Theatre of the Republic 14 15 | Fall 2017 Fall 2017 | Conway ’s Cultural Gem There’s something special about an old theatre — a certain combination of magic and mystique that make it easy to believe you can be anyone. Here, you can slip into the shoes of a hunchback or peek inside the mind of an outlaw without fear of being judged. In a dark auditorium of 300 seats, anticipation is tangible. As the stage lights go up, our worries dim and the real world fades away. For decades, Conway’s Theatre of the Republic (TOR) has made that collective experience possible for our community. The cherry marquee has brightened Main Street for years, but it brings people together in more ways than one. Originally a grand old movie theatre, the venue presented its first movie, “The Foxes of Harrow,” in 1947. “It was the crown of Conway in those days,” explains Executive Artistic Director Tim McGhee. It was James Parlor who helped establish local troupe Theatre of the Republic in 1969, when it began performing in schools, gymnasiums and the like. But the group wouldn’t find its permanent home until much later. TOR’s current space also spent time as a church, but the building sadly burned to the ground in 1990 — shining marquee and all. But in the true Conway spirit, local volunteers banded together to rebuild, led by Emma Lou Johnson, Connie Kincade and Boyd Gainey. In 1999, TOR had its first official show run on Main Street. “The love and compassion it took to bring this building back to life is astounding,” says Tim. “I don’t know that everyone realizes the value and the meaning of this theatre as a fine arts center.” Whether they know it or not, Horry County residents continue to honor the tradition of collaboration, and remain an integral part of the theatre’s story. The theatre’s success depends on the support of the entire community, from the board to ticket buyers to local business patrons like HTC. In fact, HTC is proud to provide this local establishment with business phone, internet and security services, as well as donations and sponsorships. Like HTC, Tim believes there is beauty in serving our fellow neighbors. “It absolutely takes the community to keep this going,” says Tim. “There are so many talented people in the area, from seamstresses to artists to actors, and few places to perform. That’s the beauty of this theatre.”