Founded in 2007, StageWorthy Productions’ mission is to bring a quality, alternative level of entertainment to people from all walks of life. StageWorthy Productions strives to embrace and expand the creativity of our diverse community by encouraging its involvement in all aspects of theatre. We are dedicated to exploring new ideas by presenting productions and activities that are fresh, inspired, challenging, affordable and entertaining. Our seasons have been a mix of comedies and dramas, touching on such topics as Alzheimer’s, gender relations, economic class differences, unconditional love, courage, family dysfunction, bullying, death, gay/straight relations, race and also just straight out silly farce. Our motto is "Laugh. Cry. Think. Feel."
After three years of “gypsy-ing around”, presenting shows wherever we could, SWP was blessed to find a new, permanent home at the Broadway United Methodist Church! “I was made to feel welcome the first time I walked into the BUMC to inquire about space”, John Kastner, the group's Artistic Director (pictured above in his least favorite on-stage costume ever...a haz-mat suit) said, “and then to be told by some that they were praying for someone to come in and bring the stage to life…it felt like it was just meant to be!”
StageWorthy’s first two shows at the BUMC were rewarded with five Encore Awards for excellence in Indianapolis theatre, with The Sum of Us earning top honors as Best Production of a Drama. StageWorthy continued to flourish in our new home, earning great reviews, increased attendance and finding new faces involved with each new production. With just twenty productions “under our belt”, StageWorthy and its participants have been honored with more than 100 Encore nominations and have taken home more than twenty awards. Details on StageWorthy Productions’ history, photos and other information can be found at www.stageworthy.org.
We were planning the opening shows for the beginning of our second decade when on the early morning of December 20, 2017, a fire broke out in the Community Room at Broadway United Methodist Church (which houses not only our theatre space but all of our supplies, props, etc). According to church representatives, while not definitive, it appears to have been an accident…caused by a bad ballast in the electrical system. The room and all of its contents were destroyed. The main fire was contained to the Community Room/theatre space, but soot and smoke were spread throughout the entire building.
We were allowed into the area for a brief time on Saturday, December 23 to try and assess the damage to our area/belongings. Wearing a face mask and rubber gloves, I was escorted with a rep from the remediation team down into the space. Armed with only flashlights, we entered through the stage door (as we were not allowed onto the room floor by order of the insurance company) and were immediately met with what appeared to be remains of Christmas wreaths melted to the backstage floor. The Christmas trees I saw onstage just a few weeks earlier (as decorations for the annual charity Christmas store) were blackened and some melted over with tops fused to the stage floor. Most of our materials are reclaimed/recycled to help keep costs down (and also because we have very limited storage space), but all of those were destroyed or declared unusable.
Any porous materials (our cardboard and foam wall pieces, our bolts of muslin for flat-making /black fabric for masking, as well as our furniture pieces, platforms, costumes and prop storage boxes) if not melted, burned or water-soaked, were covered in a thick coating of soot. This soot is very toxic as it contains the remains of the numerous melted folding banquet tables that occupied the Community Room main floor (imagine the smell of a melted pan handle multiplied a hundred times). Some of our shelving units were so melted, it left the shelves tilted or twisted. Even our extension cords were melted beyond use. I was told by the head of the remediation team to not expect much when we could “officially” come in as the temperatures reached upwards of 900 degrees during the fire and what was not melted would probably be deemed useless by the soot.
When all the insurance companies and fire investigators finally released the room for salvage at the end of March, our worst fears were realized. The few items we thought MIGHT be salvageable back in December had become unusable, even unrecognizable, in the ensuing months due to the extra exposure to the excessive moisture and soot. We had not been allowed to touch or move anything in December per investigators' orders. Even our Best Production trophy that we displayed at our ticket table had scorched and the words melted off its plaque (as pictured above with our Spare Change Box and "retro radio" that had been with us from our very first set work day of our very first show).
For all that was lost, however, there was a small sign of hope. We found our history boards (the photo/poster boards we display to memorialize all of our past shows) and they may be salvageable in some way as all were not completely blackened, waterlogged or covered in soot. So, there is a bit of our history still able to be displayed.
That is our story, and now StageWorthy needs your help!
We have been told by the reconstruction reps that we should not look to produce anything in the space for the entire calendar year of 2018. We were granted a waiver from the Encore Association allowing us to retain our membership in the group while we search for interim performance space (or to suspend production while our home is renovated), but we are basically looking to start from scratch. We are seeking financial help for the sure-to-be larger rental rates we may experience from an interim facility (and going forward after the renovation), adjusted production costs for the future, as well as for the replacement of the most basic of production supplies (to replace those that were lost). While some of our paper records were lost, we have put together as complete of an inventory list as we could of what we lost and the value of the items for replacement in hopes that the church's insurance will cover at least some of our bigger losses.
So here is our plea to you: If you have ever participated in or enjoyed one of StageWorthy’s productions over the course of our first decade, know someone who has been involved with SWP, are a theatre fan in general, are a supporter of scrappy non-profits, or just want to help out a group in need, we would like to humbly ask if you would consider making a donation so we can get back on our feet and continue into our second decade of presenting quality, award-winning theatre for our dedicated patrons and newfound friends alike.
While any donation (large or small) would be appreciated, we thought that it would maybe be more accessible if we asked each donor to contribute at least the price of a StageWorthy ticket ($12.00) toward our $3000 goal. This fire was a devastating blow for us and any help you might be able to provide would be greatly welcomed. All donors will be memorialized in a special page of all future programs.
StageWorthy is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer community theatre group and a proud member of the Encore Association.