Johnny Simons' professional theatre career included work as a playwright, stage director, choreographer, and teacher, as well as performance work as an actor, mime, and dancer. In 1977, he co-founded the Hip Pocket Theatre with his wife Diane, and composing partner Douglas Balentine. The company remains a thriving ensemble theatre and internationally-recognized for its uniquely original work (many written by Simons), as well as playwrights and international theatre works rarely produced in the region.
Johnny Simons has been a playwright-in-residence and his plays were produced by the Edinburgh, Scotland Fringe Festival, London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, Alley Theatre, Kimbell Art Museum, Casa Mañana, Dallas Museum of Art, New Orlean's Le Petit Theatre, Duke University, and numerous other companies across the United States.
"My work is about plumbing - Plumbing the depths of thought and memory. That's about it."
Horton Foote (March 14, 1916 - March 4, 2009) was born in Wharton, Texas. Foote left the Cotton fields of his native Wharton as a teenager, dreaming of becoming an actor. But realizing his gifts as a storyteller, he embarked on a writing career that spanned more than half a century and earned him two Academy Awards ("To Kill A Mockingbird" and "Tender Mercies") and a Pulitzer Prize for "The Young Man from Atlanta."
The stories and lives of the people Foote loved in Texas became the bedrock for many of his plays, with the fictional Harrison, Texas, standing in for Wharton. "I picked a difficult subject, a little lost Texas town no one's ever heard of or cares about," Foote told The New York Times in 1995. "But I'm at the mercy of what I write. The subject matter has taken me over."
Foote's plays were produced on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and at many regional theatres.
In 1996, Foote was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. In 2000, Foote was honored with the PEN/ Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a Master American Dramatist.
Stage West, founded in 1979, has a long history of supporting new plays and original works. Not only has it been the home to several world premieres on the main stage, Stage West also produces two well established playwriting festivals that encourage and support the creation of new works.
"Well before my time with Stage West, the theatre embraced new plays, producing several world premieres. Nearly a decade ago and thanks to two specific grants from the Arts Council, Stage West was able to create The Neighborhood Play Contest / Festival of the Kid and the Southwest Playwriting Competition/New Play Readings Festival. These annual events give playwrights and theatre artists of all ages a chance to create new work and/or to be a part of the creation process as actors, directors and designers. It is our hope that the Arts Council and other institutions supporting the arts will continue to recognize the importance of programs such as these. Strong support of the arts in general leads to healthier, thriving cities that are attractive to young professionals and their families. A firm investment in the arts (as well as in education) are vital to our community. All of us at Stage West are humbled by being selected as the 2016 inductee for the Texas Playwriting Hall of Fame. It is a true honor." - Dana Schultes, Executive Producer
Mary Lou Cassidy was bitten by the theatre bug in third grade and has never gotten over it! In 1989 she was the driving force behind the McLaren Memorial Comedy Play Writing Competition - in honor of local radio personality and dear friend Mike McLaren. While Mike bemoaned the lack of comedic work for community theatres to produce, Mary Lou has never met a playwright she wouldn't champion. For the past 25 years, Mary has cajoled, bribed, and romanced playwrights from all across the country to enter the competition and most of all - to keep writing. The McLaren Competition and Festival has spotlighted hundreds of scripts, fostered new directors and actors at MCT and provided insight into new works for audiences.
Mary Lou has seen the McLaren Competition grow from dozens of submissions in the first year and a handful of readers to hundreds of submissions in the late-90's and a handful of readers to 50 submissions... and a handful of readers. Other Chairmen have stepped into her shoes and shared their vision for the future, but Mary Lou remains a cornerstone of the program.
