At the end of today's post, you'll see the year-end letter that the Players sent out back in October. I have been thinking about it a lot these past weeks because it is always a struggle to write. It's purpose? Ostensibly to remind friends and patrons to make a donation to our organization this calendar year, but I always want it to do more than that. I want people to step outside the box of thinking of the Hamilton Players as just a community theater, because "just" is word that has no place there. The Hamilton Players is so much to so many...but how do you explain that in one single, simple page?
Of course we put on plays and musicals; that is a prime part of our mission statement. But it is the why we put on plays and musicals that people seem to miss. Our mission statement reads, "Hamilton Players: Putting the spotlight on education, inspiration, and community through the performing arts." Education. Inspiration. And Community. That is the true core of the Hamilton Players. We love plays. And we love to put on plays, but it is the why we love it that makes it so important. And that why is confidence, self-esteem, empathy, beauty, friendship, fun, laughter, joy...if there is a positive adjective out there, you can apply it here. That's why we do it. And why it's so important that we keep doing it.
I have had parents and grandparents come to me and tell me how the Hamilton Players made a life saving difference for their loved ones: depressed /sad children finding skills to bolster their self-esteem, bullied children finding a haven of acceptance, lonely children making friends and finding mentors. I have seen the Players community come together to help a struggling family with food. I have seen new friendships grow into life-long relationships; romances that blossomed into dedicated partnerships, and I have seen Hamilton Players mourn together, cry together, and support each other through the darkest times life can offer. We laugh together and cry together.
I have received letters, like the one below, that thank and credit the Players with helping children grow and mature.
Dear Hamilton Players,
Today I had the great joy of accompanying my daughter to a school function. Normally she doesn't like to go to these things but was insistent that today we go. So of course I jumped at the chance to take her. Once inside I was met by one of her teachers who pulled me aside and wanted to tell me how much M had changed over the course of the year. They couldn't believe how this once painfully shy girl could have bloomed into this talkative, confident young girl. One of her other teachers then joined our conversation and told us that she had seen M in her play and how blown away she was by the fact that M was not only standing up on that stage, but was really good at what she was doing.
I wanted to take a moment to share this story with you because as a parent hearing such things is so wonderful that you want to share them with them people who helped make them possible. M auditioned for a play at the Playhouse two years ago and had trouble standing on the stage, but DR cast her in the chorus. This year she auditioned for another play, and stood up on that stage without any fear and was cast in one of the lead roles. I am very confident when I say that had she not been given the chance to stand up on the stage two years ago, she never would have auditioned for another play, or had the confidence she does now in her classroom.
Thank you! You provide an invaluable service to the community.
I distinctly remember that incident and have had the pleasure of working with her several times since. That day, she tried to perform her audition 3 times! 3 times she asked to go up onstage and try and 3 times she froze in tearful misery, unable to vocalize. There were few dry eyes in the audience as she struggled and failed to master her shyness. Bravery like that cannot go unrewarded, so we cast her in a chorus role so that she could be surrounded in performance and not feel the spotlight quite so keenly. She was able to perform surrounded by new friends and was a delight to have backstage. A mere two years later, she auditioned and earned the only child's role - a featured cast member - in an acclaimed production of Clare Booth Luce's The Women. When I see her in the community now, I see only a confident and beautiful young woman and I am so proud and moved to have been a part of her life.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these stories that come from the Playhouse: people of all ages who's lives have been touched and bettered by their participation with the Players. Not all of the stories are as dramatic or publicly awe-inspiring as rescuing a child or feeding a starving family, but for every person - man, woman, or child - who holds their head a little higher, or sees new beauty, or empathizes a little more because of their participation here; it makes our community better, stronger, brighter, and more successful. And that, my friends, is the magic of community theater. And isn't that worth fighting for?
Dear Friend of the Hamilton Players,
What if a community had a place that allowed people of all ages and walks of life to come together for a shared experience? A place that fostered an appreciation of diversity and beauty; a place that allowed people to put aside their differences and be a part of something larger than themselves: a place where everyone uses their strengths AND weaknesses to achieve something magical? The Hamilton Playhouse is that place.
The Hamilton Players are getting ready to celebrate their 20th Anniversary at the Hamilton Playhouse (1996-2016). Like all businesses, the recession hit the Players hard: ticket sales went down, donations decreased, and sponsors were increasingly difficult to find. But the Players persevered and so did you. Together we kept the magic of community theater alive in the Bitterroot Valley. And as the Players enter their 20th Anniversary Season, I ask you to continue your amazing support. Your tax deductible donation makes it possible to continue amazing artistic programming, offer special events, provide educational opportunities, and much, much more!
The Hamilton Playhouse is more than just a theater; it is a place where community comes together to make magic and memories…and when all is said and done, its success rests squarely in your hands. Please help keep that magic alive by remembering the Hamilton Players in your end of year giving.