School of the Arts Begins This Saturday at 9am

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on September 7, 2012

I drove up to New Deal this summer to see consummate artist and former neighbor Olen Bryant. I drove before the schools were in session because, going either way, you meet at least five school zones. Olen once said it was forty-five minutes from his house on York to his family homeplace in New Deal. Times have changed. It is now an hour-and-a-half trip, and that is with making good time.

But it’s worth it to see Olen and be in the presence of so great an artist and so kind a friend. He always employs a helper. Mike Andrews, Scott Wise and Tom Rice have all garnered knowledge and artistic wisdom from his expertise of skill and craft, along with wages for their assistance in a number of his larger projects.

Olen’s homeplace has three outbuildings. I was only allowed to tour two, as his work for the 30th Anniversary Gala was being created in one, which was off-limits to my prying eyes. The two others are crammed with completed, discarded or in-progress pieces. Mike Andrews, son of Michael Andrews, was the boy Friday of the moment, his hands entrusted with preparing surfaces for the master. I know I felt much akin to someone fortunate enough to have walked into Michelangelo’s studio in Florence. The air was palpable with artistic expression.

I reveled in my time there with Olen, as I have missed for a while his over-the-back-fence conversation, his pushing a quart of blueberries through our doggie door, and his leaving on Christmas morning, wrapped in newspaper and twine, a piece of art I had admired and hoped for.

The Roxy Regional School of the Arts begins its fall session at 9am tomorrow, Saturday, September 8. The class will work on Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. I have been very pleased in seeing such works as The Crucible at West Creek Middle, Twelfth Night at Northwest High, It’s a Wonderful Life at Rossview High, and Wit and All in the Timing at Clarksville High. I feel, as most educators do, that these works stretch the minds of young students and propel them to think outside the proverbial box, broadening them as artists as well as students.

In the past, we have produced in class A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Pullman Car Hiawatha and Our Town. This year, I wanted the students to walk away with suitable audition monologues and, in doing so, be part of a grand piece of theatre.

Acting classes will run until 11am, while the second part of the day, from 11am until 12:30pm, will focus on dance and voice. Dance will be headed up by Jessica Davidson, who choreographed The Wedding Singer and is on board for “9 to 5.” Voice will be taught by Austin Peay voice major Erin Keas, who has become a Roxy veteran performing this summer in all of our productions and coaching the interns.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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