It’s 10 in the morning on a Saturday last spring, and Very Little Theatre has its doors wide open. Hopeful actors sit inside the building, tapping their feet and talking in quiet whispers. The theater itself is dark like the interior of a ship’s wooden hull, but the stage lights are shining on a set.
This is audition day at one of the oldest community theaters in the country — and hearts are racing. The show these hopefuls are auditioning for is British playwright Robin Hawdon’s Perfect Wedding, the penultimate show in the theater’s 2016-2017 season.
As Eugene’s theater scene grows and matures, the role of community theater has become even more vital, both as a training ground for actors and technicians and as a vehicle for audience development. VLT may be Eugene’s oldest theater, but it’s just one of a tidal wave of performing groups in town.
Besides VLT, Oregon Contemporary Theatre leads a local scene that includes The Shedd Theatricals, Actors Cabaret of Eugene, Radio Redux, Free Shakespeare in the Park, Roving Park Players, Not Ready for Retirement Players and No Shame Theatre, as well as theater departments at the University of Oregon, Lane Community College and a handful of private colleges here. Venture a short drive out of town and you’ve got Cottage Theatre in Cottage Grove.