by Jenni Bertels

Today, we would like to recognize the contributions of Rachel Duncan, the theater’s student and community services coordinator since 2013. Pentacle offers two free dress rehearsals for each production, community services night and student night, to our community service partners, educators, and students middle school through college to make our productions available to people with disabilities and students. Although Rachel is stepping away from this role, we would like to acknowledge her work in this very important volunteer position.

As coordinator, Rachel managed the RSVPs for each production, coordinated the volunteer helpers, picked up refreshments, greeted the crowd before the show, and led the post-show conversation called the talk back. Because of her excellent work in this area, she deservedly won the 2018 Pentacle Volunteer of the Year award.

In fall 2013, Rachel became the coordinator for these dress rehearsal nights and the first show she managed was The Secret Garden. It was a super popular show and she wasn’t quite sure what she was doing in her volunteer role yet, but everyone was so gracious from the patrons to the volunteers, to the teachers who brought groups of students, and to the cast and crew. The theater was pretty full both nights and she fondly remembers what joy and satisfaction she received from interacting with the student and community night patrons. As a teacher and someone who has been involved with Pentacle since 2003, Rachel loves connecting with others who also have a passion for the arts.

There have been many great memories throughout the years. On community night of the Scottish play, she and frequent volunteer partner Elisa Lehto had quite a series of awkward events and encounters, including someone walking a dog who just came into the theater during a climactic moment in the play. Just like live theatre, they rolled with the punches and improvised when needed.

Rachel was grateful for the patrons and community members who sent a card, letter, or email saying that how much they enjoyed the free dress rehearsal program or shared their comments on a specific show. The Pentacle theater family brings so much joy to share our art and connect with others.

Just like our productions that take a village to be successful, the same goes for community and student nights. Rachel enjoyed getting to know volunteers of all different backgrounds and ages, and always had people who were willing to step up and get involved. Especially, she appreciated the work of regular community night volunteers Janet and Matthew Annal, who assisted and greeted our guests. Dani Potter, who live-streamed and provided tech support for many of the educational talk backs and interviews always did excellent work. Laura Davis was always there, acting as a permanent fill-in for Rachel. Laura will take over the community service night. Loriann Schmidt will take over the student night. The theatre will remain in good hands.

Under Rachel’s leadership, these nights earned the theater the following awards:

  • 2016 Oregon Theatre Educators Association’s Rae Mona Reynolds Humanitarian Award, for student night.
  • Sunny Oaks Inc Marian Marquardt Award for “Assisting in Significantly in Enhancing Fun, Happiness and Joy for the Benefit of Sunny Oaks’ Customers and Employees” for community service night.

Additionally, our student night program attracted grant funding to transport students from Title I high schools North Salem and McKay to student night and provide pizza and pop so those students were not missing dinner to participate.

Thank you for years of coordination and extensive contributions, Rachel. Pentacle is a much richer place because of hardworking volunteers like you!