A Home They Call Their Own
Story by Clifford Hart
Photos by Daniel Region
“Let’s put on a show!” Those words—or at least the general idea of them—have been spoken throughout the millennia whenever an idea was born that was deemed worthy of sharing with other people.
And from Euripides to Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams to today, sharing that idea through a performance to an audience has usually meant a considerable amount of hard work. Getting the story down is the first essential ingredient, of course, but then there is figuring out how best to tell that story, and then there is the ultimate challenge: figuring how and where to perform it.
The “where” of that question is possibly one of the most overlooked aspects of theater production, perhaps because it is assumed that if you have a good story, and you have people and props to tell it, everything else will fall into place. Sure, the Greeks and Romans had their amphitheaters, the Elizabethans their Globe, and God knows we have countless theaters to pick from on and off Broadway and in a myriad other cities and towns throughout the world.
But what about when you want to put on a show in the hinterlands? That was the gnawing question that faced the founders of the Ghent Playhouse in Ghent, a small town just north of the geographical center of rural Columbia County. Those founders, then known as the Columbia Civic Players, were a group not dissimilar to other theatrically minded people scattered in less-populated regions across the globe—they had a great story to tell, but nowhere to tell it.
For years these nomadic Columbia Civic Players just looked for a roof and walls that could accommodate their needs on a short-term basis—a restaurant here, an abandoned tennis club there, various schools and office spaces—but it wasn’t until 1987 that their dream for a real home came true.
That year, the Ghent Town Board voted to move to larger quarters and agreed to rent out its building, a historic 1894 meeting house, to the CC Players at a very favorable price with an option to buy the building down the road. This they were able to accomplish in 2001, and since then the organization has been formally known as the Ghent Playhouse, Inc.
At last in a home they could call their own, the Ghent Playhouse was able to spend more time on the stuff that mattered most—namely, putting on great plays. They have done this with abandon, staging a panoply of shows that exhibit not only an appreciation for well-written theater but also for a highly varied repertoire. In the past year alone, the Ghent Playhouse has been home to such diverse theatrical offerings as The Weir by Conor McPherson, known for its ghostly passages, and the hilarious romp that is Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti.
And the best news is that the Ghent Playhouse has recently undergone a sizable renovation, with more comfortable seating and new lighting and sound systems, meaning their loyal fans—and anyone else who has a yen for a great evening of theater—can venture to the beautiful town of Ghent and catch one of the five major theater productions the group puts on every year.
For more information on the Ghent Playhouse’s current season and to purchase tickets, visit www.ghentplayhouse.org or call 1.800.838.3006.