Emily and her late husband, Bruce, (above) started giving to the IRT 20 years ago. So we asked Emily: Why support live theatre?
It all began with Miss Ruth Sullivan, Bruce's American and English literature teacher at Herrin High School in Herrin, Illinois in the late 1960s. Miss Sullivan managed to bring literature alive for every single student. She was masterful at inspiring students to read on their own, recite literature in class, and attend plays as a group from her list of local opportunities.
Flash forward ten years, and here we were, new to the city of Indianapolis and new to Indiana! My first full day of work at St. Vincent Hospital was January 25, 1978 when Indianapolis was paralyzed by the Blizzard of 1978. After we dug ourselves out, we started exploring Indianapolis: history, culture, architecture, industry, the arts, and sports. We saw a few plays when the IRT was housed at the Athenaeum, and by the time the new location was completely refurbished, we were hooked.
We became season subscribers in IRT's 9th season, 1980-81. In the early years, Bruce and I gave gifts to the IRT both yearly and sporadically. We made our first gift to the IRT during an awareness campaign that informed us about the cost of the production versus the cost of the ticket. I continue to give for that same reason and many, many more. We became more purposeful about our gifts by using an automatic payment plan or by our employer's payroll deduction.
As a donor, I have participated in backstage tours, the ArtTalk series, and donor receptions. What I enjoy the most is being able to speak one-on-one with the actors, directors, the dramaturg, and the playwright. I am compelled to let each IRT company member know exactly how much I appreciate their craft and what powerful message I have taken away because of it.
This season continued to engage and entertain with riveting productions, including my favorite, The Originalist. I was completely glued to the articulate and intense dialogue between the characters as they explored their opposing views about life, the law, and basic human rights in a challenging and witty, yet thoughtful manner. And, of course, the genuine admiration that grew between the characters that embodied such different perspectives was so well-done.
In addition to an annual gift, Bruce and I chose to leave the IRT a gift from our estates. After Bruce passed away in 2012, a legacy gift from my estate remained a top priority for two reasons: 1) to thank the IRT, with a grateful heart, for the years of top-notch, life-changing theater and 2) to allow the future Miss Ruth Sullivans out there to have access to live theater and educational programs for their students.
The IRT is an essential element for the Central Indiana community: for everyday people like me and for all those who are yet to have this invigorating experience. And, of course, on behalf of our youth and all the Ruth Sullivans out there, see it live at the IRT!
FROM THE WINGS
From the Wings is a biannual newsletter exclusively for donors to the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
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