Recent History, 2007

The Main Street Stage began as the Manic Stage in 1999 and was founded by Spencer Trova and a lot of people from the defunct Berkshire Public Theatre.   I don’t know much about those times.  I wandered in off the streets during the spring of 2006.  There was a hand written sign in the usual dark store front:

Auditions Today

That fall, the stage had had a remarkable success with a play called Like Home that was really the best of what the stage had to offer–a script by a local playwright, directed by her husband and starring a real life family of actors playing a family.  It wasn’t a big pile of nepotism: it was a lot of really talented people using their natural chemistry and passion to create a truly original piece of theatre.

But things had been falling apart for awhile, as I discovered later.  There were the real life concerns–the founder was getting older and tired of the sustained effort.  His daughter, who was planing to take over the stage, had a baby a few months after Like Home closed and was out of commission for awhile.  There were also the public image concerns I mentioned in a previous post.

When I wandered in that day, I joined a once-a-week acting work shop that was sparsely attended and run by the Artistic Director who had, at that time, taken on almost all of the running of the theatre–design, publicity, script selection, direction, cleaning…He also lived 45 minutes away and had a full time job.   How things had come to be like this is a matter of discussion among company members.  I’ll just leave it at there was one guy doing just about everything.

I was in and out over the next year, working only as an actor, but the following summer we put up John Guare’s Bosoms and Neglect and I finally saw just how threadbare the theatre had really gotten.  The artistic director made a fairly sudden decision to throw up B&N after the play that had been rehearsing was moved up a couple of months to accommodate for the director’s real life.   Because of the politics, B&N was an unwelcome production from the start.

Rehearsals went well, but I was slowly learning the back story as we discovered there was no stage manager, no lighting or set designer, no costume designer, no technicians–nothing.  Just three actors and a frustrated director.  When the show opened, there was no one to do front of house, no one to clean the bathroom, make the blood bags or set the props.  The director and I split the jobs, but things were frantic.

The publicity went out late and the show was sparsely attended.  There was one night where the only person in the audience was the local critic up until about 5 minutes before curtain when someone else–thankfully–wandered in.  Only a couple of the board members and company members saw the show, and some of them only saw half of it.

As soon as the show closed, the artistic director resigned his position and walked away.  Another company member invited me to join the board.  I said sure.  At a meeting soon after, Spencer also officially resigned.  things looked grim.

It was too late for me, though, I was in love with the tiny space.  And so were the four other women in the room.  So we started over.


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