Woodinville is positioned in the perfect center of an intersection where seemingly opposite ideas cross over one another: one rushing to the woods and the other towards the synthetic glow of tomorrow. Whereas Bellevue and Seattle have begotten tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon, Woodinville has managed to foster the culture that’s rooted to the ground while actively adopting the swift transition into a highly digital world.
Robotics classes rally students to create and compete under roofs of high schools that have acres of agricultural and mountainous backdrop. The same high schools offer some of the top theatre programs in the country with a dedication and knack for producing some of the youngest and most dynamic performance artists. In an era where everyone’s attention seems super-adhered to their personal devices, there is the steady pull back into the present and real world. While Woodinville’s collective education towards the arts is essentially endless, space is finite. This leaves little opportunity for performance artists, so to speak, outside the classroom.
Now, the Woodinville Repertory Theatre is tasked with relocating in November after calling the warehouse of Denali Slab and Tile their home for the last eight years because Denali is planning to relocate elsewhere in the area. “We are profoundly grateful to Prem and Lily Gnanarajah and their staff for their friendship and support which has allowed Woodinville Repertory Theatre to grow and build an enthusiastic audience base in the Woodinville area,” said Hjalmer Anderson, Woodinville Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director. Anderson explained that he and his colleagues are looking to form a partnership with a company in a warehouse or one with an empty store front. “We are especially interested in a long-term partnership with a winery or other entertainment/leisure business where mutually beneficial promotions and events could be developed.”
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, has become an epidemic. What better way to exist in the moment than absorbing the enrichment of an artistic experience? It’s becoming more commonplace for fans to walk into a concert or performance and kindly be told cellphone usage is strictly prohibited and that anyone who disregards this will be, courteously, led out the door. Some acts have gone to lengths of requiring phones to be locked up in another room. Audiences’ experiences are being simulcast to them through their own tiny cameras. Since when did drama require a technological filter in order to be felt? It appears that there is a slow shift with audiences being pulled back out of their phones and into the moment. Being part of theatre performance can invigorate and leave people with memories rather than snaps flippantly chatted over, on, and about. You can’t have FOMO if you were there.
Until Woodinville Repertory Theatre finds a new home, there are numerous ways interested community members can help keep the performing arts alive in the region. Anderson believes that an arts center funded by civic and private donations could provide the artistic community a space where they could flourish. Attending the theatre’s performances, volunteering, and donating are also always phenomenal ways to support. By contacting the Woodinville Repertory Theatre, community members can learn about how to help behind the scenes or even on the business and administrative sides of what it takes to create local entertainment.
Over the summer, the members of the company will be contacting business leaders for leads on performance spaces, looking for patrons and arts supporters to join their governing board, and taking a little break form rehearsing before their first show in the autumn. Lend Me a Tenor will be running October 4-27 at the Denali space before the theatre moves. The hysterically funny play has won three Tony awards, stretched an impressive 476 performance-run on Broadway, has been translated into 16 languages, and has been performed in over 25 countries.
“The Woodinville Repertory Theatre has been producing quality, live theater in Woodinville for 21 years. We have developed real momentum in the last six years thanks to the stability Denali offered. We have been building up a loyal audience base along the Northshore and beyond, with some theater loves coming as far away as Canada. Our performances are selling out, and we are ready to expand our seasons and our audience base. A new location with more space will make it possible for us to bring even more entertainment value to the Woodinville area,” said Anderson.