Don’t Forget What We DO Have: Tacoma Theatre Conference Next Week.

In the wake of more local business closures and the newly announced loss of a long-standing Tacoma musical tradition, let’s remember to ring those bells for the art and tourism that IS still happening in the coming week.

The American Association of Community Theatre is holding their national festival in Tacoma, next week! 12 one-hour performances by theatre companies from around the nation and an array of artistic, technical, and even administrative theatre workshops, conferences, and social events will all be going down, Tuesday 6/23 through Sunday 6/28.

The AACCTFest ’09 website can tell you a lot more than I can, and so can a couple press releases here and here.

Here’s the thing: I’m an actor. I live in Tacoma. I “do” community and semi-professional theatre around here, and I can’t even begin to count the conversations I’ve had with other theatre folks about “What can we do to energize theatre in Tacoma?”

And I never even heard about this whole shebang till today when I read Dunkelberger’s post. What the heck?! (Even worse: Canarie casually mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she was teaching one of the offered workshops, and I had no clue what a very cool and proactive thing that is for her to do.)

Since I never heard of it, I also have no idea how this sort of thing is organized, or how venues and participants –and audiences–are wooed and won. But I do wonder why this was not more publicized in the local theatre community… and that includes actors, techies, and patrons.

Is it the word “Community” tacked on the front of that Theatre? Are Tacomans so burned, jaded, or just flat-out indifferent to our local community theatre options? I hope not.

Yes, it’s been tough times. But if we’re ever going to get our professional theatre scene up and running, we have to support the folks who are hanging on –tooth and nail and a couple strips of gaff tape– to the Community Theatre.

You’ll have to excuse my soapbox for a moment, but: Community Theatre is where learning happens. Sometimes at the last minute, sometimes a little messily, and sometimes off-key. But. In the best possible incarnation, Community Theatre inspires amateurs to improve and offers an outlet for more accomplished actors and technicians who aren’t quite ready, willing, or able to sacrifice their “other lives” to their passion.

And let’s face it: When there is no professional theatre scene… where do you think the talent is going? Seattle? Well yes, if they’re brave enough and don’t mind the commute. Olympia? Some.

But I personally know a pretty good percentage of “semi-pros” whose only real inhibitors are proximity to venues and audiences. And guess what? They get really itchy when they don’t have a project. They enjoy “the process,” and they respect other people who share that. And you can often see them on Community stages at Lakewood Playhouse, Tacoma Little Theatre, and Tacoma Musical Playhouse.

So there you go.

I’m hoping to see a few good shows next week at the festival. And I hope I’ll see you there.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Forget What We DO Have: Tacoma Theatre Conference Next Week.

  1. Thing is, audiences have a LOT to gain from community theater, too. Lower prices. And again, that magic word: community. The opportunity to be p art of that, not just voyeurs, but participants. The other half of what’s happening on stage. LOVE it!

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