Theatre of Western Springs Spotlight: Kay Payne

Kay Payne. | Submitted
Kay Payne. | Submitted

Get to know the community of Western Springs with our Theatre of Western Springs Spotlight feature!

This week, we meet Kay Payne of Lisle. She joined TWS in 1978.

Q. Why did you join TWS?

A. I wanted to get back into theater after many years away from it.

Q. How did you find out about TWS?

A. A coworker in the school district where I was working told me about TWS. I took my sons to see Vi Dawson’s “Snow White” and was very impressed. I enrolled them in the Children’s Theatre and myself in Studio I.

Q. Go back in time. When did you discover you had an interest in theatre/drama?

A . My mother took me to movies and plays from when I was a small child. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in love with all aspects of both. I didn’t play mommy with baby dolls like most little girls did at that time. All my dolls were my actors, and I created plays for them with sets, costumes, etc. I did various things in high school and college drama classes including a part in “The Crucible.” I dyed my hair gray for it. I was one class short of having a double major in college. I got the degree in Speech Pathology with Theatre being the just missed other field.

Q. At TWS, do you work on crews, backstage and/or front of house?

A. I have worked in almost all aspects of TWS productions. I have never done sound. I was annual chair for props, chairperson of Director’s Workshop, stage managed several shows and did advertising for the program.

Q. At TWS, do you act on stage?

A. I appeared in “Inherit the Wind” and “Juliet in Mantua.” For the latter, I didn’t know at first that I was supposed to sing with several other people. Once I found that out, I tried to say that wasn’t one my talents, but we were too far into production to replace me, before it was acknowledged that I was right. I did a lot of lip syncing with the others. In addition, I was in “The Love Course” in Director’s Workshop.

Q. What do you love about TWS? What is it about TWS that motivates you?

A. I love almost everything about TWS. Everyone there loves theatre in general and TWS in particular.

Q. TWS has flourished for 85 years. Are there traditions at TWS that you value?

A. It is fascinating to know that Mary Cattell had this dream and that it has endured through the years. She wanted to bring good theatrical experiences and education to the community. And that is what TWS and CTWS are still striving to do. I love that we have our own physical facility which is always full of people of all ages busy in that continuing endeavor.

Q. Tell about something at TWS that was, is, or will be a really big thrill for you.

A. Back stage, my biggest thrill was being prop chairperson for one of our productions of “The Foreigner” and doing some of the special effects myself every night as well as successfully choreographing the intricate prop and scene changes for “The Sunshine Boys.” On stage, one of many thrilling moments was standing in the wings watching every night as Bob and Grace Lester did “I’m Herbert” and listening from the light booth as Sandy Squillo filled the place with her beautiful singing in “Agnes of God.” Oh, I must not forget CTWS’ recent production of “Rent.” However, going through Studio I and II all those years ago is the number one highlight. It was Ted Kehoe’s first studio. He was the artistic director for many years. I also met Denny Wise in Studio I.

Q. List three things you have given TWS.

A. Years of hard work as long and as much as I could, loyalty as an Active and as an audience member and input and support when and where it was needed,

Q. List three things TWS has given you.

A. Friendships and fun, amazing support and help when I’ve needed it. Last April my house was flooded and the response from TWS was helpful beyond belief in so many ways. The direct reconnection I sought in theater: the participation, opportunities to observe different directors of all skill levels and learn from all of them, and the magic of watching all aspects of what goes into a playwright’s words coming to life.

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