“Community” Theater

The beauty of community theatre is that it is the people’s theatre. It is your friends and neighbors sharing a passion. – Ruth Legg, Geneva, NY, American Association of Community Theater

Even though I don’t act, or do stagecraft, I love theater. I wonder sometimes if there might be an actress hidden deep inside me, underneath the shy person who always chooses to remain quietly on the sidelines. I love the dimensional effect of people being right in front of me, real and alive, but not being necessarily themselves. I love watching them interact with other people who are also not being necessarily themselves. I love the “otherness” of theater, that I can be sitting in a room but also be on the coast of Maine or in the south of France or a New York city hotel room. I love the way a director’s imagination can entirely change the way we perceive a character.

One of my dearest friends has, in her “retirement,” begun a community theater program here in our town. I’ve been helping her, doing my usual sideline thing – a little marketing, a little shopping, even a little accompanying. The first production, a musical review, goes up next weekend, so rehearsals are intensifying as the show comes down to the wire.

I spent yesterday’s extra-long daylight savings Sunday afternoon in the church basement where the production will take place. The cast was having a good time, still making some blunders, but nothing fatal. Sitting on the sidelines affords me an opportunity to watch the interactions between cast members and crew, and this particular group really impresses me. There are 14 in the cast, ranging in age from 25-65. Several of them are alumni of the high school choral program where my friend (the Director) once taught. Some are members of her church choir. A few are right off the street, urged by friends to audition. Some have acted a lot, even professionally. Some have never acted at all, but are eager and willing to learn. Each of them comes with their own life in the everyday world, their own problems and dilemmas of day to day living, which must be left at the door when rehearsal begins. They are our “friends and neighbors, coming together to share a passion.” And they have come together without a hitch, and are supportive and kind and encouraging. That is a testament to them as people, and also to my friend, their director, who has a great knack for bringing people together and helping them work as a community.

It will be, I think, a good show and an emotionally satisfying experience for everyone. I know I’ll be proud to sit in the audience and cheer them along.  They’ve come together to make something beautiful and meaningful – a worthwhile community effort, building community feeling and excitement.

Community theater.

I wish you could all be there to feel it too.

How about you? Have you ever participated in community theater or some other community building effort? How has it affected your life?

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15 thoughts on ““Community” Theater

  1. Theater and competetive public speaking were my primary activities in high school, but I haven’t done anything with them since. My daughter has been involved in the summer youth theater program in town for the last few years, and as I’ve observed her enjoyment of it my own interests have been rekindled. I’ve been a bit jealous of her, but not enough, so far, to participate in the adult community theater program we have. One of these years….

    • It’s so hard to find time to do all the things we’d like to do. I’m glad your daughter is enjoying her community theater experience. This group I’m working with did a middle school musical theater camp last summer and it was great fun for the girls!

  2. We love community theater. You inspired me to take immediate action. I didn’t even make it halfway through this post before I jumped over to our local theater website and ordered tickets to the next show. It is true that part of the specialness of local theater is that it’s our neighbors who have come together to live their passion, and I never fail to be amazed at how much talent is around us. I enjoy it so much. Wishing all involved in your friends production a successful opening night. Let us know how it goes.

  3. A friend of mine just was going to a community theatre production last night. I didn’t even know there was a community theatre in our neighborhood. She says it’s been developing for about ten years. We’re going to make plans to go see a future production!

  4. I have had more than my share of community theatre (and that is in a good way!) I haven’t done any for awhile, but for many years was very involved. There is such a familial aspect to it. When you spend so many hours together with a single mission, a great bond is formed. I think it’s exciting there’s a new show in town and you get to be part of it from the bottom up!

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