I have worked for the past 18 years in theatre, as a set artist and designer. Along with Laurie, the two of us have been set dressers and prop masters. I have been the stage manager, worked on sound and lighting, helped with costumes, been an assistant director and taught theatre classes. I have worked with hundreds of students in the school productions and hundreds of adults in the community productions.
Why do I do this and why is it important?
Because there is a place for everyone in theatre. We live in an area which focuses on sports, but not all kids are into that. The non-sports kids have a place with us. Those students who don’t quite “fit in” are welcomed. The “fringe” kids, those on the edge and could easily fall through the cracks, are embraced for their uniqueness. We treasure diversity and encourage all to pursue their dreams.
If there is no theatre, what is the option for these kids? Where do they find their place? Or do they just drift into a dark space, unable to see a way out?
I’m completely serious about this.
I believe, absolutely, theatre in school is as vitally important to students as math, science, and history. I have seen the difference this makes in the lives of kids, how they thrive and grow in the theatrical environment. This is an amazing thing to witness and I have been privileged to be part of it.
Which is why I have devoted my adult life to it. This is not an exaggeration. I made a list of the plays I could remember off the top of my head and came up with 78. I have worked on far more than that. Honestly, there have been so many I simply cannot remember them all. More often, I remember the set colors rather than the name of the play or musical. I’ve painted so many castles, I have run out of color combos I want to use…Stones and bricks have become the most hated things I paint because I have done them so often. Creating a wonderful backdrop for the stories told by our students is what interests me. They deserve the best set I can provide for them, and that passion has never left me.
Community theatre is another place I do what I do. And while I think community theatre is valuable, it does not mean as much to me as the work I do with the students. My work in the schools provides the kids with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. An experience which helps them grow and mature as people. The lessons they learn in theatre are lessons they will carry with them throughout their lives.
Seems like a worthwhile way to spend my time.