Meet Tom Lawson , the first interview of our Crucible Who's Who Series!
Q) Is this your first play? A) No
Q) Is this your first appearance at the Cloverdale Playhouse? A) Yes
Q) Which character are you playing in The Crucible, and would you like him/her in real life?
A) Giles Corey. I'd like him, but I wouldn't want to be him.
Q) What's your day gig?
A) Film actor, retired attorney
Q) What's your favorite color?
Tell us to whom you'd like to dedicate your work on this show: To Mike and Val, for starting me out. To Caroline, for keeping me going.
“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!
“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.
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.
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!