Theatre volunteer wins national award

First Posted: 7/9/2012

Merrie Dawkins has volunteered for just about every job connected with the Richmond Community Theatre. Whether it was acting, working backstage or raising money for productions, the Rockingham woman has done it all.

Her three decades of work will be honored next month when Dawkins is presented with an award from the American Association of Community Theatre in New York. She will receive the AACT Special Recognition Award, which is presented to people or organizations whose “contributions to community theatre are far reaching and of a special nature.”

“I’m very pleased that Merrie has received this award,” said Richmond Community Theatre Director Shelly Walker. “I’m always very happy when someone who is so deserving, who has worked so hard and has been so dedicated to theatre is recognized. And Merrie is a very dedicated and hard working member of the Richmond Community Theatre. It’s an honor for one of our members to be recognized by a national organization such as the American Association of Community Theatres. And I hope in the future more Richmond Community Theatre members will be recognized for their efforts. Merrie is one prized member of a whole community of hard-working dedicated individuals!”

Dawkins said the arts are her passion. When she returned to Hamlet after studying theatre in college, she said that she was delighted to find a community theatre in the area.

Dawkins has volunteered at Richmond Community Theatre for 31 years, serving as a board member (including president), actor, technician, backstage crew, children’s theatre organizer, and financial contributor.

“It’s been good for me,” said Dawkins. “I’ve met so many people through the theatre. You do what you do because you enjoy it and if you get a thank you, great. But I didn’t expect anything like that. This is an honor.”

“RCT almost closed when its founding director retired,” said AACT staff. “Merrie and others worked with the City of Rockingham to find a new director, and to figure out how to keep things going. It was a point of community pride; so many industries and businesses had closed, but the 4th oldest community theatre in the state remained. Essentially Merrie is always willing to support what is best for the community and the theatre as a whole. It’s not about her. It’s about the community. It’s about the theatre.”

The American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) provides networking, resources and support to suit the needs of those involved in community theatre. AACT represents the interests of more than 7,000 theatres across the United States and its territories, as well as theatre companies with the armed services overseas.

Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at