Community Theatre: There is a Place For You Here!

My family has been involved with community theatre for a decade now. When I tell people about it, I have had quite a few people say, “Really? I wish I could do something like that.”

But the thing is, you totally can. Everyone can!

When I tell people that they usually say something like they can’t act, or sing, etc. 

I couldn’t either.

I had always wanted to try theatre growing up but thought I couldn’t. Then I sort of fell into it as an adult. 

My first step into the theatre world was as a stage mom. My daughter had speech issues when she was young, so I thought getting involved in theatre classes would help.  And she took a shine to it. So we kept finding classes to get involved with.

Then we heard about a theatre near us, Warren Civic Theatre, that did open casting for some of their shows. 

I will never forget her very first audition there. I thought, “Well, this will never be her thing.” But since they had open casting, she automatically landed a role in the ensemble and it sounded like a pretty fun way for her to stay active during the summer break.

She loved it. As she got used to being on stage, her inner star became more bold and confident. So she ended up doing shows there almost continuously for a few years. After two years, the artistic director said to me in passing at a rehearsal, “You know, you’re here at every rehearsal, you might as well get on stage yourself.”

That thought simmered with me for a while. For a whole year. I tossed it over.  I shared it with my best friend who said, “Why not? I’ll audition for a show too.”

I had a lot of fun with my kids, with my friend, and with my castmates that became new friends. I didn’t want it to end!

I had more courage than I ever thought I had. 

I have learned that open casting can be controversial. Some people tell me that it is not “competitive” enough. But I will tell you with 100% confidence that if there had not been a theatre with open casting, no one in my family would be involved in the theatre. 

That thought makes me sad.

During youth productions, the costuming department at WCT taught me how to sew. This is something I have always wanted to learn, but never seemed to have the time. Now it was a way to help the kids. 

Getting to know other actors got us out and about to see shows at other community theatres too. Our theatre world kept expanding.

And I even tried my hand at singing. With great musical directors that had the patience of saints, I actually improved. I went from clearing a room with my singing, to merely scaring small children!

As luck would have it, one of the friends that I had made doing theatre reached out to me about Rosedale Community Players. They were doing their annual One Acts Festival, and one of her scripts was being produced. She encouraged me to audition because it would be a very small time commitment.

I was intrigued because RCP performs all plays, so there would be more parts that were a better fit for my singing talents (which are slightly more than none). That was the first time I stepped into RCP.

And I made it in!

Cast members from our 2019 One Act Festival rehearse together

The special thing about RCP, is that no one ever makes you feel like a stranger there. You become part of the family immediately. 

From that experience stemmed other wonderful opportunities within the next year. I stage managed for the very first time. When I was asked, I remember saying, “I don’t know how to do that!” The producer of the show said it was easy, and they could teach me. 

It wasn’t exactly easy, but it was something I really needed to do. It made me realize that I like being part of a production team as much as I like being on stage. You get to make the magic from behind the scenes, and it is pretty gratifying.

Next I was asked if I wanted to be on the Board of Directors. Something else I never considered, but find very rewarding.

I met playwrights and actually started writing scripts. Knowing I can sit down and create my own world is pretty cool. And we have a whole group of people that are willing to read over your scripts and make suggestions to make it better. They are so very encouraging and willing to share their vast experiences

So you don’t have to have any special skills to be a part of the theatre community, just a passion to want to contribute. And you have to love working as a team.

RCP members pitching in to create a set

As the world slowly crawls back to normal, I would invite you to think about joining us at RCP (or a community theatre near you). The imaginary lives we create on stage change everyone involved for the better.

So along with my new hobby came so many new friends and experiences that have just made my life richer. I hope you get to experience that too.

If you would like to become a member of Rosedale Community Player for the 2021-222 season visit this link.

Devene Godau has been a member of RCP since the 2018 One Acts Festival and is currently the Promotions Chair on the Board of Directors. Devene holds a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University. She works as a freelance writer as well as a professional dog trainer when not helping out at the theatre. She lives in Metro Detroit with her husband, three kids, three dogs, two cats and a tortoise.

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