Amazing story, great article!
I'm not a theatergoer, so it was off my usual path to see this production. The small/ mighty cast approached a timely and delicate theme with feverish energy and grace. They delivered Virginia Woolf's sense of humor intact while also making it their own. I was entirely transfixed, barely realizing the time that had passed. The physical space, which flanked the aisle stage with rows of seating, created a productive discomfort for me; when the actors were faced away from my side of the theater, watching the audience watching on the other side became natural and necessary for gathering information about what was happening on stage. Unforgettably creative on every level. (I would've been happy just sitting among the metalwork.) Maybe I'll become a theatergoer after all...
I personally am remarkably intrigued to see this production but since I can't drive myself to it I will sadly most likely miss out
I wholeheartedly agree with the position that there should be more structured, civic support for the thriving arts community in Durham. Imagine the growth for our community if there was stable, affordable, available space for this talented, creative group of resilient artists to thrive.
Common Ground Theatre was created with the mission of helping make that happen. For over a decade it succeeded. It was a space where companies, artists, directors, writers, musicians could share their talents, and hone their crafts. The work that was produced within those four walls was often great, sometimes brilliant.
Keeping the space affordable was always the mission. So it wasnt the most beautiful building, and it was run with a small staff. But we all knew it was the spark of magic that happens when the lights go down, the world that was created through the relationship between the players and the audience that mattered the most.
I was honored to play a small roll in the growth of the arts community here through Common Ground Theatre. It was an artistic home to me, and many others, for many years. This article was about the need for places like Common Ground. I agree. But separate from that agenda is a different story. A story of an amazing space filled with talent that thrived for 12 years. What this article didnt say, and what I wish it had said, was thank you. Thank you Rachel and Jeff for all your years of love and creativity. Thank you Devra and Shelby, for your hard work and caring for the community. Thank you to everyone who contributed to its success. Our community is better because of you.
Thank you to all the people who came to Common Ground to see our eclectic, experimental and ever changing theatre productions. Thank you to all the artists and producing companies who used Common Ground Theatre over and over again to create brilliant work. Thank you to the few but mighty individuals who gave financially to Common Ground over the years.
Common Ground was a Community Space and served us for over a decade. That's an amazing tenure in our fragile art world. As the Theatre Community rises out of the ashes to build a new and better Community Space (and it will happen), I beg you to question how you can make the next one last even longer. Can you purchase tickets to more events? Can you book the space more often? Can you give a little each year toward the operation costs or to create a paycheck for the administrator of the venue? So much responsibility seems to be put on the back of the administrators when ultimately the loyalty and passion of the Community is also imperative to sustain the venue.
I was so lucky to get to manage Common Ground for 9 years. It was a time of great creativity and joy in my life. I met amazing people and watched the independent theatre scene thrive. Thank you to everyone for making Common Ground Theatre the amazing success it was.
Oh, man. I felt at home when I was on Common Ground. I felt free to create however I chose. That is rare and will be missed by all that experienced this rarified space. Many thanks to my family "in the moment" Jeff, Rachel, Michelle, and Devra (and others too many to list) you all deserve a standing O that never ends.
The Triangle needs to do what Arlington VA did: http://www.arlingtonarts.org/cultural-affairs/arts-incubator.aspx
That said, I've worked in both venues and will sorely miss them.
In praise of the Common Ground: I think what Rachel and Michelle and Jeff and Devra and Shelby did was remarkable. They defined a need in our community and worked day and night to make it a reality. They provided a home for hundreds of artists and were home to some of the best companies we've seen in the Triangle in the last thirty years. More often then not they provided a stage for experimental work that grew new audiences year after year; new audiences that ALL of the theater's benefitted from. They took astronomical risks, all the while making it look easy. And it was always fun to go to the theater at Common Ground. That theater always created community in the most professional way possible. It breaks my heart to lose such an incredibly valuable venue. It was always Rachel, Michelle, Jeff, Devra and Shelby that made that magic. You never realize how important it was and how fragile it is until its gone.
Lost in the negativity of this story - and it is a sad tale - is how much area artists loved Common Ground. It was our artistic home. I always loved playing there. And so many area artists can be proud of the work they did there.
The venue might not have been much to look at, but it consistently drew a knowledgeable and gracious audience - just not a large one. I don't know how the independent local theater community will recover from this blow. I know that i will always remember Common Ground as one of my favorite venues to play ever.
Common Ground allowed me to produce, direct and grow as an artist. I am saddened by this news for CGT and the arts community.
The pendulum is swinging on both sides but it's great to see how hard it's swinging to the left in many local areas compared to the hard right pendulum swing that elected Donald J. Trump. http://killingthebreeze.com/pendulum_effect/
Best wishes & thanks to a fine artist & a real gentleman.
Thank you, Paul, and best wishes to you and your family in California.
I commend Mr.Woods on his insight. There is a lot to think about in both his article and the following comments. I would only add that since it's inception, The Color Purple (the movie portrayal) has been adopted by the black community as its baby. With that being said, specifically, the black church. You will see many church member ladened buses traveling from all across the state in NY to line up excitedly to see the show. I know that The Color Purple is loved by many, but I assure you that many black people identify deeply with the voice of this film and they make up a large part of its audience. With that being said, there is a deep seated need for many blacks including church going folks to ignore homosexuality in all its forms in the past. They gloss over it in church halls, family functions and try to ignore it in thier very own families. Not all, but a good number have a difficult time discussing and accepting homosexuality as a whole. Why? Well that's a topic for another 400 year old conversation that includes perseverance, struggle and religious indoctrination. I applaud the Broadway version of this show, they are true to the nature of Alice Walker, she intended for her character to represent the soul of many black woman who were present in the early 1900's. She also wanted to include the fact that Celie was lesbian, that was an important aspect of the characters develipment and impowerment. With that being said, is it OK for some productions to water down that aspect of Colin's sexually, no. However, we need to remember the audience and be grateful for the acceptance of the film and play.I believe that as time moves on, we will see more acceptance of others differences because of people like Alice Walker addressing topics like sexuality and being bold about such taboos. Baby steps my friends, baby steps.
I saw this show in Chapel Hills. This was the first time I had seen a Paperhand's show. It was magnificent. The music produced and performed by Jennifer Curtis and the band took it beyond the next level.
Great review! Fans of Decision Height and the Women's Theatre Festival may also want to check out The ArtsCenter's interview with WTF's Ashley Popio and Emily Rose White: http://theartscenter-blog.tumblr.com/post/148297674568/the-womens-theatre-festival-presents-decision
Four of our friends accompanied us to this production. We have seen other Wendy Ward productions and loved them all but this one takes the cake! The settings, the costumes, and the fine acting made this a mesmerizing experience. What stunned me most of all was the facility with which the actors spoke in foreign tongues, most notably Polish! Incredibly well done. Wendy is a talented producer and director with great insight into her characters and the story.
Thanks for the correction, Dustin. The playbill listed the wrong actor in the role.
The actor who portrays Proteus is Matt Fields.
Added the website to the story, thanks for that.
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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