Behind the Scenes: Community Theatre I

As I sit here in the intense heat of a Minnesota July, I am constantly brought back to thoughts about the importance of Community Theatre. It’s especially important for the “suitcase” suburbs. These are the towns and cities where going to downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul can be difficult due to location or cost. We want our culture and a little fun along the way, too.

CommuniImagety

Community Theatre is important to our cities and towns in many ways. We’re lucky to live in the Twin Cities; they are rife with Broadway shows, top artist concerts, and experimental theater and comedy. We have dozens of choices every weekend. But what about a choice that is at the local high school or renovated movie theater and stars your sister, brother, or cousin? That’s community magic. It may not be Broadway, but it’s live theater put on by your friends and family who have worked hard to perform for you.

Participation/Patronage

Community Theatre lets you become a patron at a lower cost with a greater impact than in the larger city theaters. You can volunteer with us, act on stage, meet new people, and learn new things. There are many ways to participate with your community—just ask. You can just write a check, attend the performances, buy ad space, volunteer, or perform. Every little bit helps Elk River Community Theatre bring you interesting and fun shows locally.

Fun & Friendship & Hard Work

Community Theatre is fun, but also hard work. Our actors for “Noises Off” are rehearsing Monday through Friday from 7p.m. to 10p.m. in order to put on a great show for you—our community. They go through the whole process from auditions, to learning lines, blocking, rehearsing, and finally performing several shows for different audiences.

The actors get to know each other in a new context, sometimes for the first time and become friends. Some have performed together many times before such as Sarah Rabe, who plays Poppy in “Noises Off” by Michael Frayn and Emily Bowersox, who plays Brooke Ashton. “This is Emily Bowersox’s and my eighth show together! We have been working on various projects together over the last few years. She’s planning on studying Vocal Performance in college.”

Opportunity & Education

Community Theatre allows people to try something new that might be a little out of their comfort zone. Since most community theaters are small, actors help with areas such as props, costumes, they do their own make-up and hair for shows, and help out with the scenery—painting, putting down rugs or carpet, and even striking (taking down) the set at the end of the show. These are areas where a new actor can learn from veteran Community Theatre actor, directors, stage managers, production designers and other crew.

Last March, I decided to cross something off my Bucket List: audition for a play. I walked in, not really thinking that I would get a part, but that I would have fun doing it. Two weeks later, I got an email that not only did I get a part, but I had three small parts, one for each act. I wasn’t by any means the star of the play, but our troupe worked together and I asked questions of our more seasoned actors many times. Our troupe saw each other as equals. I felt just as important as any other actor. I stepped outside my comfort zone and found something I really liked and at which I was pretty good. I became friends with all of them; and we laughed…a lot.

Learning from veteran actors, stage managers, directors and producers gives the “edge” in education for those brave enough to be involved. A director won’t necessarily assume you know everything about blocking (who stands where in a scene) or stage direction (who goes where and when), but they will be patient and help everyone to the best of their ability.

What I am trying to say, I guess, is that there is a reason we call it “community” theater. Because it is produced by the community, supported by the community, and for the community. It’s a living definition of the word “community.”

Thank you so much for your support of your local Community Theatre.