John’s Volunteer Blog 2017 Chapter 3 – Diane

I hope you’ve enjoyed all the best this season has to offer – holiday parties, family gatherings and all the wonderful cultural events going on in town. We certainly quite a few going on here. Elf the Musical had a very successful run (I hope you got to see it.) The Horrible Herdmans invaded withThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever! and then there was Jackie Finley’s annual holiday concert, A Cabaret Christmas. Still to come is James Gregory’s annual New Year’s Eve comedy show. A handful of tickets are still available for that show at 8pm on Sunday evening.

It’s because of our volunteers that all this is possible. A total of 156 volunteers are involved in these events this holiday season! They come from all walks of life to help us because of the joy and sense of community they find here.

One of those volunteers is Diane, who besides working backstage and at concessions was a major part of the cast of Elf. She originally came to the theatre as a patron because her daughter was a volunteer and she wanted to show her support. She took a big leap and stepped onto our stage, doing Improv comedy no less, after life dealt her an unexpected blow. For those not familiar with it, Improv comedy is performed without a script, making up your own lines and story based on audience suggestions. Through the art of Improv and then performing in scripted shows, Diane has found way to enjoy life again.

“My interest in theater came to me much later in life,” she told me. “One year after my husband abruptly abandoned our marriage my daughter suggested I take an Improv comedy workshop that was being offered at the Hickory Community Theatre.  I had spent that previous year sort of hibernating with my sorrow and thought it was time I start to laugh again.  While studying Improv those few weeks, I learned to think outside myself, immerse myself in the process and to laugh at myself.  That is where I met John Rambo, and two other veterans of the HCT stage Bill Boyd and Daniel Breuer. Their support of this newbie and the connection I developed doing Improv were great motivators for me and gave me the confidence and self-esteem I thought was lost during the previous year.  I took the stage for the first time ever with the Now Are the Foxes Improv troupe in the Firemen’s kitchen.  They are a wonderful group of supportive improvisers and it was a huge success.”

Diane now performs regularly with Now Are the Foxes and is also a founding member of Social Insecurity, an Improv group made up solely of performers 55 and over.

Her first scripted show was 9 to 5 the Musical. “The story was one I could relate to and I decided to audition.  Now, I had never ever sung in public.  In fact I would lip sync in church.  But I sang the song ‘You Are My Sunshine’ with gusto and I was cast as Maria Delgado. Since then I have been on stage or backstage for numerous shows.

One of the biggest life changes after a divorce is that the people who you thought were your friends are no longer there.  You don’t fit in with your couple friends anymore.  But at the theater it doesn’t seem to matter, you are accepted for who you are. All have a common goal of creating art, supporting HCT and being involved with a process that transcends the social norms.”

Diane has shared the story of her journey in the book Planet Heartbreak by Vikki Stark and now does speaking engagements with groups of women going through a change in their life whether through divorce or the death of a spouse.

“The same message resounds,” she said. “Find what you are passionate about.  Take a chance.  Believe in yourself.  This is what Hickory Community Theatre has done for me.  I have found a passion, I have made true friends and I have been given a safe a supportive place to rebuild and restore myself.”

This kind of transformative experience is what your help provides for our volunteers and the community. Your support – as a donor, patron and/or a volunteer – helps us make it possible.

You can continue to help by contributing to our annual year-end donation drive. If you’d like to make a dramatic difference please use the link below to make an online donation. You may also send a check to HCT, 30 3rd St NW, Hickory, NC 28601. To donate by phone please call 828-327-3855.

We can’t do what we do without you.

Yours truly
John Rambo


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