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The year 2020, a year punctuated by waves of the unexpected, has been no less trying for the crew at Stained Glass Theatre.
Yes, of course the pandemic dealt them a blow, keeping the Christian acting troupe’s stage dark since March.
But a storm that blew through Ozark also dealt the group a surprising blow.
“The first week of June, a storm ripped the sign off the front of our building, and the sign ripped all of the air-conditioning units off the top of the roof,” SGT co-manager Chris McNeal says. “We had no AC, no heat. There have been several struggles going on.”
Thanks to a combination of donations and insurance money, the stage again is alight at SGT, which launched its 2020-’21 season this month.
Through Oct. 24, the troupe is staging “The Quilt,” based on the 2004 novella of the same name by T. Davis Bunn.
McNeal says the play’s performers are using a script adapted by Matt Morrow of Springfield. She says this production differs from most because it is a one-act play.
“He intended it for Second Baptist Church, so he wrote it within the confines of a sermon time, which is about an hour,” she says.
Directors decided to stage it at Stained Glass because a one-act play is a better fit for pandemic times. McNeal says many of the theater’s patrons are older and don’t feel comfortable getting out.
“A one-act might feel safer. There’s no intermission, no concessions. There’s no one wandering around the lobby between acts,” she says.
While it may be shorter than the troupe’s typical productions, McNeal says the play is rich with meaning.
She explains the play centers on a woman named Mary who struggles with arthritis. Despite this, she feels called to make one last quilt. Her family argues against the attempt, citing her infirmity as a reason not to try. But Mary persists. “She feels she’s been given a distinct directive from God to do this quilt,” McNeal says.
Mary soon finds community support and through these quilting sessions, she quietly influences those who support her on her mission. “It’s about how their lives are changed … it’s a sweet story,” McNeal says.
McNeal says the theater is trying to keep patrons as safe as possible during the performances. They are seating theatergoers in only every other row with three empty seats between each group. The result, she says, is that the theater can operate at only one-third capacity. “We’re selling out at less than 100 people when we can usually seat 270,” she says. For this reason, McNeal recommends buying tickets in advance.
The remainder of this season will see productions of an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” as an allegory to the life of Jesus Christ and, later, “Phantom of the Footbridge,” a patron favorite written by SGT’s founder, Ron Boutwell.
McNeal, who has been active with the group since 1995, says that while the year has brought many challenges, it’s moving ahead. Open auditions for “Phantom” will be held Nov. 23 and she continues to look for volunteers of any kind.
“The Lord has really blessed us,” she says.
Want to go?
What: Stained Glass Theatre’s production of “The Quilt,” based on the book by T. Davis Bunn and adapted for stage by Matt Morrow
When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 24
Where: Stained Glass Theatre, 1996 W. Evangel St., Ozark
Cost: Advance tickets are $12 adults; $5 children ages 5-12; children 4 and younger who can sit on a lap admitted free; day-of tickets are $13 and $5, respectively; season passes also are available at www.sgtheatre.com/box-office. Because of COVID-19 restrictions on capacity, the theater highly recommends advance reservations.
Info: www.sgtheatre.com or 417-581-9191
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