An article from the East Side Review - The Changing of the Guard at the Mounds Theatre
A Letter from Raeann Ruth:
There's a particularly nasty rumor going around, running rampant at the Mounds Theatre.
John from the paranormal team heard it from Lisa Lea, who is also part of the paranormal community and our house manager. And she apparently got it from an unknown source, where it had been before that nobody knows.
I can see that many of you are probably puzzled. You've obviously missed it. The juicy bit of gossip everybody's been mouthing is that I'm going to retire.
Let me tell you all the truth, right here and how. I am not. I am never going to retire.
I'm sure that's very alarming news. I am not going to arrive at the theatre in 2015 expecting things to remain the way they are right now, or have been for the past 14 years. That will not happen.
What I mean is something different.
The word retirement is repugnant to me. It's ugly. It conjures up images of shuffling in slippers, padding quietly through my days, waiting for the end. You and I know I'm not quiet. Neither do I shuffle. I never have and I refuse to start now.
What is true, is that I'm retiring from work as I've known it – working 7 days a week, chasing the almighty dollar in order to keep our doors open, dealing with a great number of folks, renting the theatre, producing plays, running the bar and concessions, occupying the box office, doing needed repairs, wrestling with all of the paperwork - the list goes on into infinity.
My job was not one where you could show up at 8 in the morning and leave at 5 in the afternoon. Nor did I have the luxury of accumulating vacation days, sick time, retirement benefits and enough time to spend with my family on weekends. In other words, running a theatre is all consuming.
So in 2015 I will be starting a new chapter in my life.
It will be different but there will be much of the theatre life that I will carry forward with me. The people I've met, the experience that I have shared with so many folks – these are the things I will remember and cherish.
How could I possibly forget all of the people who accompanied me on the “theatre journey” through the ups and down of the last 14 years?
When I began the rehab project of the theatre, I hadn't really thought too much about the impact the theatre would make on a lot of peoples' lives. The theatre not only provided theatrical productions for the community and even the greater Twin Cities, it also provided
folks with an opportunity to come together as volunteers...actors, directors, sound/light techs, concessions/bar servers, children's programmers, decorators for special events...
To all the people that were responsible for making the Mounds a destination venue, I thank you for your support and understanding over the years, but more than this, your courage to give new initiatives the green light.
As the countdown towards my exit becomes more widely known, I began to hear other rumors besides the one about retiring. These are about the things I achieved in my time at the theatre.
Apparently, I had single handedly rehabbed an decrepit old 1920's silent film/vaudeville theatre into a vibrant theatrical venue for the Dayton's Bluff Community, taking 3 very long years to complete.
Flattering though it is to be seen as the hero, it is not true. It's another one of those stories. I did not do it by myself. It took a great many wonderful, giving folks to make all of this happen and I would like to acknowledge them all.
To the original rehab team (the five over 50 group + one), Bob Raddatz, Joyce Waldon, Greg Cosimini, Fred Kaphingst, my husband Steve and my daughter Amber, I thank you for all your support and your unending patience involving the complete rehab of the venue. Also for putting up with my “type A” personality. Between us we accomplished more than anyone ever thought possible. Actually, there is a quote that seems to suit me - “She attacked
everything in life, with a mix of extraordinary genius and naïve incompetence, and it was often difficult to tell which was which” - Douglas Adams.
To Sal Nieto, who supplied all of our artwork for the media, provided his expertise for setting up all the technical aspects of putting on a production, leading the hourly ghost tours every October (which consisted of being at the theatre every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 5pm to midnight, creating a beautiful website for us and being willing to be part of the continued chaos.
To Mia, who volunteered whenever possibly, keeping up the MT website, leading the ghost tours, providing me with the moral support I needed to keep going and filling in whenever we needed someone, to make things happen and for being a dedicated Board Member throughout the years.
To Lisa Lea, who filled in for me after my back surgery and was unable to stay on my feet for so long. You were a lifesaver.
To Mitch Fraser and his son David, for spending untold hours keeping the lights and sound in order.
Lastly, to all of the legions of volunteers that kept everything going throughout the years. I'm deeply indebted.
There's truth in the old cliché, “nothing ventured, nothing gained” and we've proved it – together.
And I repeat, I'm not retiring. I will be working with just as much energy as ever, but on the things I have put on hold for 47 years. There will be time for family, travel, and fishing on the Snake River that flows in front of our new log home in Mora (which has been my dream destination for years). I call that living.
As the “changing of the guard” will be happening, I wish the new Executive Director Jessica Johnson and Alex Bajwa much success in the upcoming years. I'm sure through their dedication and hard work they will take the Mounds Theatre to the “next level.”
All of us at the Mounds theatre wish Raeann and her amazing family all the best in their new adventures. Without Raeann and the rest of her family, the theatre would simply not exist today, nor have impacted so many people in ways they will never forget or given a wonderful space for so much creative joy. It is with much love that we wave "Happy Travels!" to them. It's not goodbye, just see ya later!