Category: News

How are shows “viewed”?

We are often asked, how are shows “viewed”? Here’s a synopsis of what goes in to “viewing” a show for possible nomination for an award at the end of the season:

Viewing in the 2014/2015 season:

Persons desiring to become viewers submitted online applications in July 2014. Follow-up questions were asked by members of a board committee to any with red flags. Potential viewers were voted on by the board, designated member theatre representatives, and the current viewers at the time. A total of 20 different viewers were elected with 15 viewing musicals and 16 viewing plays.

Each viewer is encouraged to see all viewable shows in their category, however 75% is the baseline required amount. If a viewer cannot fulfill this, they are dropped from the list. New viewers were provided personal and group training by President Becky Jascoviak, Vice-President Larry Hinken, or Viewing Secretary Ken Mertens.

An online submission form was created for each type of show (play or musical). It is password protected at the NIETF website. Each viewer is to submit their form within 72 hours of seeing a production. On this form there is a scoring section for technical elements including overall show, direction, sets, lights, sound, and costumes for plays, additionally music and vocal direction as well as choreography are scored for musicals. Each element is scored from 1-5 with 5 being best. Each element score is averaged over the number of viewers and the top 5 end up on the final ballot at the end of the season.

A second section of the form allows viewers to submit acting nominations by listing the actor’s name and character name in one of five categories (principal male, principal female, supporting male, supporting female, cameo). Viewers determine for themselves which category an actor is submitted. Based on the number of viewers at the time, an actor’s name must show up a certain number of times to be listed on the preliminary ballot at the end of the season. For instance if there are 15 active viewers, an actor must be listed on 4 nomination forms in order to appear on the preliminary ballot.

A final section provides places for viewer’s choice nominations, additional nominations that don’t fit on the form, and comments for the director. These are shared anonymously by request only after the show has closed. Either the theatre or the director may request viewer comments.

At the end of the season (usually in early September), a preliminary ballot consisting of all the qualified nominations in each category is presented at a meeting of the viewers. At this meeting the viewers discuss final category placement for an actor. For instance, if 3 viewers nominated an actor in a role as a principal and 2 viewers placed the same actor/role in a supporting category, the viewers would discuss which category they will be placed in before voting. Then each viewer individually selects their top five in each category and submits them privately.

After the acting votes and technical scores are tabulated, a final list of nominees in each category is announced (usually around September 15). At this time, each viewer receives a mailed ballot personalized to them. If they did not see a production, it is not included on their final ballot. They rank each category nominees and send their ballots to an independent tabulator who compiles the votes and prepares the sealed envelopes for presentation the night of the gala. No one but the independent tabulator knows the winners until that night.


Have an idea on how to improve the process? Join us at one of the following discussions:
April 12, 5:30 pm – Viewers
April 12, 6:30 pm – Member Theatres
(Both of the above at Genesius Guild in Hammond)

April 19, 6:30 pm – Board
(Held at 4th Street Theater in Chesterton)

All meetings, while topic specific to the audience they are designed for, are open to the public and welcome for comment. Please join us and help us on our continuous improvement track!

Here is a link to our Viewing discussion document.

Celebrating 22 Years of Theatre Excellence!

As 2014 comes to a close, I want to take a few moments to remember all that has happened this year.

NIETF created a new showcase event, Theatrepalooza, highlighting theatres and works from across the region. It was held in August at Merrillville High School and was free to the public. Nearly 250 patrons enjoyed excerpts of past and future shows presented by NIETF member theatres. This event was made possible by the generous support of the Indiana Arts Commission, South Shore Arts, and Ideas in Motion Media.

NIETF participated in a variety of new avenues of outreach and awareness. These included interactive info booths at events such as Explore the South Shore, Popcorn Festival, and NWI teacher workshops designed to introduce arts into the classroom. We played theatre games with children, make masks and kazoos, passed out literature on shows and theatres, and introduced many new people to the organization.

The NIETF Foundation Awards Gala was reimagined this year. It was held in a new venue, the Valparaiso University Center for the Arts, with a revised format, and generated over 270 ticket sales. A new “In Memorium” video tribute was added that honored those lost over the previous season. Alas, all too soon, we have several more already to honor next year.

