If an actor is injured, you call in an understudy. If your director’s got the flu, the play continues without her — somehow. After all, the show must go on.
But what about when the founder of a theater company is moving on? That’s one of the most difficult transitions of all, and Threshold Repertory Theatre is facing that very issue right now. The small company, which operates out of a black box theater on Society Street, is an ambitious one — they’ve staged full Broadway musicals in their small space and consistently tackle strong contemporary dramas. They’ve also recently begun a Summer Shakespeare Workshop for actors who are new to the Bard’s work.
Threshold’s executive artistic director, Pamela Galle, has long been one of their most stalwart faces. She founded the theater, got it into its home at 84 1/2 Society St., and has shaped every one of its five seasons.
However, the time has come for Galle to move on. She’s heading for the West Coast this December to be with family. “All three of my children are living in the same area of Los Angeles, and I expect they’ll be staying there,” says Galle. “My oldest son has been there a while, and I’ve visited a number of times, and I love it.” She’s also got a 17-month-old granddaughter, with whom she’s excited to spend a lot more time.
That said, her plans for the future aren’t just about family. She plans to stay involved in theater in some fashion. Prior to her time in Charleston, she helped run a theater in Charlotte, N.C. and has worked in the industry for 25 years.
And there’s more she wants to investigate, West Coast style. “There’s also this spiritual element I’d love to have time to explore,” Galle says. “I love meditation. It would help me with my focus, I think. I definitely want to expand my understanding of myself in ways beyond theater.”
Galle is grateful, though, for her experiences here in Charleston, particularly those with Threshold. “I have grown so much,” she says. “I’ve learned so much, and I’ve made wonderful friends who are now part of my family.”
Threshold members say the same. Courtney Daniel is the executive director of the company, and as such, is in a position not only to celebrate the past, but to look ahead to the future.
“Pam is such an amazing leader, a visionary, a friend,” says Daniel. “Just overall, she’s probably the best person you could ever meet, with a ton of wisdom. She’s been a huge mentor for me.”
But, she continues, “Having her go is like kicking the little bird out of its nest. It’s going to be challenging at first for us.” Perhaps both Galle and Threshold are the baby birds in this metaphor. They’re both setting out on their own.
Daniel is quick to note that the future will remain influenced by Galle. “As we move forward, things are going to change, but I think that Mike [Kordek, technical director] and I, and some of the original people on the staff are going to hold tight to what Pam brought to the theater, and to her vision. I don’t think that’s going away,” she says. “Everyone kind of has that ‘What would Pam do?’ question in the back of our heads.”
And things are moving in a good direction at Threshold. The company recently held their first fundraiser, which was a great success, and welcomed Paul O’Brien, a well-known local actor, to their board of directors. Their fifth season is already set — next up are the comedy Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell and the drama Tape — and Galle says she’ll remain involved from afar until the season closes. Threshold’s remaining team has already begun discussions for season six.
It will be a difficult transition, perhaps, but a needed one for all involved — at least according to Galle: “It’s time for me to make a change, but it’s also time for the theater to make a change. There will be an influx of new blood that will shape the theater anew.”