Set building with Roger Howland

Courtesy photo of Roger Howland
Courtesy photo of Roger Howland

Two years after the Shelburne Players theater group was formed in 2002, Roger and Betsy Howland saw a need, and found a solution for the budding company. The empty-nesters began the hobby of set building, after all they built their own house.

“It’s been 35 years and it’s almost done,” Roger Howland said of his Shelburne home.

Now Roger Howland serves as Shelburne Players President of the Board. The first play the couple worked on was Picnic. Roger Howland helped rig up a workable swing and created a false-perspective structure which allowed an actress to speak from what appeared to be the second floor of a building on a 12-foot stage. By the time the play was over, Howland had been asked to take over as set building manager.

Shelburne Players productions take place at Shelburne Town Center. Virtually all plays involve at least one engineering problem and Howland is happy solve them. One of his proudest moments involved the play On Golden Pond. The backdrop was a three-panel view of the pond, and a broken screen door. The door had to fall off its hinges when touched, but otherwise stay up or it would knock down the rest of the set. After much ado, of course, Howland came through.

Howland, a native Vermonter, loves to play tennis, visit Shelburne Farms, kayak, walk on the beach, hike the Adirondacks and in the Green Mountains. He said Shelburne “is one of the most gorgeous pieces of land in the world.”

In addition to the Shelburne Players, Howland volunteers as treasurer of his homeowners’ association and visits grandchildren often. “My wife has a five-year list of things, including a few finishing details that have been nagging us since we built this house,” he said. “Thankfully, a broken screen door isn’t one of them.”

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