Friday, June 5, 2015

A Message From Your Curator

We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane! As you undoubtedly noticed, a lot of work went into compiling this history and we couldn’t have done it without those of you who truly put the “community” in community theater! A million thanks to the following people who loaned us photos, programs, and newspaper articles from their personal collections: Jen Anderson, Shawna Asendorf, Linda Becken, Mark Benzel, Bill Brown, Linda Buller, Lisa Carlson, Susie Carlson, Lisa Collier, John Hedlund, Karen Johnson, Dick Jokumsen, Mackenzie Jones, Marilyn Mueller, Jane Oldenburg, Anna Olson, Ann Reckow, Emma Reynolds, Elle Ribbe, Cathy Sargent Hauer, Amanda Schmidt, Mike Shupe, Margaret Smith, Jill Stark, Cindy Torkelson, Barry Wojtalewicz, and Michael Wojtalewicz. Thanks also to the additional 30+ people we contacted who helped fill in our production timeline and looked through their collections for us!

Amazingly, we’re only missing 4 programs out of 64 productions! Photos have been harder to come by since some of the shows didn’t have an official cast picture. I believe there are 15 shows still in need of a photo for our collection. Because our intention is to continue this archive in both physical and digital form, we’d love for you to take a look at our list of missing items (click here) and keep it in the back of your mind in the coming months. We suspect a number of you may have these tucked away somewhere and we’d encourage you to contact us if you stumble across them in the future. We’re planning to display the pages at our upcoming summer shows so audience members can enjoy them in person, and we’d love to complete our collection by that time! We’d also like you to consider tagging friends and family in the Facebook photos that have posted, as it’s the easiest way to draw the original cast and crew back to the page so they can browse through past shows and relive those fond summers!

For those who ask why I’ve taken on such an enormous project, the reasons are both practical and nostalgic. St. James Community Theater began in 1974 and the theater board is frequently tasked with remembering when a particular production was last performed on our stage. With each year that passes, it becomes more difficult to reach into our collective memory with the answer. We decided it would be useful to future directors, and the public in general, to have a legitimate archive where you could find such details. We had originally talked about highlighting a handful of memorable productions during upcoming shows, mostly to offer a glimpse of our decades-long history. As we began looking through all these charming photos and programs, it became evident we should attempt an archive that would catalogue the program in its entirety.

Community theater matters. Sometimes we take it for granted and assume it will always be around, but in reality it takes work and calls for engagement on many levels. We need you as both actor and audience in order to continue building on this impressive legacy. St. James Community Theater has been decades in the making and we owe much gratitude to folks like Dick Jokumsen, Sandy Sunde, and Cindy Torkelson who had the vision and commitment in our earliest years to build a program that has brightened the lives of thousands of people. It is now up to us to be good stewards of St. James Community Theater and ensure that it thrives in the years to come.

-Katie Wojtalewicz

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