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7 May 2008
I sat down on a concrete wall and my nose was filled with the smell of freshly cut wood. The stage had been newly reconstructed (Walt worked on it on Saturday) and the builder's sign still adorned the lawn of the Davis Art Center.
I had gone down to the Art Center to be there for a photo shoot for Acme Theatre Company's upcoming production, A Carnival of Follies, for which I am doing a spotlight feature story. This story has a special place in my heart because the show itself marks the retirement of director Dave Burmester, who founded the company 28 years ago.
Part of the cast had already arrived and were waiting for the costumer so they could dress for the photographer.
She finally arrived with a basket full of brightly colored costumes and began pinning people into them for the photo shoot.
The thing which has made this company special for so many years is the amount of work which the kids put in. In fact, since Dave hasn't been able to check this out, I'm asking if anybody reading this is aware of other young people's theatres (this one is for kids of high school age), where the kids do everything with minimal assistance from adults.
Dave, in his interview, puts it this way: "we all understood this principle that were talking about, that the kids do all the work, that we dont want the parents intruding. Thats a harsh word, "intruding." We really feel as though the kids would not benefit if the parents became involved at the level that they do in so many other organizations, or in school for that matter."
I feel very strongly that our kids who were involved with Acme benefitted so strongly because of the education they got not only in on-stage performance, but in back-stage crafts--designing and hanging lights, making and painting sets, making costumes, etc. It was a lot of work, but it taught them more than just theatre skills.
One of the early Acme kids, now an adult, told Dave, "My experience with Acme gave me the confidence to do the other kinds of things Im doing." Dave adds, "I get that from a lot of people."
So I'm curious--does anyone out there know of a theatre company for young people which works this way. There are LOTS of children's theatres in this area, but they all concentrate on acting, singing and dancing and have no program for teaching the kids stagecraft.
While the kids were getting into costume for the photo shoot, those who weren't going to be photographed were sitting on the ground folding flyers to be passed out at the upcoming city-wide faire, where people come to learn about what is special about Davis.
Finally they were ready for the photo shoot and I hope that the photographer got fun ones. I know I did:
I will be spending tomorrow writing the article that goes with these photos and getting it ready to take to the newspaper on Thursday. This will be my last article which will have a connection to Dave Burmester, since a new Artistic Director is taking over. I'm sure he'll still be around, but not directing shows or, as he did this one, actually writing them. Another Davis icon is moving on. He will be sorely missed.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
MILES TO NOWHERE: 34 miles
I took a fall this afternoon and pulled a
muscle or something