The Possum Point Players (PPP) was formed, "to contribute to the cultural diversity and vitality of Sussex County, Delaware, by bringing the experience of live theater for education and visitors alike." Our non-profit community theater group has achieved that goal annually since April of 1973, and has earned a reputation for bringing to the stage productions that have been consistently well received by critics and the community.
441 Old Laurel Road - Georgetown, Delaware / Mailing Address: P O Box 96, Georgetown DE 19947 / Office Phone: 302-856-3460
But our organization has achieved much more than the small group of founders envisioned when they first met in a Millsboro living room more than 30 years ago. Perhaps it is the enduring influence of so many teachers among the early Possums, but our players have always believed in the power of theater to both educate and entertain people of all ages. One testament to the success of our efforts has been receiving the 2003 Delaware Technical and Community College Arts and Humanities Award. It is presented to honor "an individual, business or organization for outstanding accomplishments in artistic or humanitarian endeavors which have positively impacted our greater community."
With support of all kinds from Sussex County and the surrounding community, PPP has experienced phenomenal growth over the years. Our theater offerings total over 150 different shows including 35 Broadway or full length musicals, 38 comedies, 16 dramas, 16 children's shows, 18 musical reviews, 8 Christmas shows, 10 performances by the Possum Juniors, and 21 other performances such as historical productions, readers theater, melodramas, and one woman shows. Twenty seven of these shows have been dinner theater and another 4 have been "champagne dessert" theater.
True Community Theater
PPP is truly a "community" theater group. Our productions are staged by unpaid amateurs. The actors and directors, costumers and stage crew, ushers, ticket takers and bartenders, lighting designers and technicians, musicians, and other volunteers could be your family members, neighbors, your accountant, or the kid down the street. Among PPP participants have been a preacher, hospital administrator, public health nurse, medical technician, doctor, dentist, music therapist, painter, engineer, architect, plumber, pipe fitter, carpet layer, lawyer, phone company executive, newspaper reporter, social worker, counselor, accountant, public official, CEO, teacher, school administrator, and lots of students.
But a number of members came to the Players from professional theater and at least three went on to a professional career on stage or in television. Possum Point Players is the Sussex County equivalent of the Wilmington Drama League and the Kent County Theater Guild. The original Players consciously chose the Possums name to project a "grass roots" image, inviting participants and audience members from throughout the community.
Our Home: Possum Hall
Our organization has had several "homes" over the years after beginning with meetings in members homes and constructing their sets in local high schools. PPP's first permanent location, in 1975 was the former H. W. T. Purnell Hardware store on North Bedford Street in Georgetown. The storefront was used for set construction and storage. One year later, the organization moved to Millsboro where we took up rented residence in the A. E. Moore warehouse on Washington Street. It was the Players' first true home as we held meetings, constructed sets, stored "all our worldly belongings" and even presented a few shows there.
In 1985, PPP purchased a vacant metal building from the Town of Georgetown originally constructed to house youth recreation programs. Significant improvements and additions were made to "Possum Hall" over the years. The most recent was a major capital improvement program costing more than $800,000 in 1999 that transformed the humble metal building into a palatial community theater setting. Its purpose is primarily to improve the comfort, convenience, accessibility and safety of the our patrons.
Our Cultural Partnerships
PPP has long enjoyed the support of the Delaware State Arts Council and the state Division of the Arts, as well as collegial and collaborative relationships with the states major arts organizations: Grand Opera House, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, Delaware Theatre Company, The Playhouse, the Rehoboth Art League, Opera Delaware, and the Southern Delaware Choral Society. Several PPP members have been named to the governor-appointed Delaware State Arts Council; many have participated on agency peer review panels, which evaluate grant requests and make recommendations for re-granting monies from the National Endowment for the Arts.
A Delaware State Arts Council grant in the 1980's enabled the Possum Point Players to launch an education initiative in cooperation with teachers from Indian River and Sussex Central High Schools to encourage the use of drama in curriculum-related classroom learning activities. At present, a DSAC grant is supporting a partnership between the Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Possum Point Players to develop a theater curriculum for the charter middle school using the PPP building. Several PPP members served on the state Arts Curriculum Frameworks Commission, which developed state standards in the arts music, theater, dance, and art immediately following creation of Delaware's language arts, mathematics, science and social studies standards.
Outreach Programs for All Ages
As a part of their desire for both varied and educational theater experiences, the Possum Point Players have been the foundation for several related groups. Arguably the most prolific spin off of the parent organization has been the Possum Juniors. This group of secondary school age youth has its own set of by-laws, conducts its own meetings and workshops, and ultimately produces its own shows taking responsibility for all phases of the production under the watchful eye of an adult mentor.
A Shakespeare readers group meets monthly and several other groups have staged risk-taking theater ventures. The Ad Hoc Touring Company has performed readers theater for several years in such venues as libraries, fire halls, churches and retirement homes. The Players penchant for education has also taken the form of productions to celebrate various national, state and county historical events and the booking of three professional children's theater productions each school year at the Delaware Technical and Community College theater in Georgetown.
Another education initiative is the PPP Summer Theater Academy, first offered as a camp in 1989 and now an annual tradition. This "summer school" that kids love to attend was designed to introduce elementary age children to the theater arts: costumes, makeup, set design and construction, lighting, props, and, of course, acting. The children stage a small-scale production at the end of the camp.
Our Growing Membership
PPP's membership has grown from about 15 charter members to nearly 200, and our mailing list of those who have indicated interest in PPP workshops, productions, and other activities is well over 5,000. It is impossible to accurately calculate the volunteer hours which have been put into the efforts of our energetic group of people. The number of people required to present these performances to the public goes well beyond the actors which patrons see on stage, of course. While a cast can range from as little as one person to 30 or 40, the number of people who do not appear on stage can range from about 25 to well over 150!
Suffice it to say that volunteer hours--including those put in away from the theater in learning lines, making costumes, phone calling volunteers, finding props, writing news releases, drawing light plots and set designs--easily reaches into the thousands.
The Future of Possum Point Players
From our modest beginnings through the significant contribution the PPP has made to the cultural life of the Sussex County community, the organization has always strived to bring quality theater at a reasonable price. To that end, ticket sales have never covered all the costs of keeping the organization ongoing. Less than 50% of our annual operating expenses are covered by tickets sales. PPP has always had to rely on grants, memberships, donations and other sources of funding to survive.
Recently, an endowment fund was established in the hope that our funding will some day reach a level which will permit the organization to meet its mission relatively free, not only from the burden of constant, significant fund raising, but from the necessity of having projected income constantly dictate what shows are performed as opposed to the desire for a variety of theatrical experiences.
Photos by GARY CONAWAY
PPP holds open auditions for its productions. Audition notices for each show will appear as soon as dates are established. That information will be linked on the website home page.
DIRECTING FOR PPP
Are you interested in directing a show? PPP encourages both experienced directors and PPP newcomers to apply.
Click on one of our application forms at the right, fill it out, and send it in!
PPP Board of Trustees 2013
President – Claudius Bowden, Jr.
Vice President – Kenney Workman
Secretary – Cat Baker
Treasurer - Louise Hartzell
Publicity - John Hulse
Member-At-Large - Gwyneth Sharp
Artistic Cmte. Rep. #1 - Marsha Shull
Artistic Cmte. Rep. #2 - Beth Howlett
Chairperson - Donna de Kuyper
Lights – Tom Amrhein
Dreamers United – Rosa Barnes
On The Edge – Jim DeBastiani
Reading Committee/Director Selection – Donna de Kuyper