The Alexander Kasser Theater Peak Performances has a new and exciting season ahead.
Start off the New Year right with a trip to the Alexander Kasser Theater. I recently sat down with Peak Performances’ Marketing and Media Specialist, Amy Estes, to discuss what audiences should expect to see starting late this January. Estes is responsible for promoting the shows in the series by setting up the extravagant lobby exhibits and posting signs throughout the Montclair State University campus. Estes has been with Peak Performances for what will be two years in March and comes with a wealth of experience. She was able to share her expertise and knowledge with me in regards to what new shows and artists audiences should look for in 2016.
Q: When was Peak Performances established at Montclair?
A: 2004. My understanding is that this was one of President Susan Cole’s visions for the university to have a performing arts series that was truly excellent.
Q: Can you explain the premise of Peak Performances and the role it plays in commissioning shows for the Alexander Kasser Theater?
A: Peak Performances allows artists to create without compromising their vision. Part of that has to do with the facility itself. The Alexander Kasser Theater offers a lot to artists, in terms of what they can do production wise. I think the notion of giving artists the time, the resources, the support of technicians, collaborators, administration staff, and the support financially to create something really special that is the best achievement of their vision is very important.
Q: What is so important about having works brought to the series, not only from New York, but from all over the world?
A: What that means for audiences is that they get to see things they would not see anywhere else. We have four world premieres this season and four American premieres. It’s really an opportunity to be the first to see things and to become familiar with artists whose names are going to have the most residence 50 years from now as the most important artists of this generation.
Q: Aside from the series of shows and those brought to the stage, what else does Peak Performance bring to the campus?
A: There’s a range of activities that allow people to get involved in various ways. In addition to Peak Performances we have other programs like Dance for Film on Location at Montclair State University. We also spearheaded the popular Creative Thinking class, which brings students to performances and brings our artists into the classroom. We have talks like the Sneak Peaks. They end up being 45 minutes to an hour long and are free with a great spread of food.
Q: Are there specific qualities attached to shows that tend to generate larger crowds?
A: I think the things that tend to do the best in terms of the box office often have to do with name recognition. It’s a little bit harder to sell when people don’t recognize the name as easily. My encouragement to people is: just because you don’t recognize the name, don’t let it stop you.
Q: How successful is giving students a free ticket with valid ID in attracting students to performances?
A: I think it’s successful, but we want it to be more successful. We are always striving to drive that message home. We threw an end of semester party with free food and music. We always hope students will feel comfortable in the building and stay for the show.
Q: What are some of your hopes and expectations for future seasons with Peak Performances?
A: I have to admit that I am especially looking forward to the Grand Parade of the 20th Century, created by a company called the Double Edge Theatre. I am also really excited about Krapp’s Last Tape, by Samuel Beckett. It’s so funny but also really heart breaking. Nora Topalmary, who is the choreographer for this year’s Dance for Film project is amazing. Those are three pieces I am especially looking forward to, but overall it is a great season.
The 2016 Peak Performances season will be packed with talent from the wide range of artists coming to the stage. Don’t miss out on the exciting shows beginning late January; the season is just around the corner. For information on how to obtain tickets, please visit peakperfs.org or the Box Office at the Alexander Kasser Theater.