Improv Workshop Continues Despite Construction at WF Backdoor Theater

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) – Staff at the Wichita Falls Backdoor Theater took another step this week toward completing a half-million dollar reconstruction project.

Despite what happens on the stages of the theater, they continue to give artists the opportunity to shine.

Backdoor Theater staff held their first improvement workshop of the year on Friday, and they had to host it in one of their rehearsal spaces around the corner from the historic theatre. As is currently being installed a new fire sprinkler system.

“I was in a production in 2019 called Disaster. I played Shirley and I’m trying to get back into the theater stage in Wichita Falls and it felt like a good opportunity to do something different,” said Deborah Hudgins, a participant in the improvisation workshop.

At Backdoor Theater’s first improv workshop for 2022, 14 inspiring artists came to practice and interact with the stranger beside them, so that by the end of the two-hour class, they realized that they had more in common than they thought.

“It’s not scary because everyone wants you to succeed, everyone is there. They want to be there so they don’t laugh at you. It’s a safe space to come and try,” said Erin Spiva, Backdoor Theater Board Member.

Normally, these workshops would be held inside the theater’s main stage, but as of this week, 34,000 pounds of scaffolding has been waiting for construction crews to install a new sprinkler system. During a water main break two years ago, the historic building suffered damage worth $500,000.

“It’s not something we had planned to deal with, but because of the flooding and what happened, the line from the fire extinguisher system is what burst and brought in water in the building, so the fire department and the city came in and looked and found we needed to update that,” Jessica Wood, Business Manager of the Backdoor Theater.

While the theater staff will pay out of pocket for the $105,000 project, the Wichita Falls City Council will help them recover that money through 4B council funds.

“Going to town and asking for help means a lot to us and it makes us feel like we belong here and look forward to another 50 years of history at the Backdoor Theater,” Wood said.

A history of theater that the community of Wichita Falls discovers through the many programs of the theater.

“I would do it again. Me too, it’s kind of exciting, it’s almost like skydiving. I have butterflies except everyone is with you. It’s not like you’re alone,” said Hudgins and Spiva.

Woods said construction crews will work inside the main theater for the next five weeks and spend another three weeks doing additional updates around the theater.

They also hope to get help from the Texas Historical Commission to rebuild the diner scene that was destroyed in that flood. They hope to have everything done by next year.

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