Thank You to “Monte” for 29th Annual Shakespeare Production, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 7, 2014

We have, in the past, proudly presented many new works from the pens of local writers: Dr. Richard Gildrie’s Ben and the Virtues, which happily was turned into a musical by Richard and Dr. George Mabry; Dr. Steven Ryan’s The Strange Children, based on local author Caroline Gordon’s novel of the same name; Barry Kitterman’s Mary Alice’s Ladder, a play which holds that mirror up to nature, showing us clearly the atypical, dysfunctional family; and Ricky Steven Young Jr.’s Danielle: Diary of a Cutter.

Darren V. Michael has a collection of ten-minute plays, billed as Brief Encounters: A Night of Short Plays, which will play upstairs in the Roxy’s theotherspace on Wednesday, March 19, and Thursday, March 20, at 7pm and Friday, March 21, at 8pm. The evening’s one-acts include “Willie Nelson Ain’t Dead” (two regulars find themselves alone at the local honky-tonk), “Feathers” (a one-night stand discovers one small detail his partner neglected to share), “A Widow Safe and Secure” (a recent widow learns to stand on her own again with the arrival of an immigrant seeking a room to rent) and “Imaginary Conversations with My Daughter” (an expectant father discusses every awful conversation he’s feared with his new daughter). Admission is $15, but APSU students can receive two tickets for the price of one.

When Mrs. George L. “Monte” Narber first proposed the idea of producing Shakespeare for the community of Clarksville, I was a bit skeptical, wondering if it would be well-received.

Twenty-nine years later — having become the oldest theatre in Tennessee to annually present the works attributed to the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon — I realized that, like most presumed fears, mine were unfounded.

When Tom and I would go on vacation, Monte would have me look up and photograph her and her husband’s name, which was on almost all civic buildings in Pensacola, for she and George lived most of their married life there. When he passed, she moved back to his home place in Millersville, Ohio.

Her check of support was the first one we received back in ’83, spurred on by her longtime friend the late Grace Cunningham. Someone said, “I hope she leaves you something when she passes.” My response was firm: “I hope she never leaves, for she has helped us year after year in purchasing scripts, scaffolding and follow spots, to name only a bit.”

After the great loss in Monte’s passing, Jim Mann picked up the gauntlet and carried it for years until the City of Clarksville came to the fore, knowing the importance of Shakespeare to education and our community and recognizing our consistency in producing The Bard. Like Monte, many of our locals have name recognition: Raymond C. Hand Ball Field, Ajax Turner Senior Citizens Center, Clarksville Area YMCA Kimbrough Family Center, and various galleries at the Customs House Museum (Orgain Gallery, Crouch Gallery, etc.).

William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing opens tonight at 8pm and plays through March 15. All tickets are $10. Thank you, Monte.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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