The lights in the Delaware City Community Center dimmed.
Metal chairs with blue backs in straight rows stretched across the well-used basketball court. Black bunting covered the apron of a stage once used for school productions.
As the crowd of about 75 people trickled in, volunteers skittered back and forth making sure concession tables had the right mixture of snacks and soft drinks; tickets were sold and “break a leg” ducks were peddled to raise needed funds.
It was show night for the Reedy Point Players of Delaware City. But it was more than that.
While the Reedy Point Players were the hosts for the One Act Play Festival on February 16 and 17, 2018, it was a night of collaboration with actors, writers, and directors from Newark, Wilmington, New Castle, Middletown, and points far and wide, coming together to lift each other up.
And oh, by the way – it was a competition.
The One Act Festival would decide which One Act play would go to the Delaware Theater Association’s annual competition, to be held the weekend of March 23rd, 2018 at the Barnstormers Theater in Ridley Park, PA. That’s not important now.
It seemed the only advantage for which anyone was looking was to make good theater happen. Everyone worked on multiple shows, in different roles. If one were to construct a Venn diagram for the evening, it would show a bajillion intersections.
For example, Reedy Point Treasurer Aniela Mienhaldt, acted in “Jumping” and directed “Meant To Be,” all the while counting receipts as they rolled in. Brian Smith, the author of “Meant to Be” worked the lights for “Just Words,” written by Lyn Anderson and directed by Bill Potter. Mr. Potter wrote the play “Jumping,” which Ms. Anderson directed. Meanwhile, Marshal Manlove directed “Screaming into the Surf” written by Mr. Potter and everyone moved furniture for Joseph Pukatsch who wrote and directed “In The Bag.”
Actors from different shows ran lines with actors from other shows and each gave the other tips about voice projection and other stagecraft.
“The group of actors, directors, and writers who participated in the RPP 2018 One Act Festival were a wonderful example of how to behave in a competitive situation,” Ms. Meinhaldt said. “The collaborative and supportive atmosphere was inspiring. If only that type of support and collaboration went beyond our little theater, the world would be a better place.”
As shows went on and off the stage, the audience got to witness what can only be described as controlled chaos. Chairs, tables, wine bottles, and even extension ladders were moved, placed, and toted with lightning speed.
The stage at different times became the Delaware Memorial Bridge, a prison, a living room, and a kitchen.
When the last cast from the last show of the night took their bows at about 10 p.m., everyone leapt into action and dismantled the stage, lights, and put all the chairs away.
The audience, perhaps infected with the collaboration vibe, chipped in and within 30 minutes or so the Delaware City Community Center main floor was ready for the next week’s basketball game or Zumba class.
“Wow. That was crazy,” Mr. Potter said. “So much talent, so much cooperation. It all led to such a great night. Maybe that’s what puts the community in community theater.”