In 1984 I was contacted by Caroline Cauldwell who asked if I had an interest in joining her and others in forming a Community Theater group on the Island, to tie in with the 20th anniversary of the Center for Creative Arts and Nature Study. (The original Island Players were organized in 1955 but had dispersed over the years.) I was! and joined her, Barbara Hansen, Clara Jessen, Laura Findlay (Hagen), Joan Locke (Hansen), Melanie Koyen (Bauer) to become the new Board. Gayle Johnson was contracted to be Artistic Director. (Caroline had also found 12 sponsors to guarantee Gayle’s monthly salary.)
Had I ever been involved in theater before? Oh yes, pretty much my whole life. At age 2 I could perform Dinah Shore’s “See the USA in your Chevrolet” ad for my parents. In grade school and high school I was always involved with any plays/programs, as well as Forensics. When Mitt Austin first came to the Island I was in her summer production of G. B. Shaw’s “Arms and the Man,” performed at the Community Center.In college I was more interested in movies and film, and was in a ‘silent flic’ made by fellow student friends, “Tilly of the Valley.’ (We were fortunate to go to Milwaukee for a program presented by silent film star Lillian Gish, talking about her experiences in early film, and no doubt inspired by her.)
What have been favorite my Island Players productions? I’ve participated in many of them. Favorites are: I Remember Mama (Mama), The Autograph Hound (the insatiable autograph hound/stalker), Steel Magnolias (M’Lynn), Visitor From A Small Planet (Kreton), Salute To Musical Comedy (Songs), Pygmalion (Mrs. Pearce), Our Town (Mrs. Gibbs), The Miracle Worker, Dear Rhoda (Sophie Tucker) and On Golden Pond (Ethel Thayer).
I love languages and accents, and many of my roles have included those. I had the pleasure of being Language Coach for Pygmalion.
Besides acting, I enjoy all parts of a production, especially being part of an ensemble, and have worked with sets, props, make-up, costumes, publicity and directing.
Theater is important everywhere, and Washington Island is no exception. It’s the opportunity to stretch the person you are and to connect with other people, whether they be fellow castmates or the audience. In doing that, we are also connected with the greater ‘stage’ and world experiences.
The Island is fortunate to have a wide variety of people of all ages willing to share their talents, with technical expertise, writing, performing, and creative ideas. It’s great company to be in!