The Springer Opera House has had a great month so far.
It recently announced a partnership with Columbus State University called the Georgia Repertory Theatre, which will merge the missions of both entities and help students translate their fine arts education into professional experience and relevant jobs out of college. Considering how difficult it is for theater graduates to find sustainable employment in the field (I would know!), this is an exciting opportunity for these kids.
Then on Thursday, the Springer announced its 2016-2017 season. Facebook comments under the announcement were extremely positive and included, "I can't wait for all of them. I will be going broke next season."
I agree that the lineup is fantastic. I think I'm most excited for "Sister Act" on the mainstage and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" in the Children's Theatre season.
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Oh, and "Ace: The Eugene Bullard Story" in the Studio Series. To be transparent, I am the playwright of "Ace" and am thrilled to help bring this Columbus native's story to the stage.
The Springer has been around a long, long time. In fact, today marks the 145th anniversary of its very first opening to the public.
I remember my first Springer encounter. My family had just moved to Columbus and my folks got me a session at the Springer Theatre Academy. Those couple of weeks served as my welcome to the city. I made friends that I'm still connected with to this day. My summers thereafter were filled with memorable academy days. I acted in a couple of shows. In fact, so did my dad, somehow, while working full time as a surgeon. What can I say? The place had an undeniably addictive quality. We clearly weren't the first to notice that.
One summer, the academy took our class way up in the lighting box and told us that in segregation time those few benches, untouched over the years, were where black people would sit during the shows.
I was astonished. Here I was, a black girl, enjoying the Springer to the fullest. In another time, I could have been relegated to one of those balcony seats. How much had changed in the world beyond that stage since it first opened its curtains to an audience?
That is the amazing history of the place: It has not only stood the test of time, but it has also transformed in profound ways over the past 145 years.
I think it is the wisdom to take worthy risks that I admire most about the Springer Opera House. It is one thing to amend the status quo when the results aren't so good. But to make a change when things are going fine takes vision, courage and faith.
This is what the Springer is doing today as evidenced by the Georgia Repertory Theater, the featuring of new work and challenging plays in their upcoming season, and even the recent baton-pass to Sally Baker, current and highly capable Academy Director.
Bravo and happy birthday, Springer Opera House. You're still looking so young.
-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org