Sevanne Kassarjian heads search committee for new Peterborough Players managing and artistic directors

Sevanne Kassarjian

Sevanne Kassarjian —COURTESY PHOTOE

Ian Merrill Peakes and Karen Peakes play neighbors with a growing relationship in the Peterborough Players 2023 production of

Ian Merrill Peakes and Karen Peakes play neighbors with a growing relationship in the Peterborough Players 2023 production of "Maytag Virgin." —COURTESY PHOTOE

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 01-10-2024 10:09 AM

Noting the number of people who have had longstanding associations with Peterborough Players, Sevanne Kassarjian said it’s the kind of place that’s hard to leave.

“”We can’t just quit the place,” she said. “We keep coming back.”

Kassarjian is a case in point, her own association having started as a 14-year-old intern 40 years ago and continuing through 10 seasons as an actor under her stage name of Sevanne Martin and her current service on the Players’ board of directors.

A 20-year veteran of stage and screen, she now splits her time between Hancock and New York City, and will be playing a leading role in determining the next generation of leadership at the Players as chair of the search committee for a new managing director and new artistic director. They will succeed Charles Morey, who will manage the Players during the 2024 season as interim producing artistic director.

The search also includes fellow board members Marie Cassady and LuLu Brown Weathers, along with Cathie Runyon, Jim Callahan, Dorothy Maffei, Katelyn Manfre and Morey. Kassarjian referred to the search as an “artistic endeavor to find humans who fit with this place and fit with each other.”

The managing director is a full-time, year-round position responsible for finance and operations. Kassarjian said it is critical for a candidate to have a deep understanding of running an nonprofit arts organization, and doesn’t necessarily have to come from summer theater.

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“Maybe they were the managing director of a dance company or some other arts nonprofit,” she said. “They’re going to have to be an excellent collaborator.”

Those collaborations will not only have to be with the artistic director, Kassarjian said, but with the community unions and fulfilling the Players’ commitment to educating the next generation through the internship program.

The artistic director will be a six-month position, three months of which will be in residence. The role is responsible for conceptualizing, articulating and getting everyone on board for the artistic side of the organization. It includes determining the plays, designers, writers and actors.

“Every year, the artistic director is putting up at least five artistic teams,” Kassarjian said.

It also, she said, requires working “like clockwork” under extraordinary pressure to put together great theater.

Peterborough Players’ first show of the 2023 season, “Souvenir,” began June 22, but Kassarjian said conversations with designers start as early as March. She said designers have to consider multiples shows and how sets evolve and change over the summer, but also look for opportunities for reuse items, such as a rotating stage if one is built for a show.

Peterborough Players started posting for the positions before the holidays, and Kassarjian said it would ideally collect submissions to start meeting with people in March and having them visit during the summer.

“We can also get to know them better,” she said. 

The ultimate goal is to name the new managing director and artistic director by the fall so they’ll be in place for the spring of 2025.

“Together, we’ll find some terrific people,” she said of the search committee.

However, one of those people will not be Kassarjian herself.

“I have a full-time job,” she said, referring to her position as chief development officer of Performance of a Lifetime, a New York City-based leadership-training firm, “and I’m not qualified for either one.”

Along with choosing members for the search committee, Peterborough Players also recently selected board officers three-year terms. Cassady will serve as board president, succeeding James Potter. Sherin Pierce has been elected vice president, and Tori Haring-Smith as treasurer. Mary Vallier-Kaplan and Joe Caracappa will continue in their roles as secretary and member-at-large respectively.