The first time Mark Perlberg walked into PBD’s former home on Banyan Boulevard in 2004, it was love at first sight. He and his wife, Diane, agreed that the intimacy of the 88-seat theatre felt like home, and they were captivated by the first production they saw there, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. So Mark, who had been on the board of the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, where the Perlbergs lived before relocating to South Florida, reached out to Managing Director Sue Ellen Beryl, told her about himself, and said, “I don’t know if you’re looking for board members, but I’d love to speak with you.” She called, and Perlberg joined PBD’s board of directors.
Many of you are probably familiar with Mark Perlberg’s name. He’s still on the board, and previously served as chair. He was executive producer of our Master Playwrights series, and was a lecturer both for that series and Dramalogue. He and Diane are the underwriters of Drama(in the)works, both in the theatre and now online, and our upstairs theatre is named after them.
You might be wondering why we’re writing about Mark today. We’ve decided to sometimes use this space to turn the spotlight on people who are stalwart and generous supporters of PBD. It’s a public way of saying thank you.
Mark, a native of Brooklyn who lived for many years in Bergen County, NJ, developed an interest in theatre when he was in junior high school. “I stage managed a show,” he says. “I don’t even know why I got involved with it, but I really enjoyed it. When I was a freshman in high school I auditioned for a play, and ended up appearing in all the high school plays. In my junior and senior years, I was head of the drama club.”
He didn’t major in theatre in college, but his passion for the art form never waned. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Rochester, which was affiliated with a professional summer theatre company. “My main professor was the artistic director of that theatre, and I worked there every summer, beginning as an apprentice,” he says. “After my junior year, I got a chance to direct, and right after I graduated, I directed more productions.”
Mark thought about pursuing a career in theatre, but went on to Boston College Law School instead. He became a business litigation attorney, but soon gravitated away from law and into business, beginning with a start-up company and moving on to several other jobs. He came to Florida in 2003 to become president and CEO of Oasis Outsourcing, which was the largest privately held PEO (professional employer organization) in the country. Oasis was sold to a public company some 18 months ago, and in March of this year Mark became managing director of Nautic Partners, a private equity firm.
Through it all, he’s always found ways to stay connected to theatre, and his commitment to and support of PBD is steadfast. “I think it’s important to support theatre in general,” he says. “Live theatre has the ability to connect and to teach and to expand one’s mind and one’s perspective. I’ve always found it to be a unique medium. Speaking specifically about Dramaworks, for me it starts with its mission of ‘Theatre to Think About.’ It’s the kind of work I love, so I think that’s a fantastic mission. They give us work that people will connect to and enjoy, but also something that we’ll learn from. Beyond that, it’s easy to support organizations that are really well run, and I think that Bill [Producing Artistic Director William Hayes] and Sue Ellen are a great team. They do a fabulous job, both fiscally, in terms of managing a non-for-profit theatre in a financially responsible way, and artistically, in terms of the selection and the quality of the work.”
His support is unwavering during this strange time when all PBD programming has moved online. “In the environment we’re in right now, people are desperate for connection,” he says. “And that’s what theatre provides. So it’s very important to Diane and me to support what the company is doing, to put the theatre in a position to continue to offer whatever form of quality programming is feasible right now. It's a challenging environment, and because people need theatre more than ever, it's just a very important time to support Dramaworks’ initiatives.”
One of those initiatives, Drama(in the) works, continues on Monday, August 24 at 7pm with Scientific Method by Jenny Connell Davis, whose As I See It was seen at January’s New Year/New Plays Festival. Amy is a cutting-edge cancer researcher on the edge of a breakthrough – and a nervous breakdown. When her big project gets "scooped," and a handsome new colleague starts asking questions, Amy discovers that she's the one under the microscope. This is a one-night only event.
And be sure to check out the Friday, August 21 edition of Dramalogue, when the guest will be beloved actress Margery Lowe. The program starts at 7:30pm and will be recorded for viewing on PBD’s YouTube channel. A big thank you to the sponsors of Dramalogue, Marlene and Martin Silver.
Tickets to both events are free, but reservations are required. Go to www.palmbeachdramaworks.org or call the box office at 561.514.4042, x2. And donations to PBD are always welcome!