The Black Bart Playhouse in Murphys needs some tender loving care.
The Murphys Theatre Company has managed the space for some time, after it merged with the Black Bart Players, the community theater troupe that originally created the playhouse, many years ago. Murphys Creek received a grant from the Wintercreek Foundation to get to work on the building and the board of directors is prioritizing projects that need to be accomplished.
“Rental contributions from community events cover basic maintenance costs, but the years have taken a toll on some of the infrastructure,” said a release from Murphys Creek Theatre. “Visitors may have noticed small changes over the last few years, such as the plush red theater seats and new lighting equipment, and with this grant, MCT hopes to make an even bigger dent in its list of honey-dos.”
The portion of the space where the audience sits today was a Calaveras County Public Works road maintenance shop in Murphys. The Black Bart Players and the county agreed to a deal in which the theater company provided a new building for the county road maintenance equipment and the troupe got the space across from Murphys Community Park.
A large group of community members converted the big empty building into a community theater. The late Betty Deakins, an engineer and draftswoman for the Calaveras Cement Co. in San Andreas who died in 1996, drew the plans that expanded the building to add the lobby out front and the dressing rooms that are backstage.
“We want to grow – catch up with the renovations in the rest of Murphys and raise the profile of the theater in the community,” said Emily Graham, who handles the company’s publicity. “We are all volunteers here and love seeing the arts and live theater. I hope this energizes our supporters. It’s time for the outside to match the inside. This grant is a great start, and we are looking to the community, patrons and friends of theater everywhere to help us match it – stretch that gift even further!”
A GoFundMe campaign at gofundme.com/murphys-playhouse-renovation has been established with the goal of raising $10,000.
“It’s nice to see great plays in Murphys, but it is even nicer when the venue is welcoming,” Graham said. “We’ve done what we can with what we have, but people notice when things seem a bit funky. We want the whole experience at the theater to be inspiring. Murphys deserves it.”
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