Sandy Staggs, Artistic Director, Proud Mary Theatre Company

    by Sandy Staggs, Artistic Director, Proud Mary Theatre Company

    The Curtains Up Coalition is a group of Upstate community theater artists creating innovative ways to keep curtains up and audiences inspired. During this challenging time when theater doors remain closed, Curtains Up will produce virtual theatrical content and be a unified front for theater advocacy and fundraising.

    “Community theaters are completely shut down during this crazy time. We can’t entertain, engage, inspire, give back, employ artists, or fuel our economy like we normally do—so Curtains Up is here to find innovative ways to inspire, create, and advocate,” says Noah Taylor, Artistic Director of The Market Theatre Company in Anderson, who co-founded the Coalition with Ryan Hewitt, Artistic Director of Greenwood Community Theatre.

    Six other organizations, including Foothills Playhouse (Easley), Clemson Little Theatre (Pendleton), Proud Mary Theatre Company (Spartanburg), Mill Town Players (Pelzer), Wild Hare Productions (Greenwood), Greer Cultural Center Arts Council (Greer) and more, have unified to demonstrate the impact and importance of the arts to the community.

    The coalition will offer cross-promotion of official Curtains Up events every Wednesday night with spotlights on individual theaters—including donation links for the theater in the spotlight—and multi-theater events such as “Curtains Up Cabaret” on June 10.

    Recently, Wild Hare Productions presented an original musical play, Starfish Island, and Proud Mary Theatre Company unveiled their 2020–21 season with musical selections from future shows.

    “Proud Mary Theatre is thrilled to be part of this unified presence, especially as a young theatre just in our third season” said Sandy Staggs, Artistic Director of Proud Mary Theatre Company, which also produces readings of new plays every other Tuesday on the company’s Facebook page, such as White Picket Wives, Blue Camp, The Little Pony and the upcoming murder mystery The Vultures.

    On Wednesday, May 27, The Market Theatre Company took the spotlight with highlights from three of their musicals which have been postponed due to COVID-19. For the first time, the public will see cast members in action singing songs from Matilda, Mamma Mia!, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

    Hewitt describes the alliance as a way for Upstate community theaters to support each other, have a unified presence for advocating and fundraising, as well as a shared approach to creating unique virtual content for these unprecedented times. Starting now, during this challenging time when theater doors remain closed, Curtains Up will produce virtual theatrical content and be a unified front for theater advocacy and fundraising.

    The vision of the Coalition is “Envisioning the future of community arts (theatre) planning to include best practices regarding the health and wellness of our communities while continuing to deliver excellent theatrical content to our supporters. Curtains Up Coalition focuses on collaborative efforts among community theatres by ensuring that the arts, arts organizations, and local artists feel continuing support via the creation of alternative performance and fundraising platforms. These unique and innovative opportunities will help support community theatres to be able to operate regardless of unforeseen blocks to live performance delivery. At the heart of this effort is a desire to explore how community theatres can come together and work in harmony and collaboratively to enhance future operations and programming for community theatres in our region, and thereby preserving both the integrity and importance of the arts for community enrichment.”

    “We know that this moment won’t last forever. These plans aim to help community theaters during quarantine and isolation,” said Hewitt. “After this pandemic, the mission of the alliance will remain the same, but specific plans and programs will be reevaluated.”

    For more information about the Curtains Up Coalition, visit their Facebook page.