A Poet’s View of the Players

Yes, I know that my blog posts have been infrequent since I’ve become involved with Center Player’s latest production,

Anthony Greco & Colleen DeFelice during rehearsal for Barefoot in the Park. Photo by Fern Marder

Barefoot in the Park; the show opens tonight (Feb. 11) and runs through March 6. I signed on as stage manager and with my publicity duties (press release, playbill layout, email blast) I’ve had no time to write! However, a new volunteer signed on with writing skills and the first thing we did was ask her for a blog post! So, here it is…a post from guest blogger Grace Toy…

*****

On the corner of South and Mechanic Streets is Center Playhouse, the home for Center Players, a place I had long known of but never checked out until recently. As a Chinese American poet and writer, I’ve had the great privilege and joy of meeting area residents and getting to know the locale during artist residencies’ to Florida, Washington, Virginia and Nebraska. During the past year, I’ve found a growing yearning to learn about one of my hometowns, Freehold (my family moved from Brooklyn in the mid-80s.)

Community theater should really be thought of as an oxymoron because at its heart, theater is already about community. A group of strangers gather to watch another group of strangers perform what seems to be right out of life. It is — if you will — a sacred space where one can come together for a specific amount of time and be granted the precious permission to laugh, shed a tear, ponder, and ideally be better, and do better.

From the fun and informative Jolly Trolley, the humorous The Outrageous Adventures of Sheldon and Mrs. Levine, my first grant meeting where I was warmly welcomed, and the rehearsal of our current production, Barefoot in the Park, I saw examples of how community works, even in the smallest places. Who can’t relate to either knowing of or being a mother like Mrs. Levine? A similar dynamic also applies to Barefoot in the Park. Who hasn’t experienced growing pains during their first year of marriage, sometimes with a quirky neighbor or a well-meaning but intrusive mother? Or to larger matters–the benefits or doubt as portrayed during this past fall’s Doubt: A Parable?

Furthermore, I was encouraged to hear about Center Player’s community involvement via the newly established Michelle Catania Children’s Theater Program, hosting the Latino Film Festival this past October, and their new association with the Court Street School and the Freehold Borough Arts Council. I greatly look forward to increasing our work with the various sub-communities within the area.

No matter where I end up in life, I will always be glad that there’s this intelligent and vibrant creative community at the corner of South and Mechanic.

*****

Thanks Grace, for a thoughtful and flattering post!

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