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Theatre Guild survives struggles

Despite trials and tribulations, members of the Lincoln Theatre Guild know the show must go on.
The non-profit organization lost its administrative director in April and found itself deeply in debt.
Since then, anonymous donations have cleared up financial worries and new board members are being recruited.
“The reorganization has been a lot of work, but it’s really paying off,” said Betsy Okonski, vice president of the board. “Things have turned around 100 percent.”
With the loss of its administrator, the board plans to go back to its roots as a committee-run organization.
Okonski hopes the board will have a total of 22 members by fall and committees ranging from fund-raising to production.
Another change is the location of the organization’s drama camp.
For the first time, the guild has teamed up with the Lincoln Charter School. One session of the drama camp will be held at the school’s east Lincoln campus. The second week it will be held at the school’s Lincolnton campus.
Prior to this summer, the drama camps have taken place at the Lincoln Cultural Center.
“There were a lot of reasons (for the change in location),” said Okonski. “One big reason is that we wanted to reach out more to the Denver audience.”
The guild is still a member of the Cultural Center.
“I can see us going back to the Cultural Center in the future if we build it up to a point where we need three sessions,” said Okonski.
The drama camp includes workshops on mask making, music, improvisation and pantomime and ensemble work. It will include plays starring campers presented by teenage junior directors.
This year’s camp will run from July 11 to the 15 at the Denver campus and July 18 through the 22 at the Lincolnton campus. The cost is $75 per week.
The change in drama camp location isn’t the only new thing happening this summer. Casting is already in progress for Shakespeare in the Park, which is expected to occur in outdoor venues this summer.
“It should be something that is really fun and different,” said Okonski.
Abridged versions of “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be performed. Those attending will be invited to bring picnic lunches.
As for the guild’s departed director, she has a few plans of her own.
Andrea Tripodi has accepted a job in Phoenix, Ariz. teaching and directing youth theater.
“I’m excited. I love working with kids,” said Tripodi. “My strengths are definitely more creative than administrative.”
Tripodi has been involved with the guild since 1998. She will miss her drama students and hopes theater thrives in Lincoln County.
“I think it’s really important for the community to support the theater because it has so many benefits,” she said.
While the guild has paid off its debts, it’s still seeking corporate sponsors for future plays as well as drama camp to pay overhead expenses.
Okonski believes sponsors will be able to build a strong reputation in the community as supporters of the arts.
“To partner up is something that benefits both them and us,” said Okonski.
The board also hopes to recruit more members with business connections as another way to improve its finances.
by Sarah Grano

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