Is there an arts rural renaissance? Lend me your ear!

 Actors of all ages could be involved in Otter Tales - The Musical.

Actors of all ages could be involved in Otter Tales - The Musical.

I just finished being part of “Otter Tales: The Musical!”

This is the umpteenth musical or theatrical production that I’ve been involved with, mostly as an actor but I’ve also worked on sets, directed and stage managed. To me, acting in theatrical productions is a lifelong hobby. I started in second grade playing pilgrim Governor Bradford in the second grade Thanksgiving program. I’ve acted in five states, before audiences as large as 1,200 and smaller than 10.

The Otter Tales show was part of Otter Tail County’s sesquicentennial celebration and it was almost a year in the making through Placebase Productions. Shows were held in the county towns of Battle Lake, Perham, Pelican Rapids and Parkers Prairie. The Otter Tail County Historical Society were awarded a grant to use a theatrical production as a way of celebrating 150 years of history.

After the performances - which were seen by more than 700 - there was talk on how the arts can bring people together for a shared experience. This particular performance focused on the past - sort of bringing history to life - with dreams of what the future holds for an entire county.

When you look around west central Minnesota, there are so many artistic opportunities - as a participant, as a viewer, as a shopper. There’s always something to do.

 Performing lakeside in Pelican Rapids.

Performing lakeside in Pelican Rapids.

Last weekend, Mark W. sent Live Wide Open a message about an open mic event the second Friday of every month…in small town Brandon. You can catch a show several times a year in little Barrett. Live music is offered on Saturday night in many small towns. And sometimes you’ll find an “open to the public” wedding reception like we found last Saturday night in Pelican Rapids. The bride and groom, wedding party, relatives were all there and there was an open door to anyone else who wanted to be part of the festivities.

My father Harlan was a carpenter, but he was almost better known as a piano player who was in demand for decades in northeast Iowa and neighboring Wisconsin. Joined by Yogi on rhythm guitar and Paul on drums, they played most Friday and Saturday nights and even Sunday afternoons around the region.

I bet in that era before television you could find similar entertainment. Just look at some of the history on who performed in regional pavilions, high school gyms, concert halls and theaters.

Artists, actors, musicians, poets, photographers, sculptors, writers…they are all finding ways to share their gifts with their community.

Welcome to the rural renaissance!