Community art does not take a vacation

Now that the sun has finally decided to shine once again on the Plateau, don’t let the summer months make you think the arts are taking a vacation.

Now that the sun has finally decided to shine once again on the Plateau, don’t let the summer months make you think the arts are taking a vacation. It is true my own summer months are not quite as busy as when I’m participating in a play with Stage Door Productions. For the uplifting performance of “Annie,” I was singing, dancing and the props manager. That kept me busy! When the all-consuming responsibilities of a seasonal play are over, it is also true it leaves this performer in a sudden void. I would get the same feeling when I sang with the Cascade Foothills Chorale after the final concert.

The many months of rehearsals get so embedded in one’s memory, character and personality that when the final performance is over I can’t help but ask myself, “What am I going to do with all this ‘stuff’ in my head now?”

It means I have to go home, do some laundry, clean my house, pull some weeds and buy some groceries. My cats begin to recognize me again! There is also a lot of reflection on what we all did as a totally dedicated cast to the play and to one another.

Seasoned actors and performers seem to rejoice in the accomplishment of a tremendous performance and move on to ready themselves for the next show or performance. Myself, I go through a serious mourning period. I look to my friends in the arts community to lean on. We have our cast parties and celebrate not only our performances, but also new friendships. My very best friends are a result of participating in community artistic programs together. There may be rumors of future plays or music that is being considered for a play or concert – and the seed of anticipation is planted. The future promise of new and wondrous creativity is born. The artistic spark is lit once again.

None of this can happen without the structure of faithful board members and leaders of these organizations. For a successful performing arts and visual arts presentation there has to be leadership behind the planning and preparation. Without these people who are often the founders of the organization or voted into board positions there would be mayhem and total disorganization. The ability to assign and delegate responsibilities is an art in itself. In community art groups most of the people are volunteers and summer time is a great time for planning performance strategy.

Stage Door Productions has a brilliant summer camp for our community’s youth. They will be presenting some awesome performances headed by Stuart Johnson. They say there is no rest for the wicked and if that’s the case Stu must be very wicked since he went straight from playing Daddy Warbucks in “Annie,” to planning and organizing this summer’s youth camp. There are some very excited kids that are in the middle of rehearsing as I type this. What I admire about this community theater organization is during summer camp they lift up our children and make them the stars, while building performance ethics and uncompromised theatre knowledge.

What does all this mean? It means apart from the public school system or city administration we have a very healthy community. It means many are volunteering their time and energy to create a solid base of learned accomplishment for our kids within our community. Performing and visual arts is an outlet that is different from sports, yet a child (or adult) can grasp hold of a winning prize of grand success by learning how to paint or sketch… or how to build character and confidence reciting lines or singing on stage for the first time. Sometimes it can be a life-changing experience for someone and such organizations like these can discover promising artists amongst them. Some attention and encouragement is all they need.

So what am I doing this summer? I’m still taking painting classes. I haven’t given up and Lorrie Maras has continued to encourage me. Sometimes I will complete a water color painting in the quiet privacy of early morning weekends and present it to Lorrie Monday evening. She will advise me on corrections or tell me it’s done.

I bought a new paint brush last weekend and it was quite thrilling for me to find an excellent brush that I’ll be able to apply a nice “wash” on watercolor paper. “Wash” is a term I learned in class. Yes, an old dog can learn new tricks.

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