FOA now planning for full-fledged return
After nearly two years of COVID-19-induced isolation and social distancing, the Friends of the Arts is getting ready to return to face-to-face performances and presentations.
To kick things off, several FOA members gathered at the Tom Yun restaurant in Garapan yesterday to further discuss the full resumption of their face-to-face community entertainment.
Despite the near two-year hiatus and the loss of many participants, those still involved still look to a brighter future as they learn to adjust to the new normal and the reopening of full-fledged live performances.
“During this [past] pandemic we were pretty well shut down. We gave a couple of online performances but that was it,” explained FOA treasurer Frank Gibson said.
For 2023, Gibson said that FOA envisions going back into providing community theater and entertainment for the community.
“We’ll start with Roman Rudnyski, a very well-known classical pianist who has come almost every year [to the CNMI] until the pandemic hit us. The community does like him. He would go around to other schools and give some music education to the students. After that, we want to get back into having live theatrical productions and musical productions.”
FOA president Harold Easton there is nothing like the feeling of having a live audience. He said that FOA has been out for about nine months. “We’ve had online stuff going on but…online stuff is boring…”
Easton said that FOA is looking for those in the community interested in participating in the arts, whether contributing through administrative work or lending their talents in the arts itself. Currently they are looking for those interested in the administrative side of the productions and, as soon as Rudnyski comes to Saipan in mid-March, the search for individuals who want to be part of the performances will begin. The opportunity is open to any person and has no age limit.
When asked what he looks forward to this year, Easton said, “Just keep building on what we got, that’s all. …Obviously the students do a great job, the [Marianas High School] glee club is doing an excellent work, they’ve had over 30 performances since September, so they’ve been very busy. …It’s just build. Build, build, build. Try to get to what the new normal is [be]cause obviously things are never going to be the same. That’s not necessarily bad; it’s just different. It’s a new normal. …You have to more or less assume you’re starting from scratch.”
One of the first FOA-related productions this year was the Peter Wendy play, performed by the Marianas High School’s drama team at the American Memorial Park theater this past weekend. The production held two showings per evening on Jan. 27 and 28, and aside from a brief test-run of their live performance of Puffs in 2022, this was their first of full-fledged live theatrical performance since the pandemic.
Sara Keaton, president of the MHS Dolphin Theater Club and director of the Peter Wendy play, said they did face a couple of challenges such as funding, and finding available venues. “But any place in which you get to create art [and] put something out there for the community to see and enjoy is a blessing, no matter what. But I would definitely love for an opportunity to have theater be—and not just theater, but the arts in general—appreciated and subsidized on the island.”
Keaton also disclosed that there are more exciting events to follow through the year and hopes other young individuals in the community will participate in the arts.
Gibson added “We’re here for the community, but it also needs community involvement. So people that are interested in the performing arts, please contact us and we’ll be glad to have them participate, and to be a part of the productions—either in the actual performances or in the planning and direction.”
For more information on how you may participate, email Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org.