The show must go on in Columbia

Kay Thigpen, Trustus Theatre, Columbia

July 31, 2009 

On Sept. 21, 1989 Trustus Theatre was in the second week of our run of “Burn This.” I had spent the morning at home securing everything in the yard and back porch that could possibly be blown away. Most folks were also battening down the hatches and few were venturing out that evening.

The weather report said that we could probably hold the 8 p.m. show and finish it before Hugo posed a great danger to the theatre in Columbia. We indeed did hold the show that evening. We had a half house of 53 patrons plus our staff and actors and technicians. Following the show, I couldn’t get our patrons to leave. They all wanted one more drink at the bar. As it approached midnight I started turning the lights off and urging our patrons to go home, which they eventually did.

The next day, Sept. 22, we again held a show and another 53 patrons came to the performance that night.

We eventually learned that Chopstick Theatre of Charleston had lost everything – their warehouse and rehearsal space had collapsed under the fury of Hugo. We immediately went into gear and invited Chopstick up to Columbia when we had completed our run of “Burn This.” On Oct. 18, 1989, we turned our theatre over to Chopstick for an eight-performance benefit run and turned the box office receipts over to them.

The Chopstick Benefit garnered them over $2,000 for their theatre. We eventually formed a relationship with Chopstick whereby we each exchanged an actor for a production later that year. One of our actors, Ilene Fins went to Chopstick and appeared in the Spoleto production and Steve Lepre came to Trustus to appear in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”

-- Kay Thigpen, Trustus Theatre, Columbia

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