State Parks truly provide unique opportunities for nature lovers to combine their appreciation for both the outdoors and the arts.
A recent performance at Jack London State Historic Park in Sonoma, California is testament to the power of the arts in bringing people together. A theatre company named Transcendence Theatre Company staged a full-scale Broadway-style production in the historic stone ruins of the old Kohler & Frohling Winery located within the Jack London State Historic Park. The show attracted a crowd of more than 900 people, who came to experience the song and dance, and also support the future of this incredible park – that happens to be on the “endangered” list for closure by the State of California in July 2012.
The event not only raised funds for a non-profit agency (Valley of the Moon Natural History Association) to help keep the park open, but also was a “trial run” to demonstrate the potential of a theatre company “establishing residency” in the park for a full three-month schedule of summer stock theatre next year. The theatre performances would include outreach events to local youth for music and dance training – especially since these art forms have been so hard hit from shrinking school budgets in recent years.
Creative thinking can help to keep both parks and the fine arts alive and “front and center” in our consciousness. Parks should provide access to the public for multiple activities ranging from nature hikes to major productions like this theatre performance. As long as park visitors are respectful of the land and any historic structures, we say, “Bring on the show.”