Drama queens and kings
by GLENETTA SHUEY
Approximately 22 years ago, I was privileged to be an educational advisor for a group that was wanting to revive community theatre in our parish. We hoped to use The Strand as our venue. I was seriously ecstatic about the idea, something I had wanted for so long (as if I didn’t have enough to do). On the outside I appeared cool and professional while discussing the matter, but when everyone agreed we could manage it, the 40-year old English/speech teacher and drama coach wanted to get up and dance!
I saved the dance until I got home. It was probably embarrassing. I began as an assistant and worked my way up to director and actress of A Block Off Broadway Community Theatre. My girls literally grew up in and around theatre. They learned what props were and understood the importance of such terms as cues and blocking while they were still in elementary school. They helped us with set preparation, and my oldest was even in two plays at the Strand while in high school. My youngest worked backstage for a production, as many of my students did over the years. I believe most remember this experience fondly.
I have been on the ABOB board for most of the 21 years we have been in existence. It has been time well spent. In a recent interview with John Bridges from KPLC, he asked what I found most satisfying about being part of community theatre. My answer was simply that I love the reactions of our audiences, and as a director, I am always amazed at how the play comes together. As an actress on a community stage, I cannot truly put into words how much fun it is. That is not to say that there isn’t a great deal of work and time invested. Hours of blocking and learning to work as an ensemble are integral to the play’s outcome.
I have worked with amazing people: those who work behind the scenes as well. Colin and Lin Fake have been there since the beginning. Their technical expertise has made our sets some of the best in our area. I have directed talent such as the late David LeBleu and his gifted co-hort, Carl Benoit. There have been pleasant surprises, such as Auldon Robinson (a former student) in the role of Hoke in Driving Miss Daisy. I remember distinctly the night of our opening when my former professor, Dr. Kelso, came to me and told me how wonderful the play was. I was speechless. And then she stepped over to Auldon and told him how masterfully he had played the role. My pride in our work was overwhelming.
We are simply a little theater, but what we do and how we do it isn’t so bad, in my opinion. I work with some of the most talented people in our community. We provide an experience of live theater that many people never get to see in our little area. We may not be Broadway, but when a young student comes up to me and asks me to sign their program, I am just as proud as can be. We are simply a “block” off of Broadway! Good enough for me!
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