A Love Letter to Community Theatre

  • John Schwab

Dear Community Theatre,

Before I had become acquainted with you, I was a young child. A young, introverted, homeschooled, shy-as-hell child. My mother had said before then we should get to know each other, but I didn’t budge. I didn’t want a spotlight. I didn’t want a line. I wanted to stay in my room and be left alone. I didn’t see what you had to offer, what my potential with you was, and I didn’t care.

Now, I can’t thank you enough.

In 2009, when I auditioned for my first show at the young age of 9, I was terrified. I had never done such a thing like this before, I didn’t think of you as one of the best things to happen to me. I thought of you as an enemy. You challenged every personality and social traits I had, and they grew and grew over the last 9 years. I genuinely don’t know what I’d be doing had you not entered my life.

And so many other people feel the same way about you. You give us an opportunity to explore our dreams of being a star, to dance as I would in the kitchen while listening to my favorite musical. You’re grateful to provide places for people of extreme talent to showcase their limitless creativity, not just as a performer, but as a person who understands light, or sound, or scenery, or costumes, or props.

You gave me an opportunity to bring shows to life in a lot of different roles in the theatre. As I got to know you more, I understood myself more. Knowing you helped me unlock the talents of my own, such as writing, singing, designing, and so much more.

My favorite part about you? While I volunteer my time to shows in these different roles, I meet so many amazing people who may have known you for over 30 years or some people that are just starting out. I get to know kids who are around 9 years old get to meet you for the first time. I get to see the spark, the initial motivation in them, as they perform in their first show. You find a place in all our hearts, and you stay there. I’ve seen many people move away, doing different things, but you’re still there.

And yes, you’re not perfect, but none of us are. I see the defects, and instead of complaining about it, I want them gone. I want you to be the best you can be so you can help bring up the next generation of young performers, as you did with me.

I wouldn’t be me without you. Thank you. And to all the people I met along the way, the directors, my fellow actors, and crew members thank you. Keep using your incredible talents for good.