The Longest Running Community Theatre In Vermont Needs Your Help
My name is Todd Hutchinson and I’m the Vice-President of the longest continually running community theater in the state of Vermont, The Springfield Community Players. We are looking for your help. But, before you can help us, first you must get to know us.
This organization is for the purpose of creating and sustaining an interest in the arts, and particularly fostering the development of community theater; providing opportunities for the development of skills in all phases of the theater including drama, ballet, reading, music, and the art of staging and set design, and presenting theatrical works for the enjoyment and instruction of the public.
History of the Players
Springfield Community Players (SCP) can trace its roots back to the fall of 1920, with the formation of the Dramatic Society by the Community Club of Springfield. The purpose of the club was to create and sustain interest in all matters pertaining to drama. It was an exciting time for theater. Throughout Vermont, and in fact the entire country, community theater groups were being organized. Ninety-seven years later, SCP is still active, claiming the title of the longest continuously operating amateur theater group in the state of Vermont.
And now on to today:
Now that I’ve brought you up to speed, you should know a little about our town. Springfield was a thriving, vibrating town well into the late 80’s and early 90’s. We had machine shops all over town that had been in business way back when the players were getting started. In fact, we had a factory in the 20’s that churned out old doll toys and such for the longest time.
The theater thrived as we put on 2 musicals a year, several straight plays and you always had to compete to get a part. There were some hard-core theatre junkies that kept a tight ship and kept the artistry flowing for generations.
As the new millennium came, we saw our town fall. A prison came in and so did all the bad things that come with it. The shops closed, people moved away, but the theater lived on. Today there several members of the theater, still, but a smaller group working hard to keep it going. Our goal is to pull in as many of the younger folks as we can to recapture that magical imagination and talent that thrives in our area.
Our theater, as it stands today, is a converted elementary school built back in the 30’s. It needs work. We are doing our best to keep up with the ever-changing codes and accessibility requirements, but we are struggling. Our electrical technology needs to be upgraded, our bathrooms need to be more accessible to handicapped patrons and staff, in fact, our entryway itself needs a new ramp and covered waiting area. Right now, the public has to wait in their cars before the doors open and they can come in. Our biggest impending expenses, out of everything, are roof support poles, that need to be removed. The poles go right through the middle of our stage and our heating/air conditioning system. We are unable to run our productions year-round because it’s too expensive to do shows in the winter and we struggle to keep the audience comfortable in the heat of the summer. Currently, we close the theater at the end of November and reopen in the spring. Usually around April.
There is a laundry list of things we need to have done. Move walls, make the bathrooms bigger, redo the plumbing, update the electrical, the sound system, and the roof support. We must upgrade our fire suppression and increase the fire resistance to our workshop. We need to create on-site storage to move our extensive costume selection out of the building and into a fireproof area. Also, on our list, are to replace old rugs, walls and lights in our green room, and improve our storage for props and upgrade our office. As it is, most of us work from home since our office space is so small.
In the fall of 2016, we began working with a grant writer to help us take advantage of as many grant opportunities as we can. She advised us to start a capital campaign as well. Our response was to set up our first Twitter account, join PayPal, and create a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising USD $265,000. This is the total amount we need to do all of the upgrades and repairs that we mentioned, and will allow us to make our space more comfortable for the actors, volunteers and patrons alike.
As I write this, I’m happy to report we received our very first grant from the Patrick Foundation and we are waiting for several more applications to come in the mail. Our GoFundMe has raised $225.00 but we could use more donations. If we could get 53,000 people to donate the minimum $5, we would make our goal and be on our way to upgrading so much.
Our goal is simple, keep the arts alive in a town that is struggling to find its soul again. To increase our youth presence and offer opportunities to get folks out of their houses, back in the theater, and interacting in person again. A night at the theater is a special thing indeed. Please help us if you can, and as we like to say………”SEE YOU AT THE STUDIO!!!!”