Meridian’s arts scene is growing in strength and intensity with new groups starting up each year that want to serve their community. Now, many of those artists, led by Autumn Kersey’s Treasure Valley Children’s Theater, are digging deeper into the community to help create a performing arts venue in West Ada County.
“We were looking for an interesting way to bring awareness to the needs of arts groups in Meridian,” she says. “We need a place to perform.”
Kersey and company will kick off the effort with “8 in 48 Idaho: A Short Play Festival” that will put eight original 10-minute plays on stage in just 48 hours.
Actors audition at 4 p.m. Sept. 25 (no appointment necessary). Come ready to work and with a good attitude, Kersey says. If you’re cast, rehearsals will start around 8 p.m. that evening, go until late and begin again at 8 a.m. on Sept. 26, with the performances that night. And while the project is lead by a children’s theater, this fundraiser is geared to adults.
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The pre-and post-receptions will be at Meridian’s Generations Plaza with food from Lucky Fins, music, silent auction and a no-host beer and wine bar.
The goal is to draw attention to Meridian’s arts groups and their potential to enliven the city, Kersey says. Proceeds benefit the Meridian Arts Foundation building fund, a new capital campaign to construct a center for performing and visual arts in the Meridian area.
The festival idea started with TVCT’s company manager Julia Pachoud Bennett. She and Kersey put out an international call to playwrights for original short plays written for young audiences. They received 120 submissions from around the globe. A committee of Treasure Valley theater artists blind-read all the plays. The winning eight come from New Zealand, Washington, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, New York and two from Ohio.
The festival also will bring the Treasure Valley theater community together, using actors and directors that regularly work elsewhere, including DreamWeaver Musical Theatre’s Annie Cerda, Idaho Shakespeare Festival company member Lynn Allison, Boise Little Theater and Chaotic Acts of Theatre’s Kim Sherman Labrum and Jordan Peterson of Daisy’s Madhouse.
They want to shine a light on the growing arts scene in Meridian. Kersey has worked in Boise community theater for several years, helping Boise Little Theater create its summer youth theater program (in partnership with Boise Parks and Recreation). That program, which Kersey continues to oversee, brings together kids from across the valley to produce a musical in the summer.
But when it came time for Kersey to start her own company, she chose Meridian because that’s where many of the families of the kids in her summer program lived.
“The community in Meridian was hungry for the kind of theater we do,” she says. “It was easy to convince the community and businesses of our value.”
Kersey produces plays that tell classic and contemporary children’s stories, with adult actors, and teaches theater workshops and ongoing classes —from Shakespeare to improv — for young performers. That first year she had 100 students. The next year she had 700, and it has stayed steady since.
Now, the reality is that to grow, Kersey’s Treasure Valley Children’s Theater and a host of other groups — including Meridian Symphony, Idaho Regional Ballet, Meridian Music and Art and the fledgling WineGlass Development — need a space in which to perform and teach, do business and create.
The success of the call and interest in Meridian is heartening, and Kersey would like to make this a biennial event, she says.
“There’s a real need for plays for young audiences that are smart, imaginative and take you on a journey,” she says. “If we can be part of the conversation to make that happen that would be awesome.”
OTHER ARTS NEWS
• You can celebrate the growing Young and New Adult fiction scene atBoise Book Fest
, a new event that will bring dozens of YA and NA authors from Idaho and across the country together on Sept. 26 in Meridian. Boise-based New York Times best-selling YA writerCynthia Hand
will kick things off with a keynote speech at 9:30 a.m., at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1789 S. Eagle Road, Meridian. Throughout the day, you’ll hear panel discussions with tips on how to create your literary world and advice about writing and how to get published. You’ll also get a chance to meet writers such as Rachel Van Dyken, Jessica Sorenson, Colleen Houck, Amy Harmon and others in 15-minute roundtable meetings. $10 general, $9 for bloggers, $6.50 students atBoiseBookFest.com
• Boise State University’s theater department will produce the Boise premiere ofSam Hunter
’s“A Bright New Boise.”
Hunter, who grew up in Moscow and is now a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and one of the leading young American playwrights, won his first bit of notoriety with this play. It won an Obie, the Off-Broadway equivalent of a Tony, in 2012. It’s a twisted family comedy set in the break room of a Boise Hobby Lobby, where a father, who is a member of an end-of-days cult, tries to reconnect with his estranged son. The student-led production will will play 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1-3, 7-10, and 2 p.m. Oct. 4 and 11 at the Danny Peterson Theatre inside the Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise. Tickets are $15 general, $12 for nonBoise State students, Boise State alumni, military and seniors, $9 each for groups of 10 or more, free for Boise State students.
• TheIdaho Film Foundation
will screen“Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles,”
a documentary by Oscar-winning director Chuck Workman that explores Welles’ stage, radio and film work. It’s told through film clips, interviews and archival footage and will be introduced by prolific actor and Welles’ friend Peter Jason. Jason has a connection to Idaho. His brother is Pug Ostling, the former owner of Grape Escape Wine Bar and one of the core curators of Downtown Boise’s cultural growth over the past 35 years. See the film at 7 p.m. Oct. 8,The Flicks
, 646 Fulton St., Boise. Tickets are $15 advance at The Flicks or at the door.