Mara Dee Striker Baker
A group called Decatur Friends of the Theatre is being created to start a community theater and, at a meeting on Thursday evening attended by 13 people, two more meeting dates were scheduled.
The theatre group is an outgrowth of the success of the locally-written and locally-directed play "C.O.D. (Cuties of Decatur)" in August. Some 360 people saw the play on its four show dates and, after expenses were paid, "C.O.D." had a profit of just over $2,000.
The group is primarily being organized by Mara Dee Striker Baker of Decatur, the writer and director of "C.O.D." At Thursday's gathering, she and four others were named to a "board-forming committee" to establish how the board will be set up and how it will operate.
This preliminary committee of Baker, Janet Zoll, Andrew Gay, Ruth Ann Moser, and Bev Stuck will meet at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5. A general meeting of all who are interested in the group will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19, in Richards restaurant on S. 13th St.
Annual dues will be $10 per person, which matches the amount charged by the Friends of the Decatur Library. Donations would always be accepted.
A separate committee will be formed to read over scripts written by area residents to select plays to be presented here. The group also will seek to involve more high school and middle school students in the plays, it was noted.
Baker said she has been told by North Adams Schools Superintendent Wylie Sirk that the community theater can have free use of the stage in the cafetorium of Bellmont Middle School, where "C.O.D." was performed.
Baker said the theater group should work up to putting on four plays per year: a comedy, a drama, a musical, and a production in which all the actors are school-age youths.
As a way of thanking North Adams schools for allowing free use of the BMS stage, Baker suggested that the group give scholarships to middle school students.
It was further suggested that each play produced should have one dinner show to raise money and provide additional incentive for people to attend. The meal served at one of the "C.O.D." performances cost $15, with Baker saying. "It was so excellent, just couldn't have been better."
Baker and Cheryl Schneider of Fort Wayne, a longtime member of play groups in that city, said there could be free events open to the public for readings aloud of the varied plays submitted to the play-selection committee. Such events, they indicated, are not only fun, but also helpful for wider participation, since the public would be asked to offer comments, suggestions, etc. about the plays.
Schneider said it takes 10 to 12 weeks to fully prepare to put on a musical, but other works, such as dramas, comedies, and children's shows, can be readied for public performances in six to eight weeks.
She also said musicals have higher royalty fees than dramas, comedies, and kids' plays.