On the stage and behind the scenes

The NarroWay Blog

Have you ever wondered how NarroWay got its start? We're going back to the very beginning to walk through the incredible journey with NarroWay founders Rebecca Martin and Yvonne Clark!

Chapter 25: King's Arena

pulling nails

REBECCA –
Memorial weekend, 1996 (–dash–) Memorial weekend, 1997!
First time we saw the rundown amphitheater in Fort Mill, SC (–dash–) First show opened on stage at King’s Arena.
You know what they say: "It’s all about the dash."

BIRDIE –
It was October before a lease was finalized, granting NarroWay use of the amphitheater property until December 31, 2005, with an option to extend the lease for two three-year periods.

working on laptopREBECCA –
With the help of our attorney and friend, Joe Justice, and his wife, Virginia, we began the insufferable procedure of securing a tax-exempt status from the IRS. Unbeknownst to us, our coming to the old Heritage USA property coincided with Jim Bakker’s release from prison. So, the IRS agent thought we were a front for a Jim Bakker come-back!

BIRDIE –
Little did we know that we would live in the ominous shadow of Jim Bakker for years to come.

REBECCA –
Without IRS certification, we couldn’t secure the contributions we desperately needed.

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Chapter 26: What Were We Thinking!

thinking what

REBECCA –
Have you ever tried to step onto a running treadmill? I did ...........once!
That’s the best way to describe how Birdie and I looked when we changed addresses in January 1997 and set the first performance and public opening of the amphitheatre for May 22, 1997!

BIRDIE –
ONLY FIVE MONTHS!

REBECCA –
What were we thinking?!

BIRDIE –
After the lease was signed to occupy King’s Arena, the property manager told us that a national entertainment group had previously shown interest in the amphitheater area but backed out when they estimated it would take $2,000,000.00 to restore it and produce a show.

REBECCA –
That was encouraging news!
We received a desperately-needed donation - $400,000.00, and started writing checks.
Lighting - $100,000.00.
Electricians - $30,000.00.
Marketing - $35,000.00.
Lumber, building supplies, liability insurance, property insurance, and the list went on.

BIRDIE –
I was accustomed to talking about money in terms of hundreds. Now we talked in tens-of-thousands.

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Chapter 27: Two Thieves...and a Savior

 

two thieves sweatshirt

BIRDIE –
Spring 1997. The electrical work was almost finished. Audio and dmx cables were running through what seemed to be miles of conduit, under tons of concrete, all over the amphitheater.

REBECCA –
The first equipment to be installed was the lighting. We decided to purchase ten intelligent lights rather than hundreds of conventional lights.

BIRDIE –
We had around fifty conventional lights from the ones we had salvaged.

REBECCA –
Unlike conventional theater lighting, an intelligent light can move all directions, change to any color, cover anything from a small box on the stage to a large building, and has gobos to create special effects.

BIRDIE –
But intelligent lights couldn’t be installed outdoors in 1997. That would be like leaving your laptop outside on your deck year-round.

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