Ch-ch-ch-Changes

  • By Sarah Thornton
  • 01 Sep, 2017

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

People who know me well know that I’m a bit of an artistic enigma. Perhaps it is something to do with my Leo/Virgo cusp birthday? Whatever the cause, I live my life in contradicting ways. As an artist, an actor, a musician, a dreamer, I create and play and revel in the unexpected and bold. I relish new experiences and taking chances and building imaginary worlds. And yet, I cannot find the peace within myself to live so wildly if my desk is cluttered, my “To Do” lists aren’t up to date, or my calendar is unorganized. I require a sense of order and structure, a rule-following in my life behind the scenes so that my head is clear and heart is open when I step into the other realm. My bookshelf is filled with a variety of adventures shooting off in every direction, but the books themselves are organized alphabetically and by genre.

Marie Kondo, a professional organizer, is acclaimed for her KonMari Method, and her book The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up  is indeed “life changing”. At the very heart of her method is the phrase, “Does it bring you joy?” This is the key when you are evaluating your belongings, purging the clutter, cleansing your space. The things we hold onto in our closets and our cabinets tend to be kept based on emotional attachment, whether valued as an heirloom or out of guilt that we bought it and never wore it. “Maybe I’ll wear this someday… I may use this at some point…” and the piles build and the clutter clutters. So Marie suggests we ask, “Does it bring you joy?” If it doesn’t, get rid of it. Maybe it did bring you joy at some point but no longer does. Then it has served its purpose! Now let it go so that it can bring someone else joy.

I believe the deeper brilliance to the KonMari Method is that this same technique can be applied in all areas of life. In our choices, our work, our family and social lives, we should consider if the things we are surrounding ourselves with bring us joy. We should aspire to be able to answer definitively, “Yes!” If the answer tends to be “no,” we should challenge ourselves to make the necessary changes. Change is the only constant, as they say. Life is always shifting, and we all do our best to bend like reeds and move gracefully along. Life seems to move much faster than we do sometimes, and perhaps the meaning of life lies somewhere in finding that joy and that peace within ourselves throughout the turbulence.

The Cloverdale Playhouse is constantly changing! We spin plates and juggle balls and make balloon animals in our wacky circus everyday with the shared goal of creating meaningful art. Right now, our ever-changing life has been kicked into high gear! We have two wonderful new faces in the halls, Melaine Bennett, our new Managing Director, and Scott Grinstead, our new Technical Director. And, boy, are they embracing the chaos! They both bring enthusiastic energy, lots of new ideas, and a sense of joy for organizational changes within the building itself and the modus operandi. My split-personality Artistic Director heart skips beats daily! I am being given a tremendous gift in this new team, because as the Playhouse grows and changes more each day, I can grow and change with it both artistically and professionally. We are approaching our seventh season, planning for the future, and asking ourselves multiple times a day, “Does this bring us joy?” “Will this bring our audiences joy?” “Will this bring our artists joy?” We look forward to sharing all of this change and growth with you all as the good work continues!

Notes from the Cloverdale Playhouse

By Sarah Thornton 01 Sep, 2017

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

People who know me well know that I’m a bit of an artistic enigma. Perhaps it is something to do with my Leo/Virgo cusp birthday? Whatever the cause, I live my life in contradicting ways. As an artist, an actor, a musician, a dreamer, I create and play and revel in the unexpected and bold. I relish new experiences and taking chances and building imaginary worlds. And yet, I cannot find the peace within myself to live so wildly if my desk is cluttered, my “To Do” lists aren’t up to date, or my calendar is unorganized. I require a sense of order and structure, a rule-following in my life behind the scenes so that my head is clear and heart is open when I step into the other realm. My bookshelf is filled with a variety of adventures shooting off in every direction, but the books themselves are organized alphabetically and by genre.

Marie Kondo, a professional organizer, is acclaimed for her KonMari Method, and her book The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up  is indeed “life changing”. At the very heart of her method is the phrase, “Does it bring you joy?” This is the key when you are evaluating your belongings, purging the clutter, cleansing your space. The things we hold onto in our closets and our cabinets tend to be kept based on emotional attachment, whether valued as an heirloom or out of guilt that we bought it and never wore it. “Maybe I’ll wear this someday… I may use this at some point…” and the piles build and the clutter clutters. So Marie suggests we ask, “Does it bring you joy?” If it doesn’t, get rid of it. Maybe it did bring you joy at some point but no longer does. Then it has served its purpose! Now let it go so that it can bring someone else joy.

