Managing a theatre company and directing shows is exhilarating,
terrifying, heartening, dreadful, thrilling, boring, edifying,
depressing, and I love them for ALL those reasons and more.
Apparently if I'm not prepared to fail hugely or succeed greatly
at any second, I can't have any fun.
- Meredith Bean McMath, 2018
I’ve worked in theatre for over 45 years. Got my start in theatre while researching Loudoun County Civil War history and serving on the Board of Directors of the Loudoun Museum. Started creating public programs and presentations and writing columns and historic fiction. Then Loudoun Museum Board Member, Joni Lynn Crane, and I agreed there were previously unknown stories that needed to be brought to life decided to create a history documentary based on a presentation I was going to give at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Virginia.
I wrote the script, collected and created the costumes, prepped the living history performers and gave the talk (part of Oatland's Elizabeth Carter Lecture Series). After that, we founded Run Rabbit Run Productions, Inc. and Joni took her film of the Oatlands presentation to create our first documentary, Having A Ball: Ballroom Costume Etiquette and Dance in the Midst of the Rebellion. We submitted this to The History Channel (just after Ken Burns’ Civil War Series), and they accepted it and aired it several times in 1996. Our second work, Southern Courage: Civil War Women of Loudoun County, Virginia, can be seen here.
"One passion kept leading to another. I'm deeply grateful for the talented people I've worked with and for all the opportunities I've been given, but I do wish writers and directors were paid a little more..."
So... is it time to explain that name, Run Rabbit Run?
In 1998, my friend Joni Lynn Crane and I began to create history documentaries and museum public programs. Accurate historic “pretending” was our game, and… well, we didn’t have a name.
But while we were creating that first documentary, we heard a story from the Battle of Gettysburg. A group of Confederate soldiers were hunched down along a ditch, waiting for the call to charge across the battlefield. Most knew this battle was the end of the line - for the war, and very possibly themselves. As they waited, tense and exhausted, a large hare ran swiftly along the line. Each man turned their heads as it ran past, and then everything grew silent... until an old man spoke up and quietly said: “Run, Hare, Run… If I were a hare I’d run, too".
The story struck us profoundly, and we wanted to name our production company after the tale (the tail?). So, we were going to be Run Hare Run Productions, Inc.
And right away people told us the name was too hard to remember, so we compromised and came up with Run Rabbit Run Productions, Inc.
And we knew we had a lucky rabbit when our first documentary was accepted by - and aired on - The History Channel several times (This was just after Ken Burns' Civil War Series).
Then in 2010, I pulled a theatre company out of the Rabbit's hat, my musical friends Diane El-Shafey and Carma Jones Denney joined me, and Run Rabbit Run suddenly meant “Energizer Bunny”.
Our goal was to create great entertainment in Loudoun County, Virginia and the DC / Metro area with veteran actors, new performers and technical crew who were:
1. Extremely talented and creative;
2. Aimed for professional-level work;
3. Knew how to have fun doing all of the above.
As Managing Producer and Director From 2010 to 2020, I averaged 2-3 productions a year of dinner theatre shows ranging from classics to modern works, original stage plays to original musicals and adaptions, plein-air Shakespeare to two Capital Fringe Festival productions, and offered youth to adult acting classes and programs through libraries, schools and museums.
Along the way, Run Rabbit Run won awards, excellent reviews and full houses. In short, we successfully pretended for ten years