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Buffalo Theatre News Profile on SGT

This profile is by Sam Ferrante and was published on Buffalo Theatre News on May 1, 2014. →

Arin Dandes, Kelly Copps, and Kristin Bentley are involved in so much of the Buffalo theatre community that Buffalo Theatre News couldn’t get them all together at once. However, the co-founders of Second Generation Theatre agreed to a virtual interview to talk about this fairly new company in the scene and what they’re up to.

Buffalo Theatre News: So how did you decide on ‘Second Generation Theatre’ as a name for the company?

Arin Dandes:We were brainstorming company names together one day, but I can’t remember any of the other ideas. Once Kelly suggested SGT, we immediately felt it was the perfect choice and crossed everything else off of our list.

Kelly Copps:We wanted to make sure that our name was a nod to the people we learned from. It particularly resonates with me since my parents are involved with Buffalo theatre and I grew up watching them at Theatre of Youth.

Kristin Bentley: We loved the idea of both looking forward while at the same time acknowledging the strong foundation of theatre that has already been established in Buffalo.

BTN: So how did you all (the founders) meet and what’s that professional dynamic like (perhaps as opposed to your personal dynamic)?

AD: Kelly and I met in high school and the three of us all attended the University of Buffalo. We feel comfortable sharing our ideas and voicing our opinions (even when they are different) not only because we are friends, but also because we know each of us ultimately wants what is best for the future of SGT. Even though we’ve graduated, I’m still learning from Kelly and Kristin’s example.

KC: Kristin and I directed FROM THE WINGS at the UB, a student run variety show, and we brought Arin on to help. I think professionally, we balance each other out well- we all have very different strengths.

KB: We were each in a class a year apart from each other at UB. At first, we were all just friends, but Kelly and I co-directing (and writing, and people wrangling) during ‘From The Wings’ was when we first realized how well we click creatively. When I was ready to graduate, Arin was one of the girls who moved into the director role. Forming a theatre company was something we always discussed and hoped to do someday.

BTN: What’s your process for choosing shows?

AD: We don’t have a process set in stone, as of yet. One requirement seems to be that we feel passionately about a project, whether proposed by an outside director or chosen from our list of dream shows. We discuss potential productions together, but we also trust our intuition on what’s right for us at this point in time. While we’re in this growing stage, it’s important to us to have a sense of balance and variety in what we offer our audience.

KC: Well, we are currently fine-tuning our third season in residence at the New Phoenix Theatre. Our first show, INTO THE WOODS, was chosen, because it was a piece we were really excited about it. We were lucky enough to get Chris Kelly and the rest of the cast on board, so there was no question with that one. The second season (SOME GIRL(s) and ASSASSINS) were both brought to us by outside directors. They sounded exciting and we signed up! Season three is back to our own selection- we’re incredibly excited about WILD PARTY- it has been on the list for years and with Michael Walline directing and choreographing. We couldn’t be more pumped. As for our play, well…. you’ll have to wait and see!

KB:  We work quite organically between what interests us and what directors whose work we respect bring to us, but we are looking to establish a more formal process as we move forward.

BTN: We’ve seen a few productions at the New Pheonix Theatre on the Park. Is that the only space you use and how did you decide on that venue?

KC: We are currently in residence at the Phoenix. Richard Lambert has been beyond kind and generous to us. However, this is a starting ground for us. Eventually we’ll want to leave the nest and find our own space.

AD: The New Phoenix is a fantastic, unique space that has fit our first seasons perfectly. I love the sense of history you feel when you walk in, and I think our residency there reflects our mission statement. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of the teachers and mentors who built their own companies and careers here in Buffalo. The New Phoenix has been a warm, welcoming home for us but eventually we would love to have a theatre space of our own to call home.

KB: New Phoenix is a beautiful and dynamic space where we saw the potential to produce many different kinds of shows, after having such a great initial experience with INTO THE WOODS.  Above and beyond all else, Richard being so supportive and welcoming us with open arms was why we ended up there and why currently this is a great fit for us. Numerous theatre companies have actually started with the help of Richard at New Phoenix (Road Less Traveled Productions, Subversive Theatre Collective, and Red Thread, to name a few) and I think it speaks volumes to what sort of environment he is creating there. We are beyond grateful for that.

To read the rest of the interview, click here.

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