The summer of 2003 marks the 50th season of Corn Stock Theatre. Fiftieth-year celebrations are a widely recognized milestone for both groups and individuals. There seems to be an implied halfway point in these anniversaries—50 percent of a whole. Realistically, very few people live to be 100, and almost no one celebrates a 100th wedding anniversary. But most individuals talk about “heading over the hill,” “playing the back nine,” and “going down the backward slide.” As if a pinnacle is reached at the 50-year point, and everything is down hill from there.

This particular milestone has become of great personal interest to me—both Corn Stock and I celebrate our 50th seasons this year. While I would prefer to view this birthday as my halfway point, I know that’s not likely. But I do know one thing for sure: this year isn’t the pinnacle of my life. I truly feel I’m just starting to grow into the person I would like to be. I see many more accomplishments and goals in my future. I like who I am and where I am, but I see the potential to be and do more.

Interestingly enough, I see Corn Stock in the same light. The organization has accomplished so much in the last 49 years. What started out as a dream, conceived in 1954 by Gretchen Iben and Richard Chandler with a budget of $35, has grown into a year-round community theatre with a permanent structure and a budget of more than a quarter of a million dollars.

But we’re capable of even more. With our winter lab theatre now housed in a permanent structure—The Corn Stock Theatre Center—Corn Stock is free to continue in its mission statement: “The purpose of the organization shall be to study, teach, and promote theater in all phases, to provide a practical yet experimental environment for the creative artist and technician, to create and present productions of quality in a professional manner which will offer a challenge to the talents and skills available, and to entertain and enlighten the viewer through the use of the dramatic arts.”

The theatre center is also home to Corn Stock for Kids, a part of Corn Stock devoted to introducing children to all aspects of theatre, both on and back stage. CSK produces one musical production in the spring and sponsors several workshops, including a three-day summer workshop in August. More and more participants are gravitating to the challenges presented by the winter lab theatre and Corn Stock for Kids, as Corn Stock utilizes these two areas in fulfilling its mission statement.

So, as Corn Stock passes into its 50th year, we may be reaching our pinnacle. But I prefer to view it as a plateau—just another level on our way up. Where will the next 50 years lead us? It’s hard to tell, but just as I view my own life, I truly feel Corn Stock is growing into the theatre it would like to be. I see many more accomplishments and goals in its future.

I like who we are and where we are, but I see the potential for Corn Stock to be and do more. In other words, trite as it may be, both Corn Stock and I are not only getting older, we’re getting better. And I wish the same fate for all individuals and organizations approaching the same milestone. Don’t view the 50th as the pinnacle of your life, but as the jumping off point for a whole new adventure. AA!