Please silence your phones

Please Silence Your Phones: True Confessions of a Multitasker

By Colleen Cook

I used to pride myself in my ability to multitask. I could be watching a show on TV, making dinner, discovering a new recipe, checking email, replying to a text, and carrying on a conversation with my husband all at once – what a marvel!

Yet, what I’m feeling is anything but “marvelous.” I feel tired, exhausted by the constant stream of information and ideas and notifications. I feel like I never have time to do anything. I have a friend who recently reined in her habit of checking social media throughout the day to only once per day and she was able to read 10 books in a month in that same time.

The longer we live with devices in our hands and our pockets, though, it seems that ability to “multitask” is just a recipe for overwhelm and disengagement. When you’re doing everything, you’re focusing on nothing. No one gets your full attention, you’re engaging with the world in a way that is broad, but extremely shallow.

While many of us can remember a time before the internet, we are quickly approaching a world in which the adults have never lived without digital technology as a part of their everyday life. Michael Harris writes about this in his book The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection and in this Huffington Post Article, “Why We Must Teach Digital Natives How to Be Alone:” 

“Emily, 13, wakes up and rolls over to kiss her smartphone good-morning. Not an actual smooch, naturally, but a virtual kiss of attention, a kiss of grazing fingertips as she calls up 34 missed messages. The swarms of comforting “contacts” deliver new material — texts about a sleepover, photos of Slurpees, links to new cat videos — and the possible solitude of the morning is banished. The question that drives her is not “what shall I do today?” The question (more passive) is: ‘what did I miss?'”

The reality is, we’ve only had the internet in our pockets for less than a decade, and the generations living today haven’t yet developed best practices for moderating this luxury, so what’s happening is a form of digital obesity – we over-indulge in this endorphin-releasing technology and when we do that, we’re missing out on the real life right in front of us. Psychologists and neurologists are finding evidence to exactly this:

Psychologists have hypothesized that the constant demands of emails, notifications, and general busy-ness put a significant burden on the prefrontal cortex of the brain, the region involved in multitasking and higher-order thinking (like critical thinking and problem solving). Those small demands add up to drain our attentional resources, making us distracted and cognitively fatigued—which in turn makes it more difficult to focus, think deeply, and come up with new ideas. – Carolyn Gregoire, “The New Science of the Creative Brain on Nature”

When you come to the theatre, we implore you, “Please silence your phone,” for a very practical reason: it’s disruptive to our performance to have noisy, shiny devices going off among a crowd of hundreds. But, maybe the performing arts have had this right all along. Perhaps our constant connection is disruptive to our day-to-day, and it’s time to put our devices in their place.

When we turn off our phones, spend time with those most dear to us, and simply engage with a piece of art, it’s like giving ourselves a breath of fresh air. It’s allowing our brains for once to “uni-task,” to disconnect, to be fully present in time and space with the people we love. And, our children depend on us learning the values of silence, solitude, togetherness, and full engagement so that they might be passed down to future generations.

Further listening: one of my favorite podcasts, Sorta Awesome, has a great episode talking about this topic that you can check out here.

Announcing the 2017 Summer Musical!

by Colleen Cook

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! The Summer Musical has become a celebrated community tradition. Each summer in the last weekend of July and the first weekend of August, our region’s finest actors, singers, and dancers come together and perform a Broadway musical that dazzles and delights audiences each night.

After our success last summer with Beauty and the Beast, and Mary Poppins the season before, we wanted to continue to offer a show that would give families an opportunity to wrap up the summer in style. That’s why this summer’s show is none other than one of Disney’s most beloved musicals…

 

The Little Mermaid will be on stage July 29 at 8 PM, July 30 at 2:30 PM, August 5 at 8 PM and August 6 at 2:30 PM. Auditions will take place Sunday April 23rd from 12-5, Monday 24th from 4-7, with Callbacks Tuesday 25th from 4-7.

Tickets will go on sale to Renaissance Members only beginning March 1st. Tickets will be available to the public beginning April 4th. Interested in becoming a member? You can join when you call the Box Office (419-522-2726) to order your tickets.

