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Theater Building Community: Opening Up Behind the Closed Curtain

by Kennedy Shaw

As Marketing Coordinator at The Levoy Theatre, I often talk with our cast and crew. I could elaborate about the things I hear day-to-day behind that velvety red curtain, but it wouldn’t say as much as this: There is so much to be heard.

Theater as a whole creates a space where we feel comfortable to gush about our personal lives, inspired to be our most passionate selves. I have seen seasoned professionals backstage flip that switch, opening up to others for advice, debate, and input. How is it that we can be vulnerable with a group of strangers (and during show night, an audience of hundreds!) in a way we rarely are in our typical day-to-day life?

Local productions provide a platform for actors, directors, writers, and stage crew to collaborate in an inclusive environment where local pride can flourish. Ofelia Chavez, local actor in productions like Terms of Endearment and Once On This Island says “I always wanted to be on the stage. Now that I’m 25, I can. The rehearsals running late? I’ll stay. Do we need to run it again? I’ll stay. I always knew I wanted to act, I’ll be here.” This passion is a reflection of something much deeper that’s taking place in our South Jersey theaters; these art centers are fertile ground for self-acceptance, community building, and connection.

Theater is a collaborative art, meaning you can’t really do it alone. Even in a one-woman show, you need someone to turn on the lights, give you a microphone, or listen to your monologue. Leaning on and trusting one another to make a production happen seems to be the glue that holds our theater together. The inside jokes and secrets spilled are just the rewards along the way. One thing I know for certain: If you want to make friends, audition for a show!

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