The Players’ Ring Theatre maintains a black box theatre space, owned by the city of Portsmouth. Free of charge, it allows local production companies to use the space to produce their works. When Todd Hunter was a senior at UNH, one of his scripts landed in the hands of Players Ring founder Gary Newton.
“Gary liked it so much that he added it to the end of that season.” He also offered Hunter the opportunity to direct the play. Hunter, whose writing experience up until then had been more academic, jumped at the chance to bring his work to a larger audience.
That audience and the feedback they provided him over the two-week run of the show, helped him to develop his skills as a writer and as a director. He admits that the production process is a bit of a trial by fire, “sometimes you flounder and sometimes you swim,” but sees Players’ Ring as an excellent training ground for young talent. “It’s always exciting to see new opportunities being given to new playwrights, new actors, new directors.”
And occasionally the output of the theatre reaches a broader audience than the Seacoast. “We’ve had shows that have gone on to become independent feature films shows that have gone on to be performed in New York City.”
The truly unique part of the business is the percentage of receipts that go to the presenting artist. Players’ Ring takes a cut, for maintenance costs, but are able to keep a low overhead. This allows the artist to take home 65-percent of the box office sales. Syas Hunter, “they can cover their own expenses, they can pocket some money. Their art is creating commerce. They are working artists.”