When the Cascades Theatrical Company was founded, Jimmy Carter was president. Gas cost 63 cents a gallon. The Illinois Bell Company had just introduced the first-ever Cellular Mobile Phone System, which weighed 2.5 pounds and had a talk time of 35 minutes, but only if it was charged for a full 10 hours.
The nonprofit has been a leader in community theater in Bend since 1978, so when financial difficulties plagued organization—things got so bad earlier this year the board considered selling and renting out the Greenwood playhouse that the company owns outright—contributors and board members scrambled for a solution.
"It was a huge issue," said longtime board member Keith Clinton. "None of the members wanted to leave it. We fought so hard to get it in the first place."
CTC started renting the playhouse—a renovated automotive showroom—in 1982 and bought the building in 1990. Leigh Casler, who met her husband, Bill, in a play through CTC around the time of its inception, said that she remembers the days of moving sets and rehearsing with no permanent home, no heat and no bathroom.
"We didn't have a theater building," recalled Casler. "We would haul sets to Kenwood School and to Sunriver, we would move everything and then take it down and move it again."
To keep the beloved playhouse, CTC had to reorganize. At the end of last season the organization returned to the all-volunteer approach it began with in 1978. It took out a small short-term loan to cover its expenses and hoped that the theater's seats would be full to help make ends meet. The changes have served as a catalyst to volunteers like Casler who haven't been involved in the theater for years but didn't want to see it lose its home.
"I think there's a renewed spirit," said Clinton. "People realized 'Oh, gee, we almost lost our building,' and that really brought people out of the woodwork: new volunteers and people who bought memberships. It was a little trial, but it was something we had to go through, and now I think we're going to be stronger than ever."
Last week, the nonprofit announced its 35th season lineup—one that Clinton said is going to be a real crowd-pleaser.
"We've been running some different genre things, some experiments, avant-garde theater stuff that you wouldn't typically see in a community theater," explained Clinton. "Our audiences were pretty adamant that that wasn't what they wanted to see, and they voted with their ticket money. This year, we wanted stuff that we thought our audiences would really enjoy."
The Dixie Swim Club
Sept. 20 – Oct. 5, 2013
By Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope & Jamie Wooten
The Game's Afoot; or Holmes for the Holidays
Nov. 8 – Dec. 7, 2013
By Ken Ludwig
Angel Street (Gaslight)
Jan. 17 – Feb. 1, 2014
By Patrick Hamilton
March 14-.29, 2014
By Ray Cooney
I Remember You
April 25 - May 10, 2014
By Bernard Slade
June 13-28, 2014
By Alan Ayckbourn
Want to know more about the plays?
Attend CTC's Sneak Peak
Friday, Aug. 23, and Saturday, Aug. 24
Sunday, Aug. 25
Greenwood Playhouse, 148 NW Greenwood Ave.
More information at cascadestheatrical.org