Summer Stock Theater

Once upon a time there was a theater on a lake. Every night except Monday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day a company of players put on a play in that theater. Sometimes there was a full house there to see the play. Other times there were only two or three people. It felt strange when a company of thirty or forty people put on a show for an audience so small. But they were dedicated thespians and they considered it an opportunity to demonstrate their professionalism and besides, they could use the rehearsal.

Every night after the show when the audience had gone and the players had changed out of their costumes and washed off their makeup. After the crew had swept the stage and put up the properties. The director, or sometimes the stage manager in his stead, would give notes to the cast and crew about the performance.

Sometimes, if there was something that needed some extra work, he would call a special rehearsal for the next afternoon before the show. Sometimes, when the cast and crew got out of line, as they were sometimes known to do, the stage manager would have to fine the offenders, according to their offense.

For example, their was one scene in the play where four of the actors, dressed in fantastic garb and supposedly representing the rampant rivers of the region, plagued the poor farmer whose bottom land was subject to flooding, at the behest of the spirit of nature that directed them. One night, the actors playing the rivers hid squirt bottles in their fanciful costumes and drenched the actor playing the farmer.

Everyone, including the actor playing the farmer, thought it was funny. Even, I suppose, the stage manager. But what it wasn’t was professional. The people in the audience paid to see a professional show, not a sophomoric comedy. Consequently the actors playing the rivers were fined. Not large fines, they weren’t paid that much in the first place. But fines large enough to insure that they would think twice before pulling a prank like that again.

To the eight year old boy that I was at that time, it seemed harsh punishment. To the adult that I am now, it seems a fair one. I miss those people. They were my extended family. I learned a lot about the ways of the adult world from them. Many of them are probably dead now. All of them are as old as I am or older.

The theater was torn down several years later. Now the memories of those magical times live on in the memories of the few of us that are left who lived through them. But the world is a better place for the art that we created.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.