Tag Archive for: Theater

Fighting the Good Fight

Fighting the Good Fight—For the Arts

by Saralyn Richard

My first foray into the world of teaching was as an English instructor, and I learned a lot about working with students in a required academic subject.  Several years into that career, I earned a graduate degree in administration, and I switched out of the English department and into Fine Arts. The Fine Arts department consisted of visual arts, speech and theater, music, and foreign language (still a mystery how that fits, except that foreign language does involve some performance skills).

As the Fine Arts chairperson, and later the Assistant Principal in charge of Fine Arts (and other departments), I learned a few things immediately:

  1. As elective subjects, the students were more motivated to learn, attended more frequently, and earned better grades than in the required subjects.
  2. The arts provided extensive opportunities for extra-curricular activities that enhanced and enriched the school community as a whole. In essence, Fine Arts was the heart of the school.
  3. Every year when it was time for students to choose electives, the Fine Arts had to fight for its existence.

One might wonder why classes that were so successful and valuable would have to justify their worth continually. The reasons run deep, and they extend beyond the school system and into society as a whole. There are mandates—required subjects take precedence, so resources of time, space, and personnel must be assigned to them first. There are budget restrictions. Performing arts may require expensive equipment, uniforms, and supplies. The extra-curricular activities associated with the classes add another layer of expense with travel to competitions and coaching costs.

The annual effort to promote the department and recruit students to take the classes was monumental, and it included some extraordinary teachers and events, like a Fine Arts Festival, to make a difference.

Fortunately, our board members, administrators, teachers, and parents embraced the value of the arts and pushed to keep the department viable.

Fast forward to the present, and I find myself still in the fray. As an author, I face increasing challenges in the literary arts—publishing and marketing woes, intense competition for reach into audiences, threats of AI, and more. I also serve as the President of the Board of our local historic theater, and I find the same challenges there, a scarcity of resources, a need to fill the seats for the shows, a competition for entertainment dollars.

The arts are still considered frills—nice if you can have them, but easy to cut if you need to trim the budget. Yet I can’t imagine life in a society where there are no books, plays, concerts, ballets, symphonies, or art galleries to provoke thought and discourse and to touch people’s hearts. We can’t have culture without arts, and we can’t have a full life without culture.

I dislike politics in all its forms, but I always stand up for the arts wherever and whenever I can. Do you?

Saralyn Richard writes award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries that pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. An active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature, and continues to write mysteries. Her favorite thing about being an author is interacting with readers like you. Visit Saralyn here, on her Amazon page here, or on Facebook here.


Live Theater

   When I was a little girl, my mother made sure I was exposed to books, music, movies, and live theater. She explained these were important ways to learn about and experience culture. The lessons “took,” and my support for the arts cemented. My entire life I’ve been an avid consumer and patron of the arts. (In fact, one of my job titles for several years was Fine Arts Department Chair at Thornton Township High School.)
   Arguably, the least accessible of these forms of art is live theater, yet it is the most potent. I’m exhilarated every time the curtain rises, and I’m right there in the same room with the entertainers. Whether the show is a concert, a play, a comedy act, a dance troupe, acrobatics, or a visit with a celebrity, I’m enthralled by the talent and energy emanating from the stage.
   For me, the arts are what make civilization civilized. They spin the threads that connect people of all races, creeds, and nationalities, so much so that throughout history, tyrants have sought to subvert the arts. One need only look to a society’s artistic expressions to understand its heart.

   I’m proud to be a patron and supporter of The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, Texas, my hometown. The Grand is one of America’s historic theaters. The building itself is a treasure. The art deco touches make the view from the stage, according to performer Michael Buble, “a veritable birthday cake.”
   The Grand’s new season opens on September 17 with Three Dog Night. The rest of the season is stellar, as well, with shows as diverse as Fiddler on the Roof, the music of Sam Cooke, Seong-Ji Cho pianist, and Jose Feliciano.
   I’ve served as program chair, executive board secretary, and president-elect of The Grand, and I’m excited to take the reins of the presidency next month. I’ll continue to work hard to keep our theater the vibrant hub of culture it is in our city, and to keep the arts alive in all communities across the globe. I hope you’ll do the same, and if you’re headed my way, let me know. I’ll send you information about The Grand!


Saralyn Richard is the author of five books, including Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, A Palette for Love and Murder, A Murder of Principal, and Bad Blood Sisters. She loves connecting with readers and invites you to subscribe to her monthly newsletter via the website: http://saralynrichard.com.

Clicking Our Heels – Theater Anyone?

Clicking Our
Heels –Theater Anyone?

