Let me start by saying that it was actually all David Larrick’s fault. Andrea included only the briefest overview of my first Savoyard involvement. The “lunch time errand” she referred to was to be a round trip between Maynard and Lowell that should have been readily achievable in an hour or so. It ended up taking closer to six and a half hours, with no lunch, but dinner at David and Sally’s house, with neither of us being fired or even questioned - or missed - about our afternoon-long absence. After that, it was actually Nancy who was first enticed to join the group, to sing and act in the chorus, and it was between the two of them that I was nudged into Saturday work days and everything else that followed. I am indebted to David for much of my involvement here; he has been my mentor and role model for many of my Savoyard activities.

Andrea was concerned that if she told all my stories, I’d have nothing left to say to you tonight. As I am seldom at a loss for words, I figured I could find something, and I have decided to address you in terms of irony, and then community.

As to the irony, I have a couple of things in common with the Lord Chancellor. One is that we’re both wearing black for most of the show. The other is being a person of two capacities: tonight I am an honoree, but five years ago I was one of the Trustees working to develop a program to honor Savoyards for significant contributions to the organization. I didn’t create the program, but I am the one who encapsulated the goals of the Trustees into the document that defines this program. Yes, I did write the words that Laurel read from her note card at rehearsal last week when she introduced me to most of you as an honoree. And yes, I was the one who executed what is always the hardest task in putting such a program in place: I was the one who came up with the name “Yeomen of Regard.” Fortunately, I was not presented with the Lord Chancellor’s dilemma of whether to actually nominate myself for the honor, but I am grateful for it nonetheless.

In working up the documents, I did have several people in mind as archetypes of what we came to define as “Yeomen.” Some of those people have been honored, and their names are already on this plaque. Some of the people I was thinking of haven’t been honored yet, but the program is only five years old, and we have nearly fifty years of achievement to recognize, so we’re not done yet. I encourage you to go to the Savoyards web site and read the Policies and Procedures document for the program and consider a nomination, especially if you are familiar with the early and middle days of the Company’s history and remember people and contributions that most of us “newcomers” never had a chance to know.

Now, of course I am happy and pleased to receive this recognition, but as an architect of the program, I am actually happier to see that the Company - you - appreciate this program and take it as enthusiastically as you do. For the past few years we have made the public introduction of the year’s honorees on the L-S stage during a tech week rehearsal. I think that is an excellent idea, and I think it should be the custom, certainly if the honorees can be there, but even if not. I have been deeply moved to see the joy that fellow Company members express to their honorees upon their recognition. The program seems to matter to you, and that is what matters to me.

So let me talk about the Sudbury Savoyards community for a moment.

Why are people Savoyards? Some people are in it for the art, some for the charity, some for the community. Those are the three pillars of our Company as laid out in our bylaws. I think that combination leads us to a unique state. We’re big - it takes well over a hundred of us to put one of these shows on, so we have a lot of community. We’re good - we’ve developed skills and attracted talent that are hard to match on this scale in community theater. And consistent with our goal of charity, nobody gets paid anything. That’s an extraordinarily egalitarian aspect. Everyone is valued. Surely, some contribute more than others, but every contribution is beyond price and, in a sense, is selfless. I have often pointed out that all we can give is credit, and, I hope, the satisfaction of artistic accomplishment, charity, and community.

I have worked hard during my entire tenure as a Savoyard to remind people that every discipline - and every contributor - is important. As a Tech Director, I introduced the Tech Shirts to provide a badge of identity and recognition for that particular cadre. The Tech Shirts say what they do to tie the disciplines together and promote the unity of effort our productions require.

Some of us move among disciplines - serially or concurrently - the way most of us can flip back and forth among TV stations. The Savoyards aren’t unique in that regard, that’s what community theater does to many people. But you saw earlier how deep the commitment to the Savoyards is, and maybe you could infer the experience across those disciplines. We don’t have two or three 15 or 20 year veterans. We have two dozen or more, and those are just the ones who are with us tonight. That is unique. People have roots here. There is at least one three generation family credited in this year’s program, and I can bet that this isn’t the first time, and certainly not the last. That is special.

Some consider community theater to be a vice, or at least an obsession, so let me close by paraphrasing the words I spoke from this spot as Malachi Stack in our 2005 Summer Show, The Matchmaker: “And my last word to you, ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen is this: one vice at a time.”

But I would extend that advice by suggesting that if you’re going to do stage work, you should also always carry two tape measures.

Thank you.

Tom Powers, March 3, 2007

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