Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

A book about GCP: ‘The Company We Keep’

The Company We Keep - CoverI wanted to do something special for the 40th anniversary of Good Company Players, so I wrote a book. “The Company We Keep” is a short book — as books go. It’s only 20,000 words, while the shortest full-length book usually clocks in at around 40,000 words. But it was still a sizable undertaking for me and my Bee colleagues Kathy Mahan, Craig Kohlruss, John Alvin and Kent Gaston.

You’ll be able to download “The Company We Keep” — the first e-book from The Fresno Bee — for $2.99 on Kindle, iBook, Nook and other stores. When will it be available? Very, very soon. (It’s undergoing final revisions at our online publisher at this very moment.) What will you get when you download the book? Nine chapters  tracing GCP’s 40 years through the central character of Dan Pessano. From an extended history of the company’s early days to the successes of some of its brightest stars, the book looks at the challenges of keeping a theater company afloat and asks: What’s next?

A condensed, three-part version of “The Company We Keep” will start Wednesday, the company’s official anniversary, in the print edition and is now available online. (If you want to wait for the book, I recommend taking that route, but then again, I’m biased.) There are some really fun photo galleries to browse online, one from each of GCP’s four decades, along with videos from The Bee’s Craig Kohlruss. You’ll find links to them on a special page.


Responses to "A book about GCP: ‘The Company We Keep’"

Stephen says:

That’s actually going to be an interesting read – I look forward to it. The struggles of keeping a community theater alive, the horrid person who forced GCP to pay more than the standard ‘honorarium’ for performing and the way GCP worked around it.

The choice to re-do popular shows to keep the audiences coming, and hopefully story after story of the actors and future stars who lent their talents to the GCP stage.

The quote you won’t have in there? Came to me from Ginger Kay Lewis-Reed, years ago, when I was taking too darn long to light a show there, angering Dan Pessano. I wanted it to be a piece of art, painting the stage in light.

Ginger’s admission? “Art doesn’t sell.”

Not in Fresno, anyway. It’s probably why Pessano went bald so young, all those shows pulling out his hair as he had to suffer while trying to make art out of not-so-artful situations. He sometimes succeeded, but more often than not? He just had to do the best he could with what he had – which, for a community theatre, was pretty darn good.

But I’ll bet your bottom dollar Pessano really hopes to never do Annie again. Ever.

Nick Haas says:

How awesome! Very cool, can’t wait to read it. Good Company Players such an integral piece in Fresno’s Theatre history.

marcel says:

Congratulations to Dan and all GCP folk!
You keep it going and for that we are all richer for it.

Heather P says:

I haven’t been around Fresno long enough to know about every production at GCP. But I can and do see very clearly the long line of opportunities for theater in Fresno that GCP’s very existence made possible. They paved a hard-won path for the rest of us, and for that I am grateful.

And yes, the fact that they’ve walked the line between art and commerce and managed to survive is a testament to their stamina and drive. Five years ago, I would have, well. . . let’s be honest. . I DID. . . turn up my nose at their brand of art. But after a few years of running a few far less complex companies, I understand only a little better the the art of the business and the business of the art. Every single artist who charges admission for a ticket or sells their work has to figure that out over and over again. It is humbling.

The New Ensemble may not always take the same approach or make the same choices as Good Company Players, but I for one, am happy to STFU and listen to what GCP can teach me since they’ve been doing this for as long as I’ve been alive!

Ryan Torres says:

Thank you, Donald and Craig, for capturing my “goodbye” with Dan on the PYW into Fiddler strike. It was my pleasure to jump in to this company’s history and I hope I have years to come with them.

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