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From Classic to Contemporary Plays, Theatre Macon Has It All

By Marina I. Jokic

Artistic Director Jim Crisp founded Theater Macon in the mid 1980s. It unwittingly grew out of the production The Miracle Worker. Crisp was transitioning from his job, and looking for other opportunities in the art world when the idea of founding his own company dawned on him.

"With the help and support of many friends and a very receptive community, our theater was born," he said. Opening night was a big success, which helped make a name for the fledgling theater.

Theatre Macon has been putting on productions for over 30 years, becoming an established and well respected organization that contributes to the wellbeing of the community.

"I love that through our work, we reach widely into our community, we have an impact on students and the schools," Crisp said.

For instance, through their Youth Actors Company (YAC), Theatre Macon teaches kids from many different walks of life, and also employs members of the community. Founded in 1988, YAC's purpose was to fill the gap in public and private schools which were lacking theater programs at the time. The program was a great way for young people to find a creative outlet for their imaginations and artistic talents. Over the years, YAC has organized everything, from classic musicals and Shakespeare to contemporary dramas. They also offer workshops and classes in auditioning, acting, and technical theater. The YAC group was the first in mid-Georgia to perform Les Miserables. Crisp said it was a pivotal moment in the theater's history.

They have helped raise over $100,000 to support the work of other nonprofits in the area, and have also partnered with visual artists to display and promote their work in their gallery. Among the theater's partners are the Macon Symphony, the Tubman African American Museum, the Hay House, the Cannonball House, and local artists and choreographers. Endeavoring to be a hub for storytelling and community building, Theatre Macon has helped cultural life to flourish in the city and to become a vital part of everyday life.

"Wherever one goes in Macon, we are known, our work is known, and we are considered an integral part of the fabric of what makes life richer and more vibrant," Crisp said.

Being a theater director for over 30 years, Crisp has had his share of ups and downs but has learned certain methods of keeping his company on top. He chooses what projects to take on based on audience interest as well as their boundaries for language and subject matter.

"However, we have a positive reputation for gently pushing at those boundaries over the years so we have the trust of our audience, and that allows us to choose some contemporary works that would not otherwise be seen here," he said. Some notable examples include Amadeus, Wit, The Laramie Project, and Terra Nova among others.

The actors at Theatre Macon are volunteers, so the subject matter Crisp chooses has to appeal to them and help build their acting skills as well. All in all, Crisp said he is excited to take on productions that push him out of his comfort zone. Currently, he is molding the 2017-18 program which will feature about six performances.

"It is a process I very much enjoy. It is this process that gives our theater an artistic vision," he said.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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