‘Tis the Season to be Generous

Michael Fields

This time of year, many of us are inundated with solicitation letters from not-for-profits for good works and causes. Here’s one, though, that caught our attention. This one came from one of the world’s great theatre companies and festivals, Dell’Arte International of Blue Lake, California.

The letter, from Dell’Arte’s producing artistic director Michael Fields, wonderfully captures a genuine passion for their work, demonstrates a vital connection to a community, gives a reason to smile and, oh, yeah, reminds us that amazing artists create great work.

If you’re looking for an inspiration to be generous, meet Dell’Arte:

Dear Friends of Dell’Arte,

As I write this annual appeal for Dell’Arte, I am also writing a TEDx talk on the nature of laughter and its relationship to the health of a place and a community. So one cannot help but influence the other. And in the course of research I found this. It was recently voted the funniest joke in Denmark where I often travel and work.

An Alsatian dog went to a telegram office, took out a blank form and wrote, “Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof. Woof.” The clerk examined the paper and politely told the dog: “There are only nine words here. You could send another ‘Woof’ for the same price.” “But,” the dog replied, “that would make no sense at all.”

I don’t exactly know why I laugh, but I do. And somewhere along the way, I understand much more about Denmark. This is what we aspire to do in a very deep way at Dell’Arte. We seek to engage the human comedy, which reveals the foibles of us all. We train theatre makers and make theatre that acknowledges that life is 51% comedy and 49% tragedy. And we do this with a poetic ferocity that strives to lift it from the banal into the profound and truly engage the communities we work for and with. In this era of increasing dogmatic rigidity and seriously divisive dialogue, I often think of the words of that old PBS radical, Mr. Rogers, who said, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It is easy to say, It is not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem. Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

In many respects you are our heroes and heroines. We cannot exist without you. That is the essential nature of who we are and what we believe in. Making theatre always needs at least two to tango. It’s a relationship, not a commodity. And here we are at the beginning of a new season. We need your help. It has been your generosity and enthusiasm that has made these past 42 years possible. And we hope that you will continue to help support the work of Dell’Arte into the future.

Help us take the holiday show THE FISH IN MY HEAD to over 7,000 people and families all over this region for free at the holidays and collect thousands of pounds of food that is given to food banks to distribute during the holiday season. Help us make the 2013 Mad River Festival, this year featuring Dell’Arte doing Shakespeare (different I promise you), and honoring co-founder Jane Hill with a Lifetime Achievement award. Help us take our work throughout this place and beyond via our touring, rural residencies, and community based projects like EXIT 101.

This work is real. It matters. It brings together that rare convergence of amazing work, a great community, and the real possibility to shape the future. We wish you and yours a great holiday season and peace in the new year. We thank you for your support. And as Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

All the best from all of us at Dell’Arte.

Michael Fields, Producing Artistic Director

Isn’t that great?

Don’t waste your day: Here’s how to Donate Online, or you can send a tax-deductible donation by mail: Dell’Arte International, PO Box 816, Blue Lake, CA 95525.

- Bill Reichblum

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