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Modern Theater balances past, future

What’s in a name? When it comes to theater companies, that’s an ongoing question.

Take Interplayers, for instance. Or Interplayers Professional Theatre. Or Interplayers Ensemble. Spokane Interplayers. Interplayers Professional Resident Theatre. Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d’Alene, even, began life in 1961 as Coeur d’Alene Community Theater and Academy.

Now that both companies have merged, it’s time for a new name: The Modern Theater, with venues in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

Executive Artistic Director George Green said the goal behind a shared named is efficiency. The time involved in marketing two different companies with two websites, two Twitter accounts, two Facebook pages was a drain on manpower. “As we continue to transition forward, we’re going to be able to market the organization as a whole,” he said. “Getting one big season package, alternatives for buying individual venues, providing a lot more options, yet streamlining how we’re communicating and marketing the company.”

As for the name itself, the Modern Theater isn’t meant to imply a new emphasis on contemporary works over beloved classics, Green said. The ongoing goal in programming will be to offer a balance, he said. The company’s new tagline: “Inspiring new stories – timeless classics.”

For now, Green said, that will be the final change through the theater season resulting from the September merger. The schedules have been finalized, and season ticket packages have been adjusted for the play “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” which was canceled last month. For this season, the Modern Theater Coeur d’Alene will remain a community company – meaning the actors are unpaid – and the Modern Spokane will be professional. That likely will change. Green can’t say yet how.

“For me to answer all of the questions that are presented by the public at this time is just not feasible. We’re planning. We’re in the planning and strategy phases right now,” he said. “We’re throwing things up on the wall to see what sticks. We’re being open-minded.”


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