Sammamish to support a community theater project
November 2, 2012
By Caleb Heeringa
New: Nov. 2, 2:42 p.m.
Sammamish may be a long way from having its own version of Issaquah’s Village Theater, but the Sammamish Arts Commission is hoping some extra funding in the next budget will bring a community-run theater production to the city.
The city’s 2013-2014 arts commission budget will include an extra $5,000 that will be earmarked for some sort of community theater project, with local citizens acting and helping direct and produce the project. Councilman John James, who moved to include the money in the budget, said he was hopeful that it could provide an outlet for residents who want to try their hand at theater.
“We’ve heard from the Arts Commission that they’d like to do a lot more as far as performing arts but their budget didn’t allow it,” James said. “This could be something that the community could get involved with … and a good resource for people who want to try (theater) out.”
The commission, which puts on arts and music events in the city, could see its funding go from $20,800 per year in 2011-2012 to $25,800 per year in 2013-2014 when the Sammamish City Council approves the budget in the coming weeks. The commission also generally receives $5,000 in money from King County arts agency 4Culture every year.
Daphne Robinson, the commission’s chairwoman, said the idea stems from community play readings the commission has hosted in recent years with Seattle theaters like Intiman and ACT. An April reading of “Pitman Painters” saw 12 local residents reading the lines of the play’s characters. More than 30 people showed up to watch.
“It brought all these people together that hadn’t met before and suddenly everyone’s in a room and they’re finding things in common,” Robinson recalled about the reading. “The conversation starts in the room and spills out into the parking lot.”
Robinson said the commission still needs to work on the details of the project – how complex the production should be and where it should be held, though the local high schools, churches and the EX3 Teen Recreation Center could serve as a venue.
Sammamish resident Rochelle Wyatt, who has acted most of her life and been involved in theater productions in Bothell and North Bend, said smaller community theaters can provide good starting points for theater hobbyists who want to try to get into larger productions around the area.
“For venues like the Village Theater or in Seattle, it’s hard to get into unless you have experience and the only place you can get experience is at smaller community theaters,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt said theater has enriched her life immeasurably over the years.
“It’s a chance to live a different life for a while,” she said. “It’s like reading a book but more hands on – you get to know these people in a way that you couldn’t (in a book).”
James said the first production will likely be bare bones, but could serve as a stepping stone to a more permanent theater in the city.
“We’re definitely not going to be competing with Village Theater any time soon,” James said. “But who knows – it could be seed money that turns into something larger.”
Sammamish Arts Commission 2013 Calendar:
January: Build It Sammamish – Day-long Lego-building event in which children will build “their own 3D visual expression of Sammamish”
February: Pottery wheel project at EX3 Teen and Recreation Center
March: Art Pop-up – Art installations in public spaces and empty storefronts
April: Pottery events in honor of National Pottery Month; Chamber music by Simple Measures featuring Alexander Velinzon, concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony; A skateboard art exhibit
May: A community reading of ACT Theatre’s Assisted Living, a play written by Seattle native Katie Forgette; art classes for Sammamish seniors
July: Shakespeare in the Park by Wooden O Theatre; Art Pop-up – Art installations in public spaces and empty storefronts; Arts Commission’s 10th anniversary; art exhibition by Cheryll Leo Gwin focusing on anti-Chinese immigration efforts in the late 1800s.
August: Sammamish Nights – Jazz music and art walk
September: Swil Kanim – Native American storyteller and musician
October: Jet City Improv – interactive improve comedy; Sammamish Arts Fair; art classes for Sammamish seniors
November: Life Stories – pairing teens with seniors to record the life stories of local seniors