Monthly Clicking Our Heels Giveaway:

To enter for a chance to win a set of her 3 mysteries from Kay Kendall or a book by Shari Randall (2 winners) comment below on the blog with what your favorite show is. Good luck and happy reading!
— winner will be announced next Wednesday on The Stiletto Gang Facebook page
– https://www.facebook.com/stilettogang 

There isn’t a
member of the Stiletto Gang who doesn’t love books and writing, but what about theater? Do we love theater, too, or do we hate it? If we love it, what are our
favorite shows? This is what we think – how do you feel about theater?

Debra H. Goldstein – I love theatrical productions – especially musicals. When I was
four, my parents took me to a production of The
King and I
at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. If I proved I could
sit through the show, they promised they would take me to shows in New York.
Passing the test permitted me to see most Broadway musicals and many dramas in
the seasons that have followed. Some of my favorite shows include 1776, Come From Away, Company, Hamilton, and South Pacific.

Julie Mulhern – The performing arts have always finished a distant second for
me. I’d much rather go to a museum or read a book.

Judy Penz Sheluk – I don’t get to the theater much, but I’m looking forward to
seeing Come From Away in November. My
favorite plays to date are probably Cats
and La Cage aux Folles. I saw them
ages ago, but I still remember them as if I saw them yesterday.

J.M. Phillippe – Growing up, I went to plays, musicals, and even some operas,
but I have to say that seeing Shakespeare live – pretty much any production –
was always my favorite. I had the greatest familiarity with the source material
and watching different people interpret it really made me see it from different
perspectives over the years.

Juliana Aragon Flatula – Thompson Highway wrote The
Rez Sisters
and I loved being cast in that play about Indigenous Women. A
comedy with a tragedy ending and a death song.

Dru Ann Love – I love the theater, especially musicals. My favorite all time
is probably Hello Dolly and I saw it with Pearl Bailey,
Carol Channing and Bette Midler. Of course, I love the movie version with
Barbra Streisand.

Kay Kendall – Whenever I go to New York City for meetings, I always go to at
least one show on Broadway. I read the art section in the New York Times daily so I am always up on what’s doing and am able
to pick great shows. I saw The Producers
in previews, the week before its opening. Stellar entertainment. Although I’m
not one to see anything a second time, for this I would have sat right back
down and watched it a second time, right after the long standing ovation ended.
My other vivid memory is being in the fifth row center for Mama Mia in its
first month. Beside me sat three gay men from San Francisco. Chatting with them
and whooping it up during this marvelous show doubled my fun.

Cathy P. Perkins – While I loved classical music, I never warmed to opera, until I
saw Miss Saigon. I sat mesmerized on
the edge of my seat for the entire performance. I passed this love to my
children, who picked it up I different ways. While studying in Italy, my oldest
discovered the joy of opera performed in outdoor theaters that date back to
Roman times. My youngest performed on stage for several years, including a
small role in an opera.

AB PlumLes Misérables is my
all-time favorite theater production, but the opening of Lion King still wows me.
On my to-see list: Wicked.

TK Thorne – Growing up, my father was on the board of the “Little Theater”
in my hometown, so we went every time there was a production suitable to my
age. I loved the dramas, but musicals bored me. Now I enjoy both, amused at the
many things I didn’t like as a child – squeaky violin music (give me piano),
stuffy roses and tulips (give me pansies and daffodils), bitter fresh asparagus
(give me canned asparagus, mushrooms, and ravioli – yuck!). Now I have embraced
the stately formality and complexity of roses, the piercing, haunting voice of
the violin, and almost every fresh vegetable. Life is change.

Paula Gail Benson – Oh, yes! Definitely musicals, usually my favorite is the lyrics
of the one I’m singing in my car. The relationship between Elphaba and Glinda
in Wicked is unique and “For Good”
describes the relationship I have had with close friends. But, I adore the concept
of Something Rotten and look forward
to someday seeing Hamilton.

Shari Randall – I adore theater! I grew up with an aunt who took me and my
sisters to the opera and Broadway shows. I lived in CT and my friends and I
used to hop on the train or bus to NYC, getting standing room or half price
show tickets at the TKTS booth in Times Square. Those were the days – see a
show and grab a hot dog at Nathan’s or spaghetti at Mama Leone’s. I saw Chorus Line, Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls, West Side Story, Annie, Phantom… My favorite show? So hard to
choose! Evita? Wicked? Maybe it’s Les Misérables
– I’ve seen it three times and I still cry every stime.

Linda Rodriguez – I saw Aida twice on
Broadway. The first time was the night before opening night, and it was
breathtaking. The second time was almost a year later. We had wanted to see
another play when we were in New York, and those tickets were not available. We
caught tickets to Aida at the last
moment, and it was still mesmerizing and wonderful.

– I have loved almost every live theater show I’ve ever seen. I love
humans being creative and displaying their talents. It’s magical. But I
wouldn’t describe myself as a theater buff. I don’t know enough. But probably
my favorite theater show was Chicago,
which I saw on Broadway in New York. The talent was amazing and we were sitting
so close to the stage I could see them sweat. I loved every minute of it.