I don’t so much leap into a new adventure as I throw myself unabashedly off the cliff of possibilities into the lake of promise. It might be why I currently have more irons than wrinkled shirts, but oh how I love the rush of adrenaline that hits when new project presents itself.
Today, I officially released the information on my latest endeavor, “The Theatre Downstream.” How this came about is another peg in the board of my belief that the path we follow leads us to everyone and everything we are supposed to meet and do.
In March of 2012, I was in search of a location to film a climatic scene from my second feature film. I was in desperate need of a stage and large auditorium, and it would be even better if it could take place in a high school. I was racking my brain for any contacts I knew and my brother’s college friend Larry popped into mind. He worked at one of the two local high schools in my area. I contacted him, and he arranged to show me around the facility. To say I fell in love at first sight is an accurate understatement. It had a gorgeous stage, plush velvet seats, and exactly the look and feel I wanted. I was given the contact information for both the superintendent and the drama teacher.
Arrangements were made, and deals were struck. Myself and my two co-producers Rachael and Tyler agreed to come speak to the drama class about filmmaking, and in exchange, we could use the facility.
We used several of the students as background actors, and the drama teacher made a cameo. Things progressed and the basic contact was kept with the drama teacher.
Rachael and I were invited to see the students perform in “A Mid-Summer’s Night Dream” in the fall, and we were impressed with the level of professionalism and talent. In the spring, and almost exactly a year after filming was complete, we were invited, again, to the spring musical, “Oliver!” The day we attended, crowds were lined up outside the building, and we were blown away with the production value.
I came home and hastily dashed off a glowing review to the drama teacher, and offered our services for any future shows or endeavors. I liked what they were doing, and I wanted to be a part of it.
In August, four months later, I got an email back from the drama teacher inviting myself and Rachael to assist with the workshops for the fall show, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
It’s all about timing.
I showed up that first day, and fell in love all over again. I loved working with the students, I loved sharing with them what I had learned about theatre, and I loved watching them take a project from beginning to end and grow in their roles.
I also really, really liked the drama teacher and his co-director, hereafter Russell and Jill. I admired them in a way a freshman student admires a senior. It takes a special, incredible person to be a teacher, especially a teacher of children, and these two won me over quite easily with their firm, yet kind approach to instruction.
I found myself looking forward to rehearsals, and felt immensely satisfied and proud of the students once the production was performed. When the opportunity arose to assist with the spring musical, “Annie, Get Your Gun,” Rachael and I both jumped at it.
It was during those rehearsals, and after a seasoned rapport had been established, that I first tossed out the idea of starting a community theatre. This is often my way. I am a dreamer, and a leaper and I often ask, “Why not???” to seemingly difficult and ridiculous ideas.
It was dismissed at first, but then slowly, methodically, it infected the consciousness of the others, and they too, felt the call. Tentative meetings were held over the cold months of early winter, and the with the first blossoms of spring, the idea became a reality.
Choosing our name from a quote by local author Wendall Berry, “The Theatre Downstream” was born. (“Do unto those downstream, as you would have those upstream do unto you.”)
I won’t go into great detail about the theatre itself, if interested, you can visit our website at thetheatredownstream.wordpress.com or fb at facebook.com/thetheatredownstream.
Why did I want to be a part of a community theatre in a rural area of Kentucky? For the same reason I wanted to film a movie there. I love my home, and I love the people in my community, and I wanted to share the same opportunities with them that large communities have.
It’s amazing to think that two years ago, I was just showing up to meet with the drama teacher of a local school, and now, I can’t imagine life without either one of them.
Will it succeed? Only the future knows. Either way, I am so grateful for the path I’ve followed that has brought me the friendship of Russell and Jill, and the students of Henry County High School.