This is Pastor Tim’s article which appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, Nov 14, 2023
I am sitting backstage at the second evening of the Ditchmen, and since I have a lot of time to kill before the performance starts, I brought my computer to do some work before the curtain goes up. I am listening to the people filling in the theater; the more people show up, the louder the crowd gets. Someone just pulled out their phone and realized there are fewer than two dozen seats still open. We had a bigger presale crowd than we had on the opening week last week. To every single one of you who came out to the show, and especially to those of you who came for both weekends, thank you so much.
In this production, I am playing the part of Jay Griner. He is the one who is trying to figure out where the Ditchmen came from before the government agents find them. Being in this production has been a dream come true for me. I did some theater work back in high school and a very little bit in college. I haven’t been on a stage for something like this in over 30 years. I still had many cobwebs, but the gracious and talented cast they put me on stage with covered many of my mistakes. Thanks to the crew for getting me through.
When I came down to the theater about two months ago to try out for a part, I was trying out to be one of the Ditchmen. I wanted to put on the suit and run around doing all the funny stuff the Ditchmen were doing. Apparently, since I didn’t say no, they gave me a much bigger part. Where the Ditchmen had no lines, I had lines in almost every scene. I wanted to ease my way back into this slowly. Apparently, the Good Lord had other plans. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity to be in this production. We had the chance to make hundreds of people laugh, and laugh you did. If you have ever been on stage, you never know what crowds will laugh at. Some of the stuff the cast thought was hilarious, you didn’t laugh at at all. Other things we breezed right over in practice were the things you all threw us off laughing at.
That is the thrill and challenge of being on stage. But to be able to put this beautiful theater to work in the way it was originally built to serve has been a privilege and an honor. I will say that last week when we were gathering for makeup and reviewing scenes in the basement, there was a bat flying around. I haven’t seen the bat today. That is probably for the best because there are a lot of kids down here.
My hope is that this is the return of live theater here in this beautiful theater. I know that being on stage may not be in all of your comfort zones. But think about the person writing this article. I came down to try out to be a swamp monster and ended up with the lead in the play with a ton of lines. I went with it, and I couldn’t be happier I did. I will always be associated with the Ditchmen. Who knows, maybe that will be my claim to fame.
If there are plays in the future, give a little time to try something that maybe you have never done before. The theater will need future players to come and bring characters to life. There is no reason that you could not be one of those players. But there is one way to make sure it isn’t you: Don’t try out. Do not give it a chance to see what could happen. Any play is not just one person; it is a team effort from the cast, and that is a gratifying experience to bring a story to life, even a story as goofy as the Ditchmen.
Thank you to anyone who supported the return of the theater in any way because without this space, the Ditchmen would never have come to life. My prayer is that there will be generations of stories brought to life on this stage, and even though it has been a long time, this is the start of something new. It isn’t groundbreaking in that there have been many performances on this stage. However, the question is, will the stories continue to come to life? That depends on there being people willing to give them life.
So, what is next for the St. Mary’s Theater? Well, there is talk that Ebenezer Scrooge is coming to town Thanksgiving weekend…