DeAnna Hargrove has served Texas Nonprofit Theatres and its constituents in numerous ways over an extended period of time. In the past fifteen years she served as the Quad II Chairman for TNT, became a TNT Board member in 2011 and is now serving her second term which runs through 2019. She has been a reader for the TNT POPS! New Play Project and then led Tyler Civic Theatre to become the producer of POPS! winning plays. 2016 will mark DeAnna's third cycle with the POPS! project. Of particular note, she facilitated hosting the 2012 TNT Annual Conference at Tyler Civic Theatre in 2012, a mammoth undertaking that included an outdoor picnic in the Tyler Rose Garden, home hosted dinners for the attendees, workshops in the theatres, and a gala awards dinner on the large stage. She is active on TNT board committees and will be serving on the Issues Panel for the Workshops at the upcoming TNT Annual Conference and Fort Worth Fringe Fest in Fort Worth. She has also encouraged and supported the involvement of Tyler's young people with TNT through the TNT Ambassadors program, bringing a number of students Lewisville to assist staff during the Texas AACTFest, and supporting the Knight of the Round Theatre in their development as a performing company at the annual TNT Youth Conference.
Georgie and Mackey Skinner have been among the most active and hard-working members of the Baytown Little Theater for at least fourty-five years. While both have appeared a few times on stage, and Mackey has directed numerous shows himself, where both Mackey and Georgie have made the most sacrificial investments as valuable resources were behind the scenes, collecting, sorting, and making costumes (Georgie), tirelessly overseeing the construction of sets and the organizing of materials and props. Over the past nine years, BLT has been in transition, moving from its home of forty-six years, to a "temporary" (seven years) theatre facility, to a shared college facility, and now to the newly-built permanent facility. Mackey has served on the planning committee, and Georgie has provided her input and encouragement not to "forget the techies" as the BLT planned for the future. Their diligent work, support, and involvement have earned them their "Honorary Lifetime Members" status several times over.
"Thank you for honoring us with the TNT Dynamite Award. It takes a “family” of volunteers to pull together every aspect of each community theater production. We have worn many, many different hats over the years at the Baytown Little Theater and have been blessed to have been a part of multiple theater “families”. Our lives have been enriched for the privilege.
Since 2012, David has served as Director of the Corsicana Children's Company (CCC) in association with the Warehouse Theatre of Corsicana. Prior to his accepting the position, the Children's Company was a suffering organization with little or no activity. At one time the CCC had over 120 children enrolled with various tours across Texas as well as to England. David has taken it upon himself to bring the CCC back to its full potential and he is, in fact, doing just that. Currently he has 3 classes of theatre plus a playwriting class serving PreK through grade 12 with many children enrolled. This year, David has directed Disney's The Little Mermaid with a cast of 85. Last year he directed the highly successful Legend of Sleepy Hollow. David also directs the Summer Theatre program, producing a wide variety of theatre styles.
I turn my phone on every morning thinking I will be getting a email saying there was a mistake and I am not getting this award. I was not expecting or even seeking this honor. I just like turning kids and adults into lovers of live theater. I am truly blessed to work with so many talented and enthusiastic children. They share in receiving this honor. Their parents do to, they have been a huge source of encouragement and assistance. I feel both the kids and myself benefit each and every time we work together and go on a magical journey. At the risk of sounding like Elaine Stritch, would everyone raise a glass of fruit punch and drink a toast to Children's Theatre and those in it. Long may it live!
In 1991 Boerne resident Deloris Littlejohn took steps to charter a nonprofit community theatre under Section 501 (c)(3) of the IRS. Littlejohn consulted with Enid Holm of Texas Nonprofit Theatres; Zada Janzen, founder of S.T.A.G.E. Theatre in Bulverde; and Steven Stoli, owner of a theatre in San Antonio. Andy Hix, an attorney, drew up the papers for incorporation as BACC-Door Theatre. The primary purposes of the organization were to provide a vehicle for the education, production and development of performing arts, including dramatic, musical and related cultural productions, and to encourage community participation in all aspects of its activities. BACC-Door Theatre, later renamed Boerne Community Theatre, has experienced tremendous growth over the years and now, under the leadership of Patty Loftis, boasts an active performance schedule and a dynamic youth program. Texas Nonprofit Theatres has benefitted from Boerne Community Theatre's support over the years as BCT hosted Quad meetings, participated in the festival process, provided leadership for the organization as Patty Lofits served on the TNT Board of Governors, eventually becoming president. She created and ran the highly successful Silent Auction to benefit TNT for many years as an organizational contribution from BCT to TNT. BCT also hosted the 2014 TNT Youth Conference in Boerne, an amazing experience for all involved. The legacy continues with BCT staff member Patricia Hausman coming on the TNT board in 2016. Many thanks to Boerne Community Theatre for steadfast support, indeed!
