2004-05-21 / Community

Graybeards Make Dramatic Effort For RTC

Graybeards Make Dramatic Effort For RTC

Volunteers from the Graybeards do plumbing and electrical work in the ceiling of the RTC's theater in Fort Tilden.Volunteers from the Graybeards do plumbing and electrical work in the ceiling of the RTC's theater in Fort Tilden.

On Saturday, May 15, a hoard of "Graybeards" descended upon the old Post Theater at Fort Tilden, GNRA. By the day's end, the metamorphosis of that structure was nothing short of remarkable.

The Post Theater was used as a movie house for showing recreational and instructional films to G.I.s housed at Fort Tilden during W.W.II, when it was an active army base. For many years since that time, it, like many of the structures at the Fort, was untenanted and had fallen into disrepair. When the National Park's Service began its "Gateway Partners" program, the Rockaway Theatre Company was invited to become a partner organization and present live performances at the theater.

During the past seven years, the RTC has taken some small, but im-portant, steps in making its new home more habitable. Working bath-rooms were installed on the premises, the stage was enlarged, new light and sound systems were installed, a new roof and a new coat of paint for the building's exterior have all been la-bors of love by RTC volunteers. Now, with the skilled help, generous sup-port and the sheer numbers of their labor force, the Graybeards LTD, have made some vital items on RTC's wishlist a reality.

The Graybeards LTD is a not-for-profit volunteer group formed after 911. Its membership consists mostly of local Rockaway artisans and pro-fessionals who donate their valuable services to non-profit agencies in the community who are in need of them. This year, The Rockaway Theatre Company was fortunate enough to be chosen as the focus of Graybeards' annual large-group spring event. From morning to sunset various Graybeard members worked in shifts; the numbers as large as sixty at once. And don't let their name fool you… Young and old, men, women and children alike, labored together in-side and outside the old Post Theater. Regular weekend visitors to Fort Til-den, there for the many sports, Little League and art events or merely to take advantage of the lovely weather, stared in awe at the bustling trans-formation occurring right before their eyes.

Clean-up work went on outside as well as inside.Clean-up work went on outside as well as inside.

By the end of the day a huge relic of a boiler had been removed along with an interior wall and a new floor was installed across the entire back sec-tion of the theater, tripling the much needed dressing room space. The en-tire front lobby and the theater and stage floor received new coats of paint, every seat in the house was freshly cleaned, missing shingles on the building's exterior were replaced, and the entire front and sides of the Post Theater were newly landscaped with lovely trees, shrubs and flower-ing plants. Graybeards LTD not only provided all labor but supplied all needed materials.

When Peggy Page, a founding member of the Rockaway Theatre Company, arrived on the scene she broke into tears. "I'm just over-whelmed by this show of support for our theater. I can't get over the huge number of people here working so hard to support us. God bless the Graybeards!" she sobbed.

The Rockaway Theatre Company, Inc., a non profit group, in partner-ship with Gateway National Recrea-tion Area, strives to improve the Rockaway community by bringing live quality entertainment to the Post Theater. The company's reputation and audience size has increased steadily over the past seven years. The hilarious musical, Nunsense, opening on June 4, will be the first show of the 2004 season. This year, thanks to Graybeards LTD, in addi-tion to fabulous entertainment, both audiences and performers can expect greater comfort and more attractive surroundings.

The Graybeard's work at the theater included heavy construction.The Graybeard's work at the theater included heavy construction.Cleaning the seats was a major task.Cleaning the seats was a major task.

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