I have been in love with theater for as long as I have known it existed. However, I thought my theater days were over when I had kids, especially because my oldest two have special needs.
That all changed one day when my daughter told me she was not going to have children because then she wouldn’t get to be a race car driver/ballerina/rock star. It hit me that she thought she wouldn’t be able to live her dreams if she was a mom.
I knew then that I had to show her differently. I just didn’t know how.
Luckily, a friend of mine told me about an audition coming up for short plays, with a local theater company that was founded with busy working moms in mind. I tried out, got a part, and showed my daughter that a mom could still live out her dreams, with the help of an understanding and flexible production schedule. That is when I began my love affair with community theatre.
Throughout the last decade I have acted in, written for, and directed community theater for Angels Theatre Company here in Lincoln. I am also a member of the Lincoln Theatre Alliance, a group of Lincoln and surrounding area theaters that have come together to promote community theater and support each other. Through these experiences, I have come to realize that community theater can and should be just that: community.
Community can mean many things to different people, but to me, it means that anyone can find their place and belong to something larger than themselves. It means every role is vital and every player a star. It means that everyone is welcome and no one is turned away. At its best, community theater is all these things.
I have been so absorbed in Lincoln community theater for such a large part of my adult life, that it shocked me to find out that the majority of Lincolnites do not know about our thriving theater scene. More than just wanting to get more people in the audiences, I want to make sure that everyone who wants to participate can. That means getting the word out on how to find auditions, and even how to audition, how to volunteer backstage or as an usher, how to connect with theater companies and shows that will welcome you with open arms. It also means that local theater companies have more work to do in order to become as inclusive and diverse as we have always intended to be.
So that is what this column will focus on. I want to help people find their way into community theater and never look back, like I haven’t. I want to help community theaters become more inclusive and more representative of the gorgeously diverse population in our community. In short, I want community theater to be as open and accessible as possible. I know community theater is important, because it has changed my life in wonderful, positive ways. I want everyone in Lincoln to have that same chance, if they want.
Knowing most of the community theaters in our area, I can assure you that they want the same things I do. It’s just that they, like many people in Lincoln, don’t always know where to start. That’s where this column can help.
My journey started with an adorable little race car driver/ballerina/rock star, but I hope someone’s will start with this column.