Views expressed in letters to the editor do not represent opinions of The Gazette-Virginian or staff members.
To the editor:
Hi there, I help with marketing at The Prizery and am fairly new working with them. I’m going to get a little long winded here but please bear with me because I think it’s very important we all support The Prizery even if we don’t agree.
In the past, I have helped Chris Jones make show logos for Summer Theatre, but started getting more involved in 2021. I have a visual/commercial arts background and I am learning a lot about theatre and events from The Prizery.
Summer Theatre is just one of the many, many things The Prizery does and while you may not see them on stage there are several local talented people working hard at all hours behind the scenes, myself included. Summer Stock actually is an industry theatre term meant to showcase traveling professional actors in the summer months. It happens all over our country. You can read more about that here: https://www.britannica.com/art/summer-theatre. Locally, we take a little bit of a different approach. We showcase young professional actors at the beginning of their careers, some that do go on to careers on Broadway and other well-known areas. Our town gets to be the first of many resume builders for these up-and-coming artists. We get to make memories with them that will last a lifetime and hopefully inspire more local talent, which also makes our summer camps this year so important.
The actors will be teaching most of our camps, which gives our local kids the opportunity to learn from professional artists. I can speak from personal experience that a profession in any art is a labor of love and it all starts with inspiration at an early age. You may think I sound like I’m selling something here, of course I am, but I hope you can see it’s all for the love of art and our town.
I had the opportunity to volunteer to cover the box office last week and was one of the first people to meet the actors on day one at The Prizery. Some didn’t get into town until 3 a.m., but they were all there and rehearsing for Xanadu until about 8 p.m. that night with Melanie, the executive director and Mark, the music director. They only have about two weeks (less now) until the show opens and camps start towards the second week of Xanadu. This year requires roller skating, dancing and singing on top of memorizing lines and places. Oh, and also making lesson plans for classes, learning two children’s musicals, and being bugged by me and others for interviews, party appearances and other marketing bits throughout the day and evening. Summer Theatre here as it is right now isn’t something you can do as a side job. This is the actors’ lives and careers going forward. This is a labor of love for art and they are sharing it with our town.
It’s important to point out that The Prizery is a performing and visual arts venue. Venue being the keyword here. They showcase concerts like The Danville Symphony, Steinway pianists and Lynchburg’s Opera on the James. Throughout the year there have been local bands, local plays and musicals with the amazing Halifax Little Theatre. Recently, The Prizery had its first film premiere for a wonderful local woman filmmaker. It has gallery shows for artists all over Virginia and North Carolina. The Prizery is also rental space for many local and out-of-town weddings, receptions and other private events. The building itself is a historical landmark and is a part of South Boston’s tobacco heritage. So you can see it’s an important place in our town, not only for the theater but also for what we can teach kids and adults alike about all of the arts. The Prizery is a place for everyone. If you don’t agree I encourage you to get involved. We can certainly use all of your heart.