(Written by Ryan Potaracke, "Civic Minded" is the first entry in our new Rochester Civic Theatre Guest Blog. Ryan will be sharing her thoughts and opinions on life and her experiences at the Rochester Civic Theatre as a newly returned Rochester resident. Enjoy!)
A few months ago my husband and I relocated back to our hometown of Rochester. I had some hesitations in moving back as during my previous residency here I found myself constantly complaining that there was nothing to do other than go to eat or to the bar. While I do enjoy the bar and restaurant scene in town, I was determined to find other, more meaningful, things to occupy my free time. I found my local niche in an unexpected place, the Rochester Civic Theatre. A coworker of mine invited me to a free outdoor concert they hosted at the Civic Theatre this summer and opened my eyes to the variety of exciting things the Civic Theatre has to offer. Let me also say, that I am not what I would consider a “theatre person.” While sometimes dramatic, I have never formally acted in a play or show, have very limited vocal and artistic ability, and despite my appreciation for the arts I have often shied away from the theatre scene in fear that I would not “belong.” This is far from the case at the Rochester Civic Theatre. With such a wide variety of stage and musical performances and many other unique events, I was certain to find fun, meaningful, and locally relevant events to attend. I tested the waters by attending a performance of Catch Me If You Can in September and was thoroughly impressed with the show. I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but I must say my expectations were greatly exceeded. I had no idea such great performances were available locally and am looking forward to attending future shows.
Most recently, I attended the first Women on Wednesdays panel discussion of the season. Again, I had no idea what to expect and was again pleasantly surprised. The topic of discussion this month was "Integrating the Arts into Clinical and End of Life Care," something I know little about. When I arrived for the discussion, I made a beeline for the bar (Yes, there are snacks and beverages served!) and purchased a glass of wine to calm my nerves and observed a group of 30-35 people of all ages, professions, social groups, and genders (Women on Wednesdays-not just for women!) Prior to the event, I pictured myself as a fly on the wall observing this discussion, thinking I would enjoy the topic but have little to contribute. Yet, as the speakers began talking about their impassioned work, I could hardly contain myself and found my hand in the air asking questions. You see, I have a grandmother who is now receiving supportive care and, while I thought I was disconnected from the topic, I found myself inspired to seek the panel’s advice on how to integrate art into our interaction. After hearing Gregory Stavrou speak of his great achievements with the Arts and Humanities program and seeing examples of the pieces that were created by patients he has worked with, and being inspired by Julie Szamocki’s examples of storytelling and how using songs and music helps some patients remember and retell great life stories that can be cherished by family and friends in her role as a local music therapist, I was able to reach my grandmother in ways I had never dreamed of previously.
So, if you are like me and are looking for something new, exciting, inspirational or meaningful to do in Rochester, I would very much encourage you to consider the Rochester Civic Theatre. The next Women on Wednesdays event will be held on November 11, 2015 and the topic of discussion will be "Intimacy and Illness." If a panel discussion is not for you, consider the upcoming Jazz Jam events, or celebrate the American Midwest’s music heritage by attending a concert from the upcoming Americana Showcase performances, and of course there are many exciting stage performances upcoming as well. You won’t be disappointed!