Proud Family Ties

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

There are all types of families, more today than ever before, and they all have names. However, I am not talking about “blended” ones or anything like that. As a matter of fact, the family I want to tell you about has no parents or stepparents at all. No one shares the same blood, or the same name or the same house, and no one looks alike. This family has only become unified after eight weeks because they share the same passion. I’m talking about the community theater family.

Just ask anyone who has ever been in a local play, and they will tell you how much their theater family means to them. There’s a bond that is like no other. Oh sure you sometimes hear about cattiness and jealousy among players, but that is not as common as you might think. There will always be those who want to be the star, but most thespians know that you must rely on each other and cover each other on stage when necessary. After all, someone is bound to forget a line here and there, and the person on stage with them at the time must know his own lines and the lines of his or her stage-mate (a word I just made up!) in order to get through the scene. And when that happens, you will adore that person for the rest of your life.

This theater family spends eight weeks together volunteering their time to make an audience laugh, cry, or to think in a different way than when they first came into the theater, most after working all day at their “real” job. The players team up together to perfect the script, the dialogue, the blocking and the music and to give life to the work in the way it was intended by the playwright. By the time the show opens everyone is thoroughly exhausted but on opening night, and night after night of the show’s run, the adrenaline flows, and the cast is flying high as the audience rises to their feet.

Yes, that is why we do it. That is why the theater family is so special. It is surely all about art. It is also about love and passion for the stage, but it is also about applause, knowing that somehow we took those folks away from their troubles and worries for just a few hours. We brought them to another place and time. We brought them joy.

And when the show comes to an end, it’s very sad parting with those we have come to grow so close to through this maze of performance. But you can count on one thing. No matter how many years may pass before you bump into one of the cast again, you may not recall their real name, but will probably remember their character name, and you’ll be flooded with the fond memories of what you created together many years before just like it was yesterday.

That’s what is happening right now with the cast and crew of Mama Mia at the Theatre of the Republic in Conway, better known as TOR, running October 11 through October 29. We have become a family, a tight knit group of hams eager to brighten the lives of those who choose to come to see the show, raising money for this non-profit theater company to help support the efforts of the next show, and the next one after that.

Yes, the theater family is very special, and my husband and I are so grateful and proud to be a part of this very talented, dedicated family since 1988. Some of my proudest moments revolve around stage work. Every now and then we get this strong urge to do another show, but the older we get, there are fewer parts for folks our age, and it’s harder to memorize the lines. We hope to be able to do this the rest of our lives, but only time will tell. We’re very fortunate to have landed parts in Mama Mia because for us it’s not about the curtain call, but rather the call to the curtain.

About this writer

  • Diane DeVaughn Stokes

    Diane DeVaughn Stokes

    Diane is the host and producer for “Inside Out” as seen on HTC TV Channel 4, and serves as a commercial spokesperson for several local businesses. She and her husband Chuck own Stages Video productions in Myrtle Beach and share passions for food, theater, travel and scuba diving.

    They own three four legged kids that they adore!

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One Response to “Proud Family Ties”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Dianne, I can feel the vitality in your story. I was “on stage” as a pre K teacher for almost 40 years.
    Acting gets in your blood. Great story.

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