LEWISBURG, WV (WOAY) – “That saying that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That’s sort of what it’s been.”
When Cathey Sawyer began her role as Producing Artistic Director of the Greenbrier Valley Theatre in 1990, the theatre was a barn near the airport. When the surroundings of the theatre were upgraded in 2000, its operation did so with it.
“Since that time, we’ve made a lot of progress,” Sawyer said. “Both in terms of the quality of work we’ve been able to offer, the kind of talent we’ve been able to attract and the support of the community.”
The position of Producing Artistic Director essentially controls the entire operation of the theatre.
“Our model doesn’t have a managing director,” Sawyer said. “So, I’ve been overseeing the business side and the artistic side.”
And it’s that artistic side, working hands-on with talent, that has meant the most to Sawyer over the years.
“Being able to watch where they start and where we finish when it’s on the stage,” Sawyer said. “I never cease to find that exciting.”
Matthew Scott Campbell will be following Sawyer as Producing Artistic Director. After growing up in the state and attending school at Concord, coming back home to take the job was a no-brainer.
“Closer to family,” Campbell said. “Doing what I love to do, being an artist. But also, leading an artistic organization has exciting prospects.”
Campbell is well aware of the legacy that he has to follow.
“The theatre would not be around without Cathy,” Campbell said.
But he’s no slouch coming into such a significant role.
“We had over 120 applications from other countries,” Sawyer said. “From all over the United States.”
And is intent on merging the success of the past with the possibilities of the future.
“Our vision is really about how do we continue to building on the legacy we have?” Campbell said. “But also, what does it look like to move forward?”
As she prepares for her exit, Sawyer has helped define the theatre within the community for three decades. And vice versa.
“It is time for the theatre in the community to have a refresh,” Sawyer said. “To have a new vision. A new voice.”