As an actor, director and theatre enthusiast, I am impressed by afO's dedication to producing original plays and creating an amazing experience for both the artists AND audience. It has been an honor to work with them as an artist. It is thrilling to see and hear the buzz in the lobby after each show as the audience is inspired by the theatre arts.
I have been involved in theatre for over 26 years. My degree is in theatre and I worked in the professional world for about 10 years. I have performed in all kinds of venues and had all kinds of experiences in theatre, I have to say that all for One is something completely different.
I have never been a part of an organization that , top to bottom, cares about the actors, the audience and the staff as much as they do. If you are in a show you are pushed to be better than you thought you could be. The directors push you and yet are patient and willing to take the time to teach you and help you find a depth you didn't know you could reach. They also allow an actor to play and create a lot of the character on your own. That is a big plus when a lot of directors are strict with their vision and stifle an actor.
I believe in what they do and joined their staff in 2012 as their Technical Director. From that side of things, I was blown away at the unflinching willingness of people to lend a hand whenever one was needed. Set, props, costumes, everyone works together so well toward the finished product. Even the actors take their extra time to help build or sew or paint. In most places, you don't see the actors getting involved unless they have to.
On top of all this, the directors, staff, and actors all take the time to really learn about you and what you have going on in your life. It's not just a "How ya doin?" kind of thing, they truly care and will sit down and talk with you, pray with you help you if it's needed.
All of us on the staff are volunteer. We don't get paid a penny but we give a big chunk of our lives to all for One because we believe in what it offers and are proud to be a part of it.
I have directed nearly 30 full-length productions for afO. One of the things which stands out to me is the great kindness that our casts and crews demonstrate to one another. I have seen seasoned actors encouraging greenhorns, adults taking child actors under their wing, and generally an esprit de corps which is consistent and which makes working with afO sheer joy. I am also so impressed with the dedication of actors to making each production the best it can be by their investment of personal time: doing outside reading, research, memorization and practicing skills such as accents. Three members of the most recent cast spent untold hours mastering a convincing Polish accent. All this without shows of temper or ego, but with a genuine desire to create something special.
As an actor and director in the city, I have attended numerous afO productions. I've also directed and acted on the afO stage. I have found this company to be a rare exception in the arts. It is an organization that values artistic excellence and also individual people who hold the image of God. I highly recommend any afO show. They have integrity from the seats to the backstage!
A great director really knows the script and knows how to read between the text. Sam Ward is such a director. I had the opportuinity to be cast not once but twice as Juliette in "I Have Before Me A Remarkable Document Given To Me By A Young Lady From Rwanda". I was fortunate to work with Sam because he knew the play so well and helped me to learn it too. Sam and Sharon Henderson gave me the chance to shape my character into a fleshed-out human being with hopes, dreams and deep emotions. I had a wonderful time working with Sam and the rest of the crew for my first play with allforOne productions. Sam had a very interesting show technically as well. When I played the role the second time, it was not as technically sound aas Sam's. These are comments from other people. For instance, the lighting was too dark in some places where the actors' faces were in shadow and the ending of the play was misunderstood by the director who changed the ending when Juliette throws the paper on the floor. Juliette really comes into her own by the play's end and for Lauren to take this out was an oversight. I had a great time showing who Juliette is to all those who came to see the play. Kudos to allforOne for bringing it back a second time. allforOne is an important voice in the Ft. Wayne community.
The production I saw was incredibly moving and an important piece of theatre. It was brilliantly produced with heart-wrenching performances by both actors. I left the theatre deeply affected for weeks afterward.