Dawn Daily has served Baytown Little Theater diligently through some very challenging times of growth. While Dawn often steps onto the stage for a turn, where she has really shone is as manager of the box office, managing ticket and season ticket sales at three or four separate venues during her tenure. In addition, she has served at treasurer of the Baytown Little Theater for several years. It is without a doubt that BLT would not be where we are today without Dawn faithful support and nurturing of our patrons and supporters. Dawn also made a trip as a member of the company of the BLT national festival company of God Of Carnage, acting as Momma to the cast and crew. Dawn's hard work has not always received the recognition that it deserves, yet she continues to work selflessly and sacrificially.
"When I became involved with Baytown Little Theater 15 years ago my role was that of a "Theater Mom". That role evolved into a volunteer who served as a house manager, (why not I was already there as a "Theater Mom") and then one evening I was approached by a somewhat frantic Georgie Skinner asking that I please help out in the box office as another volunteer wasn't able to make it. On another occasion when I took my son Zak to audition for Brighton Beach Memoirs I was coaxed by Dwayne & Wendy Bailey to audition because they "needed women my age". I was cast in the role of Blanche and that was it......I caught the bug. I loved it! I have played many roles on and off stage at BLT but my role as Box Office Coordinator has been the longest running, most trying, & most enjoyable. I look forward to many more years." - Dawn Daily
In 2002, Jana White told an actress friend she was amazed at the high quality of the Wimberly Players shows on the small stage at their original location. That friend invited Jana to come see how it was done. In no time, she found herself the assistant director of a show, and has never looked back. She has been involved in almost every aspect of theatre life over 14 years, serving as producer of many shows and as a Board of Directors member for eight years.
But these "clean hands" responsibilities don't tell the whole Jana White Story. This is a person who has repaired toilets, changed light bulbs, managed general theatre maintenance, shopper for and stocked concessions and cleaning supplies year after year.
Meanwhile, she has served as the lead on playbill ad sales for the past seven years, a vital source of income for the organization. She recruits, reminds and manages all front of house volunteers. She has trolled for props, hosted events, and asked for donations. Jana rolls up her sleeves to paint every show. In her own words, reflected recently, "I do not foresee changing any of this. I will probably die on a set under construction and just become part of the set dressing." - Jana White
"I started volunteering at the Summer Mummers of MCT in the mid-'70s, and still do. I consider the SM connection a major privilege; my 1998 convertible sports the license plate MUMMER. Ann and I met at the Mummers in 1978, and we became one of the many couples who met their spouses there.
The Theatre has been a major part of our lives, where we could volunteer together, even though we were usually doing different jobs. Our children were also involved when they were younger. We have met most of our best and longtime friends at MCT.
We now enjoy serving as "ushers," tearing tickets, distributing programs, and assisting patrons in finding their seats. During many of our MCT years, we each would often leave our house for some totally unrelated destination, only to find ourselves at the Theatre--and we blamed those errors on the automobiles!" - Joe Hathaway
"PS: Ann Hathaway drives a car with the license plate MS BARD!"
" In the fall of 1980, I was surprised to learn that the tiny town of Wimberley had a theatre group! They had formed up the previous year and had just been given an unused space in a small building at a local resort community. I'd been a Thespian in high school, so with my interest piqued, I showed up to volunteer. It was simple to say the least, but I was impressed by the dedication and hard working people that surrounded this fledgling organization, not to mention their warmth and friendliness. I attended the first show in The Greenhouse Theatre and joined as a member in January of 1981. I auditioned for the next production and got a part. I met my new boss in that show and moved to Wimberley that June while in rehearsals for the summer musical. Since I had bookkeeping skills, I was nominated to join the Board of Directors, and served as Treasurer for that term. The rest is history . . . a blur of different parts, both on and off stage, changing hats as necessary when a set needed paint, or costume needed a hem, or a prop had to be conjured.
