By Peter Rouleau @petersrouleau
SILVER SPRING — Theater professionals often say, “The show must go on,” when confronted by hardships during a production. A local community theater is seeking funds to help its work go on in the wake of a recent calamity.
In late September, after a period of heavy rain, the facilities of Silver Spring Stage, located in the Woodmoor Shopping Center on Colesville Road, were damaged by flooding.
“Before we could extract the water, we had to figure out what had caused the flooding,” said Seth Ghitelman, president of Silver Spring Stage’s board of directors. “They told us it was a sump pump failure, but we’re not quite sold on that, as the areas that were the most flooded aren’t really near the sump pump. In addition to the property damage, we had to call SERVPRO to come and extract the water, and our insurance didn’t cover that.”
The flooding forced Silver Spring Stage to cancel the remaining two weekends of its production of “Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight,” a play about the life and travails of Emilie du Chatelet, an 18th-century French mathematician and physicist who was romantically involved with the philosopher Voltaire.
Silver Spring Stage began in the 1960s, when some members of the Church of the Ascension formed the “Ascension Players,” a troupe of actors who put on plays with moral messages.
“Eventually they felt a bit constricted by having to use the church space,” Ghitelman said. “At one point, they wanted to stage Edward Albee’s ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,’ and some people at the church weren’t happy about that.”
In the early 1970s, Silver Spring Stage relocated into the Woodmoor Shopping Center location, which had previously been a bowling alley. It is unlike many other theater companies in the County in that it has its own performance space, scene shop and costume shop.
“Having our own space has a lot of positives, but the drawback is that we have to have things going on all the time in order to pay rent,” Ghitelman said. Silver Spring Stage produces seven or eight shows each season. They recently concluded a production of Arthur Miller’s classic 1953 play, “The Crucible,” about the Salem Witch Trials.
The board of directors of Silver Spring Stage has launched a “Refloat the Boat” fundraising campaign, with the goal of raising $30,000 to offset the damage from the flooding.
“If we don’t meet our fundraising goal, then we’ll likely be constricted when it comes to choosing shows for next season,” Ghitelman said. “We try to walk the line between doing shows that are intellectually challenging and not very often performed and shows that will be big crowd-pleasers. This might force us to choose more crowd-pleasing shows to bring the revenue in. We’ve raised about $6,000 so far, and I’m always amazed and thrilled by the support of the community. I think that they appreciate that what we do in Silver Spring is unique. It’s a place for performing arts and people do this for the love of theater, and we put on shows of the caliber you would see downtown at reasonable prices.”
“I love the fact that it’s a dedicated space for people to create art,” said Michael Abendshein, a Gaithersburg resident and theater artist who has performed in and directed several productions at the Stage. “Our community needs more places like that.”
Anyone who would like to make a contribution to Silver Spring Stage may do so at: http://www.ssstage.org/get-involved/donate/