Theater is missing from school bond
Something’s missing. The original plans for Carson High School included a theater to serve its performing arts program.
Then they ran short of money, and something had to go. What went was the theater.
In 1990, Carson High School was treated to a massive renovation, which was supposed to include the missing theater. Then they ran out of money and something had to go. Somehow, the gym and football fields never reached the chopping block. What went was the theater.
Now, the School Board is proposing a $25 million bond with extensive renovations to the middle school and high school. But something’s missing. Oh yes, the theater.
Wait. I see a pattern here.
Can we pause this cycle for an important announcement? It’s time to build the theater.
It’s true that Carson High School can make use of other theaters in town to present its productions. Unless you teach performing arts, though, you wouldn’t understand that when fledgling actors are trained in one location then moved to another location for a performance, they react to the stage like fawn in headlights. It’s like training the football team on the tennis courts until three days before the game.
In the precious few days available in a rented facility before a show opens, directors often need to reteach the show as well as haul in the costumes and props, construct, rig and paint their sets, hang and design the lighting, fine tune the sound, engineer special effects, adjust the staging and choreography to fit the space, train the crew, and, if appropriate, add in the orchestra. It is a herculean task fraught with unexpected pitfalls and exhausting marathon workdays.
That’s if you even get the theater. The high school needs to compete with several other arts agencies in town for performance space, and can’t always get the time they need to serve their students. The consultants hired by the Parks and Recreation Commission who met with the arts leaders in the community were dumfounded that every school in town needed to vie for time at the local Community Center.
This is just a guess, but I’ll bet that if the football team didn’t get to play part of their games because they had to share a field with the middle school, the situation would have been quickly addressed.
Don’t get me wrong. I love sports. My son was a starter on the CHS soccer team that won the state championship, and I still get a phenomenal rush remembering the day they overcame incredible odds and snatched the gold medal. Truth be told, I love watching football, and scream and carry on watching ’49er games (although the screaming lately is caused more by misery than excitement.)
At the same time, I know the electric thrill of watching an audience come to its feet in thunderous applause, deeply moved by a theatrical performance fine-tuned to perfection.
Let’s have balance here. The Carson City School Board is proposing a $25 million bond to improve our schools, yet, while some of that money is spent on needed repairs for the existing sports facilities, none of that money is earmarked for the theater that was supposed to be built years ago. I don’t question the need to keep the sports facilities in repair or the need for any of the other planned renovations. I question why the bond isn’t fashioned to build a theater as well.
If you’ve kept up with reading your Nevada Appeal lately, you’ll remember a recent survey commissioned by the city revealed that more people in this town attend arts events than sporting events. Let’s serve those people, and accommodate the students that serve them.
It’s a basic concept: football players train on football fields; theater students train in theaters. Students in several Reno high schools have beautiful theaters where they can design and rehearse their shows all year. Carson City has one high school. Let’s do it right.
Thanks to the School Board for caring, for taking the initiative to improve the education of the youth in our community, for giving so much of themselves to make Carson City a great place to raise our kids. But, please, before you leave the drawing board, take another hard look.
n Stephanie Arrigotti is a professor of music at Western Nevada Community College and artistic director of Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company.