The Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre has gone through extremely challenging times since the discovery in December 2019 of structural flaws in the roof that made its home at Island Park unsafe.
Since then, the community theater cast and crew have been a bunch of troupers, making due at alternative venues while efforts continued to regain a safe and suitable permanent stage.
The Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead has graciously stepped forward to allow the theater to stage plays in its spacious Heritage Hall.
Problem seemingly solved. But some Hjemkomst supporters aren’t happy with the arrangement. Space set aside to accommodate the theater means less space available for the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County’s exhibits.
One exhibit, for example, found it necessary to scale back by 1,000 square feet. Beyond the impact on exhibit space, some Hjemkomst supporters have grumbled about other inconveniences.
The Moorhead City Council, for example, has been meeting at the Hjemkomst during the coronavirus pandemic, because it allows for better social distancing to keep city officials and members of the public safe.
But those edgy Hjemkomst supporters should take a deep breath and stop hyperventilating. The delta wave appears to be waning; some day the pandemic will be over, and the Moorhead City Council will return to its chambers.
It’s important to remember that the Hjemkomst hasn’t always been solely an interpretive center. It’s been home to Moorhead Parks and Recreation as well as senior services. It’s an important community center.
The tenancy of the theater, meanwhile, is also temporary. The community theater is still haggling with its insurance company, but expects to reach a settlement soon, possibly as early as the end of October.
Once the settlement is reached, construction can begin to address the structural problems at the theater’s main stage at Island Park, where the theater has been based since 1967.
When it was built 54 years ago, what opened as the Emma K. Herbst Playhouse was a true community effort. It was made possible by many financial and in-kind contributions, including work provided by local unions.
It’s that same civic spirit that will bring people together to make the theater better than ever. Until then, everyone needs to remain flexible and understanding. The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County has welcomed the theater with open arms.
The pandemic, now grinding on for 20 months, has been difficult for everyone. It’s been especially disruptive for the theater. It’s current production, “Young Frankenstein,” will end Sunday, Oct. 24, after a run shortened by COVID-19 illness involving the cast.
Through it all, serious structural problems and pandemic included, the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre has endured, thanks to a real “the show must go on” ethos.
We can all take heart from that example. And we’ll all be culturally enriched when the curtain rises once again back at the main stage at Island Park.