Day 47

Happy Shakespeare’s birthday!

I directed the first Shakespeare in Newnan, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in 1978. I directed the last, The Taming of the Shrew, in 1999.

I say “last,” but that’s just a bitter, depressed guess: the Newnan Theatre Company has been served eviction papers from the building, they haven’t paid the rent in over a year, and the board has voted to vacate. My understanding is that they intend to go on, somehow, but I know no details.

This has disturbed me a lot more than I thought it would, and more than I think it should. I guess I have enough vanity to be disappointed that something I spent nearly 30 years of my life building should come unravelled within five years of my leaving it, and leaving it on sound footing, I might add.

We had money in the bank, full houses, and a growing subscribers list. We had a Main Stage season, the Second Season, and the children’s season, and a teen season. We performed more than 40 weekends out of the year. There simply were no more weekends in the year to squeeze in another show.

We did Shakespeare. We did musicals. We encouraged new works. We experimented with new forms and approaches. We built our costumes and sets. We designed our costumes and sets. We trained people in all the crafts of theatre. We did theatre, not put on plays.

Ah well, easy come, easy go. I may have more to say later, over at lichtenbergian.org.

4 thoughts on “Day 47

  1. I just read this. It’s 7:20am. I suddenly want a very large, very strong drink. Dammit. Just dammit.

  2. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mike Patterson and I am the new house manager for NCTC.

    We are undergoing a revitalization effort. Yes, for a couple of years there was not enough attention being paid to the business side of things and so now we find ourselves in a financial rough spot, but we now have a new Board, a new business plan, and a new outlook. We are also restructuring the Board itself to be modeled along more conventional lines and be more effective.

    As to your comments:
    We perform musicals (~3 per year).
    We encourage new works (“Daddy’s Dyin'”, “Sordid Lives”).
    We experiment with new forms and approaches. (We presented “As Bees In Honey Drown”, which I’d think you must admit is progressive for central Georgia, our new improv comedy troup premiers later this month and we’re writing a tounge-in-cheek musical version of A Christmas Carol internally. It promises to be horribly tacky but fun.)
    We build our costumes and sets. (I build a large number of sets myself. I’ve had two different professionals tell me they are pro quality – and I’m just a reasonably resourceful untrained hack with a basic knowledge of physics and form.)
    We design our costumes and sets. (Oh come now, how can anyone NOT in community theatre? You’re reaching for that one.)
    We train people in all the crafts of theatre. (We have three current successful educational programs for children and teens Furthermore, we are planning on two more in the future – stagecraft for adults and a technical program. Perhaps you’d like to come teach one of them?)

    All the elements that you imply were unique to your time at NCTC are still there – with the exception of Shakespeare, but we’ll be getting back to that. We did Gilbert & Sullivan, is that close enough? Kidding, just kidding…

    Seriously though, we’re hoping to do Shakespeare at Dunaway Gardens and possibly something on the brick stage in the new park just south of downtown Newnan in the fall.

    We’re making plans to bring live performances to the community by staging one-acts or scenes from current productions to shut-ins at local institutions such as Cambridge House, Wesley Woods, Newnan Hospital, etc.

    We also found that the talent pool and volunteer administrative pool was too small to put on 12 shows plus without exhausting our core teams – so we’re making a major effort to boost the core teams. Maybe when we reach adequate strength we will go back to three different genres. I personally liked the way you had it set up and will lobby for a return to that format – when the time is right.

    Mr. Lyles, I’ve heard tales of your work, and I’d suggest that rather than lament the “good old days when I was in charge” that you give some thought to exploring the current-day NCTC and possibly even contributing some of your time and talent. At the very least you’ll gain a more accurate idea of the situation.

    The next generation of community theatre is here, active, passionate and compassionate.

    Regards,
    Mike Patterson
    NCTC House Manager

  3. I have seen some of the productions you have mentioned. Your ways are not my ways, and you should be comfortable with that. I am. I offer my best wishes for your endeavors.

  4. Moliere or someone else working in a similar, indulgent subsidized environment referred to The Theatre as “that Glorious Invalid.” Perhaps a touch precieuse, that image, but apt. We like to think of those we love who are beset by illness or diminished in their capacities as they once were, when they were young and vital, full of spit and vinegar. The aura of nostalgia comes with the malady. A Theatre’s symptomatic condition, if we believe the above quote, is part of its essence, a perpetual affliction with an eternally poor prognosis. We who mourn the afflicted are part of its everpresent reality. Do not think ill of us as we despair of your illness. We want you to recover, but as a Theatre, you probably won’t. As a Theatre, you can’t. We are sad and nostalgic. We want you to be comfortable. We expect good days and bad. We examine the contents of the bedpan with hope each and every time, looking for signs of change. We hope you may rally, but we must also be prepared for the worst. You are in our prayers. Think of us as designated mourners. What better ombudsmen could one hope for?

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