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'Livid' over theatre coverage
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Regarding your recent coverage of the health of the local theatre scene:

Just wanted to make sure you were aware that theatre is indeed alive and well in the city of Savannah, at least on Tybee Island, and has been, consistently, especially this past year.

I have been so busy with one production after the other, that I have done practically nothing but theatre, particularly over the past six weeks. With rehearsals six night a week for our recent production of Nunsense (which by the way, was a collaboration between the Tybee Arts Association and The Savannah Community Theatre and had a very successful three week run) has allowed me little time for anything other than to concentrate on getting the show up and ready.

Therefore; I have not had a moment to be able to respond to the Connect cover story a couple of weeks ago regarding the theatre scene in Savannah... or rather the lack thereof. Initially, I was thrilled over the fact that someone in this city opted to allow a piece on community theatre to finally garner a cover story, as well as an editorial.

But I gotta tell ya Jim, I was truly disappointed in the overall message the piece sent out to this community. I feel that your reporting of all the facts, assumptions, and the coverage of the citywide community theatre scene overall, as well as the future of theatre in this city was on the whole neither completely factual nor thorough.. and in truth did more to deter community interest and support for what so many people damn near dedicate their lives to than anything.

I was disappointed in many aspects of the Connect article and editorial, but here are some of the highlights.

First off, there was nothing even mentioned about the Tybee Arts Association. No one bothered to give us a call (even though your article came out just after the hugely successful run of Lefty the Pirate: The Legend of the Tybee Bomb, an original musical produced by local artists and actors and played to a house of nearly 700 people in one weekend alone) and a week before we opened Nunsense, again to some of the biggest crowds of any theatre in this city!

Did anyone even bother to give us a call and report about a ongoing positive aspect of community theatre here in this city?

Secondly, I was absolutely mortified that as an actor yourself, you felt it necessary to state that a $20 ticket was too high a price to pay, and that it should go back to $10 or $12. Let me first say that since the beginning of the theatre “wing” of the Tybee Arts Association began some 10 years ago, Tybee has typically always charged only a $10 or $12 cover for most shows. However, if it were not for the help and support of many of the local residents as well as the City of Tybee itself.. which has helped to supply some of the spaces we have performed in over the years (including our current Firehouse Arts Center) there is no way we could continue to do theatre with such a small ticket price.

But to quote the President of our Arts Association, Richard Adams, “We don’t do these shows to make money, we do it for the enjoyment of the community. As long as we can break even, we feel we are doing good.” The cost of royalties alone of putting on a show, especially a musical, can be close to $3,000 plus the theatre, the rent, electricity, costumes, props, advertising..,

I could go on and on. PLUS the fact that every person that is involved in putting on a show... the actors, the director, the stage manager, set builders, painters, costumer, musicians, and again the ACTORS!... have given a good part of 6 to 8 weeks of their life and time for FREE to put on a show! And you make a comment that $20 is just too much to charge for a ticket and that you think we should go back to the old $10 or $12 ticket price!? I could not believe my eyes when I read that, and I was livid.

In my opinion, many of the same people in this city that may be “on the fence” about going to a show or not may read that comment and agree, not thinking about what is involved in a live performance in so many ways. However, those same people have no problem running down to a local bar at, say City Market, on any given weekend night and drop a quick $20 on three beers without batting an eye!

Yeah, I know, theatre here in Savannah may not be Broadway, but I believe that those that comment on the quality of theatre in this city really ought to go out check out all of the productions going on throughout this city before making such an overall assessment!

I have had some of the finest comments of my 40-year history on the stage, made in regards to some of the shows we have done this year alone. Starting with the female version of The Odd Couple, which, and as a matter of fact to quote your paper in a May edition of Connect, was “one of the most successful runs of any community theatre play in recent history.”

Not that anyone from the downtown media came to see it. All of Tybee did. As a matter of fact, all of the Tybee newspapers, the businesses, as well as Tybee City Hall, all bend over backwards to help to promote and support all of our theatre efforts. Perhaps downtown Savannah could take a little lesson from Tybee in this respect?

I apologize for going on so, and I don’t mean to rag, because Connect is by far the biggest media supporter of the arts in our community and we appreciate and support you. I guess maybe we theatre folk are only asking for the same appreciation and respect.

You know. It is funny though... I do wonder why the Tybee Arts Association was overlooked when gathering info for the article on community theatre, when we have mostly and only positive things too say about all the artists and their hard work.

I say, stop looking for the dirt guys,  and instead applaud the efforts of a beautiful thing.

Renee DeRossett

Editor’s Note: Regarding coverage of Tybee shows: We published preview pieces for the Tybee Arts production of Lefty the Pirate and for this summer’s production of There Goes the Bride. Whenever we have received timely advance notice of Tybee shows we have responded with advance coverage. I don’t speak for the rest of the ‘downtown media,’ but I suspect they might respond along similar lines.