The weather and the calendar are both proclaiming it is summer. School is finishing for the year, dance schools have given their year-end recitals, and theatre performances are entering their summer season. The performing arts bridge cultures, bring awareness of social issues, and often show us how we are more alike than different.
Live-theatre performances are acknowledged every year when Broadway celebrates the performing arts with the Tony Awards, presented in June. “Theater teaches you how to understand other people and how to feel empathy for those who are not like us,” said John Leguizamo, winner of a Special Tony Award for 2018.
Producer Orin Wolf accepted a Tony for The Band’s Visit, proclaimed Best Musical. In his acceptance speech he said, “Music gives people hope and makes borders disappear.… Our show offers a message of unity in a world that more and more seems bent on amplifying our differences. In the end, we are more alike than we are different.”
Performers Andrew Rannells, Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto and Jim Parsons discussed the legacy of the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as “the Jimmys.” The 2018 excellence in theatre education award went to Melody Herzfeld of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who “sheltered 65 of her students in a small office for two hours until help arrived and led all of them to safety,” during the recent massacre there. Teens from the school performed “Seasons of Love” onstage at Radio City Music Hall, and were given a tearful standing ovation.
There is truly excellence in theatre programs in our schools, including right here in Surrey. I wish we could give an award for excellence to all our drama, music and dance teachers who bring the joy of participating in the performing arts. It requires time, focus and effort. No room for egos or attitudes if you want success.
Theatre matters. It provides a platform for cultural differences, aspirations, history and heroism. While most of us will never be part of a musical or play on Broadway, theatre is part of our own community. Dance, music and theatre programs in our schools help to bridge cultural and language differences. Community theatre clubs give everyone a chance to live the Broadway experience.
Just because we have come to the end of the season doesn’t mean you can take a holiday! Enroll in summer dance classes, theatre camps, or go see a show. Of course, I have a few suggestions.
Peninsula Productions is bringing the fun summer comedy The Dixie Swim Club to White Rock this summer. Written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, and directed by the company’s artistic director, Wendy Bollard, the play runs at Coast Capital Playhouse from Wednesday, July 11 to Saturday, July 28, at 8 p.m. – Wednesday through Saturday – and also at 2:30 p.m. on weekends. Tickets are $13 for students, $22 for seniors and $27 for adults. Call 604-536-7535 for tickets, or visit peninsulaproductions.org.
“We wanted to produce a play that was full of laughs and heart,” said Bollard, who directed the company’s hugely popular Sea of Stories last summer. “This hilarious play visits the lives of five female friends over the span of 35 years. It is funny, heartwarming and honest. I hope that the audience will love spending time with these amazing women, watching their lives and friendships enfold.”
Looking for classes and instruction? Go to Surrey Little Theatre’s website (surreylittletheatre.com) and check out the summer camps. One is already filled, but the “Cue to Cue Summer Drama Camp,” for ages 12 to 16, still has some spaces. It runs from Aug. 13 to 17, at SLT. In this camp, teens will look at all aspects of community theatre and learn basic skills, including stage management and direction. It isn’t all glamour and lights up. Be prepared to work hard! The cost is only $125, and is being subsidized by SLT this season.
Peninsula Productions is also hosting a workshop with David Glass, who has been described as one of the world’s great theatre teachers. This total-weekend workshop focuses on physical theatre and devised theatre. Ah. What’s that? If you don’t know the answer to this question, then sign up now for this workshop. Physical theatre is rooted in the body of the performer and explores both movement and emotion. Body language. Devised theatre is new to me, but apparently it is the heart of modern theatre practice. Hollistic.
This workshop runs on Sept. 7 (evening) and all day on Sept. 8-9. Register before July 15 and cost is only $250 for Peninsula Productions members, equity (professional) and students; it’s $275 for others. The workshop will be at the company’s studio at 14600 North Bluff Rd., White Rock. Visit the company’s website for registration information.
So, let’s get physical or join a swim club this summer. It may be theatre and a product of creative minds, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.