Friday, July 6, 2012

“A Stained Glass Vision”
By KellieAnn Halvorsen

Standing in front of a stained glass window you can’t but help marvel at the intricate way all the tiny shards and pieces come together to build a tableau image of a shimmering storyline. Individually the pieces might be bright and colorful, but when artistically seamed together the individuals blend into a marvelous new artwork if its own. Stained glass Windows have been used for over a thousand years to convey stories, morals, and hard to reach concepts.  These panels can entertain, enlighten, and are designed to illuminate the minds of the viewers, maybe that is why such an art form has continued to exist even today.
Glances of a theatrical form of the stained glass window has been seen in a small town 15 minutes south of Salt Lake City in the form of productions put on by the local community theatre and arts group ,The Riverton Arts Council, since 1983.  This non-profit organization composed completely of passionate volunteers and creative individuals has managed over the years to move from its humble start performing in an old barn to full blown professional quality theatrical productions in the recently remodeled Sandra N. Lloyd Performing Arts Center.
Like a stained glass window whose individual interlocking pieces are necessary for the whole picture to be complete, these creative collaborations displays numerous artistic categories into one seamless production we call a show. Actors, dancers, singers, painters, sculptors, technicians from sound design to welding, architects, construction crews, seamstresses and tailors, designers, and even engineers, each an artisan in their own right and at every skill level, willingly give up hundreds of hours to be apart of this wonderful picture.

And want you to experience it.

The mission statement of The Riverton Art’s Council ( is to “...provide quality multidiscipline, art-oriented experiences that enrich our community, entertain our patrons, provide opportunities for local artisans and volunteers to develop and exhibit their craft, and encourage participants, especially youth, to learn, refine, and confidently showcase the performing arts.” Kim Ostler, Artistic director,  of the council expanded on this in her explanation of the creative vision she has for the organization and where she thinks its programs can lead to over the next few years. “ Ultimately we would like to establish some sort of Performance Co-Op. A network of individuals and organizations from across the valley, that can pool resources and talents together, making it easier to put on high quality productions and showcase local artists not just here in Riverton but in the surrounding areas. But this would only be possible with the support of the community.”

So how can you support the local arts?

Here is three easy suggestions:
1-Join the Audience
2- Get on stage   
3 - Volunteer off stage   

The chance to do so  is just around the corner. Open auditions for their TaDa! Children’s Theater  production of  Disney’s “My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto's Musical Tale” are set for August 24-25, the show runs October 24-27, and is casting is open for children ages 7 years old  to 9th graders. Both auditions and performances will take place as the Riverton Civic center, 12830 South Redwood Road Riverton UT,84065. The TaDa Children's Theater is unique program with a goal to allow younger kids to play bigger roles and gain performing skill they usually would not get the opportunity to until much older.

But if being in the spotlight is not your thing, why not run a spotlight? There is many ways to volunteer from design, to construction to marketing and ushering. A volunteer form can be filled out at And for us with a full schedule already mark your calendar and be apart of the audience in October.
For anyone who has never been backstage on a production, you would be surprised to see how much work goes it is and how far a little help can go. Mark Halvorsen has been volunteering since 1998 and is now the Technical and Lighting Director for the council “I started doing this with only a small interest in theater. My daughter was in a play and I was doing the mandatory hours of volunteering and basically I have never left.” he laughed, “This has become more than a hobby to me, it is a passion.” And over the years he has been able to do some amazing things with that passion; from welding and sculpting a full size tree with removable branches, designing complicated sets with rotating stages and “Seuss”ian Jungles, and even learning lights to the point that he has felt confident while taking master courses with broadway technical theater professional in New York City.  “And it is not just me that is learning. I have seen many young kids progress from stagehand, to scholarships, and even careers because of their time here. Here they have the opportunity to work with real equipment, take on responsibility, and to get hands on experience in a technical field.”
The fact that this is a youth oriented program is clearly testified by the fact that the most popular performances are the ones put on by their “Riverton Youth Theater” productions. “The kids love it.” says Vicki Wartman who runs an award winning dance studio, No Sweat Dance Company, and has served as a board member, director and choreographer. “And I love seeing how much it can help them grow. Over the years I have watched children who can barely find a beat at auditions gain confidence and discover hidden.” With this track record of success the community theater program has proven to be a great place for individuals, old and young alike, to gain new skills and be apart of something special.
And special it is! One parent remarked after seeing his young child on stage microphone, exceptionally costumed, beautifully lit, surrounded by a full set and glowing with a new found sense of pride as she gave her lines. “I didn’t expect this at all! I came thinking I would see my girl in the typical kids production, with cardboard scenery and lights flickering on and off, but this was a real show. It really is amazing what you do for these kids! Thank you.” All the volunteers with the Riverton Arts Council really do try do their best for moments like this. And like a stained glass window which is pieced together from many small parts, each production is only possible with the help of many people and together they tell a beautiful story. Support the local arts and be apart of the next production; Volunteer, get on stage, and buy your tickets.

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