Celebrating One Year
This summer, Footlights is celebrating one year since our relaunch. We came in with a bang performing Steel Magnolias and Secret Garden. Two shows in one summer! We rounded out the season with four shows total following with Anne of Green Gables and Wizard of Oz. It’s been a giant year. I sit back and marvel at the closing of this season at just how much we have accomplished. The first accomplishment that I see is that it’s not just me anymore. I knew you were out there somewhere. Musicians, performers, singers, dancers, poets, story tellers, and worker bees. Maybe you were looking for me too? Looking for a captain with a ship to take us on some new adventures. I’ll admit, I almost gave up more than once. It was hard. We didn’t have a stable venue, our funding was low, our resources were scarce, our helpers were few, and we came across more than just a few bumps on the road in our first season but that’s the key word. Our first season. We didn’t just attempt one show and call it a day, we put on a full season of shows. As much hardship as we have overcome and as much building we have done, it’s many miles to go before I sleep. This starship enterprise mission isn’t over. I have set out to build a community of performing arts that includes a full season of shows each year with a variety of offerings including comedy, drama, and one big musical a year with ongoing performing arts education and camps in a stable venue that offers a sense of community, the creation of new art, and preservation of classic stories and literature. I am still looking for new volunteers to add to our ranks, to improve the technical aspects of our productions, to improve our performing space, and start selling season tickets this year! Footlights is growing at an exponential rate. Growth, in any form, can be painful. We outgrew some of our old venues and rehearsal spaces. We have added more team members to help deal with the demands of organizational growth. I look around me at this amazing metamorphosis in this organization and know in my heart of hearts that my mother is proud of what I’ve done. Coming back after saying I never would. Returning after quitting and making Footlights better than ever.This was her dream too and although some of you never met her, I can tell you that she was a woman who encouraged and inspired people. She believed in performers when they didn’t believe in themselves. In her eyes, failure wasn’t an option. I would be lying to you if I said this year wasn’t difficult for me. I suffered from setbacks and disappointments and felt responsible when things didn’t go the way I envisioned them. I thought at times maybe Athens wasn’t ready for this and that I was trying to make a round peg fit in a square space. I’ll never forget what an original Footlights member told me last summer that kept me going when it was most difficult. “Kristi, when you stopped directing, you left a vacuum.” It was then I realized, just as my mother had always told me, that failure wasn’t an option. That we must do this. We must keep going. Nothing worthwhile was ever easy. Thank you. Thank you all for all the time you spent setting up and breaking down chairs. Thank you for entrusting your kids to me to participate in shows. Thank you for volunteering your time to help this organization better and staying on board when things didn’t go well. This first year’s worth of performers and volunteers will always hold a special place in my heart because you believed in me when there was no earthly reason to. I had no theater. I had no resources. I did not have a full team. I had nothing and you showed up anyway. Blessed are those who have not seen and believed. I will be forever grateful to all of you who stood by me this year and helped Footlights to grow. I will never forget the sacrifices you made to help us be successful. I hope you come back for future projects. We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams. Thank you for dreaming with me.
See you in the footlights.
Kristi Kargic is executive director for Footlights Community Theater based in Athens, AL. She is an elementary teacher with a lifelong love of performing arts. She strives to provide art in her home community at little to no cost to participants. Kristi is a published poet, playwright, and performing musician. Her motto is "if you build it, they will come."