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A scene from "Terra Nova." Photo: Pendragon Theatre
A scene from "Terra Nova." Photo: Pendragon Theatre

Theater is bridge between two Saranac Lake organizations

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Theater is the bridge in between two very different organizations in Saranac Lake: Pendragon Theater, and St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center.

For each production since 1994, the theater has invited a group from St. Joe's to a dress rehearsal. The theater's latest production is "Terra Nova." A rehearsal last month found the players and the St. Joe's audience together again.

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Reported by

Riley Spellman
digital and broadcast news intern

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A small group from St. Joe’s mills around the theatre lobby, waiting for the dress rehearsal to begin. They’re drinking coffee and hanging out with some of the Pendragon people.
Laura Jean Swanson is a company member and on the board at the Theatre. She says the tradition began with a need to have an audience for dress rehearsals, "and it’s evolved into, you know, an ongoing annual event."
Kaity is one of the clients who was invited to the "Terra Nova" dress rehearsal. She says it's nice to get out.

A scene from "Terra Nova". Photo: Pendragon Theatre
A scene from "Terra Nova". Photo: Pendragon Theatre
The inpatient program at St. Joseph’s is intensive. The clients live at the rambling, coeducational center for at least 90 days. This is Kaity’s first real night out since arriving there six weeks ago: "Well, we go out to AA and NA meetings and stuff like that, but I haven’t actually been out to a public social event since I’ve been there."
Patricia Myers works at St. Joe’s. Over the years, she’s brought lots of groups to the theatre’s dress rehearsals. She says when Pendragon calls about a dress rehearsal, "we bring as many as we can. This group is special tonight. They’ve earned this. They’ve earned this time out. It’s a great program. We love coming here. We’re always glad to be invited here."
Pendragon welcomes the audience, too. Bob Pettee is a founder of the theatre, and the stage director of "Terra Nova."

"Yeah, well, we always really enjoy having St. Joe’s audiences just because they’re really just—they’re just great audiences, you know? Sometimes, even small, they’ll react, they’ll respond. You know? And they’re just kind of right there, which is a great way to kind of, you know—a great group to have for a first audience."

Christopher Leifheit is one of the actors in "Terra Nova." He says the St. Joe's audience is "vital", that they "have no inhibitions that sometimes a paying crowd has. They laugh at the jokes, they laugh at the funny words, they enjoy the show, it seems like. And that’s great for us, to taste that for the first time."
St. Joe’s Patricia Myers says that clients do seem to really enjoy the show, but it goes beyond just being a night out for them. "You know, recovery’s tough. And it gives them a really great place to be safe. They’re with people that they’re with. And it gives them a way to try out some new things in a safe way. And I think that, that’s real important. And they love it! We always have such a good time!"

"Terra Nova" has been running at Pendragon Theater since November 8th. The last shows are this weekend.

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