NIETF secured new grant funding this year in order to provide new and expanded services to our theatres. From advertising and outreach associated with Theatrepalooza to providing reimbursable grant funds for administrative and/or contract work, NIETF is expanding the ways in which we are able to support our members.

NIETF launched a new website in early 2014 showcasing new administrative tools for each theatre, along with new ways of finding information for patrons, including direct links to purchasing tickets. Having fewer clicks for website visitors translates into a higher propensity to follow through and purchase tickets in advance.

But one of the things I am most proud of this year, is how the theatre community embraced becoming a theatre family. Walking together as a NIETF team at Relay for Life, sharing needs and overflow with those in need. And most recently, walking through life, and death, together as one large family, caring, sharing, supporting, listening, and loving. This is what puts Community in community theatre.

I want to thank the members of the 2014 board who worked so tirelessly to create these opportunities: Larry Hinken, Maggie Reister, Matt Byerly, Ken Mertens, Matt Valuckis, Tim Slatton, Jerry Jascoviak, Colleen Zana, Michael Doc Kuhn, Kevin Doler, Natalie Franks, Michelle Smith, KeriAnne Valuckis, and Steve Zana. Tim, Natalie, Michelle, and Steve will be stepping off the board in 2015. I thank them for their dedicated service and desire to grow excellence across our region’s theatres.

To all of you who enrich the culture of Northwest Indiana because of your commitment to the arts – I thank you!
Now get ready for an even better 2015!

Becky Jascoviak
NIETF President

#GivingTuesday and Year-End Donations


#GivingTuesday, following right on the heels of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday is a global day of philanthropy to give to your favorite causes. Consider giving to NIETF on #Giving Tuesday or before the end of the year to receive a tax benefit for this year. All donations are tax deductible.

Donations to NIETF help support our scholarship fund, provide programming such as Theatrepalooza and allow us to provide you with all the great theatre information going on around the region. Donations can be made in a variety of ways that are convenient for you:

1. Click the donate button below.

2. If you use the Givelify app on your smartphone (downloadable for free from both the AppStore and GooglePlay), look up Northwest Indiana Excellence in Theatre Foundation and you can give right through the app.

3. Send a check to NIETF to PO Box 503, Crown Point, IN 46308. Be sure it is postmarked before December 31 in order to qualify for this year’s tax benefit.

Thank you for your support of NIETF and theatre across Northwest Indiana!

Nominations for the NIETF Board Available through December 7

It is time friends, for all good men and women to come to the aid of their theatre community. Are you interested in serving the theatres and theatre artists across the region? We’d love to have you, your ideas, and your get-it-done-excellently attitude on board.
Positions up for election for a two year term are President, Treasurer, and Nominations Secretary. Positions up for election for a one year term are Member at Large and Member Theatre Representative. The board then will appoint a Partnership Resourcing Chair and a Member Recognition Chair.
For all the information, please click the link below. There’s even a place to indicate your interest in just serving on a committee/task force. Board nominations are due Dec 7.

Welcome New Theatres!

NIETF is proud to welcome two theatres to its membership…
Ross Music Theatre/M&M Productions, a long-time community theatre producer here in NWI, has joined as an associate member theatre and Gary Shakespeare Theatre, a relatively new company, has joined as a full member theatre.
Be sure to check out Ross’ summer musical Monty Python’s Spamalot this weekend at Merrillville High School. Then watch for Gary Shakespeare’s production of Twelfth Night in August.
Please help us welcome them to the NIETF family!

rmt logo   Gary Shakespeare Company


Are you ready to be entertained? Do you need a good laugh or a moment to ponder?

The region will shine with the glow of the spotlight as you sit back, laugh, and awe at the amazing talents of local actors.

Theatre companies from across NWI will present short shows or excerpts of longer ones in a showcase format. In the lobby, you’ll find booths from each of the theatres with information on their upcoming shows, classes, auditions, and volunteer opportunities. Audience members will have a chance to win some great door prizes as well!

Join us Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm in the Reinhart Auditorium of Merrillville High School for this FREE THEATRE FESTIVAL.

Reserve your seat here:

This event is made possible by a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, South Shore Arts and the generous partnership of Ideas in Motion Media.

Viewer Call Out!