This summer, our Artistic Director Michael Thomas will be unavailable, so we’ve invited director Kris Kyer to step in to direct. Kris Kyer’s career spans over three decades as an actor, performer, teacher, singer, and director in every medium of the entertainment industry.  Most recently, he has directed THE LITTLE MERMAID, ADDAMS FAMILY, ELF JR. MARY POPPINS, PETER PAN (starring as Captain Hook), and SUPERMAN at the Grove Theatre in Upland, CA.  

For nearly two decades he was the director/owner of THE KYER WORKSHOP FOR ACTORS in Burbank, CA. Thousands of young actors began their careers and studied under Kristopher to have successful careers in film, Broadway, stage, and television.  Mr. Kyer was also the “on set” acting coach for ABC-TV’s BOY MEETS WORLD; MAYBE THIS TIME; and GRACE UNDER FIRE; the Bruce Willis film HOSTAGE; and personal acting coach for Jessica Simpson on THAT 70’s SHOW for FOX-TV. You can learn more about Mr. Kyer here.

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How I Fell in Love with the Symphony

by Llalan Fowler

When I was a kid and just getting into music, my grandmother started taking me to all the Sunday matinees with the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra. The whole experience of going to the Renaissance Theatre was a “to-do,” as she might say. Dressing up, buying drinks and popcorn, getting escorted to our seats like we were important.

I was just learning how to listen to music — how to pull apart an orchestra and listen to one section at a time. There’s the low brass, there’s the high woodwinds, I think that’s a viola? And how to watch an orchestra, too — how to see the players watch the baton of the conductor, the rows of string players watching the first chair, the percussion section watching everything. I was learning a new language. I could already read music, but reading a new language is quite a different thing than understanding a conversation.

I wonder if perhaps you have to grow up with symphonic music to continue seeking it out as you age. My elementary school music teacher was a passionate man. Passionate enough to throw blackboard erasers into the chatty percussion section, gesticulate so wildly as to dislodge his comb over, and to rain insults and spittle down upon the first unlucky row of flutes. Most of the kids hated him. I would have, had he not kept playing fantastic recordings for us: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Goodman’s Sing, Sing, Sing, and Gershwin. I took a tape of Rhapsody in Blue out of the library and listened to it again and again in my room, letting the music take shape and color in my mind.

My grandmother loved that I was exploring the big band music of her youth and encouraged me with her own stories of the bands that played when she was a young woman. She still remembered all the words and sang along in her ageless soprano to my CDs of Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and The Andrews Sisters.

As I got older and my tastes refined, my grandmother took me to even more shows. We saw one of Mel Tormé’s last concerts and even saw Yo-Yo Ma, whose luggage had been lost so he and his accompanist wore lumberjack flannels. We spent several summer evenings on a lawn in Columbus, picnicking and listening to The Canadian Brass, laughing at their jokes even if we’d heard them last year. I played trombone and wanted to be the first lady in the brass quintet.

I played in high school — symphonic band, orchestra, jazz band, marching band — and continued to play through undergrad. I worry that music is accessible only to those who already speak the language. Those of us who recognize all the different voices that combine to one. Those of us who have felt the power in that moment between the last note and the applause. But how much knowledge and history behind a certain piece do you need to “get it?” When I look at Van Gogh’s Starry Night, I know little of his life and of the story behind the piece; but I do know it is crushingly beautiful.

I want to share the beauty of this music with others, but don’t always know how to convince my Millennial-aged peers to come to an orchestra concert with me. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of them do come, but I greedily want everyone to try it. I don’t know if it’s some presumption that symphony-goers are stuffy and pretentious or if it’s intimidation by the unknown that prevents more people my age from joining me there. I certainly don’t know everything about each piece that’s played in a concert. Rather than feeling ill-educated and uncomfortable at the end, however, I feel refreshed and new and as if I learned something just by sitting there. Like the first time I heard Rhapsody in Blue, I didn’t feel stuffy and pretentious — I felt like something bold and new was let loose inside me.

This Saturday, I will be going to the “When Swing Was King” pops concert, and I’ll be bringing my now-91-year-old grandmother. We will dress up, we’ll go to the Altered Eats catered dinner beforehand, we’ll gets drinks, and we’ll be escorted to our seats. We’ll sit in the dark and listen as the chaos of tuning instruments transforms into the asymmetrical jive of Shaw, Miller, and Dorsey. I suspect we’ll sing along.

