Fictional Tour: The Little Dionysus Playhouse
This year I will begin the publishing process for my first novel, Flowers of Dionysus. Whichever version of that undertaking I choose to pursue, I must talk about my novel more often than I have been. I will be doing so on this blog and Twitter throughout the year, starting with a brief tour of the novel’s main setting: The Little Dionysus Playhouse.
Known to just about everyone in the area merely as the L.D.P., the Little Dionysus Playhouse has been in operation in its current location as a community theatre for over 70 years. (Going dark only for a few years during World War II.) One enters the front of the building via a set of sturdy glass doors.
Inside, flanking the doors, are two large oil paintings. One is of the original donor of the building. The other is of Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of theatre. Both paintings dominate the otherwise small lobby, which also contains the public bathrooms, a small gallery area, and an old-fashioned ticket counter. Off to the right a small staircase that leads upstairs to the tiny office of the LDP’s president. Swinging doors nearby lead into the house of the theatre.
The house is not so little, by theater standards, seating about 250 people in seats divided into three sections by way of two aisles. To the right, as one enters is a small door most people miss. Behind this door, a spiraling metal staircase that leads up to the light and sound rooms as well as the catwalk above the house.
If one walks down the right-hand aisle to the front of the house, one will find another door, just off to the side of the stage steps. Through this door is one of the LDP’s most unique features. (To some, it’s more of a design flaw.) This is The Funnel.
The Funnel is a long hallway, lined with a few shelves for storing tools and other paraphernalia. Its named is derived from the words painted in blue near the top of one of its brick walls. “The Funnel”, it says. The origins and meaning of the graffiti are unknown, but it has been there as long as anyone remembers, and is left undisturbed.
An opening about halfway down the funnel leads to the backstage area. Further down, a door to the boiler room and other such facilities. At the end of the Funnel opposite where we entered on this virtual tour is more modern door. This is the door to the green room.
It’s the envy of many community theaters in the area because of its size; it takes up the most of the building’s entire width. (Having been added to the original building in the early 1970’s to replace the much smaller area damaged by fire.)
In this green room, as in so many green rooms all over the theatre world are old chairs, couches, shelves, a tiny kitchenette with sink and coffee pot. Grey and white tiled floor.
Off to the side is the backdoor of the LDP. It leads outside to an adjacent public parking lot. The vast majority of time, actors and crew enter and exit the premises through this door, as oppose to the front door.
Two tiny doors near the front of the green room lead to the claustrophobic costume “shop”, and the one-room “workshop” such as it is, though much actual set-building is done on stage where there is room.
In the back of the green room is another door, behind which is the extreme back of the entire building. A corridor containing the dressing rooms: the ladies just as you enter, and the men’s at the far end. Both dressing rooms are nondescript.
Like all community theatres, the LDP at times has struggled with funding and a declining interest in theatre as a whole. Still, it remains one of the area’s most popular and beloved sources of theatre and other inexpensive artistic endeavors.
You’ll be able to follow some of the adventures that happen at the Little Dionysus Playhouse in a series of short stories about it I will publish in the intermediate future, and of course in my upcoming novel, Flowers of Dionysus.