History

The following article on CLOTA’s history was written by Mary Plausen for the program of My Fair Lady. 

Editing for Website by Joseph Hunter

In the fall of 1964, three men decided to pool their talents and form a private theatre group.

CLOTA’s Premier Production. The goal- to raise $6,000. The idea that the Ridgecrest- China Lake area could support its own community theatre. It is true that the people of this area have always shown an interest in the theatre… But, would people be interested enough to contribute their money, time, and talent to make as large an undertaking as a community theatre possible? In the fall of 1964, three men decided to pool their talents and form a private theatre group.

Jack Lawson, English instructor and head of the Drama Department at the local campus of Bakersfield College, Vernon Green, technical director of many plays, and Ken Bryson, a very able musical director, created the Desert Music Theatre. Designed primarily as a children’s theatre, the group’s first production, RIP VAN WINKLE, was very well received. However, it soon became apparent that more support and capital were needed to continue such an enterprise.

Within a short time, a Board of Directors was formed, and at their first meeting on February 1…  and the title of Community Light Opera and Theatre Association was given to the project. 

While searching for a solution to this problem, the three had several discussions with Ed Romero, who has long been active in theatre locally, and the idea of a community theatre for both China Lake and Ridgecrest was born.

The response to such a proposal was immediate and favorable. Within a short time, a Board of Directors was formed, and at their first meeting on February 1, elected Dr. Richard Ashcom president, George Coulter, vice president. Don Yackey, secretary, and Carolyn Lindberg, treasurer.

A constitution and by-laws were also approved, and the title of Community Light Opera and Theatre Association was given to the project. At this same meeting, Lawson, Green, and Bryson gave the total assets of the Desert Music Theatre to the new venture.

By February 14, a subscription committee consisting of 80 members and with Dwight Holford as chairman was ready to start the sales campaign. At a meeting held the same day, Leroy Jackson, Kern County supervisor and Captain John L. Hardy, Commander of US-NOTS were on hand to give the project their official blessing. They also became patrons of the Theatre. The subscription drive, which ran from February 15 to April 1st, brought the associations 90 patrons and 140 members, three of who are $100 life members. They are Dr. Richard Ashcom, Dr. William McLean, and actor Cesar Romero. A total of 433 subscriptions were sold in the drive, netting the thatre $4,000 of the estimated $6,000 needed to produce both plays of the first season.

The response to the advance ticket sale was so great that the association went ahead with plans to rent the old Masonic Lodge as a rehearsal hall. The number of people who came to audition for MY FAIR LADY… showed continued enthusiasm.

Tonight you see before you the result of a community working together. The efforts of many people from both China Lake and Ridgecrest were needed to make this production possible. Your response has been gratifying, but your support will continue to be needed when we start our second season in September. The Community Theatre hopes in the future to broaden its productions, thus making the group a well rounded semi-professional theatre of which the “Community Can Be Proud”.

Tonight you see before you the result of a community working together. The efforts of many people… of which the “Community Can Be Proud”.