Donor Spotlight: The Fester Family
What prompted you to make your first gift to the Alley Theatre in 2011?
We’d seen a fantastic season that year: God of Carnage, August Osage County, and Pygmalion among them. Our daughter had taken a summer class for high school students in set design at the Alley as well (which kind of backfired on us, as she will be graduating next year from UNCSA with a degree in set design!). We know that ticket-costs only underwrite part of theatrical operations, and we wanted to give back in a meaningful way. Although our donation is modest, every bit of support counts.
You both are regular guests at our Behind-The-Scenes events. What about the Alley’s “Theatre Magic” (set design, lighting and props) keeps you coming back?
Nothing against the actors (we love them, too)! But the intricate “machinery” of production fascinates us. From listening to designers talk about their initial concepts, hearing Karin Rabe’s stories about finding “the perfect Cape Buffalo head for You Can’t Take it with You,” and learning to appreciate sound design as an art form, we’ve gained a much better understanding of that machinery. We appreciate the stage managers as well, who keep a million little details running like clockwork.
Speaking of theatre magic, what Alley Theatre productions—past or present—stand out to you most in terms of production quality?
Noises Off is a great example of that clockwork. It’s like a giant Rube Goldberg machine, ready to go off the rails at any point. The costumes in Amadeus and Around the World in 80 Days (that was another mechanically challenging piece). Looking back through our collection of programs and ticket stubs, it’s hard to choose – one of the things we love about the Alley is its consistent excellence.
What do you remember most about the first time you saw an Alley Theatre production?
Fredrica: I found my program from May, 1974, of The Decline and Fall of the Entire World as Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter. My Dad was an absolute nut about Porter, and we saw every Porter show within a 25-mile radius, including children’s ballet recitals, at which point the family revolted. The Alley production was great, of course, and left all of us humming for days. Dang it, I’m humming now. [Fun Fact: The program featured tours of the “new Alley Theatre” for $1.00!]
Bill: The Crucible in 1994 was my first Alley show; I’m a Houston transplant. The extraordinary power of live performance in a gripping story combined with the stark lighting was truly memorable and compelling – we have kept coming back to the Alley for more, and have been season ticketholders since 2011.
Why do you think supporting the arts is so important to Houston?
The arts educate, motivate, and uplift the community. We are very glad to see the Alley’s expanding community outreach through the Alley All New Initiative and school programs. The Alley is an important ingredient in enriching the cultural landscape of our vibrant city, and in discovering and passing great art on to the next generation. We want to be part of it!