This past week my daughters and I volunteered at Ocala Civic Theater. It started out to be something that we anticipated would be a wonderful lesson and a positive experience, but unfortunately we ended our weekend with a sour taste in our mouths.
First, I would like to point out that we started our adventure in a Board Meeting. The room was filled with tension and stress. Basically what we learned there, which should have been a foreshadowing of our next three days, was that the theater is not just a fun and exciting place to learn for passionate kids and adults, but a place that is full of cliques and political bullying from people who are burnt out and frustrated. $$
Without explaining in great details about each day, I will say that for the most part Autumn and Chloe had a nice time. We took a special liking to a teacher/volunteer named Jeff Sensat. Jeff made us feel welcome and part of the crowd! We had a wonderful experience talking with him after the board meeting on our first visit to the theater. He took us behind the scenes of the stage and made us feel special. I also volunteered during the week. For three afternoons I helped paint the Footloose set with two men who work for the theater and several older men who volunteer their time to help create and construct the actual sets. Super nice folks and I am glad I had the pleasure of working with them.
The issue that caused our sadness and frustration began on Friday when we were asked by one of the teachers, whom Autumn had worked with all week, to come out on Sunday and observe and hopefully gain a volunteer spot behind the scenes of the play, Footloose. She had taken a liking to Autumn and had expressed her gratitude in families that allowed their children to evolve into people naturally without stress or personal persuasion. We have great admiration for this particular teacher, we only wish she could have kept her word and showed up on Sunday like she had promised. We NEVER would have gone on Sunday if we had not been invited. But even without her presence on Sunday, the below situation should never have happened.
We showed up at the theater promptly at 2pm:
While sitting in the theater observing pictures being taken by the local news paper and talking with the light tech, my daughter Autumn approached me choking back tears telling me that we needed to leave. She said that the stage manager had approached her and was nice, but explained that she had enough help with the rehearsal and that Autumn could leave. Can you imagine? The stage manager of the play is only 17 years old, very sweet, and I know that the direction of this comment did not originate from this young girl. It was from the director of the play, an adult who should have more compassion and love for someones feelings and dedication. Autumn wasn't in the way, she was observing......and at that moment her spirit was robbed. This particular individual had observed Autumn volunteering all week and not that this means anything, but also myself, so she knew who we were, not strangers to the set. How mean can someone be? One extra person for one day observing and learning........Sad, sad, sad.
Shame on you..... Mrs. Director!