Triad’s theatre scene is growing
It takes a lot to make it in the theatre business, and even more to create one. But the Triad’s thriving arts community is filled with creative artisans armed with perseverance, and their dedication has paid off. This summer alone has seen the emergence of two new theaters”” and even more in the last year.
Open Space CafÃ© Theatre has reopened its doors; a group of close, young friends developed the Spirit Gum Theatre Company, and now we have a new summer stock theatre and an up-and-coming theatre funded by none other than the community itself.
FINDING THE RIGHT AUDIENCE
The summer stock theatre was developed by The Academy of Theatrical Arts, located in the Triad Civic Center on South Eugene Street.
“The Academy was originally founded on the idea of bringing education and awareness to young pre-professional artists,” said Angela Daulton, the company director. “The summer stock season seemed to fit right in with this mission. wanted to provide students with additional models of professional theatre.
Summer stock was not something I have seen here in the Triad and it’s a truly unique experience.”
Daulton said the idea has been in the back of her head for quite some time.
“As a high school and college student was lucky enough to get to work with some of the top summer stock theatres in the country and once I started teaching it was something I really wanted my students and my fellow actors to experience,” she said. “I also didn’t want to be in competition with other theatres. The Triad offers many different types of theatre from professional to community, but never anything like this.”
The theater performed its first production, Godspell, in early July, and will perform its last production of the season, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, August 6-8.”Everyone has been so supportive,” Daulton said. “Local theatres have been more than willing to help us when in search of props and costumes;
audience members who attend paywhat-you-can-night will leave donations larger than what it would have cost to purchase a ticket.”
FINDING THE RIGHT SPACE
The second new theater in the area, Found Space Theatre, was founded by two key emotions: frustration with the lack of opportunities in the area and empty-nest syndrome. Stephanie Lindley, actor, musician, musical director and musical theatre teacher, has been a key part of Greensboro’s performance scene for more than 25 years.
She’s performed with Triad Stage, Barn Dinner Theatre, Broach Theatre, UNC School of Arts and Open Space CafÃ© Theatre. You may have even seen her behind the piano for Triad Stage’s Ain’t Misbehavin. The UNCG graduate has also worked with both Greensboro College and A&T State University, serving as musical director for several productions, and now works in the musical theatre department at Elon University.
Now her son is headed to the University of Connecticut for its Puppetry Arts Program.
“I (decided) to spend a little more time in Greensboro creating the program that I want to see, instead of waiting for someone to come here from out-of-state to create it for me,” Lindley said.
“I’m frustrated by the lack of strong professional opportunities for performing artists. I’m frustrated by the lack of accessible performance venues. I’m frustrated by a general resistance to culture that dares to reach beyond a polite and comfortable box. And I have a sense of mission to do something about those things that bother me about our society.”
First, she realized that theatre doesn’t require a specific venue to effectively tell a story. Found Space seeks out-of-thebox venues, like apartment complexes or police stations, so that it really is a part of the community. Then, she gathered support from within the community to make her dream a reality. Found Space Theater’s first fundraising effort was on Facebook, and then Lindley took her campaign to GoFundMe, an online fundraising effort, asking for funds to produce their first show, William Inge’s The Apartment Complex.
The sold-out show, comprised of six short plays written by Inge in the 1960s, first ran in the Crown at the Carolina Theatre and was a huge success, and now the group is performing it in local apartment communities as well.
Next up for Found Space is Black n Blue Boys/Broken Men by Dael Orlandersmith. The one-woman play introduces six men, all of which are victims of childhood abuse. Found Space is partnering with the Greensboro Police Department to produce the show at the Carolina Theatre in late September or early October. !