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Jackie Vinson’s family, from left, are his son, Michael Vinson; brother-in-law, Mike Bowls; sister, Melva Bowls; and wife, Barbara Robinson.  

The green room is the place backstage where actors and volunteers congregate before, during and after a performance. 

Plaza Theatre Co. named its green room after the late Jackie Vinson on Thursday at Dudley Hall, who was instrumental in the company’s decision to come to Cleburne 13 years ago. 

The green room is described as the “heartbeat” of the theater, Plaza Artistic Director JaceSon Barrus said, so it made sense to name the room after Vinson, who passed away shortly after they opened Dudley Hall in February 2017. 

They knew they were going to have the company somewhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but Barrus said it wasn’t until they spoke to Vinson when they decided to bring it to Johnson County. 

“In our 13 years, think of the thousands of people that have come in and out of our doors because Jackie Vinson did that,” he said. “There were some days we weren’t sure we were going to be able to make it. We struggled and fought and battled the best we could to get to the point where we could be in a building like this. I will always remember how positive Jackie was.”

Vinson would always lend a hand when there was a need, he said. There will be one plaque honoring Vinson in the green room and one plaque outside in the hallway where patrons can see it as well. 

“Anytime anyone comes through this space, they will know Jackie’s name and his contribution to Plaza Theatre,” he said.

Plaza Operations Director Aaron Siler said Vinson believed in them from the very beginning.

“He believed in us when a lot of people didn’t,” Siler said. “He really was the bulldozing force that made this happen. He pushed it and kept going and assembled the team that we needed and the board members that we still have today. He was kind of the glue in that way.” 

Vinson also had an eye for marketing and graphic design, he said, with many of his designs still being seen in their flyers today advertising their shows. 

Vinson was also a member of the Downtown Cleburne Association, Siler said, and would have loved to see the revitalization of the area with all the new businesses popping up. 

Vinson’s wife, Barbara Robinson, said her husband loved and dreamed theater. 

“He loved the theater and he loved Cleburne,” Robinson said. “He was not only a motivator, he was an innovator. He had all these visions. He dreamed of Cleburne as a tourist destination. It’s nice to see the theater growing like it is. It was his dream.” 

For information, visit plaza-theatre.com.

 

 

 

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