comment.

Upwards of 250 people packed the Silverdale Community Center for their first chance to hear from and speak to the Board since the seismic departure of Executive Director Sean Compton in late January and a subsequently widening rift between the Board and staff, volunteers, donors, and the public.

The Board’s egregious omission of KHS volunteers from the list of stakeholders it thanked during its introductory remarks started the meeting off with angry outbursts from the crowd and did little to allay the perception among many that Board members continue to be tone deaf to their community.

Newly appointed Board President and long-time Board member Rosemary Shaw looked stricken throughout the event, apologizing repeatedly on behalf of the Board for its failure to adequately communicate with its stakeholders after Compton left and during the tumultuous two months since then, in which two more key KHS directors quit. “I apologize for the lack of communication,” said Shaw, adding, “We take your allegations about the Board very seriously. We know we need to rebuild your trust.”

Former Animal Welfare Director Stacey Price addressing the Board.

Stacey Price addressing the Board.

KHS Public Relations & Development Director Abby Ouimet resigned from KHS last week, preceded by the resignation of Animal Welfare Director Stacey Price less than a week earlier. Both cited dissatisfaction with the Board’s unresponsiveness to a 14-page attorney’s letter they initiated with donor and volunteer Heidi Wakefield, in which they accused the Board of misconduct and requested the reinstatement of Compton.

The Board and its new Interim Executive Director, Eric Stevens, have arranged for an independent audit at KHS, due to begin this week. They also have pledged to bring on new Board members and improve communication and transparency with staff and other stakeholders.

These steps have not swayed the decision of major donor Nicole Boand, who has withdrawn plans of a $500,000 donation to KHS. In a letter read by a representative of Boand at the meeting, Boand said she had decided to donate the money after being impressed with Compton, but she has since changed her mind because of his departure and the Board’s lack of explanation for it. Boand said, “It has been nearly two months since Rosemary Shaw said she will get back to me regarding Sean Compton’s departure.”

An audience member responded with a shout to the Board: “Half a million dollars wasn’t important enough for you to pick up the phone and call her?” to which Shaw responded, “I owe her an apology, and I owe her a phone call.”

Full house for KHS public BOD meeting March 24, 2012.

A full house.

In Boand’s letter, she also questioned why certain Board members were exempted from term-limits that were enacted at KHS in 2009, allowing a maximum of two three-year terms. Shaw explained that the Board had wanted to allow for continuity, but she said that in hindsight Board members should not have been grandfathered in.

Numerous staff and donors spoke in praise of Compton, citing his genuine love of animals and his innovative programming. One described in tears how he was working to socialize a feral cat, who he kept in his office. When one person asked directly if it was a possibility for Compton to be reinstated, the Board answered an unequivocal no. When asked to explain why, they cited a legally binding confidentiality agreement that the Board and Compton are required to abide by as the reason for their lack of explanation.

Dan Hagen echoed the remarks of other audience members when he asked the Board to step down. “I just don’t think you get it,” he said. “We’re sitting here watching the Humane Society with expectant eyes for something to change.”

Others present at the meeting praised and defended the Board. A few thanked them for their unpaid public service and reminded the audience that their hands were tied by their confidentiality agreement with Compton.

New KHS interim manager Robin Simons praised KHS and its Board, explaining that she has worked for dozens of nonprofits for many years and that she thinks KHS is the best she has seen. She cited its open admission policy of taking any animals combined with its low (6%) euthanasia rate as being exemplary. “I started out thinking it was Sean who was responsible for the achievements here, but what I figured out was that the Board had that ethic before Sean came.”

Board addressing auidience.

The Board addressing the audience.

KHS veterinarian Jennifer Stonequist, who received widespread applause when she stepped up to the podium, said, “I want to take a second to look at the present.” She listed the many successes and strengths of the organization, reminding listeners that KHS is still moving forward and asked supporters to stay with them. “We are still going to need you to make our vision a reality,” she said.

After the conclusion of public comment and minutes before the meeting was forced to end because of another scheduled event in the hall, Interim Executive Director Eric Stevens delivered final remarks. Although rallying his professionalism, it was evident that Stevens was rattled by what he had witnessed at the meeting.

“Now we have an ethical obligation to do an audit, whether the entire Board steps down or stays,” he said. “At every other organization I’ve worked with there was more and better communication between staff and Board—that needs to happen here.”

Stevens continued, “I know right now the future of this organization rests in this room. I think it can be constructive, but it also scares me, because things have already blown apart. I’m not sure the organization can take any more.”

Read our previous articles about the KHS shakeup:

An Exodus, Audit, and New Interim Director at the Kitsap Humane Society

Turmoil at Kitsap Humane Society Continues with Resignation of Animal Welfare Director

Kitsap Humane Society Executive Director’s Departing Shockwave

 

Photos by Julie Hall.

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An Exodus, Audit, and Interim Executive Director at the Kitsap Humane Society

With the resignation this week on March 20, 2012, of Kitsap Humane Society (KHS) Public Relations & Development Director Abby Ouimet, the organization has lost three of four directors in less than two months.

