Professional theatre has a place in Clay County

By Kenneth Detwyler Jr. Correspondent
Posted 7/4/18

ORANGE PARK – The Clamour Theatre Company continues to make a name for itself, as Clay County’s first and only professional theatre troupe.

“I’ve been involved in theatre for 25 years in …

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Professional theatre has a place in Clay County

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The Clamour Theatre Company continues to make a name for itself, as Clay County’s first and only professional theatre troupe.

“I’ve been involved in theatre for 25 years in New York City and when I moved down here, I felt like Clay County was in need of some professional theatre,” said Elaine Smith, producing artistic director of the Clamour Theatre Company.

Smith traces her passion for doing theatre all the way back to her first acting gig, as the star of her kindergarten play. Now, as a seasoned theatre professional, Smith and her associates have spent the last few years making Clamour into a reality.

Clamour first made waves by finishing in second place in the 2017 “Pitch It In The Park” contest to raise funds to acquire the historic Clay Theatre in Green Cove Springs as a permanent home for the company. However, that bid was unsuccessful as another buyer landed the property. The company instead performs at various venues across Clay County, while continuing to raise funds to not only find a permanent venue, but also better compensate their professional actors.

On June 16, the Clamour Theatre Company staged a reading of an original play, “The Memories of Ruby Mae” by local playwright Olivia Gowan.

The play is the moving, and at times, hilarious story surrounding the life and death of its titular character. Gowan is hoping the successful reading in Clay County will translate into a future on the stage.

“It’s very cathartic, it’s very vulnerable, and it brings a lot of anxiety, but it’s worth it,” said Gowan.

The cast and audience from the reading held at The Stage at NAPA at 1505 Wells Rd. in Orange Park were generally pleased with the way Gowan’s play turned out even if the first cast don’t follow the play to the stage. Clamour was able to serve as a valuable testing ground.

“It’s a fantastic show, it’s very touching,” said Gloria Ware, who acted in the show. “The characters were well rounded and well defined and it’s a wonderful story, I’m so proud to be a part of it.”

As a professional theatre company, members are working actors in the theatre industry. This is different from community theatre which allows members of the general public to audition and doesn’t pay performers. The ultimate goal of Clamour is to provide actors with steady pay. This allows actors in Northeast Florida the chance to do what they love, professionally. Subsequently, it gives local theatre fans an opportunity to experience the performing arts in a new way without driving to Jacksonville or Orlando to see a professional performance.

“Theatre brings communities together,” Smith said. “It allows us to know ourselves better, it allows to know other people, other cultures, other ages, other races better and the world around us.”

For information about upcoming projects by the Clamour Theatre Company, visit their website at clamourtheatre.org/about.htm.

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