By the time you read this column the curtain will have closed for the final performance of NARNIA, the last show of the 2009 ARIEL Theatrical season, but the Wilson Children’s Theatre is buzzing with activity as new productions are set in motion and set construction commences for an exciting new year. Rehearsals have begun for ARIEL’s production of SEUSSICAL, TYA which will be presented in March at Sherwood Hall to thousands of school children from the greater Salinas community. The classic LITTLE RED HEN story for younger performers and THE FABULOUS FABLE FACTORY for those a little older begin rehearsals the first of the year. These programs are already full with waiting lists of children eager to be a part of the ARIEL experience.
Once involved at the Wilson Children’s Theater, it is difficult to break away. Ask any performer or stage crew member why they want to be part of an ARIEL show and most will tell you that they feel they are having fun and learning to be responsible. You might think these performers just love being on a “real” stage with detailed costumes and listening to the audience applaud… and they do. But they also are devoted to the real work that has to be done to keep the theater ready for audiences and guests. For the most part it is not glamorous work, but volunteers of all ages are eager to be part of the ARIEL commitment to excellence.
On any given day you might see several young people in the front lobby mopping the floor or dusting the displays. If you come inside you would likely notice young volunteers happily vacuuming rugs, sorting and preparing costumes for laundering or storage, emptying garbage, or diligently cleaning restrooms. No job is too mundane or unimportant. When finished with one task, they immediately ask, “What else is there to do?” Parents are amazed and often comment on the noticeable change that has taken place in their children as the ARIEL experiences help develop the skills and confidence to positively direct their own lives.
In the early part of the last century, Edgar Guest penned the classic lines, “It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.” For hundreds of children and young adults (and some of us older adults) a heap of livin’ makes ARIEL a home away from home. A “heap of living’” can be a heap of important work!
It is not just the conservatory participants that are doing that important work. Part of the ARIEL commitment to excellence requires parents to be actively involved in the performance experience. That includes everything from set or costume construction to building security during the shows. ARIEL is a safe haven for kids and a place where parents work in partnership with their children. Mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents may all be found contributing their talents and time, learning new skills and sharing past accomplishments.
For the hectic backstage requirements parents dressed in volunteer smocks and shirts pitch in with energy – applying makeup, adjusting costumes, running interference or calming nervous, but enthusiastic performers. It is never an easy role to play, but here, as on the stage, ARIEL provides an opportunity to explore new roles, develop character and help make the world right. Indeed, making the world right is the dominant theme found in all ARIEL shows. Developing integrity, expanding understanding, establishing values, choosing to build and take responsibility are elements found in all aspects of the program.
See for yourself the amazing young people found in our community by attending LITTLE RED HEN and THE FABULOUS FABLE FACTORY in February and pencil in SEUSSICAL, TYA at the Sherwood Hall, at the Salinas Community Center on March 19 and 20. Better yet, purchase a 2010 Season Pass which entitles you to see all nine shows performed at the Wilson Children’s Theatre in Old Town, Salinas at a discounted price.
In his poem, Edgar Guest suggests: “Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play, An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ‘em each day.” By supporting the children of the greater Salinas Community in their responsible pursuits each day, we make a difference to everyone’s tomorrows. “It takes a heap of livin’.”