Summer in Fowler, CA

Aug 18

Summer in Fowler, CA

I’m not sure that I can describe with any semblance of accuracy the experience that I had this summer working and creating theater in Fowler, CA. Cornerstone goes into a different California community every summer and takes up residence in the town, asking community members of all types to be a part of a production. Simultaneously, students come from all over the country, and the world, to be a part of the process and learn Cornerstone’s methodology through classes and first-hand experience. Having worked at Cornerstone for 3 years, I had the unique experience of also being a student at the Institute – with all of this prior knowledge of the company’s work – and looking with new eyes at the practice of community-engaged theater.

There were many frustrations – during tech week particularly. At one point I was in my wardrobe tent behind the audience attempting to help 4 different people with quick changes, sweat running down my face, shakily pressing bobby pins into the wig of one of the community members. It seemed impossible to make this thing work – in all of its beastly glory.

There were moments that brought me to tears – in the circle on opening night – seeing the local children who were members of the cast become emotional when they were talking about how they didn’t want this experience to end. Seeing them shine and be loved and appreciated, and seeing them realize their own potential and grow in their confidence.

And there were moments where I questioned absolutely everything. Why are we doing this work? Does it matter to this community as much as we hope it will? Will it make a difference?

I hope so. It made a difference within me, and I think it’s safe to say it made a difference to the 35 members of the cast, and the crew, and the other Institute students. It was amazing, and insane, and thrilling, and scary.

And now off! To Baltimore for Jacquelyn’s wedding and to look at schools. And then when I come back, it’s application time. Teach for America, Johns Hopkins, Towson, George Washington, among others. Wish me luck!

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