I have founded two successful youth theater troupes. Now that I have retired from both, I can look back on what was accomplished.
Both the troupes were successful. Both went through phases of growth and development, sometimes exhilarating and sometimes frustrating. There were challenges that led to growth, and challenges that led to breakups and break downs. There were opportunities that were seized and opportunities that were missed.
Both troupes were successful in financial terms: while I was actively operating the troupes, every production finished in the black. We ultimately grew to a point that we were able to pay guest artists, and then directors.
We served hundreds of young people in learning more about the art of theater by doing the art of theater.
We served thousands of young people by bringing live theater- performed *well* by young artists- to audiences in schools, camps, libraries and parks over two decades. I firmly believe we have helped develop the audience and the participants for live theater for the next generation.
What I am most proud of is the ensemble of artists we created, and the community that we built.
In our best years, members of our troupe learned through experience that the whole of the production is greater than the sum of each of our individual efforts; that our best work makes the work of our co-creators better, that their work makes our own work better, and that by giving generously to the other artists on stage and backstage, we enrich ourselves and our audience.
We shared pot-luck marathon tech rehearsals and late night after-glows. We created a community by building on shared experiences.
In our community, we shared marriages, divorces, illnesses, deaths, births, graduations.
Perhaps one day I will be a part of building another such ensemble. Whether or not this happens in the future, our shared past has made me a richer and wiser woman. Thanks to all of you.