Meet the Chairs of the 2017 Gala, “Let’s Play”

Tania Thompson
 | Apr 11, 2017
Meet the Co-Chairs of the 2017 Gala

Gala Chairs William Schenker and Talya Nevo-Hacohen

The 2017 Gala Committee—“Let’s Play”

Gala Committee ​Chairs Talya Nevo-Hacohen and Bill Schenker lead a dedicated group of individuals on the committee in planning every detail for SCR's annual Gala on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

  • Bette Aitken
  • Sally Anderson
  • Julianne Argyros
  • Kathryn Cenci
  • Barbara Cline (Décor & Entertainment Committee co-chair)
  • Sophia Hall Cripe (Cuisine Committee co-chair)
  • Paul Gadbut
  • Maralou Harrington
  • Sue Hecht
  • Olivia Johnson (Graphics Committee chair)
  • Shannon Kennedy
  • Tracy Kirwan (Cuisine Committee co-chair)
  • Richele Lowery
  • Sarah McElroy (Décor & Entertainment Committee co-chair)
  • Carole Meltzer
  • Stacey Nicholas
  • Jeanne Pepper
  • Susan Shieldkret-Dull
  • Jane Taylor

Seven Years After Seeing Their First Play, Couple Leads Major Fundraiser for SCR

When Talya Nevo-Hacohen and William Schenker attended South Coast Repertory’s production of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off, they got hooked and kept coming back to see more shows. But there was more.

“We started by donating a modest amount and started meeting other patrons, coming to First Nights [opening nights] and meeting more people,” Nevo-Hacohen relates. “We began to get a sense of the SCR family and its diversity, which increased our desire to support the organization.”

The couple took every opportunity to go behind-the-scenes, attend rehearsals and readings, meet playwrights, directors and cast members. All of that energized and encouraged them to give back to the theatre.

“We both love the theatre," she says. Bill spent nearly two decades as a theatre actor, so after enjoying performances at SCR, it seemed natural that we would do more to support SCR,”

The couple attended two of the theatre’s annual fundraising Galas, with Nevo-Hacohen serving on Gala Committee for one of those.

“The first one was fun even though we knew nearly no one,” she recalls. “The next year, we bought a table and invited friends whom we had brought to SCR. We had such a good time with our friends​—both SCR and others—that we closed down the party.”

This year, the husband and wife are serving as chairs of the 2017 Gala Committee and are pleased to announced the Gala’s theme: “Let’s Play” (Sept. 1​6, The Westin South Coast Plaza).

“We are honored and excited,” she says. “It is truly a fun role.”

Tell us about the Gala’s theme, “Let’s Play.” For us, this is about the making of a play. It is about all of the energy and creativity that goes into creating the experience of a play for the audience. But, it also is about having fun. The creative process can be hard, but every time there's a breakthrough and ideas gel, there is such joy and optimism. It’s like assembling a jigsaw puzzle: you have to work with others to achieve small results and suddenly you realize that the image has emerged and it all makes sense.

What’s your philosophy as you approach planning the Gala? For us the gala has to reflect SCR—the product, the people, the process. We don't want to have an event that could be a fundraiser for any charity; we want it to be distinctly theatrical and about our theatre. Bill likes to say that SCR is like an NFL franchise in that it's a nationally recognized theatre with a reputation for excellent work, a place that treats its actors well and provides a supportive environment for making theatre.

Behind the fun of the Gala is a very critical need to encourage private gifts to support the art of theatre at SCR. What can you say about the importance of the Gala to achieve this?As we witness the defunding of the National Endowment of the Arts, we need to further support and maintain creativity in our community and our nation. Artists reflect the issues of our day​—and of humanity—and present them to an audience in new ways. This has been true since the dawn of mankind. It is through art that society expresses its fears, its pain and its struggles. Supporting SCR is how we develop imagination in our youth, provoke introspection and discussion amongst ourselves and where we provide a safe forum for the expression and sharing of differing views.

Tell us about the Gala Committee. The Committee is diverse in many ways and now we added some gender diversity, an exciting development. Committee members make critical decisions and curate ideas. What's great is that the committee is an open forum so no question or idea is dismissed. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute, share and critique. We also are working with a new designer this year, Angela Balogh Calin. Her early images involve using light to create illusions and surprises—we loved that!

What’s the dynamic of being a husband-and-wife team for this event? I work full-time, so I knew that it might be a challenge for me to take on the Gala Chair role solo, so I persuaded Bill to join me. Based on my experience, I thought that Bill would really enjoy contributing his energy and ideas to SCR, and getting to know the staff and other patrons.

Learn more about the Gala.