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After wrapping the main stage curtain with plastic, Brenda Schwab adds more cloth to create an on-stage tree for the upcoming play "Wedding Belles," in the Oak Street Playhouse.

Brenda Schwab's philosophy is to build, teach, share and direct while executing her craft in the love-of-her-life profession, theater.

And with small theater companies, it is inherent that a few people have to do a lot of work.

On Thursday, just one day before the opening performance of "Wedding Belles," Schwab was the only person in the Oak Street Playhouse at First-Centenary United Methodist Church on McCallie Avenue.

The performance hall was cluttered with artificial flowers, multicolored cloth and scattered building materials as she clanged her stepladder across the partially painted stage while building a 1942-era back porch scene for the six-performance play, which runs through Sunday.

"I'm going to work some darker green into [the floor], some more brown and put real moss on the steps in certain spots," Schwab said.

The 35-year veteran is no stranger to live theater.

"I've been one of those lucky enough to do what I love for my day job," she said while wrapping heavy plastic around an existing stage curtain to construct an artificial tree. "My ex-husband and I ran our own professional theater in Indiana for three years."

More recently, she has taught costume design and construction at Chattanooga State Community College. "I also teach Costume 1, Costume 2, Special Topics in Patterning and Draping and History of Clothing," she said.

She has done additional costume work for the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera and the Creative Discovery Museum.

Before coming to Chattanooga, Schwab worked at the Cumberland County Playhouse, where she served as resident costume designer for nearly 12 years and on its professional performing staff. Indeed, she was part of the Crossville theater company's first hired staff. She also has worked on the road doing professional dinner theater.

"My relationship with Oak Street started four or five years ago" when then-producing director Mike Tulloss asked her to direct a show. When Tulloss moved to Houston in 2014, he asked her to take over.

She now works with a small cadre of volunteers, who, for "Wedding Belles," constructed the set over four or five Saturdays and who work behind the scenes during the run of the show.

But it is sharing her love of theater that is important, according to Schwab.

"I think God gave us the arts to enrich the human spirit," she said.

Schwab said one day she'd love to do some children's theater at Oak Street Playhouse.

"They will just bloom on stage," she said. "That has been part of my goal -- sharing and passing it on."

In the meantime, she had costumes to finish, trees to create and floors to paint.

"It sounds corny [when] you hear people say 'theater is my life,'" Schwab said. "Well, literally, theater is my life. It's what I do. It's what I eat, sleep and breathe. It's what I love, and like I said, it's what I'm passionate about."

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