Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Show Must Go On

Its an old saying we've all heard. People paid their money to see a show, and regardless of cast illness or other calamity, they expect a performance. Its the reason there are understudies in theatre to take someone's place if an actor breaks a leg or loses his voice. Theatres have burned down, especially in Shakespeare's day of wooden buildings and candles. Or have been damaged in earthquakes, a more likely scenario in current day California.

It took over ten years and millions of dollars in fundraising to restore our local Campbell Heritage Theatre to its former glory. The thing about a building is just that - its just a building, and can be restored, or rebuilt - and in the meantime, a replacement space can usually be found. This is exactly what the Fremont Union High School District did during a several year period when three of the five high schools in the district had their auditoriums closed for 18 months in order to make them earthquake-proof. They used the gym to stage some of the productions. They collaborated on the annual musical. But some things are not so easily replaced.

My friend Tim was the Drama teacher at Fremont High School. He had built up the drama program during twenty years of teaching at the same high school. Tim died suddenly just about a year ago. A new drama teacher was hired to take his place, someone with years of experience teaching drama. From all I've heard, he is doing a great job.

Tim always told me that eventually he would retire and a new drama teacher would take his place, someone with a different perspective on teaching and a new vision of high school drama - and that would be OK, in fact it would be good for the students. I just didn't expect Tim to retire so suddenly, and so permanently. Over the past year, a new drama teacher has been handed the baton at Fremont High School. The Drama Program at Fremont High School will continue (well, state and local funding willing) and incoming freshmen will learn the art of acting and building sets.

But Tim Shannon will never be replaced....because in real life, there is no understudy.

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