Freeman brings local talent to the stageFREEMAN — A small South Dakota community has gathered to produce quality theater. Freeman, which is the home to summer’s Schmeckfest, has organized a group to bring new productions to the stage. “There’s a real starvation to get on stage in Freeman,” Jeremy Waltner said. Waltner is one of 25 members of the newly created Freeman Area Community Theatre organization.
By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic
FREEMAN — A small South Dakota community has gathered to produce quality theater.
Freeman, which is the home to summer’s Schmeckfest, has organized a group to bring new productions to the stage.
“There’s a real starvation to get on stage in Freeman,” Jeremy Waltner said. Waltner is one of 25 members of the newly created Freeman Area Community Theatre organization.
The first production under FACT opens Friday.
“Greater Tuna,” a comedy in a four-part series, opens at 7 p.m. Friday at the 4.twenty.3 Events Center in Freeman. The show will continue to run at 7 p.m. Saturday and Jan. 21-22 and at 2 p.m. Sunday and Jan. 23. Tickets, which are $9 for adults and $7 for children, are available at the door. Ten or more in a group can call Penny Saarie at 605-925-4901 for advanced tickets.
The Freeman Area Community Theatre officially started in the fall of 2009. Over the past year, the organization started to establish itself and line up a series of shows.
“Like with any good business or organization, it takes time,” Waltner said.
As of now, FACT has 25 members and a nine-member board of directors.
Freeman is a good location for an area theater program, Waltner said.
“We’ve got a rich theater tradition,” he said. “It’s an active community with a lot of young people. We want to take advantage of this local talent.”
FACT was spearheaded by John Koch. Koch and his wife moved to Freeman from Sioux Falls, where he held a leadership position at the Sioux Empire Community Theatre.
Koch said Freeman needed a more formal community theater. The organization applied and received a grant through the Freeman Community Foundation to supplement FACT and allow it to offer more productions.
The small community of approximately 1,300 was not devoid of theatrical entertainment.
Each summer, a large-scale musical is performed at Schmeckfest.
“Freeman has a great history of performing shows, many of them summer productions. Now we’re looking at year-round options,” said Koch.
The new two-man show, featuring Waltner and Will Ortman, takes the audiences through a day in the life of Tuna, the third smallest community in Texas. The duo will portray 20 different characters — male and female — in the comedy.
“It really is a farce of small towns,” said Koch, who is directing the play. “There are moments that people will almost know too well.”
The organization is also looking at children-directed activities. This past summer, FACT held a children’s theater workshop, and it plans to do the same this summer.
“This is an extra dynamic, something people can get involved in,” Koch said.
Waltner said that even though there are other community theater organizations in the area, FACT will only help enhance other programs.
“There’s plenty of theater to go around,” he said. “This is a just a good geographic pocket we can serve.”