THE HISTORY OF THE DRAMA GROUP
The Drama Group got its start almost by accident when several members of The First United Methodist Church of Germantown got together to present a staged reading of Michael Christopher's touching and humorous play, The Shadow Box, on Good Friday evening, 1980. The overwhelming success of that production, presented before a full house, was a surprise to everyone involved. Equally surprising was how very much those involved enjoyed doing it.
Other staged readings followed: The Lady's not for Burning by Christopher Fry, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. By 1982, Drama Group actors no longer had scripts in hand for productions of William Goldman's The Lion in Winter and Harold Pinter's Betrayal. The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerantz, presented the following year, was the first Drama Group show to incorporate professional-quality stage lighting. Production values continued to be upgraded and, by 1985, just five years after that first staged reading, The Drama Group was holding open auditions and attracting actors and audience members alike from Northwest Philadelphia and the surrounding greater Delaware Valley area.
Since those early years, The Drama Group has grown to become a highly regarded, non-professional theatre company. Members pay a small annual membership fee and, in return, receive The Drama Groupie newsletter, Stage magazine, and discounted tickets to all Drama Group performances. The church community out of which it grew continues to provide the group with a home base and a performance space. The church does not, however, contribute any financial backing, nor does it influence the group's choice of plays. All artistic and managerial decisions are made by The Drama Group's Board of Directors.
The Drama Group produces two shows a year - one in the fall and one in the spring. Those shows have ranged from comedies (Room Service by John Murray and Allen Boretz, On the Razzle by Tom Stoppard) to dramas (Equus by Peter Shaffer, Fences by August Wilson) to American classics (Harvey by Mary Chase, Our Town by Thornton Wilder) to classical classics (Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare) and, very often, the obscure and little known (Hunting Cockroaches by Januz Glowacki, A Voice of My Own by Elinor Jones) or the seldom produced (Children of a Lesser God by Mark Medoff, The Lark by Jean Anouilh, adapted by Lillian Hellman with choruses by Leonard Bernstein). The Drama Group has also become known for tackling plays on timely and sensitive issues such as AIDS (As Is by William M. Hoffman), anti-semitism (Another Antigone by A.R. Gurney), homophobia (The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theater Project), and pedophilia (How I Learned To Drive by Paula Vogel). Drama Group shows are not what might be expected from a community theatre. Some are blockbusters (for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange) and other unfamiliar plays go almost unnoticed (Lonely Planet by Steven Dietz). Drama Group shows are diverse, adventurous, and always worth seeing and talking about.
Northwest Philadelphia has a long and distinguished theatrical tradition with The Stagecrafters in Chestnut Hill, Old Academy Players in East Falls and Allens Lane Theater in Mt. Airy. The Drama Group is proud to have been a part of that tradition for over thirty years in the historic community of Germantown.
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