Fire Forces Surflight to Reach Out to Public Again
Surflight Theatre is again appealing to the public for help.
A year-and-a-half ago Surflight launched a dramatic fundraising appeal. Five hundred thousand dollars, it was said, was needed almost immediately or the landmark Beach Haven theater would have to close its doors.
The public responded. Surflight raised enough money to survive not only the winter of 2010-11 but to put on a full roster of shows in 2012. Then, late last fall, Surflight received the bankruptcy protection it had been seeking. It appeared the theater’s immediate problems were over, that it had weathered the storm.
Until Easter Sunday, 2012.
Wind spread burning cinders from a fire at the nearby Gables Inn onto the Surflight campus. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze enough so that the 450-seat theater itself apparently escaped damage, as did Surflight’s cast house, gray house (used to house visiting directors, choreographers and the like), scenic design shop and Show Place Ice Cream Parlor. The same, however, can’t be said for Surflight’s housing accommodations for its technical crew. Those apartments, located in the western end of the building in which the Show Place is located, are used to house up to 20 members of Surflight’s technical staff (sound, lighting, scenic design, etc.) and were rendered unusable for at least a portion of the 2012 season.
“We are grateful there were no injuries,” said Surflight Theatre Executive Producer Timothy Laczynski. “We extend our gratitude to the Beach Haven Volunteer Fire Department and units from all other companies that were called into action. This is a very sensitive time for us having recently exited Chapter 11 reorganization. Surflight is still walking a financial tightrope and this fire comes as a major blow to us. We are scrambling to make other housing arrangements. Despite this setback, Surflight Theatre is alive and well and looking forward to a full and successful 2012 season.”
“It is too early to know whether the entire cost of recovery will be covered by insurance,” said Surflight Artistic Director Roy Miller. “We are reaching out to the community for their assistance. Off-campus housing is very expensive during the season, and at this late stage availability for the full season is incredibly limited. With the need to house production personnel off-campus, transportation is also a critical issue. Your help will go a long way towards getting us through this recovery.”
Financial contributions, of course, are welcomed. But even more importantly, Surflight is looking for help on the housing and transportation fronts.
Laczynski pointed towards the theater’s longstanding “Adopt-An-Apprentice” program as one avenue of assistance. Folks can house a “techie” (a bedroom and kitchen privileges are sufficient). The loan of automobiles to Surflight would also be appreciated considering many young theater professionals tend to live in large cities where public transportation is readily available and thus do not own cars.
“We are confident this community will provide the support needed to overcome this final hurdle standing in the way of a healthy, prosperous Surflight Theatre,” said Laczynski.
All donations, he added, are tax deductible to the full extent the law allows thanks to Surflight’s not-for-profit status.
To make a donation or to offer any other form of assistance contact Bill Lawton at 609-492-9477, extension 204 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. One can also visit Surflight’s website at surflight.org and click on the “DONATE” button to make a secure online payment.
— Rick Mellerup