Community Theater Acts UpJan 31, 2024 11:21AM ● By Debra Dingman
DIXON, CA (MPG) - A new Community Theater is growing in Dixon and they are already planning the 2024 season with Comedies in the Spring, Musicals in the Summer, Dramas in the Fall and Christmas in Winter.
Dixon Community Theater held its debut at the Dixon Tree Lighting Festival with a play about how the town of Dixon got started. It was an idea that Dixon Historical Society President Kim Evans-Schroeder had been carrying in her satchel of love for Dixon history for several years.
It came to fruition thanks to Abel Cornejo, a hometown Dixon guy who had moved to New York, earned a Masters in Theater Arts and has taught Theater for 20 years with the last five at UC Santa Cruz. He had moved back to his family’s Dixon home during the pandemic and was teaching online. The two met when he visited the Dixon History Museum where Abel’s sister, Maria Cornejo-Lopez, also volunteers with the Dixon Historical Society. They synergized over plans for the Christmas play on how Dixon began.
Abel was the playwright for the museum production which involved a cast of nine characters that was quickly compiled with friends and neighbors.
“That’s what community theater is,” he explained with enthusiasm. “It’s where someone’s relative is coaxed into the performance or someone knows someone else so it’s a wide group of ages and talents.”
It was filmed and posted on the Dixon Community Theater website creating even more interest.
Abel attributes the growing Dixon interest to his ability to transfer skills to online classes and utilize social media.
“It went really well,” he said. “I actually started this in the pandemic which was a blessing because I was forced to learn how to teach online.” He had help from former Dixon classmate, Linda Austin-Bologna and reconnected with Mr. (Richard) Farshler, former long-time Drama teacher at Dixon High School who gave strong encouragement. He called Abel almost daily—even from his hospital ICU room.
“Theater gives you passion. It makes you feel alive and gives you a family,” Farshler said.
“We’ve had a really amazing response,” Abel said. It was time to take the next step with building a Board and scheduling performances.
That’s what happened this past week. People representing a broad spectrum of ages, backgrounds, and levels of interest showed up and packed the Chamber of Commerce conference room. Abel asked for introductions which included several who held degrees, served on past boards, produced major productions, and/or performed in numerous plays.
“I’ve been on the stage for 45 years and have been in more than 200 productions,” said Brian McCann. He wanted to see what kind of interest there’d be in Dixon and is currently in the Davis Theater. One mom was there to support her youthful daughter. Janice Ferrero minored in drama in college.
“The Chamber 100-percent supports this,” said Chamber President/CEO Shauna Manina, who also listed her extensive background in the arts. She holds a Masters and started a school to teach improv to at-risk students. She reported that she is currently working on getting 30K in arts funding.
“Whether you're an experienced performer or just stepping into the limelight, we invite you to be part of our creative community. All acting roles are voluntary, driven by a shared passion for the arts,” Abel said. He listed off areas they need help which includes Set Construction, Backstage Crew, Playwriting, Costume Design, Fundraising, and Actors.
He is organizing the Board of Directors for the group. Interested parties can contact the group at dixoncommunitytheater.com or email Cornejo at [email protected].
The next General Meeting for the theater group will be on Monday, February 5 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall at 1305 North First Street. They will discuss Fundraising, Classes, and Auditions for the first show.
Abel Cornejo presents to a group of theater arts lovers the needs of the growing local Dixon Community Theater. Photo by Debra Dingman