COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Linda Thomas is an acquisition specialist in the Strategic Acquisition Programs Directorate at DLA Land Maritime, but outside the office she has another passion that involves a bit of mystery.
Thomas works during her off-time producing plays for various churches and community organizations in central Ohio.
“I began writing vignettes, characteristics of people and their daily life in 1999,” Thomas said. “I was in English class at Urbana University and the professor would give us 20 minutes for creative writing. Well, I would write a lot in my 20 minutes.”
Thomas is the chief executive officer of the Forest and Trees Theater Group, a non-profit organization that develops programs and fund raisers for other non-profit groups such as churches, schools, and community organizations.
In June she produced the Matrimony Celebration for Curly and Sue Brown at the New Faith Baptist Church of Christ in Columbus. The play was a murder mystery in which someone from a wedding party dies and the audience participates by guessing who committed the crime.
This most recent production had three acts. Act one set the stage for the audience to get to know the characters and their flaws. During act two the audience learned who died and was asked to write down the name of the person they believed was responsible. In act three the detective solved the crime and the people who figured out the mystery correctly were given certificates.
This was the second time Linda produced this play for the church. She changed the character roles to make the mystery new and interesting. The actors were seated at various tables in the room among the audience.
The church members made up the entire cast for this play. Thomas and a church member co-authored the play and once it was written Thomas was hired to produce it.
The congregation wanted the concept of a murder mystery to be used as a fundraiser. After the event’s success the previous year, church members requested her to help produce it again.
Thomas credits several mentors around her for inspiration. “I was taught by a lady who is retired from the Ohio Arts Council,” Thomas said. “I got the theatre bug from Jeanne Sessoms, a former supervisor who directed the Center Stage Theatre in Columbus.”
Annually, she puts on Christmas programs for children and adults at local recreation centers and schools. The majority of her performers are volunteers who’ve worked with her for years.
Thomas says ticket sales are easy because performers invite their family and friends to productions, which have a broad appeal to audiences of all ages.
“I try to write with a meaning or life lesson in a way that young and old people can relate to.”