36 Years Later, I Still Love Community Theatre

Julie H. Jordan

  • OnStage Columnist

For the past 36 years, I have been active in Community Theater, prompting questions from my non-theater friends about why I do it.  My directing roles prompt even more questions about the degree of dedication I have for the craft. Theater has been my passion for a long time, really from the time I was young.

As a kid, I wrote plays that my friends and I performed in my basement!  I always got a kick out of being another character and making others laugh.  We also took popular TV shows and on the spot, created new episodes and acted them out.  “Dark Shadows” and “Lost in Space” were favorites.

My first high school role was as a deaf mute (a little ironic, I always thought).  I had to learn a bit of sign language, and that intrigued me.  My favorite role was Anne of Cleves in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, because she had spunk and escaped with her head intact.

In college, I minored in theater, and it is here that I learned more about the craft.  Otto Kvapil was the best teacher! We could give him a character type, and he could create it on the spot. My passion for acting grew, so much so that I sought out theater experiences after I graduated.

Community theater has definitely enriched my theater experience.  I have played roles ranging from Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire to Meg Boyd in Damn Yankees.  When I was pregnant with my first daughter and couldn’t be in a play, I started directing.  I have continued in this endeavor as well, to this day, and currently am directing Death of a Salesman. 

So why do I do it, even though I don’t get paid?  The answer would have to be that it is in my blood, and I have a love for the craft that never gets old.  It is time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, but overall, extremely rewarding and challenging.  I cannot imagine my life without it.  Everyone should have the privilege of having such a devotion!

Photo: Theatre Jacksonville