Do you enjoy seeing plays or musicals at a variety of theatres?
Would you like to contribute to honoring excellence across all theatrical arts?
Are you objective, committed, and timely?
We’d love to have you join our group of NIETF viewers who see each viewable production, rate each theatrical element and nominate actors for our annual Foundation Awards.

Viewers are a critical component to NIETF’s success. It requires an extraordinary commitment of time and expertise. Viewers regularly see between 12-20 plays or musicals each year. Those that view both may see upwards of 40 productions in one year. The viewing year runs from September 1, 2014 – August 31, 2015. Theatres are located across the northwest Indiana region from Hammond to Michigan City to Cedar Lake and points in between. A commitment to excellence and integrity in objectivity are what make the program successful. Viewers are not compensated with pay, however they do see the productions for free. Viewers review the shows for acting, technical, and design awards. Nominations are submitted via an online form within 48 hours of seeing the show. Viewers are required to see a minimum of 75% of all viewable shows presented during the season, with many seeing 90-95%. Additionally there are orientation and training sessions held prior to the viewing season. Once the viewing year is finished, final voting sessions and the awards gala are held the following fall. Rarely, viewers are asked to participate in other NIETF functions.

Apply to be a NIETF viewer at

Summer Camps, Classes and Workshops

Summer has finally arrived and when school lets out, summer camp season kicks off. Many of our member theatres host summer theatre camps especially for kids. Others hold ongoing adult classes and specific skill training workshops. If you’ve ever wanted to get on stage or just learn a new skill, we encourage you to check out these great programs across the region!

Summer Camps for Kids

Marvelous Monsters at Crown Point Community Theatre for grades 1-5, June 23-27. Learn a variety of skills including acting, set design, costumes and makeup, as well as a craft each day.

Premier Performance hosted by 4th Street Theater provides an opportunity for both young and older students to learn musical theatre skills and perform a Broadway show. Two different camps run July 7-12 and July 28-August 10.

Dunes Summer Theatre has two summer camp offerings that are one day a week for four weeks. The first teaches dance and musical theatre choreography. The second is Superstars and Stories that combines theatrical games and activities to grow reading comprehension. These camps run throughout July on either Tuesdays or Thursdays.

Chicago Street Theatre continues its longstanding tradition of a broad range of educational opportunities. With camps on Shakespeare, backstage theatre, technical workshops, sacred drama, and others, there is certainly something you’ll want to experience there all throughout the summer.

Adult Classes

Crown Point Community Theatre is hosting a second round of Improv Fundamentals for adults beginning June 30 for 8 weeks.

Towle Theater even offers Wine School classes if you want to experience the theatre in a completely different way.


Relay For Life of Greater Valparaiso

The Relay for Life of Greater Valparaiso took place on May 17, 2014 and NIETF put a team together to support and raise money for cancer research. As many of you know, cancer has touched the lives of many in our theatre community. Our tent was decorated with over fifty purple comedy and tragedy masks honoring and remembering those people. The theme was “Cancer may not be a comedy, but it doesn’t have to be a tragedy when you share its stage as one!”

The NIETF team was led by Jerry and Becky Jascoviak and included members Matt and KeriAnne Valuckis, Chad and Natalie Franks, Steve and Colleen Zana, Trish Neary, Matt Byerly, and Mike Jaskoviak. Together we walked over 15 miles and raised over $1000. It was a long and chilly night, but we made it thanks to all the support the team received from the theatre community and beyond.

Read more

NIETF Explores the South Shore

On May 10, 2014 members of the NIETF board of directors participated in the Explore the South Shore event held at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond.  Our booth allowed event goers to learn about all of the theatre opportunities available to them in Northwest Indiana, whether it was seeing a show, auditioning, or taking a class.  Many of the people we spoke to had no idea there was so much theatre available to them, right here in NWI.

As an added bonus we had prizes available to any child that wanted to play a fun theatre game while they waited for their parents to learn about NIETF.  This was the first of many events planned for Theatrepalooza, and our push to introduce non-theatre goers to the variety and accessibility of theatre, as well as to get the NIETF name out into the world as a one stop place for their theatre needs.  Thanks to Matt and KeriAnne Valuckis, Matt Byerly, Larry Hinken, and Michael Doc Kuhn for their participation in this event.

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