Need a little more drama in your life? Community theater thrives in Charles County, thanks to supportive audiences and a group of residents who really know how to get in on the act.
“We have the Port Tobacco Players, the Hard Bargain Players and the Black Box Theatre in Indian Head,” says Lynn Thorne, an author, actress and owner of Lollipop Copy, a boutique copywriting firm. “All three are largely dependent on the community because if we don’t have people in the seats, we don’t have a reason to perform.”
Growing Up with Theatre
Thorne grew up acting in northern Virginia and Charles County, then worked with the Washington Post reviewing community theater in the area. But she soon realized she found performing more rewarding than writing about it and is back on stage.
“Having grown up in a theater family, it’s amazing to me how supportive this community is of local theater,” she says. “Black Box sells out shows on a regular basis, which is almost unheard of in community theater.”
Black Box Theatre
The Black Box Theatre at The Indian Head Center for the Arts is “an incubator for artists in the Charles County area,” says executive director Season Price. “We do music, theater, open mic – overall we help artists put their work on stage. We have playwrights, directors, producers and artists come to us and rent our space. The artists set up everything and we facilitate with the space, giving them a venue to perform.”
With no set calendar or in-house theater company, the Black Box is a blank slate for artists looking to do their own thing.
“We’re very artist-friendly,” Price says. “There’s not one area of art we won’t entertain. We really believe in helping the artist out because we know how hard it can be to find a space to perform. We make it work.”
Port Tobacco Players
The Port Tobacco Players, a more traditional theater company with a seasonal schedule in La Plata, and the Hard Bargain Players, who perform their shows rain or shine at an outdoor amphitheater in Accokeek, add to the mix.
“The people in Charles County are not expecting to see the kind of theater they see in D.C. in their own backyard, but they’re very often pleasantly surprised,” Thorne says.
Charles County Arts Alliance
In addition to audiences, another strong form of support for local artists is the Charles County Arts Alliance, which was formed in 1987.
“It’s an umbrella for all the non-profit arts agencies in the area,” says past president and founding father Robert Rausch. “We strengthen the arts and help promote them through our weekly newsletter and weekly newsflash that gives out venues and times for various arts activities in the area. We also give grant funding to those entities and other arts groups to help support their fiscal year.”
From music and visual arts to dance and literary arts, the Arts Alliance not only promotes entities individually, but encourages working together.
“One of the gratifying things for me over the years has been to watch the different areas of art working together and supporting each other,” Rausch says. “We encourage the overlap of the arts. And, it’s working.”
Whether you’re ready to take to the stage or stay behind the scenes, there’s a place for everyone in Charles County community theater.
“Get involved in any capacity,” Thorne says. “You just have to find your niche.”
Read more about the arts in La Plata, MD.