There’s still time left. Time to shop local like it meant something — because it does.
We’ve had the opportunity to take advantage of the holiday gift bazaars, Twisp’s shopping night out, special events, Christmas at the End of the Road and more.
But that doesn’t have to be the end of it. Our local retailers offer an amazing variety of high-quality gifts. Made-in-the-Methow arts, crafts, food, personal care items, clothing, outdoor wear and gear, coffee, wine, beer, cider and more not only make terrific gifts, they also help support local businesses, local workers and local organizations.
Take a walk down Glover Street or Riverside Avenue, venture out to Mazama or down to Carlton. Chat with neighbors, vendors, baristas and wait-staff. Enjoy the cumulative Methow Valley special character that all of these things help create. Find last week’s Methow Valley News — surely, you haven’t recycled it yet — and look at page A5 for our annual gift guide featuring local merchants.
You could say that it’s self-serving to urge support for my advertisers, and I would reply, “You bet it is!” Shopping local is a vital part of the Methow Valley’s self-sufficiency, and all of us depend on it to one extent or another. Promoting local activities and providing our advertisers a way to reach you effectively are part and parcel of what we do, along with delivering the news. So if I do sound cheesy and rah-rah, well I’m fine with that. If you’re going to celebrate Christmas in the Methow, you might as well put some Methow in your Christmas.
As for self-promotion, I could be accused of that if I had written beforehand about my experience as a first-time theatrical director at The Merc Playhouse last weekend. I had the privilege — and challenge — of directing a readers’ theater production of “The Gift of the Magi.” The short play is a stage adaptation of O. Henry’s wonderful holiday story about the meaning of love and sacrifice.
The Merc’s artistic director, Ki Gottberg, somehow had confidence that I could find a way to lift the words off the page and create a temporary three-dimensional world with engaging human beings — within the rather Spartan limits of a readers’ theater production.
I was nervous, excited, uncertain and feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities of finding a cast — even if it was only two characters — and figuring out the rest.
Maybe it was first-timer’s luck, but I struck gold. Doug Leese, an accomplished community theater director and actor, agreed to drive back and forth (in winter weather) from his home on the other side of the Loup for the rehearsals and performances. His remuneration for that amounted to applause, and some scrumptious homemade cookies provided by his partner on the stage: Jamie Petitto, a relatively recent Methow Valley arrival with an impressive background in stage and television acting and an awesome talent for improvisation.
Doug and Jamie brought animation, intuition, creativity and a genuine rapport to their roles. I’m not sure what my directing amounted to, but once we figured out the basics it was time to stand back and let them develop their characters.
Directing is the most intimate way to get involved in a theater production, but comes with the ultimate paradoxical realization that once the show starts, it’s out of your hands. When the actors hit the stage, you’re not part of their imaginary world out there in front of the audience. That really hit home to me on opening night as I was pacing backstage with nothing else to do. Doug and Jamie saw what I was doing, took me aside and basically told we to stop worrying: “We’ve got this.” And they did.
Before “Magi” went on, the audience was treated to a charming production of “The Velveteen Rabbit” featuring local kids reading a variety of roles. They were amazing and fun to watch. Thank you to everyone who came to the theater for the shows. It’s impossible to express how meaningful it is for everyone involved to have appreciative audiences. That’s what the “community” in community theater is all about.