By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN Until three years ago, theatre was only something Deb Moen watched and admired from the audience.
Now, she has found herself to be an active participant, both on and behind the stage.
Recently elected to the Minnesota Association of Community Theatre (MACT) Board of Directors, Moen is hoping to help foster the development and growth of community theatre in the state of Minnesota.
MACT is a statewide, volunteer-run organization which holds meetings, workshops, festivals, and other events throughout the state.
MACT’s mission is to encourage, channel, and facilitate the exchange of ideas among theatres to better foster their growth and improvements; and to encourage the theatre arts through educational devices such as workshops, festivals, contests, conferences, and other means.
“I think community theatre is the most important theatre in the US because it’s the only place where people can come together and create something that benefits their community both artistically and economically,” Moen said.
Moen first got her start in Dassel-Cokato Community Theatre by acting in the 2009 summer musical “Little Me.”
Her son and actor, James Frickstad, talked her into it, Moen said, who thought it was pretty neat that her teenage son would ask his mother to be in a play with him.
“I thought, what a great way to spend a summer with him before he goes to college,” Moen said.
Though she had only acted, Moen found she liked helping with various other parts of a production, as well. That led to community theatre director Dave Metcalf asking her to be production assistant in 2010, for the summer musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Now, she has been a production assistant for eight productions including both high school and community theatre.
Moen said some of her favorites that she has been fortunate enough to be a part of were last year’s winter production of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and the 2011 DC High School one-act play, “Mr. Flannery’s Ocean,” which starred at state.
In March of 2011, Moen and Dassel-Cokato Community Theatre became active in MACT with the FungusAmongus Players, which are smaller winter productions that take place at the Dassel History Center and Ergot Museum.
“Toys for Men,” the one-act from the play “Good People Listening to Good Country Music,” competed, for the first time, in the Bi-Annual MACT Fest in Fergus Falls. From there, they went on to compete at the regional festival in Salina, KS, hosted by the American Association of Community Theatre.
Since Dassel-Cokato High School was without a drama and theatre class, Moen and Tim Gosswiller, both of Cokato, were eager to develop drama boosters in order to encourage and support students in drama and theatrical activities at Dassel-Cokato High School. Moen currently serves as vice president.
Last winter, DC High School Drama Boosters took 30 students on a backstage tour of the Guthrie Theatre, followed by a matinee performance of “A Christmas Carol.” Drama boosters also began funding two $500 fine arts scholarships for DC seniors.
High school theatre is really important for community theatre, Moen said, explaining that it’s important to keep developing actors and technical crew.
The MACT Board of Directors meets six times a year in different members’ communities, particularly those that are currently holding a production. This is a way for members to share ideas and gain insight to bring back to their community theatre.
Moen will also help with this year’s MACT Fest, taking place March 13-17 at North Hennepin Community College.
Competing at MACT Fest will be this year’s winter community theatre production, “The Diviners,” a story about an autistic young man and his friendship with a disenchanted preacher. Local performances will be in February.
Moen was nominated for the board by MACT President Larry Pint, who met Moen At MACT Fest in 2011. He and his wife, Carol, also came to see the 2012 winter production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.”
Being on the MACT board of Directors, Moen will work with esteemed directors and other experienced theatre people.
DC Arts Association Executive Director Colleen Compton is excited to have local representation on the MACT Board and knows that Deb will serve this area well. “She will have a pulse on community theatre around the state. Her involvement at this level can’t help but strengthen our local community theatre program,” Compton said.
“It’s so wonderful for me,” Moen said, adding that this will allow her to gain experience and ideas, as well as be able to influence community theatre in the state of Minnesota.
Moen lives north of Cokato and is the mother of James, 21; and William, 11. She works for Meeker County Social Services as a children’s mental health social worker.