This story was submitted by a member of the regional arts sector: Anne Sorenson, Southern Edge Arts. We love sharing stories from the sector. If you want to find out how to submit your own stories, take a look at the submit your story page. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Gloria contacted me following a call out for volunteers to participate in The Ballad of Penelope and Marlin, our flagship production of 2021. Gloria had seen the call out via the Albany Volunteer network mailout and thought to herself “I’ve never done anything like that, I think I’ll give it a go”.
After attending three rehearsals, Gloria left the fourth rehearsal feeling a little overwhelmed. I did not expect her to return. When she did I was delighted. She explained how she decided that even though it was outside of her comfort zone, she really wanted to commit to it.
I believe that artists who work with community members are all too familiar with this story and it is a narrative we hold up as an example of success. But for me, as the Director of the show, it was less about what the experience did for Gloria and more about how Gloria supported me.
Image: The Ballad of Penelope & Marlin volunteer Gloria Shackelton. Photo by Bob Symons, ACE Camera Club
I am well known for saying “you have to go through the darkness to step into the limelight”, and as any performing artist will know, there are times in preproduction when you ask yourself— “why am I doing this?” During the Ballad of Penelope and Marlin whenever I found myself asking this question, I would look toward Gloria.
Gloria’s beaming face, her patience in the not knowing, her willingness to challenge herself, make new friends and step up to the demands of a two week season of eight shows, reminded me of the impact the arts has on individuals. Gloria’s courage and commitment reminded me that despite all the challenges of technology, costumes, dramas and fear of failure, that none of that mattered because really, it is all about the impact the arts has on people’s lives.
Whenever I felt like I was not doing enough, not good enough, not able to continue being a professional, creative, and inspirational director. Whenever my doubting self would ask, “Why am I doing this”, I would look at Gloria and think to myself, “I’m doing this for Gloria.” and feel my strength return.
Established in 1985, Southern Edge Arts is a dynamic youth arts community based in Albany, offering a range of workshops and performances each year. Visit the Southern Edge Arts website for more information.
Southern Edge Arts is supported by Regional Arts WA, through the Regional Arts Sector Investment Program.