The Founders Story
Ed MacKenzie was recognized in 2014 by the Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation for his support of the Arts in Mesquite. If it weren’t for this wonderful gentleman you might not have live theatre in Mesquite.
When Ed MacKenzie came to Mesquite he quickly became involved with the Arts Community and joined the Mesquite Arts Council Board in 1999. One of the first things that he asked was if there was a community theater group. When he heard that there wasn’t, he took that as a challenge.
He managed to gather 8 other people who were willing to be on the new Board. They created by-laws based on his previous association with another theatre group, a group charter, and submitted the paper work to become a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
On April 1, 2002 the Virgin Valley Theatre Group was born. We think it somehow appropriate that it was April Fool’s Day.
It was not an easy go of it for the little group. Two of the board members quickly resigned, and as is the case with many non-profit organizations, money was tight. Everything in preparation for a show was done in Ed’s garage. Sets were built by the cast and his family, loaded onto a truck, and moved to the High School where the plays were performed. Wilma, Ed’s lovely wife, would print the tickets at home. It was truly a family affair. Ed went to garage sales in the area and asked people if he could have anything left that wasn’t sold. For years after that he would get phone calls from people who wanted to know if he still wanted to pick up the stuff that didn’t sell. After all of that work, for the first couple of seasons the average attendance was 25 people a performance.
Eventually they moved to the current venue, the old school. Some may remember what it was like when they first got there. The theater was all white with tiny little seats made for grade school kids. At one point, a major renovation was done (thank you Bob N) and those nasty old seats were replaced with the ones you currently enjoy.
Ed made many valuable connections in the community for the VVTG. He often spoke to the students in the High School drama classes, and the students would get extra credit to volunteer with the VVTG and learn theatre crafts. VVTG held open houses and play readings for the community. Local artwork was displayed and sold in the theatre lobby. Some of the things that Ed started have fallen to the wayside over the years, however, the current VVTG board is engaged in renewing many of them, and reestablishing the community connections that Ed initially formed.
The Board and Volunteers are all extremely grateful to Ed MacKenzie, not only for getting us started, but for his continued support and guidance.
Thank you, Ed.