 

 

Cheers!

Recipe for Love: Damiana Chocolate Rose Love Cordial

By Nicholas Copley of Lionheart Medicinal Gardens (& Altered Eats)

You will absolutely fall in LOVE with this aphrodisiac influenced cordial! Damiana is a wild shrub native to Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies that has been historically used as an aphrodisiac. Damiana is still used as an aphrodisiac today, as well as supporting relief of: headaches, bedwetting, depression, nervous upset stomach, constipation, and boosting mental and physical stamina. Damiana has also been used to enhance dreams. Chocolate and rose are known aphrodisiacs. Cacao contains phenylethyamines, which work similar to dopamine and epinephrine, creating heightened senses of well being.

Try this cocktail and an entire feast of farm to table goodness at the Altered Eats pre-concert dinner on February 18th!

First before we make this cordial I would suggest making this delicious chocolate syrup. This syrup is dairy-free and does not contain any refined sugar.

The Best Chocolate Sauce

  • ¾ cup raw cacao powder ( or unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup REAL Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Pulse together cacao powder, coconut sugar, and salt into a food processor until well combined.
  2. With food processor spinning, pour boiling water through feed tube.
  3. Stop processor, scrape sides, add the maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Process again until consistently silky smooth.
  5. Transfer to a glass container and place in the fridge to cool for a few hours.
  6. Enjoy over ice cream or in this next recipe!

Damiana Chocolate Rose Love Cordial 

  • 1oz dried Damiana leaves
  • 2 cups brandy or vodka (I used Brandy)
  • 1 ½ cups filtered water
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP rose water
  • ¾ cup of chocolate syrup (the recipe above is the best)
  1. Soak Damiana leaves in alcohol for 1-2 weeks. Strain and reserve liquid in a clean glass jar/bottle.
  2. Soak alcohol drenched leaves in filtered water for two-three days. Strain and reserve liquid.
  3. Gently warm the water extract (over low heat) and stir in honey. Remove from heat and add the alcohol extract. Pour into a clean glass jar and add vanilla, chocolate sauce, and rose water.
  4. Use your best discernment on the amounts of rose water and chocolate sauce. Adjust to you liking.
  5. Allow it to mellow for a few weeks. It definitely gets better with age. Store in fridge for several months.
  6. Enjoy!
Improv Olympics 2011

3 Ways to Build Your Team Through Improv

By Dauphne Maloney

Improv exercises take us out of our comfort zone and allow us to play, think on our feet, and be present in the moment. Recently, our Artistic Director Michael Thomas wrote (about his experience as a performer at renown improv comedy theatre The Second City), “The best improvisers are also the most profoundly adept actors. And why? Because they are always listening and reacting. They stay “in the moment” – so their reactions are always honest and believable.”

Here are three improv games, one for children, one for teenagers, and one for adults, that will help to build your team. If you’re a teenager interested in learning to improvise, our free Improv Underground classes begin February 8th – learn more here.

For Elementary/Middle School and older:

Vacation Pictures–(4 players)

Playing:

  1. Set up two chairs, with approximately 6 to 8 feet between them. Your chairs should be facing the audience.
  2. Choose two people to sit in the chairs—they will act as the people describing what they did last summer (or whatever you choose).
  3. Choose two additional people to stand between the two chairs, also facing the audience.

    Chair                     Actor   Actor               Chair
    (with “narrator” seated)                                                         (with “narrator” seated)

  4. Take suggestions for possible vacation locations from your audience.
  5. Once a location is selected, the two people in chairs take turns making statements about what they did last summer, such as, “We went to Cedar Point, and rode a roller coaster.” On the count of three (which the instructor, or audience, can do), the two actors standing between the chairs must create an interesting pose, as they would if in the “photo” of their roller coaster ride. Allow each “narrator” to describe two or three “photos.”
  6. Allow those describing to switch places with those acting so that all may have a turn.

