The Arena Fair Theatre is gearing up for its next production of its sixth season.
Auditions were recently carried out at Zion United Church of Christ Sunday and Tuesday to fill 13 roles for the court-room drama, “The Cain Mutiny Court-Martial,” which will run two weekends in November. The two-act play was written by Hermoun Wouk, who adapted it from his own Pulitzer Prize novel.
“It’s a famous play from the 1950s,” said Greg Patterson, artistic director of the Arena Fair Theatre.
Patterson, an attorney, has been involved with Columbus theatre troupes for decades including Columbus Light Opera and the Lawyers Performance Ensemble. He hoped to have the same success with Delaware.
“I noticed Delaware didn’t have a community theatre,” he said.
The original Arena Fair Theatre was based in Wooster with performances on the Wayne County fairgrounds, Patterson said, but went out of business after a flood destroyed its costumes and other props in 1969.
Delaware’s community theatre started in 2008 before it had official seasons with performances such as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” Attendance now ranges in the hundreds depending on the type of production.
“We have plenty of talent with adults and youth,” Patterson said.
Each season usually includes a summer musical, play, musical review and another play, which creates opportunities for singers and actors. The theatre has grown with about 60 performers from ages 12 to 70.
“The thing I most proud of with Arena Fair is the great strides in technical effects,” he said. “I have a technical team team that is off the charts from anything I seen in Columbus in community theatre and professional theatre.”
Arena Fair is able to project scenes and motion in its production, which especially at its last production “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” musical based on the 1964 novel by Ian Fleming. The Arena Fair Theatre featured three cars and were able to make one move virtually and physically with the scenery projected on the curtain.
“Those types of projections have us light years beyond most everything I’ve seen in Columbus and certainly Marion,” Patterson said. “We are really quite cutting-edge at Arena Fair Theatre and I couldn’t do it without my technical team.”
The troupe does not have a home location but has performed in several venues from churches, wineries and retirement centers. Delaware Hayes High school’s auditorium and the Ohio Wesleyan University are the usual venues Arena Fair visits.
“I know it’s been an identity problem for the theatre,” Patterson said.
But the theatre’s audience has appreciated the creative settings it has come up with over the years such as performing at a beauty salon in downtown because it fit with the production’s setting. The challenge is keeping them informed about where the next show will take place, Patterson said.
The Arena Fair is working to secure a court room in Delaware County for its November production. Proceeds from one performance, yet to be determined, will go to the Delaware Bar Association’s foundation, which gives out scholarships and funds for justice programs. Arena Fair Theatre’s court-room drama will run Nov. 11-13 and Nov. 18-20.
But finding a home for the Arena Fair Theatre is still a top priority.
“We’re constantly using our imagination and negotiating with partners so that I’m hoping assume that we will have the home that we need,” Patterson said. ” Nothing I can divulge yet.”