I believe the deeper brilliance to the KonMari Method is that this same technique can be applied in all areas of life. In our choices, our work, our family and social lives, we should consider if the things we are surrounding ourselves with bring us joy. We should aspire to be able to answer definitively, “Yes!” If the answer tends to be “no,” we should challenge ourselves to make the necessary changes. Change is the only constant, as they say. Life is always shifting, and we all do our best to bend like reeds and move gracefully along. Life seems to move much faster than we do sometimes, and perhaps the meaning of life lies somewhere in finding that joy and that peace within ourselves throughout the turbulence.

The Cloverdale Playhouse is constantly changing! We spin plates and juggle balls and make balloon animals in our wacky circus everyday with the shared goal of creating meaningful art. Right now, our ever-changing life has been kicked into high gear! We have two wonderful new faces in the halls, Melaine Bennett, our new Managing Director, and Scott Grinstead, our new Technical Director. And, boy, are they embracing the chaos! They both bring enthusiastic energy, lots of new ideas, and a sense of joy for organizational changes within the building itself and the modus operandi. My split-personality Artistic Director heart skips beats daily! I am being given a tremendous gift in this new team, because as the Playhouse grows and changes more each day, I can grow and change with it both artistically and professionally. We are approaching our seventh season, planning for the future, and asking ourselves multiple times a day, “Does this bring us joy?” “Will this bring our audiences joy?” “Will this bring our artists joy?” We look forward to sharing all of this change and growth with you all as the good work continues!

By Sarah Thornton 13 Apr, 2017
Don't miss the Cloverdale Playhouse's upcoming production of The Crucible! Not only is the cast made of fascinating people, the story is compelling, frightening, and is set in the round for an intense, interactive experience. Join us April 27 through May 7 for our re-imagining of Arthur Miller's classic tale of a small town in the midst of a very real witchhunt. 
By Sarah Thornton 05 Apr, 2017
The cast of our production of Arthur Miller's legendary social commentary, The Crucible, is a large group! We have many returning Playhouse regulars, but we're also looking forward to several Playhouse debuts on April 27. 
By Sarah Thornton 07 Sep, 2016

“Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage.”   – Julia Cameron

With the approaching Fall season, much is changing. Kids are returning to school, the temperature is (hopefully) cooling down, and I get to start wearing scarves again! There is a natural shift in the energies in the world with each passing month, and a new season represents growth and beginnings.

This Fall at the Cloverdale Playhouse is a time for new beginnings as well. After finishing a sold-out run of   “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,”   the contagious energy of our young acting company has been redirected to schoolwork. The “Missouri clay” on the stage floor has been repainted to black, and all at once, the theater is a blank stage again. Vacancy is one of the more exciting, and oftentimes slightly scary, states of being for artists. It is eerily silent, and simultaneously bellowing with possibility, risk, fear, and hope. You begin with a blank page, an empty space, and you must fill it with something new. We wait for inspiration, and then for the courage to leap, willing that net to appear.

Our first step into our Fall season is the staged reading of a new play, “The Lemonade Stand,” which was the winner of our annual Page to Stage playwriting contest. What began with a handful of entries a few years ago has grown to almost 200 entries this year from all over the world. We spent weeks reading piles of plays by writers who created new, untold stories out of thin air and sheer imagination. Now, it is our job to bring one of those stories to life, to fill our empty stage and audience with people to share this story for the first time.

We also begin our next production this month! We’ve held auditions for Dead Man’s Cell Phone , Sarah Ruhl’s award-winning play about a woman who answers a deceased stranger’s ringing cell phone and begins a journey to uncover the mysteries of his life and her own. Starting rehearsals for a new play creates great excitement and anticipation! The costume racks rotate from one world’s look to the next. The stage transforms to an entirely different location from the one we walked into the month before. We invite new faces into our hallways, we make new discoveries, and we work together to create a new experience for our audiences and ourselves.

We also form new connections, meet new people, and collaborate in new ways. This September, the Playhouse is teaming up for the first time with members of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra to create a new event for our space: “An Evening of Words and Music”. We will share beautiful compositions of music and writings, bringing members of our two artistic communities together under one roof for the first time, showcasing how much talent there is in our area, and rejoicing in how exciting it is that we can work together to make something new.

Our blank stage is ready and waiting, there are songs to be played and stories to be told. Come join us! It’s a new season filled with new adventures. Our pews are eager to be filled. We will save you a seat!

Sarah Walker Thornton   is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse, who walks like a New Yorker and waves like an Alabama girl. She is a product of a Montgomery arts education, with several years of life in NYC thrown in for extra flavor.

