Hope. Some say it springs eternal. Our renowned President ran his campaign on it. Ovid said, “My hopes are not always realized, but I always hope.” Tacoma might be called a city without hope. As some readers may recall, a 2004 article on CNN.com highlights a survey prepared by BestPlaces. It ranks Tacoma as the most stressful city in the U.S. Factors like the high unemployment and suicide rates gave us the top spot. There is a new theater in town that could change that.
Over the past 10 years or so, Tacoma’s professional theaters have been perfecting the art of the disappearing act, leaving theater goers with few options. There are a number of high quality community theaters in town, but for professional level work, Gritty-Tacomans are forced south to Olympia or north to Seattle.
Enter Gold From Straw Theater Company.
Aaron Schmookler, the Founder and Artistic Director of Gold From Straw, realized that Tacoma was in need of exactly the kind of company he was looking to create. Mr. Schmookler and his newly appointed Associate Artistic Director, Julie Weinberger, describe the company as “scrappy and determined.” They refuse to buy into the cynical and destructive themes of modern entertainment. Instead they purposefully search out scripts with strong thematic elements of hope. “You are what you eat, after all,” Mr. Schmookler quipped during a recent discussion. To that end their mission statement is as follows:
Gold From Straw Theatre Company exists to produce innovative and exciting works of theater that celebrate and nourish the human spirit. With a commitment to the highest artistic standards, we stage an eclectic array of new works and classics that are raw, substantial and sophisticated while simultaneously sincere, and optimistic. Gold From Straw is a gathering place for artists, audiences, students, teachers. As our name suggests, we recognize and embrace an element of alchemy in theatre – where so many share a single focus, transformation on some level is inevitable. Our work is meant not only to interest and entertain, but also to remind us of what we share. As we practice it, theatre creates environments where we all can celebrate our common humanity.
This pentient for hope does not mean you will only see fuzzy bunnies and rainbows on stage (or the theatrical equivalent). Quite the contrary. It is when humanity is facing it’s hardest struggles that hope is most needed. The first play of their innaugural season was Doubt, by John Patrick Shanley. A strong play full of human frailty, but not devoid of hope.
Mr. Schmookler and Mrs. Weinberger contend that Tacoma is ripe for a professional theater. The local economy needs it and the population can support it. There is no reason Tacoma should be giving up their theater goers to Seattle. This author (and actor) humbly agrees. Please help sustain local, vibrant and essential theater.
If you would like to support Gold From Straw Theater Company, you can do so in the following ways:
- Attend the final weekend of their current show, Almost Maine, by John Cariani. A pithy group of theatrical vignettes about love. You can puchase tickets here.
- While there, make a bid on a beautiful piece of artwork created by Marsha Glaziere specifically for this show and theater company.
- Make a donation. Currently, there’s a matching grant offer for up to $4,500.
- Become a board member. (For donate or participate, you can contact the theater through their website.)
- Join them next season for Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, The Tempest by William Shakespeare, and Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol by Tom Mula