Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some Thoughts on Community Theatre

The little town I live in is in danger of becoming a bedroom community, a place where people live, while working somewhere else.

There's nothing really wrong with that.  Everybody's got to live somewhere, everybody's got to work somewhere.  Well, that last bit is a little specious - there are unemployed people everywhere.  Retirees, that sort of thing.  But you get my point.

Norris doesn't have a lot of business presence.  There used to be TVA offices here, and I believe there may still be a TVA presence.  I don't know precisely what it is, though.  There used to be several offices, but they were sold off and converted into condominiums a couple of years ago.

There's a flooring manufacturer.  That's interesting.  It's a small operation, making only hardwood flooring.  You wouldn't think Norris had enough space to support any kind of manufacturing, but there it is.

There's the grocery store, the post office.  A struggling location that was a restaurant under one owner for decades closed when the owner retired, but then it went through a revolving door stage where a new owner would try to make a go of it, fail, lather-rinse-repeat.  Now it's a physical therapy center of some kind.  With Norris' large contingent of retirees, we'll see how that does.

So it's easy to see how Norris could lose its community flavor, and just become a neighborhood.  But it hasn't happened, and with the restarting of Norris Little Theatre, maybe we can push it back a little further.

Where so many people spend their evenings inside their homes, watching whatever lousy show the networks have scraped up the cash to produce, NLT gets a few of us off our couches every night for a couple of months for rehearsals, set construction and the like, and finally the whole community comes together for a few nights to watch the actual show.  You're not going to see anything like this on your TV, and if you did you still wouldn't be watching it with over 100 of your neighbors.

Several coworkers came.  That surprised me; I had expected only two.  What's best, though, was seeing all those smiles.  "Thanks for coming!  Glad you liked it.  We'll see you at the auditions for the next one...right?"  I said that last one a lot.  Part of what makes it community theatre is the community putting the whole thing together.  Our costume designer lives only four blocks away.  The producer is also my nephew.  And of course, not having an address of our own, we put the whole show on in the community center.  Chairs get set up, taken down, all that jazz.

So now I'm wondering, what will the next one be?  Some folks are asking to do a musical, which means I'll probably wind up being an enthusiastic observer.  But if it's Shakespeare, I wouldn't mind trying my hand playing Oberon.

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