Yesterday we received this letter of support from one of Wayside Theatre's supporters, Jim Stutzman, Jr. Jim's family have been supporters of Wayside Theatre for quite some time as the letter will explain. I hope you read this and take what he says to heart.
In our many years of community partnership, one of the organizations my family has always tried to support is the Wayside Theatre. My father was a long time board member in our early years, hard worker and advocate of the Theatre. My first real exposure to live productions came in that tiny little theater in Middletown, VA and I have since shared that experience with all of my children, extended family of employees and customers, and the community at large.
As Wayside has struggled for years financially, it has only been of more recent times that it has become so public and I have been asked on many occasions why I continue to provide funds to support the theater. Certainly a fair question in these challenging economic times, so after some introspective reflection, here is my answer:
I have never been a gifted actor or had a passion to even attempt acting on an amateur or professional scale, but I have been deeply moved by many live performances I have had the good fortune to witness whether on Broadway, SU Summer Music Theater or Wayside. As our resources for public education have continued to dwindle the last 3 decades, the first programs to be eliminated from most public school curriculums are the arts and music programs….lately; we even find our schools struggling to support sports programs. So without local community/summer stock type of theater programs, where will our young people ever have the opportunity to express themselves or learn to hone a God given talent? Let’s go back to the sports issue for a moment. Does anyone actually think our area could produce the string of state championship runs our region has been able to achieve (in multiple sports, at different schools, I might add) without strong youth programs developing this young talent? The Kelly Washington’s, Erick Green’s, Devon McTavish’s, etc. may never have had the drive, exposure and motivation to compete at a higher level.
Who knows where our next generation’s great actors will come from? I know one thing for certain, I have never read a biography or seen a documentary about the life of an actor that didn’t mention years of honing their craft in community theater and summer stock….theater’s like Wayside offer those opportunities. Not to mention the greats who struggled as kids to “find their path” or “deal with a challenging home life” or a myriad of other emotional and behavioral situations. Many “found themselves” in their craft and went on to develop into contributing members of society who have the compassion and social conscience to give back and attempt to make a difference. That next great actor could be your neighbor.
These are just a few positives that I see an organization like Wayside contributing to our community and why I feel a passion to try and help them not just survive, but thrive in the future. We have progressed to an age where our attention spans are growing short. We live in a world of instant gratification and special effects. Live theater is not just entertaining, but it forces the actors, producers, directors and set and costume designers to work together to reach into the heart and soul of the viewer. Wayside Theatre offers that opportunity for we, the audience to experience true emotion and be moved by the combination of talents that go into the final production. If you have never been, please try the experience. If you are a past supporter or find some credibility in my words, reach out and offer some support. Wayside is a gift to our community that has been taken for granted for too long. As with many situations like this, only after it’s gone, will people begin to appreciate what a truly amazing gift it was and lament for its return. Let’s not be the generation that allows that to happen on our watch.
Jim Stutzman, Jr
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.