They weren’t wearing the make-up and costumes of their many characters. Or wearing the paint-spattered jeans of building sets. Or the sweat pants and shorts of directing or working backstage.
On Friday night, Theatre Guild Valdosta members appeared in The Dosta Playhouse as themselves, dressed in their best, to share a sincere thank you with the community that has sustained the downtown dramatic organization for a quarter of a century.
“Let’s give a hand to all those who have built Theatre Guild Valdosta,” said TGV President Brenda Brunston to ringing applause.
Brunston spoke of Theatre Guild giving her an opportunity to explore her theatrical interests years ago, to direct a play, and she noted that TGV has provided many South Georgians similar opportunities.
The roots of Theatre Guild Valdosta began in 1989, when the fledgling community theatre company presented “The Mousetrap” on Valdosta State University’s Sawyer Theatre stage. TGV faced a nomadic existence during its early years, performing shows in various locations, until finding its home at the old Dosta movie theatre in the early 1990s.
The movie house at 122 N. Ashley St. became The Dosta Playhouse, home to dozens of community-produced and performed shows during the past two decades. TGV acquired the neighboring buildings, which provided not only storage space for sets, costumes and other backstage work, but ended the practice of performers having to enter the stage through the alley.
At first, The Dosta Playhouse seated audiences on benches, in a facility with little to no air-conditioning or heating, in a place that needed a firefighter present to ensure safety. The Guild raised money to buy heating and air, refurbish the building, long ago replace the benches with seats, etc.
On Friday evening, Guild members greeted visitors in the comfort of The Dosta Playhouse. Visitors could tour the building and see what it looks like backstage, or in the green room where actors await their cues, or the old movie balcony which serves as The Dosta’s light and sound area.
Visitors could also learn how to become Theatre Guild Valdosta volunteers from being ushers to building sets and more, through a new program.
Joanne Griner has been with Theatre Guild Valdosta since its start. Standing on the stage where she has portrayed so many characters, she spoke of the city’s graciousness in supporting TGV, of the community spirit that brings it to life with shows such as the upcoming “9 to 5: The Musical” opening on Aug. 1.
“This is a most giving community,” Griner said. “... All you have to do is ask.”
To learn more about Theatre Guild Valdosta and its 25th anniversary season, visit theatreguildvaldosta.com