Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jumping Into the Void

A patron talks under the pulled shades at the Mill Mountain Theater box office today. He wanted to buy tickets to "Driving Miss Daisy"^

In the wake of the closing of Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, I got a pretty comprehensive e-mail from Hollins University theater professor Todd Ristau today. Todd is jumping in to fill the theatrical void that will be left with his and Kennard Smith's new Studio Roanoke theater downtown.

Todd has been deeply involved with MMT for several years, introducing the innovative No Shame Theater to Roanoke. It's a short-form of theater with the immediacy of having written on the spot--or a little earlier--and performed by people who show up. It can be marvelously entertaining.

Todd says, "I want to say plainly, whatever financial debts Mill Mountain Theatre may have accumulated are not equal to the cultural debts our community owes this marvelous theater." And he's right, of course.

Todd assures that No Shame will move to Studio Roanoke and that a number of alliances with other theaters in the region will keep theater students busy. He recognizes the mission for Studio Roanoke is far different from that of MMT, but he also knows that keeping a high theatrical profile going is vital to the future of theater in the Roanoke Valley.

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