Au­di­tions open for au­di­ence mem­bers

Live per­for­mances need sup­port from every­one

The Central Voice - - Front Page - Carolyn R. Par­sons

Nearly ex­actly six years ago I found my­self at a Christ­mas pageant here in Lewis­porte for the first time. I sat there, awed by the level of ta­lent that per­formed that night, from a bunch of kids un­der 12.

Over these past few years I’ve dis­cov­ered that there is in­deed an in­ex­pli­ca­ble bub­ble of ta­lent in cen­tral New­found­land from peo­ple of all ages and it is ev­i­dent at a very early age.

The mu­si­cal di­rec­tor of Gan­der’s Beyond the Over­pass The­ater, Les­lie Hewlett, con­firmed my sus­pi­cion that there is some­thing spe­cial go­ing on in cen­tral New­found­land when she told me that in the Beyond Youth Choir there are an above the av­er­age num­ber of singers with per­fect pitch.

Beyond the Over­pass, choir and the­atre com­pany, led by Hewlett and artis­tic di­rec­tor Jamie Hard­ing, re­lo­cated from New­town to Gan­der in 2011. Last year they de­cided to go from be­ing a reg­u­lar reper­tory the­ater or­ga­ni­za­tion to fo­cus­ing en­tirely on youth.

Stu­dents are taught ev­ery­thing about the­atre pro­duc­tion from props, set de­sign, cos­tumes, pro­mo­tion, fundrais­ing as well as per­for­mance.

But that’s not all they learn, and this is even more im­por­tant.

“In the­atre you have to be hon­est, with your­self and the oth­ers around you, you have to build that trust and if peo­ple em­braced that in their life and live their life more like that, I think a lot of world is­sues would be solved and peo­ple would learn to un­der­stand each other a lot bet­ter,” said Hewlett.

“It’s a place where all are ac­cepted. The­atre teaches that. Every­one has some­thing dif­fer­ent and im­por­tant to bring to the ta­ble.”

Hav­ing dis­cov­ered and men­tored a sig­nif­i­cant pool of ta­lent, last sum­mer, young ac­tors ages 14 to 24 took part in the first ever Beyond the Over­pass Youth Arts Fes­ti­val, an ini­tia­tive that came on the heels of an off-Broad­way pro­duc­tion of “Peter and the Star­catcher”, the first time they’d done full length off-Broad­way pro­duc­tion en­tirely with all young peo­ple.

But that’s just the be­gin­ning. There is a larger vi­sion; to build a vi­brant, sus­tain­able arts com­mu­nity in cen­tral New­found­land.

“With so many artis­tic young peo­ple, we can shape the com­mu­nity and it’s a beau­ti­ful way for a com­mu­nity to grow.” Hewlett says.

I think a lot about art and artists in cen­tral New­found­land and I have learned that no mat­ter how much ef­fort is put into creat­ing, just one vari­able is out of the artists’ con­trol, but that they need more than any­thing: an au­di­ence. The arts com­mu­nity can only meet its ex­tra­or­di­nary po­ten­tial if peo­ple like you and me at­tend the shows and em­brace the arts as an im­por­tant part of the com­mu­nity and of our lives.

“Art holds out the prom­ise of in­ner whole­ness,” Bri­tish philoso­pher Alain de Bot­ton said.

Next time you no­tice that there is a live per­for­mance, click off the Net­flix, shut down the lap­top and buy a ticket. Go fill up on some live en­ter­tain­ment and con­trib­ute to lo­cal arts at the same time.

Per­haps down the road you’ll be able to say, “I knew them when” about some of the young peo­ple in cen­tral New­found­land. Be­cause with a sup­port­ive and nur­tur­ing com­mu­nity au­di­ence they can at­tain suc­cess, per­haps beyond any­thing we can ever imag­ine.

A full in­ter­view with Les­lie Hewlett will air on the Bridges Ra­dio pro­gram avail­able on pod­casts on all ma­jor plat­forms and at bridges-ra­dios-show

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