The building was still mostly the shell of an old department store. The street outside was largely vacant and wind-blown after 5 pm, especially on weekends. It was the only Auburn I’d known as an adult and it seemed it would be that way forever.
For the first few years, there were no “seats” on which to put a plaque. We sat on folding chairs in front of a plywood stage to watch performances that soared, singers who brought tears to my eyes, people we marveled over for days afterward.
Going to these extraordinary performances, infrequent at first, reminded me of attending my kids’ first piano and dance recitals. Sure, I went expecting to enjoy myself. But showing up was as much an expression of faith as it was an evening out. I believed in this downtown Auburn theater idea. I wasn’t sure what it would become or how deeply it would affect me, but this place was going to make its mark on the world.
A little more than a decade later, and Auburn Public Theater has become the strong heart beating in downtown Auburn. Families drop off kids for dance and theater classes. Night after night the neighborhood pulses with life. Really good bars, restaurants, breweries and shops flourish nearby.
The theater has given me and countless others opportunities to stretch creative boundaries. I have been introduced to amazing talents of people I never heard of and people I knew only in passing. I’ve been delighted by films I missed at movieplexes and awed by heart-wrenching independent works that would never come to a movieplex.
Behind it all is the sustaining optimism and vision of Auburn Public Theater’s founding directors, Angela Daddabbo and Carey Eidel. It’s a spirit that’s been shared by the dozens of employees and colleagues and volunteers who have kept the place going day after day these many years.
We build our dreams little by little, often it seems, at the fringe of our lives. We show up, do the work, do our best. Pursuit of a goal can sometimes seem a repetitive grind.
So to have a place to go to that reliably brings people together, that welcomes ideas, that celebrates our best creative instincts is both a solace and a dream come true.
Auburn Public Theater is that place where I can be inspired and uplifted, laugh and cry, marvel with friends and an even bigger audience over how good we can be, how wondrous is this life, how rich and diverse this community already is.
Not long ago – just like the idea of a thriving downtown Auburn – having such a place in Auburn seemed a fantasy. It’s real now. With continued financial support and hard work behind this shared vision, it can get even better in the years ahead.
-Dave Tobin, APT board member
Title Photo Credit: Christopher Molloy