Friday, April 28, 2006

Join a Local Theater Group!

By Christina VanGinkel

If you are looking for a hobby that will get you out of the house, introduce you to other people, and have some fun in the process, and you do not mind making a commitment of time for at least a while, have you considered local theater?

Many towns, large and small, have theater companies made up of local talent. They range from obviously amateur organizations to ones that would be hard to distinguish from a professional group.

Theater is not for everyone, but for those that enjoy it, it can be one of the most rewarding hobbies that they will ever experience. Getting up on a stage is often a part of it, but even if that element is not for you, there are many other parts of a theater group that need to be filled, including sets, lighting, promotion, even ticket sales. In small groups, some members might perform several of these jobs, so keep that in mind. Larger groups may have enough members to go around that the work load is limited to what you enjoy doing, but as with any hobby that someone loves, there are often aspects of it that we need to do in order to allow us to participate in what we conceive to be the fun part.

In addition, with theater, there is plenty of fun to go around. The prospect of dressing up and pretending to be someone, or sometimes something else, is for many people one of the best stress relievers ever invented. In recognition of all kids who like to pretend, acting, as fancy and professional as it can be, is just grownups on the stage playing out parts in much the same manner as kids playing pretend.

If you would like to join a local theater group and there is none in your area, do not give up. Call a local school and ask if they have a theater group for the students. If they do, ask them to put you in touch with the teacher in charge, and inquire of them if they have a need for any adult volunteers for tasks ranging from painting sets to background actors. While leads and most main characters will surely be left for the students to fill, you never know when a fill in for a minor part might be needed. Helping with the sets, and if you have a theater background yourself already, offering your services in other ways might be greatly appreciated. Unless you approach the school though, you will never know.

Forming your own theater group is always an option too. Run an ad in a local paper to see if there is any interest among others in the community. Some of the smallest towns are able to put together some very good groups. If you would not know where to hold your meetings, for starters approach any local business that would have enough room to gather. The library, a church basement, Moose Lodge, Legion Hall, anywhere that is willing to lend you space. Once you have an established group, you could look towards using the dues from club members to pay for a rental space. Many small communities are also willing to allow local theater groups access to school buildings and stages as long as everyone can come to a mutual meeting of the minds on when and how the facilities are to be used. If you can promise that a good portion of your ticket sales will be donated to the school for example, in return for them allowing you use of the stage, most schools will readily agree to allow local theater groups to both meet and put on their shows.

Joining or creating a local theater group can be fun for a variety of reasons. If you have been in search of some activity that will get you motivated, get you out into the community, provide interaction with other people in a more meaningful way than any coffee klatch ever could, and potentially provide some fun and laughter along the way, then be sure to consider what happens to be a growing hobby for many adults. Local theater is making a comeback, check it out the next time you decide to try something new!

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