It seems that recently there have been a number of tragedies happening in the theatrical world most of them involved in small companies. Last weekend a full-scale murder occurred at a reunion picnic for the Town and Gown Players of Athens Georgia. This theatre has performed everything from classic Shakespeare to Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals to the screwball comedies of Woody Allen. As a proud member of the community theatre of my own corner of the world, my heartfelt condolences go out to not only the families of the victims but to the entire theatre, as well. Three of the members of the 55 year old company were shot. As with the feelings I hold for many in my own community theatre, these three were seen as members of a second family.
Two of them were the technical wizards behind many productions who built elaborate sets. The third was the small theatre’s president, herself a veteran of numerous on and off stage roles. That is what is so special about community theatre: Everyone has the opportunity to be involved in every aspect of a show. An actor has as much to do backstage as on whether it be helping to construct the set, paint a wall, sell tickets, or clean the restroom the Saturday before a performance opens. Sometimes it really does seem like a second family that has its share of disagreements and squabbling, but the final results are usually (if not always) well worth the effort. Members also become life-long friends.
Although I have never had the opportunity to meet these three people, my heart goes out to them and their families both immediate and theatrical. Please keep the Town & Gown Players in your thoughts and prayers. By following the link you can read about the three victims as well as view and sign a condolence book.