by Rita Charleston
Germantown resident Wayne Snover helped form the Drama Group 35 years ago at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG), and it has been putting on high-quality community theater ever since. “It was started by a group of us who were church members. One day we were standing around discussing the possibility of putting on a show,” Snover explained, “and the church was kind enough to let us do just that.
“Of course, performing in a church does present some problems. For instance, we can only do two shows a year because the church needs the space for their own uses. Another drawback to the space is that the church has so many windows we cannot darken the space, so we can’t do any matinees.”
The Drama Group’s current show is Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night,” with weekend performances continuing through March 21 in Pilling Hall at FUMCOG, 6001 Germantown Ave. Snover is the director.
The plot revolves around Viola, who survives a shipwreck and separation from her twin brother, Sebastian. The play focuses on the Countess Olivia falling in love with Viola (who is disguised as a boy). Mix in a free-loading uncle, a far-too-clever maid and a delusional would-be suitor, and more confusion ensues.
Snover, a retired math and computer science teacher, first indulged his love of theater decades ago by doing summer stock at the Bucks County Playhouse. “I acted and also helped build sets, anything just to be involved in the process because I enjoyed all aspects of the theater.”
Since then, attempting to further his skills, Snover decided to observe others. “When I first started acting, I only had small parts like in a crowd scene, but I would always stand in the wings to watch the other actors and the audience’s reaction. What made them laugh? What made them seem shocked or upset? Then I also worked with different directors and watched how they directed. That way I could try the techniques I thought worked best. So it was like on-the-job training.”
Over the years, Snover has acted in and directed productions by The Drama Group. Asked which he prefers, he says it depends on the play. “As a director it’s my responsibility to finalize the cast, work with the set and lighting design people, and handle just about anything else that is required of me. With this particular play, I think the gods were against us. For whatever reason, we had a hard time assembling a cast, but about a month before our scheduled opening we finally had a full cast.
“And in the end we managed to assemble a lot of good people. As an actor, I’ve also come across difficulties, like working with people who didn’t memorize their lines. That made it difficult because I wasn’t quite sure what they were going to say, so I had to be prepared to deal with whatever came my way.”
However, all in all, Snover, 69, a graduate of Dickinson College and Temple University Graduate School, says he’s quite content with the way he’s decided to spend his retirement years. Aside from acting and directing, Snover maintains all the computers at his church, sets up wireless networks and enjoys renovating his summer cabin with his wife, Janet. He advises others to do the same.
“I believe retirement should be a time of joy and contentment when one can take advantage of doing things you may not have had time to do before because you were too busy earning a living. So learn to paint or play the piano. Take that public speaking course or that singing course for non-singers. This is the time in your life for you.”
“Twelfth Night” continues on weekends through March 21. Tickets are $15 at the door.
More information at www.fumcog.org or 215-438-3677.