Theatre of Western Springs Spotlight: Mary Lewis Smith

Mary Smith
Mary Lewis Smith | Submitted by the Theatre of Western Springs

Get to know the community of Western Springs with our Theatre of Western Springs Spotlight feature!

This week, we meet Mary Lewis Smith of Western Springs who joined TWS back in 1977.

Q. Why did you join TWS?

A. While I was talking with a neighbor one day, the subject of the theatre came up along with the suggestion that I go down there and take studio. Never having done that sort of thing, I was intrigued enough to try it. The surprise was that I enjoyed the classes so much that I joined and became active.

Q. How did you find out about TWS?

A. Neighbors and friends who had seen the plays and recommended subscribing.

Q. Go back in time. When did you discover you had an interest in theatre/drama?

A. In first grade, I played a pony in a chorus line. My mane and tail were made of white crepe paper. The line was supposed to bow at one point, but I was so fascinated by that audience out there that I forgot and just stood there gazing out at the people. My stage career strangely didn’t move on until much later.

Q. At TWS, do you work on crews, backstage and/or front of house?

A. I’ve done both backstage and front of house. Backstage, costumes and makeup have been most usual, but there have been stints on props, and there was even one attempt at set construction, not my finest hour. Also, for front of house, I’ve done box office and hospitality, sometimes as chair.

Q. At TWS, do you act on stage? Name some roles. Point out your favorite or most challenging role and tell why.

A. The most challenging role I ever had was the very first role, in a Director’s Workshop, when I was so nervous I could hardly squeeze out the words. The help of a longtime theatre Active was crucial to my getting through it! That experience was a great teacher, because the next role in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” came more easily as did further roles. Some of those are: “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “Morning’s at Seven” and “Deathtrap.” After a work-imposed hiatus, there have been others, most recently “Waiting in the Wings.”

Q. What do you love about TWS? What is it about TWS that motivates you?

A. There’s a spirit of adventure that brings everyone together, doing their best in the effort to put on good plays. Ongoing classes in various aspects of the theatre make it possible to try out new interests, whether we go on to use them or not. These things are among my motivations, and I’m glad to join in on crews and casts when I have the chance. Live theatre is so exciting.

Q. TWS has flourished for 85 years. Are there traditions at TWS that you value?

A. One of the valuable traditions is that once we’ve committed to a job, whatever it is, we stick with it come what may. Another is that after the end of the final performance of a play, we join in “strike,” or taking things apart and putting them away. “Sandwich Sunday” is the dress rehearsal on the Sunday before opening, when Actives can be the audience, which is helpful to the development of the play.

Q. Tell about something at TWS that was, is, or will be a really big thrill for you.

A. Back when I was practicing piano and doing recitals or accompanying singers at school assemblies, I would never have thought that I’d be using that experience onstage portraying an actress of a bygone time. So it was absolutely thrilling when I got the chance to be Maud in “Waiting in the Wings.” Noel Coward had specified the music that he wanted played in the various scenes, none of which I knew, so back to practicing I went.

Q. List three things you have given TWS.

A. A bit of time, a little support and lots of enthusiasm.

Q. List three things TWS has given you.

A. Opportunity, friends and worthwhile activity.

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