Yes, community theatre is still vital.

by Rose Weagant

In small, rural communities, sometimes it’s hard to keep entertained. Many of us take turns entertaining each other, on radio shows at KTRT, playing music at the local watering holes, or gracing a stage once in a while. It is our commitment to arts engagement that continues to enhance our community and give it life. And it is the theatre arts where our community truly shines. 

“Live theatre brings people together for a shared experience that examines life, the human condition,” says Merc Playhouse Executive Director Missi Smith. It’s true. At any audition you can see business owners, homeschooling parents, nonprofit organizers, bartenders and referees to name a few, all stepping outside of themselves and slipping into another character altogether. It’s where you get to know each other while you’re pretending to be someone else. And it’s this human connection that is vital to the Methow’s Methowiness. 

“Participating in theatre arts can be life-changing,” says Art Education Director for Methow Arts Ashley Lodato. “Working toward a common goal, abandoning self-consciousness and transforming into a character on stage, harnessing nervous energy and converting it to a vibrant performance that makes audience members feel something—it’s a lifelong gift to be able to immerse oneself in an experience like that.”

Currently, all theatre seasons are on hold, waiting in the wings for COVID to exit. Theatre-goers and theatre-makers alike are on tenterhooks, learning lines, and dreaming designs for shows scheduled in the future. When this is all over, we will need to process. When this is all over, there will be theatre. 

This change–this new normal–has us looking to what is truly important and community and arts are two that we’ve missed the most. Missi Smith adds, “We are on the precipice of change, and in so many ways as an avenue to bring more communities together, it will be more essential than ever!”