Props for Theater!

Community theaters offer opportunities for students


Sophie Jordan

From volunteering backstage, auditioning, or just visiting, the theater community welcomes everyone.

Callie Wittmann, Reporter

“[A person] get[s] to become closer with the people that are around [them]…get[s] to like find new perspectives and make[s] friends with really talented actors who do this for a living and [they] get to learn from them,” said Nora James Eiker (‘22) on her community theater experience.

Memphis community theaters are more than just good entertainment. They provide teachers, friends, mentors, and family to hundreds of performers and crew personnel across the various venues. Memphis has an incredible local theater scene, ranging from Theatre Memphis to Playhouse on the Square. This year these locations, which put on year-round performances, will feature plays like “Mary Poppins,” “Macbeth,” “Wizard of Oz,” “Once on This Island” and ”Be More Chill.”  

St. Mary’s community members who have participated in community theater have found it a meaningful experience. 

Eikner auditioned for a 2019 production of “Matilda” at Playhouse on the Square to make friends and learn from more seasoned acting veterans.

“I had the best experience,” said Eikner. “I got to make friends with some of these really talented little kids, and I also was very inexperienced with professional theater, so that was really cool for me to be able to [do it].”

Later this year Eliza Lawhead (10) will be competing at Junior Theater Festival, a competition for children’s theater in Atlanta, with the show “Once on This Island.” 

“The benefit of being part of like a community theater…is being able to meet a bunch of new people, not just like within your school,” said Lawhead. “[You] can branch out.”

However, you may not get cast your first time. But, according to Fifi Younker (12), that’s no reason to get dejected.

 “[You may get] a lot of no’s– that’s just a given. Take those no’s as another opportunity for working harder on the next project you want to take on,” said Younker. “Audition until you finally find the right show for you.”

Nathan McHenry, St. Mary’s band director and middle school choir director, also works as a resident company member at Playhouse along with his wife and about 8-10 other company members. McHenry encourages anyone interested in community theater to get involved.

“We always need volunteers for anybody [who] likes helping out backstage,” McHenry said.

Younker also wants people to know the theater world is available to anyone in many different ways; from acting to ushering to helping backstage, volunteering and auditioning is not only wanted but needed to keep these Memphis-based organizations going. 

“This community is just so incredibly close,” said Younker. “Whenever we are able to get back together … it just feels like family.” For information about joining the theater community in whatever area, visit the Playhouse on the Square website, Theater Memphis website, or your local community theater.