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Dramaworks co-founder Edie O’Connor, left, passes the hat of the executive directorship to long-time West End Theatre Manager Danielle Plocki on Feb. 21. Photo by Meg Upton

dramaworks welcomes new executive director; continues focus

Not every organization has a such a smooth and obvious transition, but on Feb. 21, when dramaworks co-founder Edie O’Connor turned in her letter of resignation, her successor was obvious to the board.

Danielle Plocki is the new executive director of dramaworks at West End Theatre. Plocki has directed and managed the Magic Beanstalk Players for 13 years and has also acted in numerous productions — often in lead roles.

“I’m thrilled to be the new ED for dramaworks,” said Plocki.

O’Connor isn’t going away anytime soon. She plans to focus on grant writing for dramaworks’ needs when she’s at the theatre and assisting Plocki in whatever she needs. Last year she retired from her career as a PA at the public health clinic. She also has a new grandbaby to spend time with in England.

“I look forward to continuing the efforts that Earl and Edie have dedicated themselves to for many years. They laid the foundation for having solid, continuous, quality theatrical entertainment in Plumas County year round by building the West End Theatre, an artistic and cultural resource for our community. What a gift! I am merely the next steward of this amazing theater, whose goal is to keep the excellence of quality entertainment alive and thriving in Quincy,” said Plocki.

Plocki and O’Connor do not see many formidable differences in the handoff between them in terms of delivery of theater programming.

Both understand the importance of the arts to the well-rounded development of children — over and over again, studies conclude that the more involved students are in the arts, the better for both their personal and civic development.

“Students involved in the arts show improved academic performance, and are more likely to be involved in community service. Singing, dancing and acting are a bonus,” said Plocki.

While they are in agreement on focus and direction, Plocki might bring in some youthful energy, too.

Both admit to the office and theater already becoming more organized — Plocki is known for this trait, and there’s new shelving going up to illustrate it.

Plocki, like O’Connor before her, sees community theater as a place where “people come together for the love and the art of performing.” Her background with Magic Beanstalk Players gives her insight into the effect theater and arts experience can have on students.

“My goal is to inspire students to be their best self by creating a supportive environment to assist in developing important life skills. Drama helps students gain self-confidence, it promotes tolerance, teaches poise, creative thinking, collaboration, cooperation and communication,” said Plocki.

Plocki wants to continue to encourage community members to get involved with the theater.

“Audition for a play, help with costuming, sets, lighting, sound, ushering for shows, and back stage help. The list goes on. We would never be able to survive without our volunteers,” noted Plocki. She also encourages community members to become donors or season ticket subscribers.

This weekend, Quincy actor Kim Carroll will be performing a one-woman show called “Above the 37th Parallel” at West End Theatre, (Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 8, at 2 p.m.) — an independent show co-sponsored by dramaworks.

The Magic Beanstalk Players are currently rehearsing for their upcoming production of “Peter Pan JR.” The production, directed by Plocki, has 60 students involved this year. Opening night is March 27.

“As ED, I hope to continue to bring thought provoking, inspiring and community-building works of theatrical art to the West End stage for years to come,” said Plocki.

These days both the main theater building and the business and rehearsal building adjacent is full of activity. Plocki aims to keep it that way.

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