Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Volunteer Spotlight - meet LTA volunteer Ira Forstater



Give us a short bio about yourself.  What hobbies do you have other than theater?
I am from the Philadelphia area (as is my wife Robin Fradkin), and we moved to Northern Virginia in 1980 when I began my over three decades of public service with the Federal Government. Our son, three daughters, their spouses, and our grandson live in VA, NJ, and NY. Robin’s father (age 96) lives with us and has even joined us at LTA a couple of times.

Since retiring a few years ago, I have been fortunate to be able to spend most of my free time in promotion of the arts and local community service. I enjoy volunteering each year at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Washington Folk Festival, and had the special opportunity to help at the recent Sounds of Freedom Festival celebrating the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I also volunteer as a pro bono attorney in DC and as a Tax-Aide counselor in Northern VA.  This Autumn, I began taking classes at Northern VA Community College, and just completed a wonderful one on Introduction to the Theatre.

When did you first get involved with LTA?  What areas LTA do you volunteer?  
Soon after my retirement, Robin and I both decided to join LTA as active members. Robin ushered and soon began serving as a House Manager, which she still does as much as her work and care for her Dad allow. I started at Will Call and then moved over to the Box Office desk, which continues as my main volunteer area at LTA. In 2015, I was surprised and fortunate to be one of the co-awardees of the New Volunteer of the Year Award. My grandson decided to be born the day of the awards night … and I knew which stage (not LTA) I had to be on that day! Since then, I have become a regular House Manager, which I try to do at least once for each show. And most recently, I joined LTA’s Board of Financial Advisors and have had the chance to learn about and help out with set construction.

What has been your favorite show you have worked on and why?
I have three (or four) favorite shows – the one that just closed, the one that’s on stage, and the one (or two) in rehearsal.

What is your favorite show LTA has produced onstage and why?
Well, the most memorable LTA show for me so far was The Rocky Horror Show. A fantastic and fun production to be sure. But I was there with my youngest daughter and her friend on the night that our sound system malfunctioned and did a terrific imitation of a fire alarm. The backstage and Front of House volunteers that evening responded quickly in contacting the fire department and having the patrons, cast, and crew exit the building. The phantom ushers (part of the show’s cast) stayed perfectly in character outside in front. I took my daughter and her friend around the stage door side as patrons shared coats with the very lightly costumed cast on this freezing night and cast members let my daughter and her friend pose with them for some photos. Once the all clear was given and the fire trucks departed, most patrons returned to the theatre, the cast took the exact places they had been on stage before the alarm, and finished the performance with the audience joining in for rousing encore of Time Warp.

What advice would you have for those that want to get involved in theatre?  
The LTA is a truly special place. And everyone, from our amazing staff Virginia and Tina (and now Crissy too) and our Board of Governors to our incredibly talented volunteers in all backstage and tech areas are so welcoming and encouraging of others who have an interest in helping, regardless of experience level. If you have an interest, come learn, be a part of the production, and enjoy!

I want to say a few more words about Box Office and Front of House. We sell the tickets, welcome our member, subscriber, and first-time patrons, handle concessions and questions, and deal with the unexpected. We are the public face of the LTA and help ensure that our patrons enjoy their time with us and that the performance can begin on schedule. We provide training and the opportunity to shadow experienced volunteers in all of these positions. Volunteering on the House side is also a great way to meet many of our wonderful long-time volunteers and patrons, as well as each show’s producers, director, and stage managers.

Volunteering on a regular basis at LTA will bring you lasting friendships and a place within a welcoming community that appreciates and is dedicated to continuing live (and lively) theater as an art form and promoting theater education and enjoyment. So please join us!

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