For High School and older:

Garage Sale—(4 players)

Playing:

  1. Players get a few suggestions (from the audience) of items which might be found at a garage sale.
  2. One player (Player A) leaves the playing area as the other players group together (as a “pile” of items at a garage sale). (NOTE: You may also have the players form a line of items from left to right, as though they’re lined up for the garage sale.)
  3. Player A enters and begins looking other players as if they were items for sale. Player A chooses one “item” (Player B) and pulls them down stage (forward; closer to the audience). Player A identifies what Player B is to become by saying something like, “My, what a lovely teapot;” or “I wish there wasn’t a crack in this mirror.”
  4. Player B comes to life and gives a short few sentences about their experience (as that item) in the world. This monologue can be very short (30 seconds to a minute) and can be directed to the shopper (Player A) or given to the audience.
  5. Player A puts the first item back into the pile or line, and chooses another item, and the pattern repeats.
  6. The scene ends when Player A decides what items he would like to buy, and takes them with him/her off stage.

For Adults:

Pros and Cons—(as many players as desired)

Playing:

  1. Using as many players as desired, form a single-file line from the front of the playing space to the back of the playing space. (Players are lined up, one behind another, all facing the audience.)
  2. The instructor will give the first player in the line a subject, object, or person’s name with which to work. It is the first player’s job to talk positively (or “pro”) about their given subject, object, or person for a designated amount of time. (30 seconds is a good length of time. Either the instructor/moderator can serve as the time-keeper, or they may assign someone to keep the time.)
  3. At the end of the designated amount of time, the time-keeper will say, “switch,” at which point the first person in line stops talking, and turns to the player behind them to give that person another subject, object, or person’s name. The first player either returns to their seat in the “audience area,” or goes to the end of the line.
  4. Once players have switched spots, the second player in line will now be at the front of the line. It is their task to talk about their given subject, object, or person in a negative (or “con”) fashion for the designated amount of time.
  5. This continues, with players alternating “pro” and “con” as the line moves from player to player, until all of had a turn.

Hints: It is usually best to advise the players not to suggest subjects which may be controversial in nature, as this may make others uncomfortable, thus defeating the idea of team building or playing. Additionally, when working with players who may or may not know each other well, it is often wise to avoid suggesting names of celebrities or character names from pop culture, as not everyone will know that person of whom they’re asked to speak.

Lori Turner Turandot 1993 Flemish Royal Opera

Life as an Artist: An Interview with Lori Turner

By Colleen Cook with Lori Turner

When parents talk to me about Lori Turner and the work she does with the students who participate in the Renaissance Youth Opera Theatre, or “RYOT,” program, their eyes glisten and their faces become reflective and soft. “She does such a good job,” they tell me; “my child is discovering who she/he is, they are growing so much,” they say. Behind the curtain and apart from the outstanding productions this group regularly performs, the culture of RYOT and the quality of instruction Lori provides creates an almost sacred space for the students who participate each year.

Beyond the RYOT shows, many of our patrons have had the opportunity to see Lori’s unforgettable performances on our stage in a number of musicals over recent years, including Young FrankensteinA Christmas Carol, White Christmas, Xanadu and Ragtime to name just a few. What our audience may suspect from her notable performances on our stage but may not know, however, is that Lori has enjoyed a tremendous career as a performing artist. Lori’s performance career began with the Los Angeles Opera, the Roger Wagner Chorale and the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra. She then spent 10 years in Europe as a member of the Royal Flemish Opera in Belgium. I invited Lori to allow me to interview her and share some insights from that season of her life:

Colleen Cook: What was life like as a full-time opera singer in Belgium?

Lori Turner:  European audiences support the arts in a very different way from those in the United States. As an opera singer with the Royal Flemish Opera, I had a full-time, salaried position and I worked for the season from August through July, with a paid summer vacation. We performed 6-8 fully-staged, avant garde productions each year in two houses, one in Antwerp and another in Ghent. The houses were slightly larger than the Ren, so about 1500 seats, and they would regularly be sold out.

The opera company was constantly aspiring to make opera an interesting visual as well as aural sensation for a younger audience, and they responded. European audiences have fewer preconceptions about opera and are generally more interested in attending an opera even if it’s outside of their normal type of entertainment.

