Friday, November 19, 2010

Opinion: Why Outdoor Theatre? by Nancy Mohn Barnard (Violet Crown Theatre)

Meditations from Nancy Mohn Barnard published on the blog of the Violet Crown Community Theatre, who wind up The Amazing, Unforgettable, Mixed-up Adventures of Hansel and Gretel at Laguna Gloria amphitheater Sunday, November 21, at 4:30 p.m.:

The Amazing Unforgettable Mixed-Up Adventures of Hansel and Gretel, Violet Crown Community Theatre, Austin Texas

When I was six years old, my parents took me to Golden Gate Park for the day where we went for a nature walk into the seeming wilderness. All of a sudden, we stumbled into a clearing where there was a performance of Alice in Wonderland. For a moment I felt confused . . . Had I somehow fallen down the rabbit hole and into the actual story? Or had the characters been magically transported into my world? My mother must have recognized my confusion for she whispered to me that the scene before my eyes was a performance, a play, and as we sat down to watch it, I fell in love with not only theater but the magic that an outdoor performance can create as well.

As an adult, I had no memory of this experience until one day, several years ago, I was taking a stroll through the Hyde Park neighborhood in Austin. It was summer solstice and the sun was just beginning to set when I walked past Shipe Park. Suddenly, I heard laughter, music and bells ringing. As I approached the Elisabet Ney museum, I discovered, to my delight, there was a theater performance on the grass with the castle-like structure in the background. With great delight, I joined the other audience members and enjoyed a timely performance of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The unexpectedness of this performance, combined with the magic of summer solstice, transported me into the world of this story until I was an actual participant. The experience was magical and I began to remember that first outdoor theatrical performance from so many years past.

In both of these experiences, the backdrop and staging was minimal. Being surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors, the eyes were not deprived or in need of additional stimulation. The performances were a free gift to whomever was interested – a free gift that changed my world and sent me into a love affair with literature and storytelling.

Theater is meant to be enjoyed by all, and yet, all too often, the experience is out of the reach of many. Theater tickets are expensive—forget trying to take an entire family out to enjoy a performance. As a result, many children are deprived of one of the oldest mediums for entertainment. And yet, as evidenced by my story, many could develop an appreciation for arts and literature through early exposure. This is why Violet Crown Community Theater strives to offer free performances—in the hopes of reaching young families who may not be able to afford to spend $30+ for an afternoon at the theater.

Please help us in this mission by giving generously at our closing show this Sunday: “The Amazing, Unforgettable, Mixed-up Adventures of Hansel and Gretel” atLaguna Gloria amphitheater, Sunday, 11/21 @ 4:30 PM.

As our fall show draws to a close, I have been spending a lot of my down time reflecting on this production. “The Amazing, Unforgettable, Mixed-up Adventures of Hansel and Gretel” is my third production since starting this group, and in many ways, it has been my favorite so far.

Read More at . . . .

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