The good thoughts and great stories about
Wayside Theatre continue. John Stanier was an intern with Wayside
Theatre and after completing his internship came back time and time
again as an actor and a director. A gifted actor/singer/comedian, John could brighten anyone's day with a laugh. Here's what he has to say about Wayside Theatre.
Have you heard about Wayside Theater? There is a theater in need of our
help. I know, there are a lot of theaters in need of help ... but this
one is incredibly special to me. I'll tell you why in a moment, but
first a bit about Wayside. It's the second oldest professional theater
in Virginia and it's where many great stars got their start, including
Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates (that's right ... Oscar winners y'all).
Wayside is a small equity theater producing a full season of great shows
and providing a wonderful educational outlet for the local community.
They are currently in their 51st season and it looks like it could be
their last. They need money. They have an emergency fund raising
campaign underway and they need all the help they can get. I've donated,
and if you can spare even a few bucks, maybe they could make it to
Season 52. You can check out their website: www.waysidetheater.org
So why is this place so important to me? In 2000, I decided to pursue acting as a career. In late spring 2001 I arrived into Middletown Virginia to begin a six month theater internship at Wayside Theater. My first thought was "what the hell have I gotten myself into?" Middletown is a far cry from the big cities I'd lived in most of my life. Its an incredibly small town. I walked into the theater, nervous as hell, and met my fellow interns. One of them looked at me and said "your old enough to be my dad!" That's right. At age 35 I was dubbed the world's oldest living intern. I honestly thought about leaving in my first few days, but there were two people who gave me encouragement and hope ... Artistic Director Warner Crocker and actress/educator Thomasin Savaiano. They helped me through that rough beginning and I ended up being a part of the Wayside family as an intern, actor, director and staff member on and off through 2005.
I learned so much at Wayside. Nick taught me set painting techniques in the scene shop, Sean helped me get over my fear of heights as I hung lights in the grid, Kara welcomed me to the costume shop and taught me how to build a waistcoat from scratch, and Cephe taught me the ins and outs of life in the box office. I lived in a ramshackle intern house with an eclectic group of youngsters (I'm old, I can call you that) who made me feel welcome and youthful. I met Steve who is a musical genius, Melanie who was a great compatriot and friend, Nikki who made me look at things in a whole new way, and Robyn who I treated really badly at first and then learned to admire so much. We even had Liz Taylor living in the house (no lie). At Wayside I built sets, made costumes, sold tickets, stage managed, worked concessions, stuffed programs, shoveled snow, mowed grass, swept floors and even cleaned toilets. I also got to perform alongside some amazingly talented professional actors.
I can honestly say that I am a better person for having worked and lived at Wayside. They gave me incredible opportunities. I got my first professional directing credit, my equity card, and the chance to play roles I cherish. I also learned a lot about myself and what I wanted out of life and career. They helped me understand and nurture my passion for the arts and for that I am eternally grateful.
As I write this appeal for help, I know I could never be as eloquent as the lovely Malia Arguello or Kathryn Yacko (who I have not met but who I'm sure I would like). I can only hope that someone reading this decides that maybe this theater deserves a chance. Maybe you will decide to click on their website and donate 5, 10, or 20 dollars (more would be OK too). If you get an opportunity, please visit www.waysidetheater.org and check out this remarkable little theater. And remember Artistic Director Warner Crocker and actress/educator Thomasin Saviano who inspired me so many years ago? They are still there, doing all they can to keep this place alive. They have poured their hearts and souls into this remarkable theater for over 14 years. They are amazing and I truly hope they succeed in making Wayside safe for years to come.
Please consider helping Wayside out. Please help them keep inspiring artistic types, young and old, for years to come. Anything you can do would make such a difference. Again, their website is www.waysidetheater.org
If you'd like to read more about this campaign please check out more infomation here on this blog, on Facebook, or at Wayside Theatre's website. If you'd like to help or share your story we'd be very grateful.