Artist Spotlight: Matt and Jeanette Fotis
Each month, Reading Theater Project trains its spotlight on an artist or volunteer who helps make the work we do possible. This month’s featured artists are Matt and Jeanette Fotis, the creative team behind, among other things, the First Thursday Comedy Series at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading, Pa. They have also created a piece for In Nature’s Studio on July 23 at 4 p.m. at the Reading Public Museum arboretum. The show is free (donations accepted) but reservations are recommended.
What is your role with Reading Theater Project?
Jeanette: Actor, Friend, lover – in no particular order. Also, any roles they will pay me to play.
Matt: I have written and performed for RTP in the past, worked with the New Play Reading Series, as well as served as an outstanding audience member.
What is your theater background?
Jeanette: Loaded question, no fair. I have a BA in Communication & Theatre Arts from Monmouth College – the IL one. I’ve been working actor & Theatre Educator in comedy, improvisation & performance for 25ish years and in many cool, unusual or perfectly normal places throughout the country.
Matt: You’re not going to believe this, but I went to Monmouth College too, which is where I got into theatre and where I met Jeanette. I’ve been working in theatre ever since, got a couple of advanced degrees from Illinois State and then University of Missouri, and have been based at Albright College since 2012 where I teach in the Theatre Department.
What are you working on now?
In addition to our piece for In Nature’s Studio, we are really excited to be launching a comedy series at GoggleWorks called The First Thursday Comedy Series. It is a series of 4 different improv-based shows (Scriptprov, Book Club, Fotis & Fotis & Friends Improv Night, and Interrobang) that will happen – wait for it – the first Thursday of every month. We’re also doing a Holiday Sketch Comedy Revue as part of the series – A Very Berks Holiday. Jeanette also travels with Metamorphosis Theatre Troupe training in the DEIB space using interactive & improvisational theatre, and Matt will be working with Albright Improv and directing The Revolutionists there in February.
What is your favorite RTP project and why?
Jeanette: Fight or Flight was an experience I’ll never forget. I had the best actor homework and got to work my acting muscles pretty hard. Character work is my favorite – especially when I get to play a multitude and change them quickly within one show. It was a seriously positive experience that came along at the right time with all the right people in place.
Matt: I’ve really enjoyed the various play readings over the past decade, which is the playwright in me. I also quite enjoyed last year’s In Nature Studio because the piece we put together featured our entire family and that was a lot of fun…very hot, but fun.
What do you enjoy about working with RTP?
Jeanette: The creativity and risks they take are dreamy. The collaborative nature & nurture of RTP is magic.
Matt: Big fan of the opportunities RTP affords its artists and its audience to take risks and experience different types of performances in different types of spaces.
What is your dream theatrical gig?
Jeanette: I *think* I’d love to have budget & funding to create unbelievable sketch comedy revues. Now we know we’re grown ups because my dream gig involves funding (investors, take note!). & the audience is full every performance, of course, & it pays all our bills well! Dreamy! I love love laughing and making others laugh. That said – I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be on a successful sitcom – that or I’d love to be the next Mr. Rogers and bring back learn through play at his scale and calm curiosity as the most underrated pedagogy.
Matt: I mean, I think I’m kind of doing it right now…but I guess doing what I’m doing with a lot more money in my bank account.