by (listed at end)
My first direct experience with CCP came in 1987. I had just graduated High School and started dating a girl and on our second date I took her to Crossville to see her favorite musical, The Sound of Music. We were very impressed by the show, had a great time, and the experience helped set the tone for twenty-three years of marriage.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that CCP had already had a dramatic effect on my life, indirectly. In 1979, a man named Richard Northcutt had the harebrained idea of starting a community theater in Woodbury, Tennessee. As he began looking for models of how to make that happen and how to build a rural audience, he looked just down the road to CCP. I grew up in that community theater which would become The Arts Center of Cannon County. After college I came back to run the organization as it became a model in its own right. Throughout my nineteen years there, we would constantly ask What would Cumberland County do? or How would the Playhouse handle this?– many times picking up the phone and asking Jim directly. I can honestly say much of the success of The Arts Center came from the influence of The Cumberland County Playhouse.
As we reflect on CCP’s legacy after 50 years, I think that it is easy to miss the ripples. By serving as a model rural arts organization CCP has affected countless people (people CCP does not even know about) in dramatic, life altering, ways. Not just kids like me, in Cannon County, but also a kid I just heard about in McNairy County in West Tennessee who is part of an organization that used the Arts Center as a model. Or even someone down the road that uses Arts in McNairy as a model. You see, if rural arts in Tennessee is a family tree then CCP is a big part of that trunk, and as such will continue to have a positive effect on lives for years to come. This, for me, is one of the most widespread and enduring parts of the Cumberland County Playhouse legacy and one that should be celebrated during this golden anniversary.
The Playhouse calls itself “Tennessee’s Family Theater” and in 2010, when Jim asked me to direct Duck Hunter Shoots Angel, I became part of the family. Perhaps a cousin that only gets together around Thanksgiving, but one who is always made to feel welcome at the table. I cherish my experiences at Cumberland County and love the experience of working with a rep company of talented actors, designers, technicians and friends. It continues to be one of my favorite places to work. I’m excited to return this year to be part of the Golden Anniversary Season. I can only hope that the work that we do will continue to honor the legacy of the Crabtree family and of the Cumberland County Playhouse.
© 2015 Donald Fann
Used by Permission