The last couple of months I have been working on a project with two of my theatre friends here in the Austin area. It all started as a result of my frustrations with the community theatre group that I have worked with on and off since 2003. I had hit the point of pulling out of the group once before and was not involved with them for about five years. But then, because I missed theatre so much, I went back.
I acted in several productions, directed four productions, and tried to be as supportive of the group as possible. I had sworn years and years ago back in Chicago that I wouldn't be a Board member ever again, but through a series of odd events, I ended up on the Board of Directors and I was even President for a year.
The group has a core set of people who have a completely different set of concepts and beliefs about theatre than I do, but I really tried to adjust and not make waves. Unfortunately, eventually too many conflicts over the years, just wore me down to a frazzle. The approach of this core group (most of whom were founding members) was fully 180 degree opposite of all my previous experience at over 20 different groups in Chicago and California. Their whole approach to theatre sounds good, but in reality they are inflexible, behind the times, and do not know how to generate loyalty or camaraderie. They do not understand the concept of pushing for the best quality productions possible.
That made it all extremely frustrating, because not only were these people inflexible about what they would or would not allow to happen in the group, they were just flat out wrong. The group has lost many, many talented theatre people over the years, who refused to work with the group a second or third time and were never seen nor heard from again! I was struggling along trying to fit with the core group, but finally a few months ago it was made very clear to me that they really didn't want me as part of the group. So once again, I hit that wall and decided I couldn't keep banging my head against an intractable wall of stupidity, self-serving, and bad standards. So again I walked away.
I won't try to fight them anymore. I will support the friends I had made there (there were a few), but I won't try to participate anymore. It just isn't worth it. No arguments, no disagreements, no major scenes, no more trying to drag them into this century, I just won't audition or apply to direct. As came as absolutely no surprise to me, not one of that core group acknowledged in any way that I was even gone! Of course, that just confirmed I had done the right thing!
Now as just a little bit more background, the availability of community theatre in this area is extremely limited. There are really only three or four groups in addition to the problem group. The others are all unsuitable to me for various legitimate reasons....everything from too far away from where I live, to groups which perform strictly new or avant garde plays and that is truly not my cup of tea. I like traditional, interesting plays that make audiences feel.
Well, after I pulled away I, of course, missed doing theatre almost immediately. You see, the bottom line is I love theatre. I love acting, directing, rehearsing, making new theatre friends and I have loved it so much I have been doing it for 30+ years. When I'm not involved, I miss it desperately! And the reality is that as I "mature" there are fewer and fewer years ahead. Right now I'm still healthy and active and able. Who knows when it just won't be possible anymore!
It occurred to me that it was foolish to waste whatever future I have, not doing what I love. If I couldn't find another group to work with, maybe it was time to explore the possibilities of creating a new group -- a group made up of like-minded theatre folk (of which there are many!) to do theatre Our Way! All I had to do was find them!
The rest of the story will come tomorrow..........