By Sarah Thornton 19 Apr, 2016
The fun of each new play is trying out a new lens for life. You'll start to think about the world differently depending on the costume you're wearing or the set you're building.  In early April, we viewed the world with an eye to the rhythms and melodies of Kander and Ebb. During both nights of performances, voices were ringing and audiences were yelling "yes!" Life is a Cabaret: A Kander & Ebb Revue was a roaring success both as a production and as a fundraiser for the Playhouse School and for the Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts . Director Randy Foster brought together some captivating musical performances in just one week of rehearsal. Alex Katz was assistant director and choreographer. If you saw the show and supported the fundraiser, thank you. Based on ticket sales and applause, the audience seemed to have as much fun as the performers did.

The lens Kander and Ebb songs brought to us wasn't perfectly rosy and cheerful. In their songs, hearts break, disappointments happen, and loneliness is part of life, but at the end of it all, the music joined us together to say "yes" to the next day. 

Meanwhile in our downstairs rehearsal room, three ladies tuned out the thunderous sounds of music on the stage above them as they bent over their scripts to  tackle our next show. Director Georgette Norman has been digging into Having Our Say - The Delany Sisters' First Hundred Years with her actors, Yvette Jones-Smedley and Cynthia Harris, to tell the story of two incredible lives that spanned over one hundred years of American history. It may not sound as thrilling as a night of song and dance, but it's time to put on a new pair of lenses - lenses that look back in time and reflect our thoughts forward into the future. The fact that the Delany sisters stories are true - that these were real women, whose memoirs topped the New York Times Bestseller list - lends extra poignancy to their trials and extra sweetness to their happy memories. Don't miss the chance to listen to two wise women and see the past through their eyes. The show opens April 21 and runs through May 1. 

What's Next? 
Sarah Thornton will direct the world premiere of a script entered in our 2015 Page to Stage Playwriting Contest, Strip Talk on the Boulevard by Donna Spector. Auditions will be Sunday April 24 and Monday April 25 at 6pm. Performance dates June 16-25.  Please see the webpage for character descriptions and a synopsis of the show. 

Jason Morgan will lead the 2016 Playhouse Troupe in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in late July. Auditions for young actors age 8 through 18 will be held May 21 and 22 at 2pm. 

If you're wondering if you should come to the Playhouse, say yes! We'll show you life in a new light, if only for a few hours. 
By Sarah Thornton 29 Mar, 2016


The halls of the Cloverdale Playhouse have come alive this week with music, laughter, and vibrant energy during rehearsals for Life is a Cabaret- a Kander and Ebb Revue ! Tickets are going fast for this two-night only benefit performance this weekend on April 3 and 4, and you don’t want to miss out on an evening of musical theatre at its finest. 


Last year we presented a special musical event called Hey, Old Friend: Sondheim at 85  in this same format, bringing together singers and dancers from all over the River Region, and it was a sold-out hit. The celebrated, talented director Randy Foster has once again gathered an ensemble of some of Montgomery’s finest talent to bring Kander and Ebb’s music and spirit to life, and the ever-innovative  Alex Katz brings us choreography. It’s hard not to dance to the music of this brilliant musical duo!

 

The Cloverdale Playhouse’s acclaimed production of Cabaret in our 2012 Season was an audience favorite, and you’ll see and hear some familiar performances from that show (which was also directed by Randy Foster and choreographed by Alex Katz) along with many other gems as we celebrate the music of John Kander and Fred Ebb, the legendary Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award-winning songwriting team. Their Broadway shows include Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Act, Curtains, and The Scottsboro Boys and timeless songs including “New York, New York,” “All That Jazz,” “Money Makes the World Go Around,” “Say Yes,” and “Maybe This Time.”

 

Doug’s 2 Salon - Spa is graciously sponsoring this special event. The proceeds from  Life is a Cabaret: a Kander and Ebb Revue  will be used to provide scholarships for children to participate in classes at the Cloverdale Playhouse school and for public school teachers to participate in professional development training in the arts at Summer Institute 2016 presented by the Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts. This is the second year of this collaboration between the Playhouse and AIEA. 

 

So come to the Cloverdale Playhouse April 3 and 4 at 7:30pm , tap your toes, have a ball, and support the arts in education in our community! Tickets are available online here   or by calling the Box Office at (334) 262-1530. Tickets are $15/ general admission. 

For more information about the organizations this performance will benefit, please visit artseducation.org as well as our Playhouse School page.  

By Sarah Thornton 22 Mar, 2016

We're breaking ground and growing!


Please join us! On  Wednesday, March 23 at 2pm, we are getting out the shovels and celebrating our expansion: the Courtyard Stage! The new outdoor stage will host Playhouse School Classes, rehearsals, special events, and live music.  

