Mandee Kuenzle is the senior marketing and communication manager for the Bucks County Playhouse. In addition, she is a skilled photographer who has taken numerous photographs for the Playhouse over the last year and a half, since they reopened in 2012. Kuenzle’s photos along with other images from the Bucks County Playhouse from the last 75 years are on exhibit at the Michener Art Museum. The exhibit, “Local Mill Makes Good: Celebrating 75 years of American Theatre at the Bucks County Playhouse,” commemorates the importance of the Playhouse to the Arts as well as the community of Bucks County. I had a chance to speak with Ms. Kuenzle and she spoke to me about the exhibit as well as why she feels photos are an important part of the Playhouse’s history.
Kelli Curtin: Could you tell me a little about the exhibit, “Local Mill Makes Good: Celebrating 75 years of American Theatre at the Bucks County Playhouse” at the Michener Art Musuem?
Mandee Kuenzle: It is a collection of the Bucks County Playhouse’s artifacts including photos, playbills, posters, and mini set designs. The artifacts are from the Playhouse’s inception in 1939 until today.
Kelli Curtin: Are there any particular pieces of the exhibit you are most proud of?
Mandee Kuenzle: It is exciting to see photos from the past year and a half since the Bucks County Playhouse reopened. Also, seeing all the great memories these photographs captured such as the photos from Misery and Mame. For me, I am proud to see my own bio next to this history filled exhibit. In this exhibit the photographs were taken by three photographers, and I am the only living photographer in the exhibit.
Kelli Curtin: How did you first get interested in photography?
Mandee Kuenzle: I started with a pad of paper; it was not until later that I became interested in photography. I always enjoyed being creative through drawing cartoon-like characters or painting. Then I picked up a camera and realized I could get visual messaging through the camera. After college I worked in advertising, and I was frustrated with the quality of the pictures that were in ads, so I began taking my own to capture the essence of the message I was trying to convey. My boss supported the taking of my own pictures. My favorite subject has always been people and through photos I was able to capture the personality and character of a person.
In my position at the Bucks County Playhouse, it is similar with stories we put in the press. I capture the essence of the play or musical we are producing, and we get more attention and readership through the photographs of the shows.
Kelli Curtin: What is the source of your inspiration related to your photography?
Mandee Kuenzle: I find that when I am at a loss for words a picture says it for me. The subject matter of the photos I take really inspire me, such as theatre. I find the best photos I take are when I really like the subject matter of the photograph.
Kelli Curtin: What gives you the most fulfillment as a photographer and in the theatre?
Mandee Kuenzle: As a photographer seeing my photos in the press and in the exhibit is satisfying to me. Just knowing I am capturing the spirit of people, characters and shows and people are getting enjoyment out of looking at my photos is fulfilling.
In the theatre there is always something new and exciting to photograph – shows, talent, excitement of the community – there are always stories to be told on stage and behind the scenes. In theatre, there is never a dull moment. In addition, I work with very passionate people, and there is always something new to learn and photograph at the Playhouse.
Kelli Curtin: Is there anything you hope people will take away from this exhibit?
Mandee Kuenzle: I hope people realize what an important contributor Bucks County Playhouse has been to the Arts and the magnitude of its importance to the community. The reopening of the Playhouse revived the pulse to the community in Bucks County, and the theatre sparks excitement. The exhibit at the Michener Museum truly tells a visual story, and I hope people gain an awareness of the importance of the Bucks County Playhouse to the community and to the Arts.
“Local Mill Makes Good: Celebrating 75 years of American Theater at the Bucks County Playhouse” is at the Michener Art Museum through March 2, 2014. For more information visit their website at www.michenermuseum.org.
Photos Courtesy of Mandee Kuenzle.
Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online sites broadwayworld.com and figlancaster.com and is a freelance writer. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on twitter @theatrescribe and on Facebook/theatresensation.