When Dan Barth moved to Wake County in 2011, he was immediately impressed with the community theater talent he saw in the area.
“Honestly, I was a little surprised,” says Barth. “This is a very active and cool location for community theater.”
A longtime veteran of the stage, Barth majored in theater, then worked as an actor, director and writer for multiple theater and murder mystery companies in New England, where he lived prior to relocating to North Carolina.
Set in the 1950s, “Fences” explores the evolving African-American experience through the lens of baseball. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play.
Holly Springs Cultural Center
Fuquay-Varina Arts Center
After doing the same with Raleigh’s dramatic companies, Barth became inspired to start something new.
“I thought it’d be nice to … see if a company could get planted and work to be part of the planting. That’s what led to Stageworks,” he says.
With support from the towns of Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina and performance professionals in the area, the roots of a southern Wake County theater company started to grow.
Stageworks Theatre company presented it’s first full season at the Holly Springs Cultural Center in 2016, and now performs at the Fuquay-Varina Arts Center as well. The current season, which will conclude with the drama “Fences” in May, marks the company’s third full season.
Barth, Stageworks’ president, describes the group’s connection to the towns as a triangle. “Stageworks will be the third point,” he says. “We bring the show suggestions, the talent and creativity, and work with the two towns to stage the seasons.”
“People will be amazed to hear how much talent and time and effort it takes to stage a live theater production,” he says.
There’s anywhere from five to 15 actors and actresses, backstage crews managing props, costumes and set design, and a director. All of these roles are volunteers, save the director who typically receives a small stipend.
“Auditions are completely open,” Barth says. “Several of the members have degrees in theater, but there are also people who literally walk in and say, ‘I’ve never done this before, and I’d like to try.’”
“I can tell you after 30 years of (auditions), there’s almost always a surprise,” he says.
Preparation for a production takes between two and three months, including multiple rehearsals per week. It can be a big commitment, Barth admits.
“We try to make it a valuable commitment. People come and do it, because it’s a passion,” he says. “This has always been a passion in my life, going back to high school. It’s quite literally how I recharge my battery.”
Well-known dramas and comedies are often crowd favorites, but Stageworks isn’t afraid to test their audience either.
“We try to balance between shows that people know and finding the right opportunity to take a risk and test drive something to see how it feels for our audience.”
Past shows have included “Pride & Prejudice,” “On Golden Pond,” “Deathtrap” and “Whose Life is it Anyway.”
Stageworks is always looking for new talent, on stage and backstage, and encourages members of the community to get involved.
“This is an opportunity to do something different and plug into a community-based organization,” Barth says. “There is a sense of belonging that has always been very attractive to people who have gotten involved in community theater. People build very real relationships.”
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