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Fran Pruyn Loves Theatre, Burros and Barkless Dogs

Between juggling a full-time marketing job, creating above-par theatre from a “woman’s perspective,” booking utah pride festival entertainment and taking care of five horses, one burro and three dogs, Fran Pruyn rarely finds time “to do laundry.”

Holding a Bachelors of Arts in theatre and a Masters of Fine Arts in Arts Administration, and having been working in theatre since her high school days, Pruyn says, “I Love theatre; it’s what I do, it’s what I’ve always done.”

“I always wanted to be a director, not an actor,” she contines. “I’m a bad actor … lousy!” Though, she indicates one can’t be a director without first acting.

Pruyn is the artistic director of Pygmalion Theatre Company, “theatre from a woman’s perspective.” She has been with the company since 2004, and has put on acclaimed productions of great works of theatre including Fat Pig, Sordid Lives and Stop Kiss.
Before joining Pygmalion, Pruyn was artistic director of TheatreWorks West for approximately 16 years (in 2005, TWW merged with Pygmalion). During that decade and a half, the company put on as many shows as up to nine per season. “We were in-residence at Westminster college as a professional theatre company,” Pruyn remembers.

On average TWW would do four shows on campus and usually one elsewhere. “Mainly we took shows that were a little bit risque off campus,” she continues. “In fact, we did a lot of shows at the Sun Tavern; like we did Jeffrey there, and we did Is That You Nancy? there.”

Born in Alabama into a military family, Pruyn has lived around the globe, in places like Germany and Ohio. But she’s made roots here in Utah since the ’80s when she received a grant from the University of Utah. “The U had a great program that was funded by the National Endowment of the Arts, so I went there on a grant scholarship,” says Pruyn. “It was a great opportunity.”

While advancing toward an MFA, Pruyn also worked for the Sundance Institute. “I was working 18 hours a day,” Pruyn recollects. “But I wasn’t making much money, and there wasn’t any benefits … and the job was seasonal. It was killing me, mostly because I wasn’t able to do any theatre.”

Being the consummate responsible adult that she externally exudes, Pruyn landed a marketing job (that had decent pay and benefits) with a small architectural firm. “It was a pure fluke that I got into architecture,” says Pruyn, who has now been in the industry for over 20 years. “I thought ‘OK, I’ve done a lot of publicity [with the theatre], now maybe somebody will give me a job where I’ll make some money, and benefits.’” “So a friend of friend had a friend who was starting a firm, so I went to work for him. Then he merged with a bigger firm and I stayed with them for a while. Then I came to work here [CRSA] seven years ago.”

After only seven years she is now a principle (owner) of the firm. Pruyn says in doing marketing, whether it be in an artistic or a business industry, the concepts are the same even though the industries are vastly different, so “it isn’t that big of a stretch.”

With her vast experience and education in the Arts, it’s no wonder Pruyn has sat on The Grand Theatre Foundation board, as well as the Utah Cultural Alliance board. But even beyond the Arts, Pruyn sat on the KRCL board for 10 years and served as chair for five. She moved from there to the board of sWerve, a non-profit organizing resource for lesbian-focused social and civic activity in Utah. She then moved to the Utah Pride Center board where she has served as chair the past three years. She steps down this December. She also currently sits on the organizing committee for the Salt Lake Sustainable Building Conference.

Furthermore, Pruyn has been the entertainment director of the Utah Pride Festival since 2003.
The real challenge in booking for Pride is money,” she says, noting that they pay entertainers between 10-20 thousand dollars, but it’s the writers that “can be astronomical.”

Pruyn says they haven’t started thinking about entertainment for the 2010 Pride Festival, but also says that there aren’t “a lot of bands with a gay frontman” in reference to past statements that the festival entertainment is “too lesbian.”

In her spare time, which is not much, Pruyn spends it with her partner Mel, their five horses and 3-year old rescued burro, and with their three dogs: a Whippet, a Greyhound-Deerhound mixed-breed and a Besenji (an African Barkless Dog).

Now, if she only had time to do some freakin’ laundry!

A few suggestions for gay-oriented Pride Festival entertainment made by this QSaltLake staff writer are Mika, Colton Ford and Olivia Newton-John (couldn’t resist that last one, I love her.).

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