Last year I was to retire after 14 years as musical director with a local youth theatre. However, at the beginning of this season I was asked to stay because they couldn't find a replacement.
This year it is not just my decision to move on but the decision of the director(s) and town committee to dissolve the youth theatre. Many reasons are sighted the most obvious being a lack of interest and dedication by all. Not to mention a dwindling budget and since last season no facility to rehearse, no stage, no equipment.
Well, it is hard. The first time I was asked to conceder the position was in 1990. After attending one of their shows I had made a commitment to bring the level of the organization as close to professional as one can technically and theatrically as possible. We performed some great shows with just about no help and always on a limited budget. I remember every year trying to hire the best musicians so we wouldn't sound like a below average show. I remember the many days and nights trying to convince as many musicians I could find to just give a little for the children that were our cast. How many dollars of my own money went into paying for the best I could find.
Now, we've had to resort to preprogrammed music. The fun of the live orchestra was gone. That was the first time I began to feel everything was on it's way out. We just couldn't afford a live orchestra anymore. The last musical we used an orchestra cost us over $2000 and we never recovered. A non profit organization committed in bringing the essence of theatre to those children who might never get a change to experience the stage. Indeed, many of them were rejected of auditions in the schools they attended or there was not theatre or drama in there schools.
After this May I will be hanging up the baton for ever with this organization. Lots of great memories!
I'm not sure what I am going to do after. Most likely spend hopefully more productive time on my own music. Not for fame or fortune just for self satisfaction. This world is so full of composers today that I can sit back and relax and enjoy the works of others.
Well, I've rambled and garbled enough. This May is the last show I will direct musically. I never experienced what it is like to be a part of a real professional production like I always dreamt. Fifteen years thinking I was doing something but now realize no one really cared. The lack of help, support both financially and spiritually has just taken it's toll.
I remember on year where the town board was considering building a facility complete with stage and all the technical there of. But, it was shot down in favor of a new soccer field (which is underwater 80% of the year). Then the baseball diamonds, tennis courts and track fields. What happened to the theatre project? HA!
Fifteen years thinking I was doing something but now realize no one really cared. The lack of help, support both financially and spiritually has just taken it's toll.
Styxx, we may never truly know the value of what we do for others. The fact that you feel nobody cared all those years is untrue in my opinion.
I have done sound for gobs of concerts. I remember at the conclusion of the concert, a guy walked up to me with tears in his eyes and said in a whimpering voice... "I swear the sound was like I was listening to a CD on my stereo in the living room." He was so incredibly moved. Of course I was humbled and moved at his most gracious comment. I have found that the ultimate compliment for a soundman is no comment at all. If the soundman does a flawless, silky job, nobody notices. I think that analogy fits your situation. Only when there is trouble will we hear about it.
I say, hold onto your good memories, and realize that all the blood sweat and tears that you literally put out were not in vain. Again we may never truly know the value of what we do, or how it has positively affected other human beings.
I commend you for sharing your experience with the Youth Theatre all these years, and I can understand how you are "tired", "beat", "battered" taken advantage of, and just plain out of energy.
Rest assured that you have influended many people, young and old with your talents.
Very sad. It's too bad the organization didn't get better, sustained support. It's also too bad that you didn't have a student musician's group to draw from. The music would have been rougher, but the costs lower and the learning higher.
Just last week our local high school completed their five show run of Les Misérables(!). Everything was done by the students from the stage manager to the pit orchestra. I had two kids on stage (Enjolras & chorus), and know lots of the other drama kids and parents well. I saw all five shows and found it to be exhilarating. I'm half way through editing the DVD (splicing together tapes from two nights), and the whole family runs around the house either singing the songs aloud or looping the songs in our heads.
When theater is magical it is unmatched. I'm sorry to hear that there are no more rabbits to pulled out of your local children's theater hat.
Rest assured that none of your efforts and the hard work you put in for all those years was in fact wasted. The children who had the incredible opportunity that you were instrumental in providing are the ones who benefit most of all. The problem with good things is that we all begin to take them for granted and do not really understand what we had until they are gone. For as much apathy as you might perceive around you, you have planted a seed in each and every one of those kids as well as anyone who attended a performance. Sure, your part in this may be done, but what you have cultivated will certainly not just wither and die and may flourish again in new and unexpected ways.
Best of luck and keep up the good humor. As a frequent visitor (but infrequent contributor) to this forum, I appreciate everyone's dedication to the idea that creative expression is not a luxury, but an essential part of anyone's life.
Oops, I guess I sounded a bit ungrateful for the past years I've had with the groups. Nothing could be further from the truth.
You all have been so right in saying the kids have benefited from the staff and will always remember the good times we had during rehearsals and performances. It's just so damn irritating to know that there is a building standing here that has a fairly decent stage and could be renovated for the kids who may never have the chance because of narrow minded people in the town hall. Sure, it would take tons of elbow grease to whip it into shape but I know it would have been great! What was that movie, "If you build it they will come." Field of Dreams? Hey, who am I kidding...it's over.
Time to move on.
Yup, this is it after May 6 & 7. Time to go PHISHING!