07 March 2011

Audrey’s WATCH Award Speech

The WATCH awards were held last night at the the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria.  It was, as always, a very fun evening and I got lots of compliments on my dress*.  Any evening spent with 500 theater people and a bar is going to be a good evening.  I mean, really, how bad could that be?

The ceremony went well and the winners were pleased and the nominees who did not win were gracious (at least in my hearing) and the wait staff was busy bringing more drinks.  As I say, about as usual.

Because I am standing on the stage for the whole thing, I generally don't applaud for winners or speeches.  I smile.  I smile at the top of the evening and I smile all the way through.**  My friend, Chuck, one year complimented me at the end of the evening on how I was still smiling.  "Oh, am I smiling?  How nice."  :-D

But the evening took a memorable turn when my friend, Audrey, won for Featured Actress in a Play.  I was pleased for her for more than one reason:  She's a damn fine actress and she's been through a really rough time.  Taking home a piece of lucite won't make the last year any easier, but I'm very glad she got it.

And when she gave her acceptance speech, which like everything that Audrey writes was honest and funny and smart and likely to give me a lump in my throat,  Audrey accepted her award by giving a tribute to community theater which not only put that lump there but made me teary-eyed as well.  In those few words, she summed up exactly how I feel about this hobby of ours and how I feel about the friends I've made doing it.

So I asked her if I could post it here.  And tough, kind, generous Audrey said of course I could.

Congratulations, Honey!  And no fair making me cry in public.

Thank yo­­­u for this recognition. Thank you to my talented cast an­d crew, our designers and technicians, and mostly, our fearless director Chris Curtis for giving me the opportunity.

I just need to take a minute here, because this isn’t about me… it’s about us.

A few years ago, my play Fin and Euba premiered in a local one-­act festival. It was later published in an anthology called Best American Short Plays. I used to think that kind of thing only happened to folks like Edward Albee. But sometimes I actually call myself a playwright. And I have community theater to thank for that.

Last year, while I was performing in the show Rabbit Hole, for which I was nominated for tonight, my husband, who has been battling kidney failure for years, went into the hospital and stayed there quite sick for 5 months. He lost his job. And our house went into foreclosure. But I was not alone. Bridget Muehlberger and Erika Imhoof said, “it’s not going down like this.” They, along with every single cast and crew member of Rabbit Hole, along with many, many other volunteers, produced a yard sale and fund­raising effort that saved my house… and my life. I wouldn’t have a home right now if it weren’t for community theater.

Take a minute and look around at your table. Chances are there’s someone in front of you or beside you, who knows your favorite show tune or your mother’s maiden name or where the bodies are buried. Someone you cannot imagine living without… someone you never would have met, or had the chance to love, if it weren’t for community theater.

Community theater is a lot more than just a few crazy actors and techies who stage plays and throw cast parties, admittedly, really great cast parties. No.

Community theater is what we choose to do instead.

Because, let’s face it. It’s cheaper than therapy. More fun than prime time television. And probably more rewarding than that night class at the annex. It’s a home. Community theater, is a really great… warm… life-­giving home.

Thank you.

*That cost $32.  The only thing better than a sale is a clearance sale.  Thank you, Lord and Taylor's!

**One of the reasons why I wear flats. It's much easier to smile if your feet don't hurt.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Read thru tears

Karen said...

I would expect no less from Audrey and yet am still overwhelm! thanks so much for sharing this, Leta.

Maureen said...

I can see why it made you teary-eyed. I don't even know her and I'm a bit misty now. Beautiful!