During a time when everything has been uncertain, a group of students at Minnie Cannon Elementary School have managed to hold on to a little bit of normalcy. In January of 2020 Sharon Huggins, the fifth grade teacher and the 2019-2020 Minnie Cannon Teacher of the Year, decided she wanted to start a book club to share her love of reading with some of her students. She chose The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy even though it was above grade level because it “appealed to her sense of humor, love of science, and goofy nature.”
Hello theatre fans! Boy, have I missed having theatrical events in the county to share with you. They have been too few and far between. But, things are looking up. The theatre company I belong to will be presenting A Virtual Christmas Carol and that is the topic of this month’s column. And, the book club over at Minnie Cannon Elementary has been working on a radio adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I hope to bring you more information about that in my January column. In the meantime, should you hear of any group or individual in the county that is finding a way to present creative endeavors, I urge you to give them my email address so that I may shine a spotlight on their productions right here in this column. I can be reached at StageStruq@mchsi.com
Shakespeare at the Lake is back! The joint venture between Mendocino College and the Lake County Theatre Company will be moving forward with their 5th season though not in the same manner as originally envisioned. This year’s production, Romeo & Juliet, will be presented online. Normally, Shakespeare at the Lake takes place at Library Park in Lakeport and Austin Park in Clearlake with beautiful Clear Lake as the back drop. However, nothing about 2020 has been normal. Theatres all over the world have gone dark due to COVID-19. Many theatres may never reopen. But, for one director, postponing was not an option.
There’s a lot going on in the world right now so it’s easy to miss important things going on in our own backyards. Our own 2020-2021 School Budgets, for example. Right now, there is a lot of speculation about what the next school year will look like in the COVID-19 era. Parents are worried about their kids having to wear masks all day. Will the kids be able to attend full-time or will they partake in distant learning? And, if they don’t go to school every day, who’s going to watch them and how will parents be able to pay for that? Good questions all. What’s not getting much attention, though, are the budget shortfalls due to COVID-19. We went into COVID-19 with a state budget surplus in California. Now, just a few short months later, we are facing a deficit. There were some great things that were in the original budget, now the state has cut many planned healthcare expansions and slashed funding for schools. The timing could not be worse. The Middletown Unified School District alone is being asked to find ways to cut over one million dollars from an already sparse budget. They are contemplating doing away with bus services for all except Special Ed for an estimated savings of $427,000. They are seriously considering cutting athletics, drama, choir, and band. All of these choices, by the way, would result in loss of jobs. And, there are long term consequences to making these cuts that go well beyond just this year.
Finding a venue for a theatre company without a home can be challenging. As can trying to bring theatre to all while based in a county with a lake set right in the middle of it. Such are the challenges that face the Lake County Theatre Company (LCTC). The company tries to bridge the gap by staging its shows at venues for rent in Lakeport and in Clearlake. Last year, a collaboration between LCTC and Mendocino College Lake Center brought Shakespeare at the Lake to Clearlake.
As a parent and a performer, I was very excited last year when I learned that someone was putting on a children’s theatre camp in Hidden Valley. I’m always looking for things to keep my child occupied over the summer break and what could be better than sharing my passion with him, and so close to home! That someone turned out to be Stepheny Moore Johnson.
Every year I say that I am going to take my son to Santa Rosa or to San Francisco to see the Nutcracker. And, every year something else comes up that makes it impractical or inconvenient to make the drive. Well, I’m happy to report that this year, I have an in-county solution. Jeanette Marchais, […]