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By Wesley Farnsworth


Five years. Looking back on five years of subscriptions, fundraising initiatives, a global health crisis, innovative (and frustrating) broadcast productions, outdoor musicals, and so many moments of joy, stress, sorrow, and magic, it is bittersweet to say goodbye. Theatre Three has been such an integral part to my journey over the last five years, bumpy roads and all, and even though it is time to venture out and begin a new chapter, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how we got here, and where both myself and T3 are heading towards bright new futures.

My very first day at Theatre Three began at five in the morning as I accompanied the Development Coordinator to a live broadcast promoting North Texas Giving Day, before returning to the theater and prepping a donation mailer encouraging folks to support the organization in one of the biggest fundraising initiatives in the country. Right away I knew this was something special. The history of the theater, Jac and Norma’s legacy, the heart of Dallas arts and philanthropy. After seeing so many patrons and donors walk through these doors, write letters alongside donations and subscriptions, the sparkle in their eyes after productions that tugged on their heart strings, there was just something about this place that felt important to this city and its citizens.

Two years in, acting as the newly appointed Customer Services Manager, we hit a rather monumental snag. A global pandemic threatened to grind the arts to a halt. We staged recordings of productions, filming singularly one at a time, streaming into people’s homes instead of in the comfort of the Norma Young Arena Stage. Some were beautifully received and lauded by patrons across the country. Others failed to resonate as we all grew weary of the tribulations of surviving a health crisis. And yet, we pushed on. During that time, I found my way back to fundraising, helping organize a donation drive to fund the outdoor productions of The Music Man. With that, we had the magic of live theater again in Dallas. It wasn’t easy. It was Texas summers outdoors. It was in 3 separate locations across the metroplex all with their own complications. But it happened. Live theater happened again, and we felt the world slowly open once more.

That love for charitable giving and fundraising bled into my personal life, as I advocated for organizations and hosted online streams for LGBTQIA2+ organizations during that time (having raised over ten thousand dollars by this point, and will continue in the future). I was able to more comfortably understand who I was (having come out as non-binary during those two years navigating the Covid-19 crisis) and who I wanted to be (pushing for advocacy and diverse representation in arts and media, with a large emphasis on fundraising and charitable work). I found myself here. It wasn’t always easy, it almost never is, but I was given the space to grow, and prosper, and trust in myself and my abilities in customer service, fundraising, marketing and art. Theatre Three was a part of that, and always will be.

I didn’t always succeed in my endeavors. There were many times I faltered, or needed the help of the rest of the T3 team to get back on track, but that’s life. We never truly are alone. I’ve learned more about what I am capable of, and what I may need a little help with from time to time, in these last 5 years than ever before. The things most important to me (making space for marginalized identities to showcase themselves and not be tokenized, fostering our communities and the local artists that continue our legacies of art and social reform, creating healthy environments that break down the barriers for more accessible theater and art for all) have been cultivated and manifested by my work here. And every scar, every stumble, every bruise, every tear helped make that a reality.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. There is a lot of hope, and also a lot of fear. So many patrons have been kind and cheerful and supportive as I have continued to be more visibly gender non-conforming and openly queer as a leader and manager of this theater. Texas as a whole, unfortunately, is not. Many places in this country are not. I would be lying if I said that is not one of the reasons for this big life change. We all deserve the space and support to be inclusive and celebrate who we are, and I know Theatre Three has done that ten-fold and then some. But it’s time for me to begin the next chapter of my life somewhere new, somewhere fresh, and somewhere safe.

Help me do my part of leaving Theatre Three in great and capable hands of James Chandler, our incoming Box Office and Customer Services Manager who will be taking over in July upon my departure. Many of you have had the joy of meeting him during these final performances of Next to Normal, and I am quite sure he will be able to rise to the challenge and lead the team forward next season, but what about you? What can you do moving forward as the next chapter of Theatre Three’s 61 year old history begins to unfold?

–              Subscribe, and encourage other friends to subscribe alongside you! Subscriptions are one of the foundational pillars of funding for the arts here, and always make a huge impact!

–              Be vocal with your support, especially for productions that highlight and feature marginalized identities! Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram stories, reviews, newsletters. Spread the word of local art and help it be more visible to more folks in the community!

–              Be patient, and be kind! The Covid-19 crisis continues to have lasting impacts on us all, and we are sure to feel the aftereffects for many years to come. Digital programs, adjustments to ticketing and pricing, staffing availability. All of these have been adjusted, but we will always have the best interest of our patrons AND our theater at heart.

Five years. One hell of a journey, and it’s only just beginning. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for these last five years, and here is to many more to come. Don’t think of this as goodbye, think of it as an exit stage right, pursued by a bear.