In “Hamlet,” Polonius gets carried away with his own rhetoric. The Queen demands that he offer “More matter with less art.”
The Queen gets anything she wants. Folks in the community theater world don’t. There are no unions, no salaries, few reviews. But there’s a lot of heart. These actors don’t get paid, yet they are rewarded richly.
With at least six community theaters with histories spanning the 20th century—and several more upstarts across the state—curtains rise often in Delaware. Musicals, dramas and reviews come courtesy of veteran performers and directors, some with professional backgrounds, some not so much. And they’re all having a blast.
Then there’s backstage: set designers, builders, lighting and sound engineers, stage managers, costumers, makeup and prop people, ushers. Thousands sweat the heavy stuff, hidden backstage, never to be seen, mostly for free—all for you.
Mounting a community theater production takes massive amounts of energy and ambition. It’s rarely as simple as the Hollywood version of Mickey and Judy putting on a show.
Then there’s the business side: the fundraising and press release writing. There are auditions, set painting, rehearsals. If the curtain went up, it took a village. And the joy of watching people you know up there—neighbors, friends, work associates—it’s all part of the magic.
Community thespians act for the love of it. By day they are desk jockeys or other professionals. By night they escape to the stage.
While most have their favorite “home” theaters, there’s ample crossover as actors travel the state and perform at myriad venues. As John Hulse of Rehoboth Beach says, “There’s enough talent here to do any play we want.”
We raise the curtain on some of Delaware’s talented community performers.