MILLEDGEVILLE — The Milledgeville Players are moving closer to calling a portion of the former Shaw Building home for a community theater space with hopes to perform on a new, grand stage in just a few months time.
“We feel lucky to be partnering with the City of Milledgeville on this project. It not only fills our need for a home, but gives us an opportunity to be a community player in the larger effort to bring the Shaw Building back to life,” said John Geist, vice president of the Milledgeville Players. “The potential for innovation, business incubation, art development and exhibition, and technical enhancement is terrific, and we welcome that partnership.”
The local community theater group formed around 2001 and has received success with its performances through the years. Once established, The Milledgeville Players eventually created a formal board management structure, and dialogue of finding a place to call the group’s own began. Geist became chair of the theater search committee in 2010.
“We looked at our finances, did all of the mechanics and started talking about getting our own home. During the next two years, we looked at about 50 buildings in Milledgeville and the general area. I looked at about half a dozen other theater groups to see how they were structured and I got to see some lessons learned,” Geist said. “We were and are blessed with lovely facilities here and talents, but it’s difficult not having our own place in terms of outreach and creating a season.”
When discussion started about the repurposing of the Shaw Building, the theater performing group saw it as an opportunity to fit into a larger idea.
“The Shaw Building embraces opportunities for innovations ... along with enhancing the neighborhood of the south and providing a stepping stone out to Central State Hospital. It seemed like the stars were all aligned.” Geist said. “We engaged with my architect son to create a conceptual floor plan and then sent a letter of intent to Mike Couch, then city planner, to inform him of our interest in pursuing a space in the building, our plans with it and our intention to do that at no cost to the city.”