Goodwyn Mills and Cawood designed the new use of the space, and Foshee Design and Construction are making it a reality. 

The Courtyard Stage has been given a generous start by the J.K. Lowder Family Foundation and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, but we need  community support like yours  to make this a 100% successful project that will allow us to expand our Playhouse School Classes, our community theater productions, and our special events.

Please join us at the Groundbreaking and/ or become a  Courtyard Stage Sponsor online. 

To give by check, please mail to  Cloverdale Playhouse at  960 Cloverdale Road, Montgomery, AL 36106. (334) 262-1530

Gifts of any amount will help us reach our goal! Thank you!

By Sarah Thornton 15 Mar, 2016
So, here we go...sallying forth into the brave world of blogging. We will use this from time to time to share the fun things, the exciting projects, and the news of the Playhouse that doesn't quite fit into an email blast or a postcard.

If you're reading this, maybe you've already been to the Playhouse. Maybe you've been in a production or two, or helped with an Opening Night Reception. Maybe you've been in the audience once or ten times, and maybe you have laughed and/or cried here. Whatever you've done with the Playhouse, thank you.

Everyone who visits contributes something. Everyone. Even the people who get up and leave if they don't like the show  - it's rare, but it happens! - they remind us of the tremendous power of the spoken word and live theater. Words that wouldn't give us pause on tv or in a book somehow become a jolt of lightning in this intimate space. 

The Playhouse's pews hold about 100 people, and our stage is fairly small, about 25 feet deep and 27 feet wide. We don't have fly space or wings, so we won't be presenting Peter Pan anytime soon - or at least, not very well. The shows we can produce in this space are often small in terms of cast or set requirements, but that limitation has led to some brilliant solutions. Last summerin James and the Giant Peach   , when James and his huge insect friends met with a shark attack as they flew across the Atlantic Ocean, the Playhouse Troupe and their clever director Jason Morgan came up with a fun, simple way to stage the attack. They didn't use cut-outs, they didn't use costumes, they didn't ask for much - they found inflatable 3 foot sharks online and tossed them across the stage to each other! The actors were 'terrified' and the audience loved it. They knew that we knew that they knew - and that understanding between audience and performer led to one of the many priceless moments we've had here in our first four years.

Despite our relative youth, the Playhouse calendar  is already developing a rhythm. March and April tend to be busy months here. We've just closed our first regular-season production, the hilarious and well-received Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. Our new Artistic Director, Sarah Walker Thornton, brought the show to life while learning her new job, and did so with grace, poise, and lots of coffee from our friendly neighborhood Cafe Louisa up the street.

  Irish Voices returns on March 19 as the thinking person's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration. Directed by John McWilliams for the first time this year, we'll build on the beloved tradition of sharing Ireland's witty, sweet, and delightful songs, poems, and stories. Think of the Voices format as a "live anthology" - a great format for exploring a large body of work year by year. 

The Joe Thomas Jr   Guitar Pull on March 15 will be the 49th consecutive night of this monthly series of live, original music. Forty nine nights x 3 musicians each show = a lot of new songs brought to life during the course of this jewel of a music series. Join us, and you'll be proud of the tremendous talent brewing in the state of Alabama and the South. 

Next on the big calendar: Spring Break, Easter, and then in early April, Randy Foster will have us roaring along to Life is a Cabaret: A Kander and Ebb Revue . If you loved our production of Cabaret in 2012 or Hey Old Friend: Sondheim at 85   last spring, you will NOT want to miss this special event April 3 and 4th. Montgomery native Alex Katz returns from New York to choreograph this show. He was responsible for the shimmys and kicks in Cabaret, too, and we're grateful to have Randy and Alex collaborating here again. This revue is a benefit for the Playhouse School's Financial Assistance Fund and the Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts  and its annual Institute offering training across all arts disciplines for general classroom teachers, arts specialists and community arts advocates.

Rehearsals have just begun for Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters First Hundred Years . Director Georgette Norman sees this story of two sisters recounting their incredible lives as part history lesson, part life lesson, and we hope that audiences will bring younger friends to see this story about two African-American women who lived through some incredible days in American history. The show opens April 21 and runs through May 1. 

Because it will be here before we know it, we'll go ahead and mention Southern Voices on May 7 right here and now, though it's only March. The way spring flies by, we'll soon be enjoying stories by Pat Conroy, Roy Blount, Flannery O'Connor, Rick Bragg - whatever Director Michael Thornton selects for the live anthology. 

Spring 2016 is looking pretty good, don't you think? 

- Emily Flowers
Cloverdale Playhouse 
March 15, 2016

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