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Monday, Jan. 24, 2022

Shreveport Little Theatre unveils coffee table book

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New volume showcases 100 years of dreams

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a new book showcasing the 100-year history of the Shreveport Little Theatre is worth 400,000 words.

“The Maker of Dreams” — the name of SLT’s first production in 1922 — is also the name of a 12” x 12” embossed, foiled, hardcover coffee table pictorial. You will find some 400 pictures in it — taken during approximately 900 productions, paying tribute to the actors, actresses and directors who have displayed their talents over the years.

“They are snapshots of a moment in time of a moment in a play,” said Dr. Robert Darrow, SLT’s managing and artistic director. The book was a labor of love for Dr. Darrow and others — a labor of love that took two years to complete.

“I have been given so much history through the years,” Dr. Darrow said. “Photographs, information and tidbits of history. I just threw everything into a folder. The idea came to me to have a pictorial history of the theater, because we had so many rich photographs.”

But Dr. Darrow — a Doctor of Education and Leadership (LSUS) — had access to even more photographs than what he had gathered. There are pictures that belonged to John Wray Young and Mary Margaret Young, a husband and wife who were involved with the SLT for more than 30 years. The Darrow collection and the Youngs’ collection are in the LSUS Northwest Louisiana Archives.

“There were literally thousands of photographs in their collection,” Dr. Darrow said. “I also have my collection out there of all the shows I’ve directed at the theater (during 23 years). There were photographs back when the theater began in the early ‘20s — back before the Youngs’ time — in a separate SLT archive. So, I had a lot to choose from — thousands of images to go through.”

The book is organized by decades — taking you on a theater experience from the 1920s through 2021. It also includes pictures from the SLT’s Youth Theatre, which had productions in the 1920s. Photos also show the SLT in various locations before moving into its current building on Margaret Place in 1927. Those locations include SLT’s original home — in the city hall auditorium, which was downtown and across from the Strand Theatre.

But while “The Maker of Dreams” is a tribute to SLT, it indirectly pays homage to the city.

“The theater is somewhat representative of Shreveport, because it goes back 100 years,” Dr. Darrow explained. “The theater was founded by city leaders. If you look back at the early boards of directors, and even the actors, they were city councilmen, they were politicians, they were bankers — presidents of banks. Some really important people in the forming of Shreveport.”

And because of the close association between the SLT and the city, “The Maker of Dreams” is really two history lessons combined in one book.

“The productions that we put on reflected the social values — what was going on at the time socially and politically,” Dr. Darrow said. “I think it’s important we preserve our history—know where we’ve been, and the accomplishments we’ve made — for future generations.”

If you choose to buy the book ($100 cash/check, $105 credit card), Dr. Darrow would like you to get one thing out of your purchase.

“A love of Shreveport. I hope they get a love of Shreveport. It shows the rich cultural life we’ve had the past 100 years.”

To buy “The Maker of Dreams,” you may call the SLT box office at 424-4439.

ON STANDS NOW!

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