BATAVIA – In the heart of Batavia's downtown, just steps from city offices and local police, sits one of the area's oldest and boldest stage companies.
The Albright Theatre Company, home to 80 volunteer members, has become known for nearly four decades of cutting edge theatre productions. Albright began in 1974 with a membership of five people and an audience of eight. It first was housed in a converted church in Warrenville, moving to its Batavia location in 2001.
The company performs at least six shows every year from its theater space above the Batavia Government Center, 100 N. Island Ave. Batavia. The not-for-profit organization relies on ticket sales, fundraisers and donations for funding.
Albright's volunteers do everything from build sets to direct to act, make costumes, sell tickets and more. They run everything from the bottom up.
“We are all volunteer,” said Jeannine Collins, box office manager. “We do it because we love it.”
All are welcome to audition for a performance. Anyone interested in joining Albright, can act or volunteer to help in a performance, paying $10 in annual dues to become a member. Albright has members of all ages from across the Tri-Cities and the surrounding area, and every member get to vote on the board of directors and the shows the company will perform.
It's currently staging "Beautiful Thing," the story of a teen-aged boy who falls for his male friend, and the complications and challenges that ensue from a misunderstood romance.
“It's all member driven,” said Collins of the company's performance selections. “We started small and we grew and the reason we grew is we do good stuff.”
The production, in the midst of a nationwide debate over gay marriage rights, is poignant wrap to this company's 39th season. And after May 11, when the stage lights go out and the scenery comes down until September, those 80 volunteers will be continuing to spread the word of Albright, and secure donation on the theatre company's behalf.
Currently underway is the One Brick at a Time fundraiser, with a goal of raising $10,000 by the end of 2013 to complete a series of renovations to the theatre company's current space.
Since they won't be building a brick wall in the middle of the theater, the plan is to cover our new wall with figurative “bricks” of various sizes and colors. Donations of $5-$25 result in a red brick. A black brick indicates a donation of $26-$50. Silver and gold bricks symbolize donations of up to $75, or $250, respectively.
Larger gift-givers will receive a permanent plaque as platinum sponsor for the Albright Theatre Company. The group homes to raise $10,000 by the end of 2013.
The title, "One Brick at a Time," reminds members of Albright that in order to build and achieve great things, they must work toward their goals piece by piece, said theatre company president Jennifer Ring.
“We've been around for 40 years, which is not something a lot of theatre companies can say,” she said. “Our goal is to give people an opportunity to explore something, something they've maybe never before experienced in their life.”
Volunteers say the city has been a great fit for Albright.
“We really like Batavia,” Collins said. “We like the people. They're very supportive of us. Thank you, people of Batavia."
In the company's 2013-14 season, which begins in September, members will pay tribute to the theatre company's anniversary by staging shows it performed between 1974 and 2004.
“What's always amazing to me is [how] things that were written 30, 40, 50 years ago still speak to audiences now,” Ring said.
The next season will kick off with “Harvey” in September, followed by “Angel Street” in November, “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” in February and March, “The Curious Savage” in April and May and “Love Rides the Rail” in June. Albright also will perform a Christmas show in December.
“We want to do different kinds of shows and we think we've succeeded in doing different kinds of shows,” Collins said. “Stop in and see us.”
For more information on The Albright Theatre Company, as a volunteer, a donor or to attend a performance, visit www.albrighttheatre.com.