Dear art town, support your local theaters

It is so apparent as to be axiomatic that exposure to the arts — visual arts, theater, literature, music — contributes to what makes us human. Art allows us to see our potential and encourages us to become our better selves. It allows us to consider the basic questions of humanity, including one’s relationship with the world, with other men, with the gods, whomever they may be. If we ignore the arts, we become nothing but drones, never truly happy because we cannot see what could have been.

All that by way of pointing out that Alpena is fortunate to have two working theater companies, staging intelligent, thought-provoking and (for the most part) entertaining works by playwrights familiar or not, depending on the breadth of one’s experience. The 2019 season for Thunder Bay Theatre includes a Tennessee Williams play, a Stephen Sondheim musical, a second great American musical (by Rodgers and Hammerstein, household names) and perhaps the most entertaining of Shakespeare’s tragedies. The Alpena Civic Theater, not to be outdone, had planned a production of the verbally pyrotechnic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” until illness kiboshed things.

There is all this wonderful, enriching and fabulously entertaining theater in our little town, and yet no one goes to see it. TBT couldn’t fill the room even when it mashed up “Hamlet” with “Alice in Wonderland.”

What is the problem? We claim to be an art town (it’s on the billboards), we have the opportunity for a real aesthetic and emotional experience, something we cannot get from watching a movie, something we would be talking about for days, and we ignore it.

Our local theaters are not charities. If we continue to ignore the arts opportunities available to us, including local theater, they will disappear. I suppose there’s always Detroit.