EAST COVENTRY – Nina Covalesky can’t wait to put on a show.
“So we completely went underground (after 2019),” said Covalesky, executive director and founder of Theater with a View in Pottstown. “We just didn’t have the resources to do something like keep an audience, our cast, and all artists safe during a pandemic.”
Theater with a View is a different approach to the usual theater experience. Set in the backyard of Covalesky’s sister’s home on Sycamore Hill in East Coventry (481 Ebelhare Road, Pottstown PA 19465), the audience can be as much a part of the show as the cast.
“Well, there’s no real forced audience participation,” Coavlesky said. in non-traditional staging of contemporary plays.”
The stage, which in this case is a campfire surrounded by the audience, comes to life August 17-27 as Theater with a View invites New York-based Nightdrive to perform “The Grown Ups.” Tickets are $35 per person and can be reserved by visiting theatrewithaview.com.
The play follows a group of camp counselors trying to mold tomorrow’s leaders as tomorrow looks increasingly bleak. The show explores the traditions that change us, what it takes to change them, and how to change yourself when you’re hopelessly, tragically unprepared for “this.” Seated outside around a campfire, audience members will sit among the performers, making the production a truly immersive and intimate experience.
“So it’s really inventive,” said Covalesky, who has a “day job” as a fundraiser for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Nightdrive is a theater company out of Brooklyn, they conceived of this idea and put it together in their tiny little backyard for an audience of six or 10 at the height of the pandemic. It was really one of the only ways to continue doing theater at the time. I had heard of their play, but didn’t get a chance to see it, so I reached out to Simon (Henriques) and Skylar (Fox), just to talk as we thought about how we would would return to production in Pottstown and there. was that feeling we clicked, right. It was like similar values.
“When I met them in real life, I was shocked at how good they both were after seeing their faces on Zoom, but we just felt like we were taking hands and jumping together from the collaboration cliff. This is the first time that Theater with a View has collaborated with another theater company to bring their play to our audience. But it’s pretty perfect for the space. And there’s a big element of fun in the play that I think would be good for our audience after two pretty dark years, even for people who haven’t been horribly impacted by the pandemic.
Covalesky started Theater with a View in 2014 and had played one production a year until 2019.
“I started out as kind of an experiment, frankly, in 2014, I was a professional actor and I was looking for a fun outlet for myself and my friends,” Covalesky said. “And I saw an outdoor production of a play (by Anton Chekhov) in Vermont that incorporated the house and the farmland around it and the garden and was kind of inspired by that. My sister, who owns this property in Pennsylvania, where she lives with her family, so I said, ‘Why can’t we do something like this here?’ I don’t think she knew exactly what she was getting into, but it’s become an annual event at this point and the community has really responded and we’re, we’re excited to be back.
Theater with a view has also become a bit of a community event.
“They said, ‘When do you think they can come back? ‘” Covalesky said. “A lot of people hear about us just by walking past the property, we hang a big banner over the barn they see. Most of our audience is really hyper-local. I mean, a lot of people walk their dogs. So it’s really interesting, like people who just go out for a walk at night and their neighborhood, and then people who look up to us, because they hear it’s a fun and unusual thing to do.
“This will be our seventh production and people have definitely missed it. It’s a lot of work, so it’s wonderful and terrible. Like all of these companies, but I was really inspired and invigorated by the team at Nightdrive and, and excited to work with them.