This is my last production with Stage Left. Indulge me in a swan song, won't you?
With the encouragement of a friend, and financial support from the city of Georgetown, I started Stage Left nearly eight years ago. We started with a small group of kids who loved theatre. No large productions, just eight kids who loved writing plays and improvisation. The original group is now in college, some still planted firmly on or back stage.
After two years of tiny productions and summer camps, we tackled our first main stage production, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I was determined to include every kid who auditioned, every kid who wanted to be part of the production. That year, we were thrilled and overwhelmed with 35 in the cast. It was a marvelously loud and joyful production on a tiny little stage with about three feet of wing space.
Since that time, the program has included main stage productions with boisterous curtain calls of 100 or so in the company, and a more competitive touring repertory company that harkens back, somewhat, to the intense, creative learning of our first days.
There have been some outstandingly helpful, loving, and supportive parents. There have been kids who come back year after year. There has been great talent and enthusiasm in every production and great joy for me every step of the way.
Through the years, there have been a few special kids who wanted to learn it all, who took it seriously and blossomed right before my eyes. I do not take the credit for building these talented kids. I simply made sure the opportunities were there. They did the work. I am proud of the dedication I have witnessed. It has been a privilege to be a part of so many young lives through Stage Left.
This weekend, we open and close my last show with Stage Left. The kids in this company are all regulars, and I am thrilled to work with them one last time. I have had the rare opportunity to witness my own child take her first tentative steps onto the boards and become a confident performer. I am so thankful that she and I have the opportunity to work together in this organization one more time before we leave Georgetown behind...before she ventures out into the world.
Stage Left has been a very special experience for me. It is one that I will share with my grandchildren in a few years...and I will tell them that time spent in the service of others is more rewarding than pay, more than awards, more than any recognition. The best rewards from Stage Left have always come to me when I am no longer needed...when I can step back and let the kids do what they know they can do.
Now it is time to step back and let Stage Left, herself, do what she can do. Just as I hope for my own children to find their own, unique, ways in the world, I hope for Stage Left to continue to grow and change to meet the creative ambitions of the kids in this community. Break a leg!
It's been a great run...