The arts are state-subsidized because European Governments believe that access to the arts is an important experience for the general population’s quality of life, which really improves life for the artists because you can be a working artist. The Royal Flemish Opera Company is 1 of 3 national opera companies in a country the size of Los Angeles.

CC: When you left Europe and moved to Mansfield, what kind of culture shock did you experience?

LT: I tried to anticipate a lot of things, but I missed performing a lot. I missed being able to sing really challenging music, but I was also occupied being a parent, and that was priority one, so that was certainly impactful but it didn’t control my life.

It was harder on our son, because he was used to European lifestyle. He told his friends that it was always warm in America, because he had only visited the US in the summers. Let’s just say that first winter was a rude awakening! Not having medical insurance was impactful. Teaching privately, via a community arts school, and not having a salary had a big impact.

CC: What advice would you give a young performer considering a career in performance?

LT:  If they’re about to go into the world, into college, I’d encourage them to go to a college that has as many performance opportunities as possible. If they’re going into the world to work, then go some place that has as many performance opportunities as possible. I believe every American should spend time overseas – in Europe, Asia, England – to gain a world-wide perspective. Every performer should study the classics, regardless of your discipline, dancers should study ballet, actors should study Shakespeare, singers should study opera – the foundations don’t limit you they expand your higher ability.

CC: The decision to make a major shift from performing to moving your family back to the US and focus on parenting is brave and bold. What advice would you give a young parent?

LT: It really changed my life for 20 years. I was performing full-time, and then I wasn’t. For me, to be home at night, I felt that needed to happen to be an effective parent. For a time, I lived a little bit vicariously through my son’s involvement in theatre, as I suppose all parents do. I never lost touch with theatre because I was still directing. I still sang some with the symphony and concerts but now that Phillip is grown, I’m starting to perform again. I’m no longer a “Dorabella,” the roles I can play have changed as I’ve aged and as my instrument has changed, but I’m having to redefine myself as a performer now, 20-years later. One thing I did for myself and for my instrument, I studied the whole time that I wasn’t performing.


Lori’s next production is RYOT’s The Gondoliers & Pinocchio, February 4-5, 2017.
Get information and tickets here.

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Lessons From The Second City

By Michael Thomas, Artistic Director

I have to admit, when our Marketing Director, Colleen Cook, asked me to write a blog about my time at the Second City I was a little stumped. “Write about something funny that happened. When something went wrong.” Of course, something going wrong was what we’d always hoped would happen. Someone forgetting to make an entrance, a missed sound cue, a server dropping a tray of glasses, a cell phone ringing… Those sort of things were like little gifts to the improv-trained actor because they knew that the unexpected is funny – and they can riff on it. Even in the worst of times – as when a drunken high schooler, celebrating her post prom at our show, vomited all over herself, the server and the unfortunate couple in front of her – I watched the actors on stage spin upchuck into comedy gold. For the rest of the evening, the actors would somehow find a way to work a barf joke into the scene – and it would send the audience into hysterics. We were taught not to resort to potty/childish humor, (see below), but when forced into it, we could keep pace with the best/worst of them.

Looking back, some of the funniest, (albeit frustrating) moments came when I first started improv classes. There was always someone in your class who ignored the basic rules of improv and would completely change the scene so that they could, presumably, insert what they considered to a funnier situation or even just a corny pun or one liner. For instance, I recall that our suggestion for a scene was “a man whose wife is cheating on him.” . My scene partner and I got up on stage and I began with “I’m so distraught. I know something is going on and it’s driving me crazy.” My partner responded with “What are you talking about? I’m George Washington and it’s my birthday!” The guy had clearly been sitting on his hands waiting to unveil a hilarious George Washington birthday party scene he’d concocted – and he was going to do it whether we liked it or not. Fans of the television program The Office may recall Michael Scott’s failed attempt at improv. When he doesn’t know how to end a scene, he simply pulls out an imaginary pistol and shoots all of his teammates dead. The star of that show, Steve Carrell, is a Second City alum – and I’m certain that scene must have been based on his real life experiences.

