Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Market House Theater - A Volunteer's Perspective

I recently attended the Market House Theater (MHT) production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." This is a musical. http://www.mhtplay.com/

Over the years I have attended numerous MHT plays. MHT plays are always professional. The actors, directing, and play selection are first rate.  Each play is a real treat.  MHT also sponsors plays for kids and teaches acting. Both of my kids took acting lessons and it was a real joy for me to watch my son take part in the improvisation sketches with the other kids.  You see some real talent and upcoming comedians.

As usual, I digress. In my defense, it is my blog. At the play mentioned in the first paragraph I was convinced to sign up as a volunteer.  That means I was on stage with the actors. I was given only two sentences of instructions - when given a word to spell, always ask for a definition and always ask for the word to be used in a sentence.  I acted many a year ago and I debated in high school so voice projection is easier for me.  Still, I was not quite ready for this experience.

Now do not get the impression that all I did was stand up when my name was called, ask two questions and spell a word. No, I was figuratively and literally part of the show. So when the actors danced, I danced. When the actors moved in a circle, I moved in a circle. When the actors bid farewell to a contestant who misspelled a word, I also bid the contestant farewell. 

What I never understood and now have a great appreciation for is the actors and their help. They whisper to you what you need to do, they physically move you when they need you to be in another position, they turn you around when you are pointed in the wrong direction and they do it nicely.  You have a different viewpoint when you are on stage and hearing people laugh. I remember what that was like when I acted, again so many years ago.  You almost feel a degree of anxiety for the actors, no doubt a volunteer did something totally unexpected and the actors on stage had to compensate or improvise.  I was truly impressed.

Community theaters are an important part of a local community's fabric. A play can make us laugh, think, tear up or all three and more.  We sometimes take for granted how hard the actors, director, and theater staff really work to give the public an excellent alternative to a movie or TV show rerun.  You can see it when you go to a play.  If it is professionally done, you really do not think about how much preparation and how many rehearsals it took to give you, a member of the audience, 2 hours of superior entertainment.  On a consistent basis and with every production, MHT gives this to the people of West Kentucky.

However, as a volunteer on stage, I gained a new and valuable perspective.  For that, I am very grateful to the Market House Theater, the actors and professional theater staff. I may never look at a play in the same way again. In fact, I may even volunteer again should the opportunity present itself.

Do the American Theatre Wing and Broadway League, sponsors of the coveted Tony awards, include an award for Best Volunteer in a Play or Musical? If not, may I suggest this category be added?

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