New talent agency will enhance East Winston arts

Stephanie Hurt and her son Joel of the Royal Curtain Drama Guild, working with youth at a recent event.

New talent agency will enhance East Winston arts
January 12
14:16 2022

In 2010, Stephanie Hurt started the Royal Curtain Drama Guild (RCDG) with a realization: There is just as much acting talent in East Winston as there is in the rest of the city, and the arts can be a significant economic driver in East Winston, just as it is in the rest of the city.

The RCDG shares that realization with Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM), which supports the nonprofit RCDG Plays In Winston Salem N.C., Royal Curtain Drama Guild,  United States (

The RCDG has put on numerous plays, drawing in visitors that can, eventually, support restaurants and other businesses. The guild has drawn in more than 100 participants, as well as ticket revenues in fiscal year 2019-2020 of just over $33,000, before being slowed by the pandemic. As it prospers, the RCDG has experienced a challenge: finding enough folks to fill the roles and do the backstage work. In response, Hurt has set up a talent agency, the Parable House Theater Staffing Agency, a business that will recruit and register people for work in the RCDG and other organizations.

“The RCDG actually birthed a bigger baby than itself,” Hurt said. “The necessity of this was having enough players for theater performances on more than just a once- or twice-year basis. We need to ID enough people and keep their names in a database. These are the Parable House Players, passionate performers we train and tap into for our productions. This also opens them up to job offers from other groups.”

The agency is open to ages ranging from teenagers to older adults. In its work with teenagers, the agency aligns with the local My Brother’s/My Sister’s Keeper initiative, with which CSEM is also affiliated, working to make sure youth of low resources have all they need to make it in the world. “For example,” Hurt said, “I love the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, but everybody doesn’t qualify to go there.”

The Parable House Players pay a $275 membership fee and are paid from ticket sale revenues. More financial support is needed.

Hurt said:  “We want to make sure that anyone who comes in to do work for us as a Parable House Player will be open to other offers as well. Ours is a theater company that gives them space and pays them for their work. As we grow, the hope is that the investors will sign up. I see the talent every day in East Winston. We have the talent right here in our community. Broadway can happen right here in North Carolina if we work with the talent, if we support it, and not just ask people to give their talent away for free all the time.”

Hurt is blunt about her group’s journey. “It’s so challenging in our city. We can really see it. For Winston-Salem to really be The City of the Arts and Innovation – the performing arts – support has to happen from the city and others who say they support the arts. Collaboration is key. We have to work together. Utopia for me would be no competition for performing arts in Winston-Salem.”

Toward that end, CSEM also supports another agency working in that arena, Triad International Ballet.

The RCDG and Hurt’s new agency share an emphasis with CSEM on community collaboration and uplifting the considerable talent in East Winston – making the invisible visible.

Hurt said: “It’s for the community, to have a place for the community to thrive and grow and nurture their gifts.”

John Railey,, is the writer in residence for CSEM,

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