100 Years of Memories—Moving to The Next Stage
Posted on 09/17/2020
Even before beginning my career in the performing arts, I was drawn to storytelling on stages large and small. One of my earliest memories of a live performance is of the ballet, Swan Lake. As a young girl, I was transported by the swirling movement and the spellbinding imagery of a classic good-versus-evil story. At symphony performances with my mother, I would close my eyes and “see” the music dancing in front of me. And as many children play make-believe, I acted out stories for my parents in our living room.
Now, as a performing arts professional with a career spanning more than 25 years, I am still drawn to the singular energy that exists within a theater’s four walls and the mesmerizing thought of all the performances and performers who have crossed a stage and all the people who have shared in that experience. The collective gasp or laugh or sigh of an audience, the burst of applause, the “oohs” of children as the lights go down and the curtain goes up—these are the sights and sounds of my world and what inspires me to do what I do.
This feeling is even more powerful in a historic building at the heart of a community—like State Theatre New Jersey. The experiences appreciated by millions of people throughout the almost 100-year history of this venue make their impact on the very walls of the structure, and weave their way into the fabric of the organization.
For me, the theater is hallowed ground, a playground, and testing ground. It is a place for quiet reflection, boisterous celebration, riveting suspense, and heart-pounding excitement. A place of heartbreak and redemption, of driving rhythm and mesmerizing movement. It is where we explore “the other” and ourselves. Where we expand our viewpoints and sometimes change our perspectives. Live performance transcends and transports us beyond our daily worries. It is also where we come together—in a singular shared experience that cannot be recreated—ephemeral and yet cemented in our hearts and minds forever.
This is the special nature of live performance, and the special role State Theatre plays in the New Brunswick and Middlesex County communities. Just as this theatre has stood for almost 100 years providing memories for many lifetimes, with our commitment, it will stand for another 100 and beyond. A treasure that continues to take us to a world where fantasy becomes truth, magic is real, and all dreams are possible.
By State Theatre New Jersey President & CEO Sarah K. Chaplin
Photo © Jeffrey Auger