Of course, there were also many memorable moments dealing with certain members of the audience. I don’t think we ever did a single show when there wasn’t someone in the crowd who thought they were funnier than the folks on stage. It usually went down like this:
Actor: We need a suggestion for a place. Any place. A train station. A taxi cab. Your mother’s kitchen.
Man in audience: Poop!!!
Actor: (ignoring him) An amusement park. A doctor’s office. An operating room.
Man in audience: A urinal!!
Actor: (still ignoring him) Betsy Ross’ sewing room. The deck of the Titanic. A hamster cage.
Man in crowd: Someone farting!
Actor: (ignoring him again while cocking a hand to his ear) I think I heard someone call out “A basketball court!”
The unfortunate man in the audience really felt as though he was the first person in the history of comedy to think of toilet humor. I’m sure he envisioned the audience hoisting him upon their shoulders and celebrating him as the great wit of his generation. The Noel Coward of gastrointestinal-based comedy.

But what I remember most about my time at Second City is that I witnessed some of the best acting and storytelling I’d ever seen. When I was in acting school, we wrote off our comedy improv class as a silly, albeit entertaining, diversion from the much meatier works of Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. But what I discovered at Second City was that the best improvisers are also the most profoundly adept actors. And why? Because they are always listening and reacting. They stay “in the moment” – so their reactions are always honest and believable. Some of our most renowned actors, including Bill Murray, John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Alan Arkin, John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Mike Myers and Martin Short – as well as my friends Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey – were trained at the Second City. I spent four years there in the 1990s – and met some of the most incredibly funny, kind, giving and generous folks I’ve ever known. Unlike so many, I didn’t seek out a job there, but came onboard thanks to my friend Jeff Richmond, who directed many of their main stage and ETC productions. At first it just seemed like any other gig – and I honestly just did it for the paycheck. But I quickly discovered that what they do is truly an art form – and I had fallen, bass ackwards, into one of the most profoundly life-changing experiences I would ever know.

Four Events You Won’t Want to Miss in 2017

by Colleen Cook 

Few things carry as much potential as a fresh, blank calendar. There’s just something about that blank space that feels free and exciting as you look at the next 365 days knowing they can be whatever you choose.

If you’re like me, then you’re probably thinking a lot about what you can do less of, what you want to do more of, and how you want to spend your days this year as you fill in your calendar with birthdays, appointments, social plans, and more. For me, this year I will be working to ensure that the time I’m with my family is spent more intentionally. We’ll be spending more time making memories that will last, rather than binging a Netflix show or scrollaxing through our various devices.

Here are four events that I’m putting on my calendar, and why:

January 27th: The Second City Game Night

The Second City's Game Night

I have always wanted to see The Second City in person, and this is the year! Bonus: I don’t have to make the trek into Chicago! Having been a HUGE Saturday Night Live fan since I was too young to be watching it, as SNL fans know, The Second City is the breeding ground for great improv comedians. Alumni include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steven Colbert, Steve Carrell, Bill Murray… and our own Michael Thomas! So, we’re calling a babysitter and making sure we don’t miss this night.

February 18th: Pre-Concert Dinner & When Swing Was King Concert

When Swing Was King

My husband and I sometimes downplay Valentine’s Day, but for no good reason. Our love is worth celebrating, and we never regret making a big deal out of silly greeting card holidays – because good memories last way longer than the cards and candy. So, this year, we’ll be celebrating at the Mansfield Symphony’s pre-concert gourmet dinner by Rasul Welch and Anne Massie of Altered Eats, followed by a night of swing music with the Mansfield Symphony and world-renowned conductor Carl Topilow!

April 7th: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Live

We have a preschooler in our house, and Daniel Tiger and his neighbors are like a third parent in our household. We count on Daniel to reinforce some really important lessons for our kids using earworms musical jingles like, “Use your words,” and “When you feel jealous, talk about it and we’ll figure something out,” and of course, “You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back.” Seeing the joy on our daughter’s face last year at this event made it an early contender for our 2017 calendar.

May 20: Classic Albums Live plays The Eagles’ “Hotel California”

Classic Albums Live: The Eagles' Hotel California

As a kid, I remember listening to the “Hotel California” on vinyl in my parents’ basement, the richness of the incredible acoustic guitars and the band’s gritty authentic sound pouring over me. Classic Albums Live has gained quite a reputation as the quintessential authentic recreation of these incredible albums, live – playing every note, every cut, just the way you remember it. And, these guys are good. I’ve been excited to see this group since we started talking about it more than year ago, and you can be sure this event is on my personal calendar.