Ouimet’s resignation came on the heels of that of Animal Welfare Director Stacey Price, who resigned from KHS less than a week earlier, on March 14. Both women were highly regarded by the community and their peers for the innovations and commitment they brought to the organization, and both left citing irreconcilable differences with the Board of Directors, which they outlined in a 14-page letter issued by their attorney on February 27, 2012. They along with KHS donor and volunteer Heidi Wakefield, who also initiated the letter, called for numerous changes at KHS, including the reinstatement of former Executive Director Sean Compton, the resignations of Board Members Karyn Kline and Hazel Bellinger, and investigation of alleged misconduct by the Board.

Abby Ouimet

Abby Ouimet.

In the wake of Compton’s departure, which Ouimet calls a firing, other staff members have left KHS too, adding up to an exodus of approximately 10 percent of the organization’s employees, as well as an unknown number of volunteers and donors. Since Compton left KHS in late January, the organization’s Board has been nothing short of besieged with questions and accusations.

I spoke at length yesterday with Interim Executive Director Eric Stevens, who responded to my email with a prompt phone call and a profuse willingness to talk. He joined KHS on February 15, leaving his position at The Bloedel Reserve as their Fundraising Development Director. Stevens has an extensive background working for respected nonprofits as both an Executive Director and an Interim Executive Director.

To help with management and reorganizing at KHS, Stevens has hired on an interim basis Robin Simons, who he told me also has long-time experience working with nonprofits both locally and nationally. Both Stevens and Simons reside on Bainbridge Island, where Sean Compton also lives.

Stevens acknowledged that “the Board’s silence has likely fueled more questions, and that has been unfortunate.” He explained to me that he sees three main “buckets” of issues facing the KHS Board:

  1. The need to expand and diversify itself;
  2. The need to change its relationship with staff, adding more visibility between the two; and
  3. The need to investigate allegations of conflicts of interest and mismanagement among some of its members.

To address these issues, Stevens believes the Board “has to step aside and have outside input.” To that end, he helped select a company to perform an internal audit of KHS and, as he put it, “separate fact from fiction.” Stevens and the Board interviewed 4-5 firms to perform the audit. They turned down a local firm they were about to hire after discovering a conflict of interest in which a board member and employee of the firm knew each other personally. Ultimately, they ended up hiring a company in Bellevue, Berntson Porter & Company, to conduct the audit, which is scheduled to start next week and take approximately 60 days.

Eric Stevens.

Eric Stevens.

Stevens explained that the purpose of the audit is to determine whether there was wrongdoing by the Board, either illegal or unethical, and to provide recommendations for improvement at the Board and management level, which the organization is obligated to put into practice. He said, “As soon as the audit is completed, KHS will share the results with the media and public.”

In the meantime, Stevens said he is working hard to “help the Board and organization navigate.” He pointed out that there is value in an organization being challenged, and he asks the community to “be patient and reserve judgment” until the results of the audit are complete.

“Day to day, the shelter is still operating—intakes, adoptions, and surgeries. . . . I am most concerned about the animals and staff,” said Stevens. When I asked him about the current morale at KHS, he said morale is low but added, “We have a passionate, dedicated, talented staff. While morale has been hit by all the turmoil and change, we are also asking staff who are here to be ‘part of the solution’ and bring everything they can to make Kitsap Humane Society a stronger place going forward. I have confidence that with the support of our staff, volunteers, donors, board, and community, we will move forward, and continue to be (as we have been) one of the outstanding animal shelters in the U.S.”

Stevens went on to say that he believes the Board is taking constructive steps right now to improve things at KHS. Board Secretary Rosemary Shaw is poised to replace Karyn Kline as Board President, effective March 24, 2012. The current 8-member Board is looking to expand to 15 members and says it is actively recruiting new members. But Stevens cautioned that it would be premature and injudicious to remove Board members before the audit is complete.

Sean Compton and friend.

Sean Compton and friend.

For Abby Ouimet and Stacey Price, change at KHS did not come fast enough. In an email to Stevens announcing her resignation, Ouimet said she felt she had been “targeted” since sending the attorney letter. She continued, “I like to conduct myself with integrity, honesty and sincerity when asking people to invest in our mission. Sean and Stacey made that easy. Ever since Sean was let go, it’s been a battle field. I have had several phone calls and meetings with many of our supporters and they all have expressed the same concerns and outrage that I have passed onto you, yet the Board has done NOTHING to talk to these people or treat them with regard. I find that unacceptable.”

About Ouimet, Stevens told me, “I could see that Abby was conflicted; it was affecting her work,” adding that he respected her decision to move on. That sentiment was made clear in tense email exchanges between Stevens and Ouimet before her resignation.

For her part, Ouimet told Stevens in her resignation letter that she felt she could not “work effectively with [him].” She concluded by saying, “I wish KHS success and hope the mission does not change. With the exception of the last two months, this was my dream job and I am grateful to Sean for the opportunity.”

This Saturday, March 24, 2012, KHS is holding its annual public Board meeting starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Silverdale Community Center at 9729 Silverdale Way NW. The meeting place and time were changed to accommodate more public participation. It will begin with a public forum, before which individuals may sign up upon arrival to speak or ask questions. To submit comments or questions in advance, members of the public should contact Eric Stevens at executivedirector@kitsap-humane.org. You can contact KHS at www.kitsap-humane.org.

 

Photos courtesy of Eric Stevens and the Kitsap Humane Society.

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Virginia Mason