High Points with Hill: “We just decided to.”
In the Sunday, September 9, 1923 edition of the Quincy Whig-Journal, drama lovers were asked to join a Little Theater movement.
“One of the primary purposes of the Little Theater is to give everyone the advantage of becoming acquainted with the best plays… Realizing that Quincy is in no way inferior to other cities in its dramatic talent the idea of joining the Little Theater movement to produce plays of the highest standard has been met with much enthusiasm.” – Quincy Whig-Journal, Sunday, September 9, 1923
Less than two weeks later, an article on Thursday, September 20, 1923, stated that the Little Theater already had 140 members enrolled. The Little Theater movement was sweeping the country, with more than 150 Little Theaters existing at the time across America in cities and rural communities.
I don’t know who first had the idea to create a Little Theater in Quincy. I picture a group of people sitting together over coffee, talking about it. In my head, they probably did not take the idea too seriously at first, saying things like, “wouldn’t it be nice if Quincy had a group like this.” The idea probably took hold, and the conversation turned from metaphorical to logistical. And then, the group just decided to go for it, to see what interest was out there and to bring this idea to Quincy.
In the 40 years that followed that initial meeting, there were many times when the group could have called it quits. Our archives credit Mrs. Charles Dazey and Paul Weisenhorn for reorganizing the group in 1928 and producing the first major play, “The Queen’s Husband,” in 1929. From there, we can track every show we have ever produced.
In the early 1930s, when the church they were performing in was condemned, the group found themselves rehearsing in offices, churches, and homes.
In 1942, activities halted because of a shortage of men due to WWII. The organization was reborn again in 1953 as a Summer Theatre performing under the stars at the Art Barn. And in 1964, the group decided to move to its first permanent home at 13th and Payson Ave.
It is through the passion and hard work of so many individuals in those early years that we exist today. It would be easy to put these individuals on pedestals, and don’t get me wrong, their commitment shouldn’t be understated. But at the end of the day, they weren’t mythical heroes. They were just tenacious and committed people like you and me making an active decision.
That decision created this institution. This community exists because we decide it does, and we commit to sustaining it. When someone decides to audition, paint a set, usher, sew a costume, sponsor a show, or buy a ticket…
When you decide to get involved, you help sustain our mission. You create our legacy.
The people in that first room who talked about a Little Theater in Quincy for the first time could not possibly have imagined how far our organization would come in the next century. Similarly, I can’t begin to imagine what this organization will look like in another century. But as long as we keep deciding to, I’m pretty sure our future is bright.
“The charm of Community Little Theatre productions lies in the presenting of old and new faces, old and new friends, and old and new devotees of the enjoyable art of make-believe.” – The Quincy Herald-Whig, May 26, 1932.