I'm proud of where The Wimberley Players are today and what they've become. They continue to be surrounded by dedicated hard working people who love live theatre!" - Terri Burney-Bisett
Keisha has been the Props Mistress for Boerne Community Theatre for more than ten years and she also does the set dressing for most of their productions. Her creativity and talents make even the most difficult props possible. She is a stickler for being time period correct in all things set, props, and costumes. BCT produces better shows because of the behind the scenes diligence of Keisha McFerrin.
"Over the past 16 or so years, BCT has been my home away from home. It’s a place where I meet wonderful people, try out new things, learn new skills, surprise myself and expand my family. My life is truly richer for the experiences I have had within its walls and for the connections I have made as result of my association with the organization."
- Keisha McFerrin
Russell has been invaluable both onstage and off, but his contributions offstage are the most remarkable. He is retired Navy and volunteers just about every day and, sometimes single-handedly, builds sets, props, or anything else the upcoming show might need. When we don't have a show going, he comes in and organizes our very large prop loft which is a Herculean task. We are finding things we haven't seen in years! If he thinks there is an item that would work better on a set than what we have in stock, he doesn't say a word, he just goes and buys it and suddenly it's on the set. It doesn't stop at set building. Oftentimes, when Russell comes to volunteer, he brings cat food or litter for our theatre cat, Ophelia. This amazing man builds sets, paints, and changes cat litter! He inspires our younger volunteers and interns with his work ethic which is a blessing in itself. I can only hope for community theatres everywhere that they have a Russell of their very own.
"I am very pleased that the Hill Country Arts Foundation has considered my work valuable to them. I enjoy acting of course but backstage in the scene shop I get to be part of the process of creating illusions that set the stage and enrich the experience that live theater provides to its audiences. Theater Magic isn't magic - it's hard, collaborative work. I'm glad at 73 years old I can still help to "get'er done," before the curtain goes up." - Doc French
Jane and Carl Moore are acting royalty at Midland Community Theatre; between themselves they have joined the casts of fifty-plus shows in the past twenty years. They joined the ranks of Guest Directors in 1996 and have enjoyed guiding nearly 20 shows apiece on the MCT stages. This does not include other work for the Globe of the Great Southwest of Permian Playhouse!
From the iconic Scrooge to the demanding Salieri, Carl has shared a wide variety of roles with MCT audiences and Jane is no slouch, with roles in "Arsenic & Old Lace," "Tony & Tina's Wedding," and most recently "Mom's Gift." There are many favorites, but the best of the best was playing opposite each other in "I Hate Hamlet," and discovering true love - for each other.
Jane and Carl also take on student, of all ages, and are sought after as respondents for UIL competitions and the like. They have taken many young actors and directors under their wing. It is this devotion to the craft and the willingness to share this enthusiasm that is the hallmark of their tenure with MCT. Jane and Carl also serve as techies. They go from the spotlights to the dim recesses of the stage in the blink of an eye. They show appreciation for the dressers, and the shift crew, and the stage managers - positive role models in the sometimes rivalry of techies vs. actors.
"I live in a small community, Wimberley, Texas, a very special place. The Wimberley Players formed 38 years ago as a local entertainment and I found and joined them a couple years later. Over the years and decades the Players and our community have grown and changed. Wimberley has become a center for arts especially performing arts with two non-profit theaters, one for profit theater company, and several school theaters. Since moving into our own building about 10 years ago we have focused more and more on the quality and consistency of our productions. In the past couple years that long term focus has really borne fruit. In 2015 we won 12 of Broadway Theater Austin’s 36 categories for best theater productions, was named Best Theater in Hays County by the San Marcos Daily Record, and now are humbled and grateful for the recognition being given to our efforts by TNT.
These accomplishments have not come easily. You may be aware that Wimberley sustained two floods in 2015, one of devastating proportion costing lives, property damage, and creating life changing circumstances for many in our small community. While the theater building was not affected, many of our long time patrons were … and still are. To have our productions receive attention and recognition for a year when we were so focused not only our own “art”, but on helping our neighbors, and adjusting to a dramatically new reality is exceptionally heartwarming and humbling.
My thanks to everyone associated with TNT and to all those whose passion leads them to give themselves to the creative process of creating a live performance that can touch our audiences, our communities, and each other." - David Bisett