Welcome to another season of dynamic, boundary-pushing Santa Barbara High School Theatre. With the School Newspaper about to celebrate its one hundredth anniversary in continuous publication, it is also a good time to celebrate the 110th year of theatre at this amazing school, including the last 90 in the same space! What marks SBHS theatre is a stability that ensures institutional memory, and an embracing of the performing arts by the community and administration unmatched anywhere else. In those years of theatre in this wonderful space, alive with the passion and energy of countless theatre students and artists, three teachers alone have taught a total of 74 of those 90 years—Olive Lamb, 38 years; Jack Nakano, 17 years, and Otto Layman, currently in his 19th year at the helm and still going strong, bringing big musicals (The Drowsy Chaperone, SPAMALOT, Cabaret, Chicago and How to Succeed in Business in the last two years alone), edgy contemporary works (God of Carnage) and classics (The Glass Menagerie) to Santa Barbara audiences. Along the way we have expanded the number of musicals (while most schools traditionally do one big musical in the spring, SBHS has produced musicals in 9 of the last 10 productions) and student-produced shows (Music of the Night, now in its 15th year, and a new series with contemporary songs spanning culture and genre, The Sound of the City, which began as a pilot program last Spring and becomes a full-blown production this Spring). While the Performing Arts continue to be marginalized, and programs cut all across the country, we will always be at the forefront of Performing Arts advocacy, helping to build programs at the elementary and Junior High School level, and continuing to teach and remind the education community that the performing arts are not an elective, “extra” activity, but should be and are an integral, core part of the curriculum, and should be held up as indicative of a school and district’s acknowledgement that the arts provide the true breadth of experience and education that we insist on as educators and students. Performing Arts are the Common Core, teaching collaboration across disciplines, education as a cultural and community necessity, and a discipline which provides instant feedback: what other discipline has paying customers judging performance publicly?
I urge you to become a caretaker of the arts: show your support and encouragement of high school performing arts by donating to local programs, attending local performances, urging administrators and schools to keep the arts strong and thriving. You can contribute to the theatre here by sending your donations to SBHS Theatre—theatres are, for the most part self-sustaining organizations (we run a football-sized program YEAR ROUND) and depend upon the community for support and growth.
This year we embark on another journey, another story: the class of 2014-2015 and their addition to the legacy of Santa Barbara theatre. What will be their lasting memories? What will they leave, what have they left, what intangible, ineffable memories will we have of this group? Their first production, as freshmen, was Alice in Wonderland, followed by Into the Woods, The Drowsy Chaperone, Spamalot, Chicago, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Big Fish, and…? We have not decided on a musical for the Spring, but rest assured it will be as bold, big and brassy as previous years—we embrace the philosophy of BIG FISH—to “dream bigger” and live life to the utmost. Come on and join us!