Saturday, September 1, 2007

goodbye, upstage

My last view of the Upstage, before turning off the lights.

The entire set of Flickr photos is here.

After a flurry of packing and sorting and hauling and loading the contents of our theater to two different warehouses and various members' houses, it's over. I really can't believe that I'll never set foot in the Upstage again.

The theater group I belong to, Rosedale Community Players, is moving temporarily to Bushnell Church's fellowship hall until we find a permanent place to call home. They've been in our current building for the past 30 years. We rented it from a landlord who basically took no pride in the building. Over the past ten years or so, the ceiling has been slowly leaking and caving in. What ceiling is now left is waterlogged and moldy (as you'll see from the Flickr photos). Not good conditions for the patrons, by any means. Yesterday was the last day of our lease, so Donna and I organized a "Farewell, Upstage" party to celebrate the good times, reflect on the not-so-good times, and tell stories about the craziness that's gone on in that space.

I've been a member for over 7 years. When I moved back to Michigan from Manhattan, I didn't know a soul. My social life was basically hanging out with my cats all weekend. My co-worker suggested I come to the Upstage and help paint sets as a creative outlet, and to meet new people. The first show I worked on was "Shadow Box" and it changed everything - I met the people who would become my second family. So I had many memories that ran quite deep

The most heartwarming part of the evening was that each member got to take one final bow on the stage. Everyone who had been part of the Upstage in any capacity - as an actor, producer, set dresser, usher, anything - was introduced by name, walked across the stage, and bowed to a round of applause and hoots. I think it gave everyone closure, and one last moment in the limelight.

People began trickling out of the party around 11 p.m., until finally it was me, Donna, and seven others left. We gathered up our belongings and stood around, taking it all in. This water-damaged place meant so much to us. I looked around at the others' faces, and everyone was lost in their own thoughts for a moment. Thirty years holds a lot of memories. Then we took a deep breath, turned off the lights, went down the tall flight of stairs one last time, and said goodbye.

1 comment:

donna said...

great photo tribute lis... now i understand how hard it is for long running broadway productions and tv shows to end their run. closing our red door was like when they turned the light out on "cheers."