By Kathy Johnson
Dr. Clair Myers, Executive Director for the Wayne Theatre Alliance in Waynesboro would like to retire. Again! In fact, Myers has wanted to retire for some time, but he would also like to see the Wayne Theatre complete construction and reopen to the public before he retires. It appears that Dr. Myers will be getting his wish.
Final construction on the Wayne Theatre began in earnest in November and plans are for the construction to be complete by December, 2014. “We anticipate a certificate of occupancy in December of 2014,” says Myers but he adds this codicil: “We may or may not be able to produce a show at that time.” Meaning it may be ready to go but everything may not be in place.
Myers explains that the Wayne Theatre Alliance (WTA), the governing body of the theater, is moving forward quickly with plans for 2014 and 2015, including a June 21, 2014, Gala Show at the Gateway as a three year celebration. The phrase “going to the Gateway,” has become popular with many in the greater theater service area but that will, most likely, end sometime this summer. The theater group has been leasing the interim space on Main Street in Waynesboro (just two blocks south of the theater’s location) to “try out” a variety of different programs in order to determine those venues the greater community will support.
Moving forward Myers explains that in January, board member Tracy Straight will be going to the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York City to start networking and learn more about the opportunities for programing and presenters for future Wayne Theatre productions. Also in January Myers will attend the Virginia Commission for the Arts 2014 annual conference in Richmond. Moving the Wayne Theatre forward with new and continuing programs will be the new challenge.
Myers says the WTA board members anticipate local art groups like the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, Waynesboro Players Community Theater and others will want to use the new theater to host various productions. He also says there is a continuing desire to create some original pieces for production at the Wayne Theatre. “We are in discussion with the Wildlife Center of Virginia about a series of wildlife programs,” says Myers, explaining, “We have to have a broader base of clientele.” The theater will also move into films, both art films and classic, and ,“I still think we could do something like ‘This Was Vaudeville,’” says Myers.
The Wayne has kicked off it’s final push to raise funds for the Wayne and open “debt free,” Myers says. “Part of that money would be to create an endowment for theatre maintenance and repair and to assist local arts groups’ productions.” Myers explains that once complete, there will be everyday overhead on the theater and they can’t “give space away,” thus the need for an endowment.
Myers joined the Wayne Theatre as Executive Director in 2006 after a career in higher education and theater. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and has a long history of theater production, both writing and performing. Dr. Myers is the creator of both “River City Radio Hour” and “The Children’s Hour.”