Another great reason to visit or live in Wittenberg

Miriam Nelson

Another theatrical production has come and gone, and the WOWSPACE sits empty — waiting for the next event.
It’s a lot of work to put a show together — learning the lines, blocking the scenes, finding the right costumes and props. The fact that it’s all done by volunteers, who have lives of their own to run, makes it all the more special when it all comes together.

Each show surprises me. You never really know what is going to connect with the audience. I had one person, who has been to all but one of the murder mystery shows, tell me that this last one was the funniest. I’m always surprised when I hear that, especially when I have had difficulty pulling a show together.

As the director, I’m responsible for everything that can go wrong. This last show had the opportunity for four nights with four different specialty acts. I was fortunate the first weekend when I found a singer who could play four songs each night.

The next weekend, I found four acts for the first night but needed to fill in one of the spots because someone had to work and couldn’t attend the second night. I almost filled in for another who wasn’t sure he wanted to do it again, but he saved me and, in the end, the performances all went off without a hitch.

The script called for pulling audience members from their seats and having them read aloud the passages from the fake romance novels. It’s important to know your audience and how comfortable they are with any level of participation. I hope I correctly assumed that there would be very few willing to come up on stage and do a cold reading. I made the decision to create another character and gave myself the task of reading all five selections. I think it went over well, as “ham” is my middle name.

For this show, we actually invested in a spotlight to give us some more lighting options. People forgive a lot when they come to our shows. They know the WOWSPACE is an art gallery, not a theater. Adding the portable staging units and now the spotlight, we can be a little bolder in our choices.

My favorite part of the show is right after the performance when audience members linger behind to chat with the cast. To be able to pull off two shows a year and keep the audiences coming is something the whole troupe is proud of. I love meeting the faces I’ve not seen before, to find out where they’re from and how they heard about the show.

We get a fair amount of people who have never been to Wittenberg before and know nothing else about the Walls of Wittenberg organization. It’s a real treat to play ambassador and give the reasons to keep coming back to our little “berg.”

When I first moved back home, I envisioned starting an acting troupe, but the idea didn’t catch on for a few years. It took a while to figure out if there were enough actors in the area, and then to take that leap of faith that we could fill the seats.
It takes a while for new traditions to become old ones. It takes a while for people to notice the hidden talents our area has to offer. I don’t mind. I have plenty of time to encourage people to see Wittenberg the way I see it. My glasses may be a bit rosy, but I have no trouble finding people to come share that vision.