Windham Theatre Guild prepares for annual tag sale

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Windham - posted Tue., Jan. 14, 2014
Windham Theatre Guild treasurer and managing director Martha Funderburk helps sort items in preparation for the group's large annual tag sale, scheduled for Jan. 18. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Windham Theatre Guild treasurer and managing director Martha Funderburk helps sort items in preparation for the group's large annual tag sale, scheduled for Jan. 18. Photos by Melanie Savage.

Martha Funderburk pulled a mustard-yellow teapot from a cardboard box. The treasurer and managing director for the Windham Theatre Guild, Funderburk was spending a rainy Saturday surrounded by puzzles, dinnerware, dollhouses, golf clubs and other assorted treasures, helping to set up for the Guild’s Giant Indoor Tag Sale.

Unusual for its occurrence in the dead of winter, the annual sale is “one of our biggest fund raising events,” said Funderburk’s husband and the Guild’s president, Victor Funderburk. The Guild is able to raise between 40 and 50 percent of its revenue through ticket sales. “No theatre survives on ticket revenue alone,” explained Funderburk. The Guild has relatively low operating expenses due to the fact that all staff members are volunteers. “We have no paid staff at all,” said Funderburk.

In addition to the tag sale, the theatre raises revenue through other major events such as an annual raffle and auction. The revenue allows the Guild to fulfill a very busy annual schedule, this year offering a total nine shows. An adult Broadway chorus offers one concert per year. A children’s chorus produces an additional two concerts per year. Altogether, the Guild is involved with approximately 60 performances throughout the season.

“This time of year it gets very busy,” said Funderburk, taking a break from the tag sale set-up on Jan. 11. “At this time of year we have 120 people or so working on one show or another.” The Guild’s production of “The Love List” (running Feb. 7-16) was well into rehearsals, the adult chorus was preparing for a concert, and “God of Carnage” auditions had just been held. “There’s always a show in rehearsal,” said Funderburk. “There’s always something going on.”

Because the Guild has limited room in the Burton Leavitt Theatre, the organization must rely upon the community to help accommodate multiple rehearsal schedules. “The school system is a big supporter,” said Funderburk. Eastern Connecticut State University also provides rehearsal space, at times. “The community support is one of the great things about this group,” said Funderburk.

As the theatre has become more established (this is the Guild’s 10th year in the Burton Leavitt Theatre), it has been able to attract a more diverse group of performers. “We get some talented people here,” said Funderburk. There are theatre professionals who come in to work on a show or two. But the Guild also welcomes complete novices. “Our mission is to give people an opportunity to do theatre and to learn theatre,” said Funderburk. Everyone should become involved in a production at least once, “or at least that’s my opinion,” he said.

The less experienced learn from the more experienced, said Funderburk, “and that’s a neat thing to watch.”

Funderburk said that dramadies - a combination of drama and comedy - are becoming very popular in recent years.

“People want to be entertained, but they want a message too,” said Guild vice president Robin Rice. The 2013-14 Windham Theatre Guild season offers up a number of dramadies, including the upcoming “God of Carnage.”

For a full season schedule, go to www.windhamtheatreguild.org.  The 2014 summer musical will be “Shrek: The Musical.” The Windham Theatre Guild Giant Indoor Tag Sale will take place on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  To volunteer for the Windham Theatre Guild, call 860-423-2245 or e-mail windhamtheatre@aol.com.


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