Can you believe we’ve just said goodbye to 2017? It was quite a year for all of us and coincidentally a season when we did some very challenging work. There was the multimedia production of Hamlet that explored the effect of the media on our perception of reality and the groundbreaking musical Rent that inspired empathy for a group of young people struggling to realize their dreams of a better life.
In the past few weeks I’ve been sharing stories with you from some of our volunteers to show how your actions can have profound effects. Like ripples creating waves, the things you do – your volunteer work, your donations and how you share the Theatre with your friends and family – have helped others heal, recover from loss and grow to reach their full potential.
I hope you enjoy these stories and feel inspired by them like I do. I love sharing stories with you from those who’ve told me about how their lives have changed because of being involved here. These transformations happen because of the feeling of community you help provide.
Having a sense of belonging is a basic human need. So many of the people I’ve talked to have described our theatre as the first place they felt they belonged and were accepted. One of these people is Gregg Mozgala.
Gregg came to Hickory in the early 90’s when he was a high school freshman. It was a hard time for him. His parents were getting divorced and he was in a new school.
Gregg has cerebral palsy and the combination of being “different” and being at a new school left him feeling isolated and alone. His first week in town he took a theatre class with Molly Bass, and soon after she put him in a show in the Firemen’s Kitchen.
After being in Molly’s show he immersed himself in the world of HCT. Working with Aaron Lewis and Charles Jeffers he felt welcome in a way he’d never felt before. He did anything and everything he could do here – painting sets, working backstage, and doing bit parts in plays.
Then he ran the sound for a production of The Elephant Man. It was a transcendent experience for him.
“Being there, night after night,” he said, “witnessing the story of a man with a disability, someone like me, making a life for himself, inspired me. That was what solidified for me my identity as a disabled person. I felt more welcome at Hickory Community Theatre than anywhere else and there were so many wonderful moments. I even learned to tie a tie.”
Flash forward to his life today and Gregg is now a successful theatre artist in New York City with his own theatre company, The Apothetae. In May 2016 he was named a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. In 2015 he was the subject of a documentary, Enter the Faun, and has traveled the world with his choreographer sharing a new way of treating people with cerebral palsy. Enter the Faun was also an entry in the 2015 Footcandle Film Festival here in Hickory and won the Audience Favorite award. That same year he starred in the music video for Andra Day’s single “Rise Up.” Check it out on YouTube, it’s very powerful. His most recent work, a leading role in the off-Broadway comedy The Cost of Living, was named a Critic’s Pick by the New York Times last summer. If you’d like to learn more about Gregg you can visit his website at greggmozgala.com.
This is how important the Hickory Community Theatre is to our community and now is the time when you can continue to make a dramatic difference with a donation to our annual fund drive. By making a contribution you help create a place where people feel accepted and nurtured, a place to learn and grow. During this donation campaign our goal is $20,000 to further our work and our mission and I’m happy to announce that we’re now a third of the way there – and if you’re one of our early donors I thank you. Every dollar makes a difference. If everyone who reads this would donate $5 or more you will get us there.
If you haven’t yet made your gift to the Theatre you can help us by making an online donation now by clicking the button below or by mailing a check to HCT, 30 3rd St NW, Hickory, NC 28601. Please give as generously as you can and help us continue to provide an exciting and supportive place for all, along with education for the community and engaging productions for you.
Remember, we can’t do what we do without you.