Last night, our daughter, Jan, and I saw a play by a new theatre company on Hilton Head Island. I drove home thinking about the experience—my first live show since Pat and I closed our theatre, South Carolina Repertory Company.
25 years ago, Pat, Tina, Steve, and I were in Edinburgh, Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival. We had gone there to see Steve in a play and to further our interest in professional live-theatre. Pat had earned her master’s degree in theatre-design. We had moved to Hilton Head and she was eager to move ahead with her dream of having a theatre company.
We returned to Hilton Head and opened our new theatre in April of 1992. My books, P.S. and Encore chronicle our twenty-two seasons of magnificent theatre with a wide variety of shows, actors, and directors.
Ten years ago we came up with a plan to bring talented younger folks into the management of our theatre. I have outlined more details in my books. On January 10, 2014, Pat and I decided, with our entire family involved, to write the following letter to our audience:
We founded SCRC in 1992, sharing the belief there is a power in ideas that can best be explored on a stage within an intimate setting and with an intensely engaged audience.
Our theatre has been regarded as somewhat of a miracle. Over the past 22 years we have assembled an exceptional community of theatre artists who love what we love, and who come to Hilton Head Island to entertain you on our Beach City Road stage.
Nothing lasts forever — finding the right moment and the best way to bow to the progress of time is not easy or necessarily tidy. As expressed in Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose in Heaven.” We decided the time has come to turn our thoughts and efforts to new and different challenges, and to allow South Carolina Repertory Company to become a celebrated Hilton Head memory. . . .
We closed SCRC in May 2014 with the outstanding show “The Outgoing Tide” by Bruce Graham—a joint production between our theatre and the Good Theater of Portland, Maine. We donated all of SCRC’s assets to a non-profit on Hilton Head and exited the theatre world gracefully.
For almost two years, Pat and I have travelled. We’ve been to Europe on three occasions with the TLC Doll Tours and continue this travel and interest with a trip to Spain in May of this year.
Pat continues her long-time love of doll doctoring, reading, painting (she has joined a Maine group of plein-air artists), and cooking healthy-delicious meals.
I continue my love of writing, reading, and swimming.
Together, Pat and I enjoy admiring and watching our grandchildren grow up and seeing our adult-children managing the many challenges of parenting—albeit all the more exciting with modern technology and a fast-changing world.
After watching the play last evening performed by the Lean Ensemble Theatre Company we heard a talkback and listened to the questions of many former SCRC theatregoers who I’d known.
On the stage and in the audience were Blake White, actor and founder of LETC; Peggy Trecker White, actor, founder of LETC, and head of the Hilton Head Preparatory School Drama Department; Nick Newell, director, and a professor at Georgia Southern University; Katie Rasor, dramaturge for LETC, and professor and dramaturg at numerous theatres; Jeffrey Watkins, actor and singer; Nora Leary, actor and box office manager —all members of the new theatre company and all former associates with SCRC.
The audience was composed of many SCRC favorites—many of whom came up and talked with Jan and me. There were also many new audience members I’d not met.
The entire evening was a wonderful experience. I felt I was experiencing a kind-of ‘torch being passed’ to a new generation of professional theatre-lovers, who have adopted many of the former SCRC guidelines and have also added their own talents and skills to make the Lean Ensemble Theater prosper.
I am inspired by Blake and Peggy’s accomplishments, along with the support from their ensemble. I know they’ll continue to thrive, grow, and bring wonderful live-theatre to Hilton Head Island.