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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Local arts community ignites the germ of better things

"The drama is not dead but liveth, and contains the germs of better things." - William Archer, "About The Theatre"

While Scottish writer and theatre critic William Archer (1856-1924) has been dead and buried for over 85 years, I've now crossed paths with something he wrote twice in recent months in connection with attending two memorable arts community events in the City of Tacoma.

The coincidence may also ring true for other local patrons of the arts in discovering such delightful and similar linkages during their own travels. We'll call it another example of the isn't it a small world effect. Unlike the down economy, economic shrinkages do not seem to interfere in this process, with exception that few numbers of organizations offering such experiences may well be a final result.

My first exposure to Archer occurred in connection with being introduced to a Tacoma treasure by the name of the Blue Mouse Theatre in the Proctor district and a delightful showing of the silent film "The Green Goddess" based in turn on a play which Archer wrote.

For students of local history, the 1923 silent film starring George Arliss opened at the same Blue Mouse theatre which repeated the showing of the movie last November at a birthday event celebrating it's 86 years of residence in the community.

This repeat performance was enhanced by the presence of talented Tacoma resident and silent film accompanist Dennis James who played along on a refurbished 1940's era organ. According to Craig Sailor in The News Tribune (Blue Mouse Theatre celebrates with "Green Goddess", November 13, 2009) James is considered one of the top silent movie organists and historical revivalists in the world.

Archer's observation in turn about drama containing a germ of better things stuck a chord tonight as I'm processing a wonderful afternoon out in the audience of Tom Sawyer, The Musical at Lakewood Playhouse as a guest of local writer and actress Aya Hashigushi Clark. In addition to being the proud mama of Tom Sawyer cast member Timothy Takechi, Clark is an advocate of local theatre.

Even in these difficult economic times, she's set about to show by personal example that the shrinking family budget does not preclude the pleasure of foregoing the pleasure of live theatre. With one previous well-written and entertaining blog by the title of All My Life's A Stage under her belt, the veteran performer Clark whose spouse Randy Clark, is by himself a longtime household name in the Tacoma Arts community, is tackling brand new territory!

She recently launched a new blog called 52 shows in 52 weeks which will chronicle her 2010 resolution to see fifty-two shows during the coming year as a way of supporting and sharing equally accessible theatrical treasures and experiences in the greater arts community.

In a world where certain old boundries are fast becoming ambiguous, being able to recognize what extra value each of us may contribute to the greater whole makes it equally possible that we'll be able to recognize and be supported how running into such past resources as celebrated critic William Archer are affirming and uplifting in this day as they were years ago.


Lorraine Hart said...

I wish there was more room in the budget for live theatre. For us it also includes the gas money to get into town, unless something is put on at the Longbranch Improvement Club or the Key Civic Centre. There's a GREAT puppet theatre coming through Two Waters Arts Alliance very soon now. Mind you, we're all characters out here and we all keep street theatre going! LOL

Aya Hashiguchi Clark said...

Thank you, Mizu, for your endorsement and support for live theatre here in Pierce County.

Yes, I realize that attending live theatre is more expensive than renting a dvd or watching television. But, art is part of the heart and soul of a community, and live theatre engages an audience in a way television cannot, and celebrates the talents of local artists and musicians.

Remember, both Tacoma Little Theatre and the Lakewood Playhouse offer Pay-What-You-Can nights during their season.