Comment and tell us, what events are your must-sees this year?

 

One word for 2017

One Word for 2017

by Colleen Cook

It has become internet-popular to forego the traditional New Year’s resolution list, and instead choose one word that becomes your guiding theme or principal for the year. Admittedly, I haven’t done this for myself yet, but I will be trying it in 2017.

As most things in internet culture go, the origin of the idea seems to be hard to pin down – the earliest post on the idea I could find is on Christine Kane’s blog as early as 2006, however iterations of this idea are all over the place.

As an organization, the Renaissance has a mission and a vision statement, a strategic plan, marketing and development plans, and so many formal planning documents, but I thought it would be interesting to ask our staff to summarize their own departmental goals for 2017 into one word. Here’s what they chose:

Michael Thomas: Expand

Chelsie Thompson: Gratitude

Linda Chambers: Collaboration

Patrick Clinage: Thorough

Ashley Young: Present

Mike Miller: Sustainability

Colleen Cook: Engaging

We hope that as a cultural hub to our community, we can be all of these things, and more. What is YOUR one word for 2017? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

Year In Review

Highlights of 2016, Looking into 2017… and a BIG announcement!

by Mike Miller, President & CEO

This has been one of the most exciting and expansive years in my history with the Renaissance, and it’s all thanks to our incredible staff, board, volunteers, donors, and patrons! We have truly got the best team of people working together to bring outstanding arts and culture to Mansfield, and I am proud to be a part of it.

This year, the Renaissance has reduced its total debt down to $150,000, down from $1.2 million when I took the helm in 2010. We’ve done this through streamlining our operations and programming, fundraising for debt reduction, and improving our business practices. We want the Renaissance to exist in Mansfield forever, and adopting a sustainable business model and operating within our means was critical, and we couldn’t have done it without our incredible team.

Another highlight for the Renaissance was Michael Thomas’ original production of Hot Mess: The Musical. Never before have we sold out a production before it even opened, but that was the case with this hysterical new musical that showcases Michael’s adept skill for musical comedy. Even more exciting, renowned Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh has taken interest in the production and we will be taking our cast to workshop it in New York City in April 2017, following our spring revival of the production on our stage in Mansfield. We couldn’t be more excited for our artists at the Renaissance!

Our Mansfield Symphony conductor search has been a remarkable process, with over 100 outstanding applicants from all over the world for the position of music director! This speaks to the quality and reputation of our orchestra to have such a wealth of individuals vying for the position. Having the opportunity to showcase three of those conductors on our stage this season has already been a treat for our community.

And now for the big announcement…!!!

For me, one of the most exciting things of 2016 is only first being publicly announced right now, and that is our acquisition of a 15,000 square foot building at 166 Park Avenue West. Despite our large building, we have so many educational programs, performance groups, ensembles, and productions rehearsing in our space that we are constantly running out of usable rehearsal and performance spaces in our building. When we approached our board about a building that was for sale by the Richland County Land Bank for $89.00, but required $150,000 in work just to make it usable, rather than back away our board ran in and raised and supplied the funds in 10 days, fully funded through cash and in-kind donations. In particular, massive thanks go to Bill Hope of Alumni Roofing for providing a new roof for the building, and Ary Van Harlingen of Shaw Ott Medical and his team for remediating the extensive mold in the building and gutting it, as well as one anonymous funder.

Over the coming months we’ll talk a lot more about this space with you. We’ll be conducting a feasibility study, thanks to support from the Richland County Foundation, in order to determine what the community needs from this space. We know we’d like to see more rehearsal space, a more intimate performance space, and education classrooms. Keep your eyes open for a lot more conversation about this space soon. If you’d like to hear just a little more, you can listen to the Renaissance Podcast episode the Chairman of our Board, Rand Smith, and I released this week.

The Renaissance is committed to being the cultural hub for our community. We are energized by the partnerships we’ve formed with our region’s non-profits and we are delighted by the support we continually receive to keep our program vibrant and expanding. Thank you for making this the greatest job on earth.