by R.S. Stewart
“I wear many hats,” says Lisa Joyce, Executive Director of Pentacle Theatre, characterizing her job as the “voice of the theatre.”
Selling tickets while the front office attendant is on a coffee break and answering the phone after business hours in the Pentacle Box Office on Liberty Street are only two jobs that fall outside her official position. An executive director primarily focuses on fundraising; writing grants, policies, and newsletters. Lisa also manages the theatre’s property in the West Salem hills, supports the Board in its many decisions, and creates marketing campaigns. She emphasizes her job as “heavy on the writing.”
A theater lover, Lisa enjoys attending play rehearsals held in the basement of the downtown building. On occasion she sits in on auditions. During the recent production of Willamette University Theatre’s staging of Japanese Noh plays, she was a volunteer usher.
Lisa first experienced the “theatre bug” at Reed College, where she performed in a fellow student’s play written as a thesis. She also portrayed “crazy” Aunt Harriet in the comedy classic, The Man Who Came to Dinner. Among her favorite plays are Buried Child by Sam Shepherd and A Woman in Mind by Alan Ayckbourn.
The play selection committee at Pentacle is now preparing its list for next season, and although Lisa is not allowed a vote, she highly recommends the current London hit comedy Hangmen.
A resident of Salem since 1988, Lisa began her relationship with Pentacle by volunteering the year she arrived. In 1994 she became the Hospitality House Manager. At the same time as volunteering, she worked for 27 years in state agencies including the Governor’s Office, Corrections, Energy, and Human Services.
The mother of three, Lisa believes strongly in arts for children, a value exemplified by her service on the Board of Children’s Educational Theatre. It’s a family affair, too; when he was ten her son Isaac was in Pentacle’s production of Gypsy. Now 22, he is doing make-up for the current production of Verona Studio’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.
Volunteers and donors are a special group of people to Lisa , who has great admiration for their “passion” and drive. Would she rather not have to ask for money for special projects? “No,” she says, because “donors would feel unappreciated.”
She’s proud to be part of Pentacle’s history; the theater opened its doors in 1954- 62 years and going strong.
Lisa’s current campaign is to get a larger capacity for lights in the theatre and she is helping with the thick folder of paperwork required to get a permit to improve the size and visibility of the Pentacle entrance sign. Future projects include greater access for people with disabilities and a left turn traffic light onto Highway 22. Many patrons would appreciate both.
At the close of our interview, Lisa read portions of letters she received from some of the 100 middle-school children who attended Pentacle’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank because of a grant she wrote. She was clearly very moved by the children saying that it was the first play they ever attended and that they would remember it all their lives.