Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

February 28, 2014

Barren offers plenty to do, for cheap

GLASGOW — There’s nothing to do around here. It’s a familiar refrain in towns the size of Glasgow, but it’s really not true here. I’ve been to several events locally where I was saddened by the number of empty seats, and I’m talking about even free or relatively inexpensive events.

They usually have to be in one of those two price categories to fit my budget, so I try to take advantage of them when I can.

For starters, the Glasgow Community Band presents a free concert on the square a couple of weeks or so before Independence Day, when another free concert is traditionally performed by a regional symphony orchestra from Nashville or Louisville. The community band also provides a free holiday concert at Christmastime at the Plaza Theatre.

One rough estimate puts the attendance for the December concert at 180 to 200. The Plaza Theatre seats 1,000 people. That’s a lot of empty seats.

In the 14 months I’ve been back in Glasgow, I’ve seen the Glasgow Community Band contribute its talents to several events, such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs. Its members always do a terrific job, and their patriotic tunes are usually still playing in my mind for a good while after I leave.

Speaking of the Plaza Theatre, it keeps a pretty full and varied itinerary of events these days – ranging from its Popcorn and a Movie series, which offers a film for $2 and popcorn for $1, to bigger-name concerts like a recent one with Travis Tritt.

The ceilidh, or Scottish concert, that kicks off the Glasgow Highland Games is free and – at least last year – the music ranged from serene folk to all-out Celtic rock. It was a sampling of the performers who would be at the games for the rest of the weekend, and it was awesome.

Although there weren’t as many open seats as I’ve seen at some other events, for a free concert featuring music that most aren’t able to hear any old day, there were still too many empty seats for my liking, because I think it should be packed.

One of the things I love to do is attend live plays. Broadway’s not in my budget, but the Far Off Broadway Players, thankfully, usually are, so I believe vacant seats for this local organization’s productions should total, well, none.

Ticket prices for the performances at the Plaza are typically around $10 to $15, with the occasional dinner theatre like the one coming this spring – “Fox on the Fairway” – being more, but with a meal included.

I’ve enjoyed each of the several FOBP productions I’ve seen them perform (since before moving back to Glasgow to work at the Daily Times), with most them being comedies. Who can’t use more laughs in the their lives? Right?

Last autumn, I happened to see one of the longtime actors with the group and mentioned that I had rearranged my schedule to make sure I could attend the most recent play because it seemed they had gotten fewer and farther between. The reply was that they may get even fewer and farther between if community support doesn’t increase.

In a subsequent conversation with the same person, I learned that community theater existed in Glasgow in the 1950s and was brought back in the 1980s as Far Off Broadway Players.The performances were at the old Liberty Street school, which had a maximum capacity of 100. It lasted three or four years and went dormant again, but it was revived in 2006.

Membership in the organization, which is open to anyone wishing to support it, not just actors, stagehands and such, averages 40 to 50. But as with all organizations, there are members and then there are active members – a core group of about 25 who do most of what’s needed, I learned.

Plenty of work is needed, because plays don’t just magically appear on a stage; they require a lot of time and effort.

The group has never asked for subscribers or sponsors; it has tried to remain self-sustaining.

FOBP, like the Glasgow Community Band, is all-volunteer, so it has no personnel costs. But it does have monthly storage costs, it also has to purchase the rights to perform each play and it has to pay rent at the Plaza or wherever else the production is staged, not to mention the cost of sets and props. Its only means of income are the meager membership dues and the proceeds from ticket sales, and those have dwindled over the years, with more than half the theater empty. The number of plays has begun to dwindle was well. Two are scheduled for this year; besides the dinner theater May 23-24 at the Cave City Convention Center, “Driving Miss Daisy” is slated for November at the Plaza.

And it’s not just about the money. They need that audience response and interaction, and when they don’t have a sufficient amount, it causes the director, cast and crew to wonder whether the community is really committed to having them here.

“We love what we do, we really do, but we’d also like to believe we’re giving people something they want,” said the longtime actor with whom I spoke, Charley Goodman.

I, for one, want what they have to share, and I would really hate to lose the option of having these performances here, especially after we’ve already lost Kentucky Repertory Theatre.

Whether it’s the Glasgow Community Band, FOBP, taking a class offered through community education or any number of other entertainment and activity options – not just arts-related – there are lots of things to do if you look around, check the calendar listings and, just perhaps, open your mind to the possibility of enjoying a new experience.

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