In 1946 a new car cost $1,400, gas was 21 cents a gallon, a postage stamp was 3 cents and minimum wage was 40 cents per hour. This was also the year that Fargo Moorhead Community Theatre started performing in church basements. 65 years later, the FMCT has blossomed and has no plans of slowing down.
It kicked off its 65th year in July with 11 productions. The next show is “The Mousetrap,” which runs through Nov. 6. That’s not where it ends, though. According to Scott Brusven, director of theatre, after a nine-month study with the Chamber of leadership team and strategic planning sessions, FMCT has decided to name the building where they perform to “The Stage at Island Park.”
The naming of the building took place for several different reasons. The Stage at Island Park often hosts shows by companies other than the FMCT. For this reason, the FMCT decided to separate the shows they present and the building they operate.
“We want to give credit where credit is due,” Brusven said. “We want to be able to help our community realize the distinctions between the companies. They are all doing very different work.”
This stage allows for more opportunities to come to the venue. The FMCT has also teamed up with Jade Presents to bring shows to The Stage at Island Park. Such shows as Theatre setting. It plays better in a 300-seat environment where it feels more intimate.”
The FMCT is much more than just a performing company; many educational programs are offered as well. In 2007, the FMCT launched a summer theater program that brought in 170 students this past summer. Also in the summer, “Broadway Lights” is offered. This program tries to focus on a deeper understanding of the plays.
“This is cultivating area youth to explore something bigger and more meaningful than just doing a play,” Brusven said. “It’s also fully understanding and being educated in what’s going on in the play.”
When the musical “Rent” was performed this summer, actors had the opportunity to talk to experts about AIDS and homelessness. The actors also worked with the Salvation Army in food service. All this led to a deeper understanding of the issues of “Rent.”
After 65 years, the FMCT is just getting started. However, Brusven has a challenge for Fargo-Moorhead. Community theaters can have a reputation as a ragtag group of performers. Brusven said this is not the case with the FMCT.
“We strive to put on a high quality production, with amazing sets and productions,” Brusven said. “I challenge people to come out and see what goes on the stage. I think it’s going to be more than what their thoughts led them to believe.”
1946-FMCT started performing in church basements. Performed three shows with a 100 percent volunteer cast
1967- The stage at Island park was built with all resources and time donated. Emma K. Herbst donated $5,000 to the playhouse. The playhouse is still named after her.
1990′s- Expansion occurred creating offices, bathrooms and the gazebo.
2010- $400,000 donation from Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Trust allowing for a renovation of the side of building and enclosing the gazebo.