“A lot of theaters have to use somebody else’s space to do anything,” says Richard Resler, a volunteer for the Whole Backstage Community Theatre in Guntersville, Alabama. He is standing in the renovated mainstage auditorium, looking around. “It’s amazing what having your own place does to your attitude. It kind of takes an element of fear out of what you do… It’s just a lot more peace of mind.”
Guntersville is a community of about 8,300 people in northeast Alabama. It is surrounded by Lake Guntersville, a man-made reservoir on the Tennessee River. The town has always attracted its share of bass anglers and boaters. It is also the last place singer Ricky Nelson performed before perishing in a 1985 plane crash.
This Marshall County community is small and conservative. Resler sometimes wonders how the theater has thrived for 40 years, especially since many other theaters don’t survive nearly as long.
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Laura Axelrod is the author of the preceding article as part of the Triple Axelrod series.
Laura Axelrod is a writer, playwright and actress. Her plays have been performed in New York, California and Europe. Her articles have appeared in The Birmingham News and AL.com. Her book reviews were distributed nationally through Newhouse News Service. A native of New England, she moved to Alabama six years ago. You can read more at www.lauraaxelrod.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: @laura_axelrod.