By Lynn Dark
A great movie or song might pull on our heartstrings, but nothing makes us feel more connected to our fellow man than when an actor on a stage is able to affect us. They might make us laugh, cry, or turn to a place of personal reflection. In any case, it is something that stays with us. The Lindale Community Theater (LCT) provides a special venue for just such an experience.
Tim Mitchiner is the LCT’s Executive Director. When I showed up to interview him for this article, I was immediately impressed. Though the LCT has been around since 2009, it moved to its new location at 109 W. Hubbard St. about a year ago. The configuration is something most theater goers are not familiar with.
In remodeling its new location, the LCT has brought an older form of live theater to East Texas. The stage is located in the center of the auditorium with seating for the audience on three sides. The fourth side serves as the play’s backdrop. This playhouse set up is known as a thrust configuration, which is the way the ancient Greeks did it.
Thrust Theatre is a very different experience than the “normal” set up in which the entire audience faces the stage from the same general direction. The actors have to be aware of where they are on the stage and which side of the audience they are playing to. The result is that each section of spectators leaves with the feeling that they got a little something extra that the other sections missed out on.
Mitchiner was kind enough to give me a tour of the building during our meeting. I was struck by his passion for the craft and what it provides to the community. He keeps the doors open when he’s around during the day and welcomes people to stop by and visit.
Parts of the building remain works in progress, but the auditorium itself is very much in operational order. It is equipped with state of the art lighting and sound equipment. The seats closest to the stage are about five feet away, but no seat is more than 30 feet away. In other words, there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
The building also has dressing rooms, a green room, a music/rehearsal room, a tech room, a concession, and a loading area. The lobby is a warm and welcoming area where you will find the work of local artists on display. The entire place has a vibe that can only come from the love and energy being poured into it.
The theater’s catch phrase is, “We love to act, and it shows.” Mitchiner says that they don’t hope for the best, they plan for the best. The goal is for each production to be better than the last one. The LCT as a whole strives for the best quality in every aspect of everything they do, and it definitely shows.
Mitchiner quips that theater is the only thing that has been dying for the last 2000 years, and yet it isn’t dead. He understands the challenge of getting people to commit to live performances. In order to lure people to step away from TV, Netflix, and other modern distractions, the LCT is constantly working to attract a younger audience, while continuing to appeal to its traditional patrons. Mitchiner gives high praise to the teachers and other theater folks around East Texas for their part in bringing a new generation to live theater.
A big part of Mitchiner’s love for what he does comes from giving people their introduction to the stage. He understands the importance of live theater in our culture, and what a difference it makes in the lives of the individuals who dare to overcome their fears by getting up on the stage. His raw emotion on this subject is both deep and sincere.
Over the years, Mitchiner has watched many people’s lives be transformed through the acting experience. He spoke of people who had always been told that they ‘couldn’t.’ Maybe someone made fun of their weight, or their looks, or had simply told them that they would never amount to anything. Once the performer finally takes the stage and gets the first laugh, or the first applause, their lives are changed forever. What greater gift can you give to another person?
The LCT typically puts on four major productions a year, though smaller productions are put on occasionally. The 2014 season is over, but there are exciting plays to look forward to in 2015. “Kitchen Witches” starts on January 30th and runs through February 8th. “The Glass Menagerie” begins in April, “Pump Boys and Dinettes” is coming in July, and “These Shining Lives” wraps up the 2015 season in late September and early October.
Plays are performed on Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons for two weekends. Prices are generally $15 for adults, $12 for students and $8 for children 12 and under. Tickets for some performances might be slightly higher, depending on production costs. Season tickets are $45 for all four shows. The theater can accommodate an audience of up to 170 people per performance.
Most shows have open auditions for acting roles, though this is left to the discretion of the director. Many of the actors come from Tyler and Lindale, but people have been known to come from Whitehouse, Winnsboro, Mineola, and Van. Anyone interested in a behind the scenes role is also welcome. As Mitchiner puts it, he is always looking for people who are interested in walking the path, and enjoying the journey.
In addition to its own productions, the LCT rents its space out for live music performances in order to raise additional money. It also relies heavily on advertising, sponsors, and the generosity of those lovingly referred to as ‘Friends of the Theater.’ Small community theaters can’t survive on ticket sales alone. When you add up the mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc., it turns out to be an expensive enterprise.
The Lindale Community Theater is a 501(c)(3) corporation, and relies completely on volunteers. Mitchiner is the LCT founder, and he can’t say enough about the wonderful people who help make it all happen. He wants people to know that they are a group of amateurs who have no intention of being amateurish. Even though everyone on his team is working without financial compensation, they put forth a tremendous amount of energy and effort to entertain and expand the horizons of their audience, as well as provide the experience to the production participants.
Lindale, Texas is located just a few miles north of I-20, and everyone knows how we measure things in minutes around here. If you live in Tyler, it’s about 20 minutes away on Highway 69 north. When you reach downtown Lindale, take a left on Highway 16, and you will see the theater on your right. In addition to the LCT, Lindale is home to Miranda Lambert’s Pink Pistol store, and the Lindale Candy Company.
For more information, please contact the Lindale Community Theater by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone at (903)638-0402, or visit their website at lindalecommunitytheater.org. E-mail is the preferred method of contact.