Hello Corner Brook! The past week in Oz, Kansas, and Munchkinland has been quite the adventure. We’ve spent some more time dancing, blocking scenes, and learning to sing songs we didn’t even know existed. That’s right, come and see the play version of The Wizard of Oz and you will hear new catchy, heart-warming, and fun show tunes to add to the list of already pretty awesome songs associated with this lovable classic. My personal favorite is “The Jitterbug!”
In my last entry I started to get all excited about community theatre and what sets it apart from most other kinds of theatre, but I didn’t have the space to go into it there, so I’m going to revisit it here. I’m also going to attempt a miniature exploration of why theatre is such an important creative expression that is useful for all human beings—not just the elite few.
Community theatre is the only theatre environment that I’ve discovered where every person is there solely because they want to be. For most of us there is nothing terribly important at stake in doing this show; it’s not a source of income we’re depending upon, it’s not a grade, and it’s probably not going to make or break any of our careers—seeing as most of us have other careers. Probably not many of us identify primarily as actors or theatre artists, so we don’t have any weird hang-ups about winning a Tony; we just want to have a fun time creating something lovely and we want to share it with our friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family. Mark Twain was onto something when he told us in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer “that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”
This sense of play, this communal feel, and this lack of overly serious professional rules lends itself to a truly unique theatrical experience. You can bring your kid to rehearsal – in fact, please do bring your kid to rehearsal because it’s wonderful for everyone and we love it!
Community theatre is a gift to everyone onstage, backstage, and in the audience. There is something so special about getting to see someone you know and care about sparkle onstage, someone who otherwise might not have had that opportunity, especially when you normally think of them as a teacher, a doctor, or that quiet kid in your psychology class.
There are few things more human than the art of story-telling. Theatre originated from a need to investigate, to communicate, and to celebrate being alive and the human condition. Our ancient rituals and traditions reflected this need and gave birth to a species of story-tellers. I am passionate about Shakespeare’s old adage “the world is a stage and we are all but players,” and that every single person has the ability to act. I am also passionate about how useful theatre experience is in everyday life: problem solving, public speaking, listening comprehension, effective communication, strategy, empathy, tolerance, diversity, objectivity—the list is endless.
A friend once told me about his struggle in deciding whether to spend his summer pursuing a theatre opportunity or volunteering abroad. He really wanted to do the play but he was afraid that it was frivolous. When he approached his Rabbi with the problem, the Rabbi responded “In order to live man needs both bread and flowers; bread to keep him alive, and flowers to give him something worth living for.”
“Inside you there’s an artist you don’t know about.” —Rumi
Lead image: the Wicked Witch, Dorothy, and Glenda the Good Witch by Lily Smallwood.