News Release: 2/9/2017

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    February 09, 2017
    February 6, 2017
                   BASTROP-- Chester Eitze, Executive Director of Bastrop Opera House, has been selected by the American Association of Community Theatre as a recipient of its 2017 National Special Recognition Award.  Each year this award is presented to only a few individuals across the nation whose contributions to community theatre are “far reaching and of a special nature.” 
                American Association of Community Theatre, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is the national community theatre organization.  AACT works with community theatres across the country assisting them to become the cornerstones of the creative life of their communities.  Because of the number of community theatres, they involve more participants, present more performances of more productions and play to more people than any performing art in the country.
                “Anyone who has known Chester for more than fifteen minutes is aware what a treasure he is, not only in Bastrop but in community theatre communities in Texas and throughout the country,” said David Bragg, President of Bastrop Opera House.  Debbie Denny, Vice-President of Bastrop Opera House, said, “because of Chester’s vision and steadfast determination, Bastrop Opera House not only has an ambitious production schedule, it also has created an academy for young children and students, teaching them the magic of community theatre and acting.” 
                Chester Eitze is currently in his thirty-second year at the Bastrop Opera House. He is the immediate past president of Texas Nonprofit Theaters, having served two consecutive terms. In two decades of serving TNT, Eitze has participated in nine consecutive Texas/AACT festivals, multiple TNT Youth Conferences, hosting its twentieth anniversary event, and producing three TNT original play competition winners. Eitze graduated from the University of Texas, spent two summers with the Oregon Shakespearean Festival, served Austin’s Parks & Recreation art programming, and, as director of Zachary Scott Theater, designed the first of its current three playhouses. After ten years in NYC, Eitze began his tenure in Bastrop’s landmark theatre. 
    Built in 1889, the Bastrop Opera House was to house touring companies, the theater later became a movie theater and then a teen center. Then, in 1979, with the threat of a sale for back taxes, Bastrop Opera House Inc. was chartered and restored. Under the direction of Chester Eitze, Executive Director since 1984, volunteers from board member to actors and stage crews continue to uphold the tradition of performing arts programming The Bastrop Opera House offers family entertainment year-round at modest prices.
    “Chester Eitze is a ball of energy,” says Bragg, “and a dedicated force behind bringing some of the most innovative theatre to the area, as well as favorite musicals.  Eitze is committed to the youth and the community actors to put on a vast schedule of performances throughout the year. We could not be more proud of this honor for Chester, it’s well deserved.”
    Lisa Holcomb