FARMINGTON — Four months after opening for business, Farmington's newest theater production company seems to have found its stride.

Its founders are working to attract more members and expand their vision of a theater company created to promote local art and artists.

Bottom of the Barrel Productions opened in July. It now has 50 members and is celebrating the successful run of its first play.

"I think we've done pretty well," said P. J. Gillen, founding member.

Between 400 and 500 people attended its first production, "Villainy in the Valley or the San Juan Scoundrel," from Nov. 15-18.

The public seems to enjoy the organization's interpretation of what community theater can be, Gillen said.

"We got a lot of compliments back from people that they were happy to see a family-oriented production," she said. "We've found a niche."

This Sunday, the company's founders will be meeting to budget for 2013 and complete strategic planning, Gillen said.

Bottom of the Barrel's mission will not change.

The company is focusing on keeping productions local, using local actors, directors, playwrights, designers and stage crews, she said.

"I love that they're pushing all the local arts, not just themselves," said local director and actor Heath Cates. "I think they have a great start. We all have to work together and we need the support of the community. I hope that (Bottom of the Barrel Productions) continues to grow.



A major criticism of the San Juan County theater community is that people do not seem to know about productions, auditions or workshops around town unless they're heavily involved in the arts scene, Gillen said.

This shows that people aren't communicating with each other, she said.

Bottom of the Barrel productions was founded to help spread information about the arts throughout the county and as a teaching and learning group, Gillen said.

"We want to be a resource," she said. "We are a community rather than just a theater production company. We hope that people will come and find us."

One of the organization's chief community outreach tools is their series of monthly workshops. The next workshop is scheduled for Wednesday at the Civic Center and will focus on improvisation techniques.

"Improv is a pretty important concept for actors to have," Gillen said. "When you're on stage, it becomes part of your stagecraft."

Improvisation can help actors adapt to changing conditions on set, Gillen said.

"You develop an instinct working with the other person," she said. "Improv does that. It's in the moment. You're the movie unfolding. It's life."

Workshops also provide an opportunity for people to try acting and see for themselves what the stage is like without the long time commitments and line memorization of a full production, she said.

Wednesday's Improv workshop will be taught by Heath Cates from 6:30-8 p.m.

The workshop is free to Bottom of the Barrel members and $5 for non-members. Membership runs from July to June of each year and can be purchased at the workshop. Adult membership is $10 and 13 and under are $5 for the year.

Call 505-215-0696 or email for more information on auditions, workshops and productions.