by Lexi Lallatin
One of the great things about working in a theatre is you get the opportunity to bring people together.
Theater starts the minute the lights go down and the outside world stops. In the darkened theater, the to-do lists and personal hardships fade into a different world that will be yours for the next two hours. In the dark, we are no longer different people but a collective group sharing the same experience. We taste the love Romeo has for Juliet, cry with John Proctor as he asks for forgiveness, and laugh with Eliza Doolittle as she dances all night. Theatre lets us reexperience first kisses, our first heartaches. It evens the playing field so we all can experience the same thing regardless of how different we are. As we experienced it with our last production, Citizen: An American Lyric. In the dark we were the oppressed and the oppressor. We became a collective unit attempting to understand racism.
But Friday, we got to experience a very different type of unifying. Friday we were able to have Eric Arboleda’s third grade class from Ramona Elementary School come to our theatre. And we stopped being actors and children and started becoming one collective unit.
We started the day with a tour of the theatre which ended on the stage set up for our show The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. There, surrounded by intricately designed rocks, sand, and a set we were able to discuss found art- particularly relating to Nukain Mabuza (The subject of the play). The children were able to see through the eyes of someone who lived during the apartheid. They talked about how they would have wanted to “express their emotions”. And once again, it testified to the unifying power of theatre. Where else would third grade children and theatre artists be able to bond over the artistic genius of an untrained artist during apartheid in South Africa? In the end, the kids were able to express themselves independently by painting their own rocks.
I speak for the Fountain Theatre when I say that this experience spoke to us on why we do theater. Theatre has the power to unify. To bring together. Every child was different. Some were too shy to speak and others couldn’t wait to tell you every detail of their day. Some spent the whole time making sure their rock was perfect, while others were more eager to get to the doughnut and play “duck, duck, goose”. Every rock came out different. Some were intricate, with dots and swirls. Some were blobs of a color the child swore was “marbled.” But in the end, all of the students were so excited to share and talk about their rocks.
I am so thankful for the wonderful Ramona Elementary School, to Eric Arboleda and his wonderful class, to American Builders Supply in Pacoima who donated the rocks, to Stan’s Doughnuts, and to all the people at the theatre who helped make this possible. This is the epitome of bringing people together. We are so thankful to be part of this community, and we are proud to say this is the type of thing we strive for.
Come to the Fountain Theatre and see The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. Be part of the shared experience. See the children’s rocks in our lobby. Hear about Nukain Mabuza. On Friday, as the sun set on our collection of wet rocks drying in the sun, each with its own story behind it, I wondered what Nukain would have thought if he knew all the different people he brought together, on Friday and throughout therun of this play, to pay homage to his memory and his work.
Lexi Lallatin is from Portland, Oregon, and now an intern at the Fountain Theatre. The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek runs to December 14th. Info/Tickets