For nearly twenty years, DreamWrights founding member and Artistic Director, Diane Crews, has built a youth and family theatre based on a culture of growth, responsibility, and exploration in a safe and accepting environment. On Saturday, September 24, the DreamWrights family came together to honor Crews as she is set to retire at the end of the month.
J.T. Hand, President of DreamWrights’ Board of Directors, believes that although Crews is retiring, the foundation she has fostered and built will persevere well beyond the current generation. Hand explains, “We don’t see this as an end, but rather as part of DreamWrights maturing. We’re not done growing yet. This culture will persist and anyone who walks into this theatre will be able to feel it. It is and will continue to be palpable.”
Saturday’s heartfelt retirement party was emceed by long time DreamWrights members, Paul and Corinne Brown. Paul Brown reflects, “Diane has touched so many lives in so many ways, we wanted to represent a good cross section of presenters.” These presenters included Paige Hoke, Timothy Storey, Kevin Alvarnaz, Steve Brown, and Joan Bitzer. Brown noted that at least twenty additional audience members spoke on Diane’s behalf from the floor. Hand adds, “This was a very personal event. Many people wanted to speak and thank Diane for the positive impact she had on them.” There was no shortage of love and appreciation coming from the full house.
In addition to sentimental stories and speeches, the retirement party included an original song written and sung by the Browns and a skit arranged by Crews’ daughter, Shama Mir-Young. In an exciting moment, Board President Hand honored Crews with the announcement that DreamWrights’ black box theatre would now be officially known as “The Diane Crews Black Box Theatre.”
As Hand revealed the sign to be installed above the entrance to the black box theatre, he likened DreamWrights to a sports team. He said that although some, including him, have never been in a show directed by Crews, “we have all been impacted by her. And just as athletes touch something for inspiration and guidance as they take the field, I foresee the sign named for Crews to be the touchstone for the cast and crew – the DreamWrights team – as it takes the stage. Performers would touch it to remember why there are there and to get inspiration from Diane, even in her retirement.”
Throughout her nearly twenty years at DreamWrights, Diane Crews directed roughly 70 and wrote more than 30 shows. Paul Brown reminisces, “She will be remembered for the tone of her shows. They introduced classic values to people and created a kinder community atmosphere. She made the theater a safe place to be and discover your gifts. Diane leaves behind a family of theatre people.” Crews may be leaving DreamWrights but her legacy and memory will live on in “The Diane Crews Black Box Theatre” and in the hearts and minds of those whom she impacted.