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‘The Summit’ hoping to spotlight local performing arts

Nevada County performing arts, including theater, is to be represented in a fun, powerful streamed series later this month. Photo by Maddie Meilinger

The global pandemic has deeply affected life as people know it over the course of a few months. Suddenly, it’s mandatory to wear masks, normal to carry hand sanitizer in your bag, if you are lucky enough to find it, and expected to put six feet between yourself and another person. With these newly implemented guidelines, the performing arts industry struggled to stay afloat with empty theaters and venues. 

Bear River’s Theater Manager Erin Beatie alongside Devin Cameron in collaboration with many Nevada County performers hope to preserve and assist our local performance companies by introducing a nine-part streamed series called The Summit, which will be premiering on July 23.

“The Summit is a filmed anthology series of high-quality performances by Nevada County actors, singers, musicians, and dancers,” said Mrs. Beatie. “Delivered twice weekly via a timed stream [on Tuesdays and Thursdays], the series will be nine total episodes; all free of charge to the general public. Episodes will include text-based performances, musical numbers/songs, dances, aerial pieces, and interviews with local production companies and venues … We have 57 different acts signed up so far participating in The Summit!”

A couple of students expressed their support of this production.

“The Summit is a good idea because it’s a good alternative way to present theater with access for everyone,” said rising Senior Ava Graham. 

“[The easy accessibility of the performances allow] people who don’t think they’re interested in these kinds of things [to] try something new,” said rising Junior Makenna Hensley. “These performances bring people together for entertainment and fun.”

“We know that it is difficult to reach audiences right now,” said Mrs. Beatie. “As part of our mission, we endeavor to keep audiences, performing arts practitioners, and performing arts organizations connected in meaningful ways during this time.”

Alongside Mrs. Beatie and Mr. Cameron, Bear River’s Drama and English teacher Sara Noah will be acting as both a performer and writer of the production. She described why this series was formed at this time.

“The Summit was formed so that local performers and audiences can have a safe way to see our amazing local talent,” she said. “We are a group of artists who wish to find new ways to present our art for the community and beyond, … and I think people in isolation need connection to art. We are hoping to bridge the gap of loneliness and uncertainty with some positive creative works.”

Mrs. Beatie continued to explain how she hopes this series will serve a variety of people.

“For our performers, [we hope to provide] a safe stage and outlet to be able to perform and entertain. For our community, an opportunity to provide a safe theatre viewing experience and to raise awareness of the rich Nevada County arts scene.”

“ … Due to what it’s about, it seems like it would be a great show for anyone to watch and learn from,” said Hensley.

Mrs. Noah elaborated upon how these performances will benefit the community. 

We have an unbelievably talented community here, and … we are hoping to showcase a wide variety of local talent,” she said. “Also [to] give our community and beyond an opportunity to see some ‘live’ performances that they would otherwise have been missing this summer.”

As mentioned, Mrs. Noah will be one of the acts as well as the writer. She provided a glimpse into the production of this endeavor.

As a performer, I will be performing two pieces,” she said. “One is a monologue I wrote when my Drama class was all writing monologues.  It is a lighter look at my life working at home called ‘I Miss my Clothes’.  I will also be singing a song called “Wait” from Sweeney Todd, which was set to open at the Nevada City Theater in a couple of weeks.  I thought “Wait” was a good message for all of us.”

She continued to describe her role as the script writer.

“I am writing the interview questions for both performers and venues/companies,” she explained. “After the interviews of performers are compiled, I will write all of the introductions for each act, which will be voiced by a local actor.”

The importance of preserving the performing arts through this pandemic was emphasized by Mrs. Beatie. 

“It is important to us to live broadcast the series so as to bring the audience together like they would have to in live theatre, just in their own homes,” she said. “Our top priority is to keep the performing arts community thriving both during the time of quarantine and also in the future as we begin to reopen our doors. Ensuring that the performing arts community emerge from this pandemic in good health is paramount to our mission. It is our belief that bolstering our local performing arts organizations during this time is essential to guaranteeing a bright future for performing arts practitioners, both on stage and behind the scenes. To that end, in every episode our hosts will encourage viewers who are able to donate to local performing arts organizations to do so, focusing on one organization per episode.”

Both Graham and Hensley expressed their great respect for the performing arts, believing The Summit will help these performers and companies stay afloat during this time.

“The performing arts is so important to keep alive during the pandemic because it’s a great art form that everyone should have access to, even though it’s impossible to do [so at this time],”said Graham. “ … I’m very excited to watch this series, and it will be good for everyone, including myself who is a part of the theater community.”

“Personally I think the performing arts are underestimated,” said Hensley. “People work hard to put on performances that entertain people, and I think that it’s a great experience to watch the performing arts. You see things you don’t see everyday, and you learn things that you may not have known before.”

Mrs. Beatie added a last sentiment addressing the effect of the production.

“With projects such as The Summit, we are able to continue to practice our art, make our music, create new worlds, and tell our stories to audiences,” she said. “We do hope that the void of applause in our house is filled in yours as you enjoy each individual experience that appears on your screen.” 

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‘The Summit’ hoping to spotlight local performing arts