Herman’s Ghostlight Theatre’s First Production: What I’ve Learned from Running a Theatre Company

Issue 10: December 2, 2022

This Saturday at 10 a.m., Herman’s Ghostlight Theatre Company is producing a play adaptation of the children’s story “Miss Nelson is Missing!” in the Abilene Public Library in Downtown Abilene. As a producer in Herman’s Ghostlight Theatre, I want to give a few insights into my experience within this company and express my excitement for our first production!

Herman’s Ghostlight Theatre Company was founded at the beginning of the Fall ‘22 semester in class THRE 3325, Theatre and Fine Arts Management. Professor L.W. Miller split our class into two groups and challenged us to create two theatre companies.

It was no easy feat for our class as my fellow producers and I learned to balance our work, academic, and social lives with the responsibilities and challenges of building a theatre company from the ground up. Thankfully, we had the support and guidance of our McMurry Theatre Department.

We needed to announce our company, host a fundraiser, and produce a show by the end of the semester. We announced our company at Monks Coffee Shop but didn’t reach as many people as we wanted. Professor L.W. Miller taught us if we wanted to find at least ten people interested in our company, we had to reach a hundred. In other words, we need to reach a bigger audience and put ourselves in the public eye more. With this in mind, we participated in last month’s ArtWalk run by the Center for Contemporary Arts. Although our first company announcement wasn’t as successful as we had hoped, ArtWalk allowed us to interact with more people in Downtown Abilene and put ourselves in the public eye.

Some of the biggest hurdles we have overcome have included determining our roles within the company, learning to hold effective meetings, and maintaining open communication. Once we decided who in our company was in charge of what, it was much easier to delegate tasks and rely on each other. As the Marketing Director, I received a lot of support from my fellow producers Tabitha Wilson, our Chief Executive and House Manager, and Kelton Wehrman, our Directive of Theatre/Co-Head of Marketing. They relieved some of the pressure by posting on our Instagram page @hermansghostlighttheatre.

At first, our meetings wouldn’t be the most productive. We would have many ideas to promote ourselves, but couldn’t stay focused enough to make tangible, feasible plans to progress. As our deadlines drew nearer, we maintained an agenda and delegated tasks and deadlines to ensure our meetings were productive and that we were moving forward.

Throughout my college career, I’ve found that any time you think you’re good at communicating, there will be another experience that shows room for improvement. There are so many moving parts when running a theatre company that (sometimes) one detail or another falls through the cracks. I’ve learned that even though we may have disagreements or miscommunications, I can count on my fellow producers to come together and solve our problems as a team (and to make note of our experience to prevent confusion in the future).

One detail I may have glossed over is that this is our first time running a company like this. Our first time doing this on our own, failing, struggling, and learning as we push through every obstacle and setback we’ve faced. Professor L.W. Miller encouraged us, saying we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.

I am proud of our team and how far we’ve come as students and as a theatre company. After this experience, I have the confidence to work with others in similar work and creative environments.

Our first production, “Miss Nelson is Missing!” adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, is a play adaptation of the children’s book written by Harry Allard and illustrated by James Marshall.

In Room 207, Miss Nelson tries to teach the rowdiest class ever. Every day the children joke and disrupt class, ignoring their sweet teacher. Until one day, a new substitute teacher takes her place: the nasty, strict, and scary Miss Viola Swamp! The kids look to Detective McSmogg to find their missing teacher. In search of Miss Nelson, the kids learn the importance of treating others with respect and kindness.

“Miss Nelson is Missing!” will have a one-time performance with FREE admission this Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Downtown Public Library on 202 Cedar Street 79601. We hope to see you there!