I looked at my Facebook wall today and had to laugh. The past couple weeks of my life have been consumed with the Maiden’s show, so my timeline is swarming with photos and check-ins at the theater and tons of status updates for family and friends who couldn’t make it to the performances.
Then today, I realized it was time to post about about fundraising efforts for the Maiden’s spring performance with the local ballet company.
That’s when I realized: oh my gosh. We’re turning into a stage family.
And that’s a good thing for everyone.
We never planned to do the stage thing. It just wasn’t a direction I’d imagined we’d head, especially with the Maiden still so young. But somehow, for better or for worse, the circumstances of life have catapulted us into the exciting world of community theater and dance—and we love it.
Watching the Maiden perform is wonderful. But the best part comes when we pitch in, working hard helping to make a show come together. The Man’s work on set construction and mine backstage and in the wings meant we pretty much lived at the theater for the better part of eight days.
Reality TV has perpetuated the notion of pushy stage parents, pushy dance parents, and annoying theater types. I’m sure they exist. I’m sure that as the Maiden gets older, we’ll encounter plenty.
But amid all the drama it’s easy to forget that there are a lot of good people too, people who work hard to make community theater and dance a reality. And the sheer amount of work involved—on the part of actors, directors, producers, costumers, stagehands, and volunteers—well, it’s shocking.
So what went on behind the cute show you took your kids to last week?
Well, there’s the stuff you’d expect. Auditions, casting, directing, music management, choreography—you can see the results on stage, and all of that’s usually done on a volunteer basis. But then there are things you might have forgotten. Fees to perform a show (including the cost of scripts and CDs for everyone, directors’ guides, and royalties for whomever wrote the script, music, and lyrics in the first place). The upkeep or rental of the building where rehearsals are held (and where stuff is stored). Advertising materials: flyers, ads, playbills, programs, and newsletters all require money and a whole lot of time.
Let’s not forget the rental of the theater, if the group doesn’t have a venue of its own. Then there’s set design and construction. That takes hours; the Man and several volunteers spent two days working on setting up things for a show that required only simple scenery (and no scene changes). Let’s not forget costume design. Or the behind-the-scenes stuff: coordinators, stagehands, and the like, all volunteers. Or the behind-the-behind-the-scenes stuff, like backstage moms and people who keep the dressing rooms tidy and people who move heavy objects and people who make sure the actors and stagehands get fed.
The list goes on and on and on.
Community performance organizations do a wonderful thing for the local community: they bring theater, dance, music, and other performing arts to the stage and make them accessible to those of us who don’t live in a major metropolitan area or who can’t afford to go see or hear professionals perform. No, these arts programs don’t put food on the tables of the needy. They don’t provide shelter. They don’t stop atrocities from happening across the globe.
But they’re still incredibly important.
In a time when the realities of life stress us, scare us, or hurt us, the arts give us a brief escape and fill us with a renewed sense of the magic of life. And without that glimmer of hope, where would we be?
Regardless of whether your kids perform, community arts programs need your support. Attend shows and cheer on the young performers. Participate in fundraising. Volunteer your knowledge, skills, and time. Even an hour’s commitment is an incredible help.
Community arts is just that—arts for the community. For your community. For you. Take it and make it yours.