AVLT Let us pause to consider the recently concluded Cultural Year. (The Cultural Year runs concurrent with the School Year, both observing a generous summer vacation.)

Was it a good year? How would you know?

Here's how I assess the Cultural Year.
I ask some hard questions:

  • Did I expand my understanding of the human condition?
  • Does the meaning of my life — at this time, in this world, among these people — make even a little more sense to me? Did I, like Conrad's Marlow, manage to gain some knowledge of myself?
  • Did I connect with others, join their posse, fall in with their friends?
  • Did we have a laugh together?
  • Did we shed a tear together?
  • Did I become more engaged in — not more withdrawn from — our community?
  • Did I benefit from subscribing to a series of cultural events (such as ProMusica, BalletMet or a film festival) or did I flit hither and fro, choosing cultural experiences along the way, à la carte?

This last question is critical. There are benefits to sampling events, setting one's cultural agenda week-by-week. The flexibility affords us spontaneity. Which means we can go with the flow.

But the lack of commitment also has a negative side.

In Praise of Structure
Spontaneity is good, but I often find that — because I haven't committed to a season of, say, theatre, then I don't see as many plays.

Each evening rolls around and my cultural curiosity surrenders to weariness. I stay home. My mind and soul must rely on my home life for all their sustenance.

Commitment gets me out of the house.

I'm committed.
I believe in having a cultural curriculum, a series of scheduled events that I am obliged — for my own good — to attend.

So I've made a leap this year — as last year, which served me well — by purchasing a membership to Available Light [Theatre].

It's stranger than a season of tickets. Membership (at the "Groupie" level) allows me to attend (again and again) as many performances as I want to, each time bringing another guest.

With my membership last season, I found that I was seeing the same plays two or three times. The second time: foreshadowing was more enjoyable, because I understood the arc of the show. The third time: I saw the show from the actors' perspectives. Very nice.

(This is like being able to watch a movie on DVD repeated times. And the post-show Talk Backs, with the actors and director, is like watching the special features on a DVD. Only better, because it's all live.)

Here's the membership brochure.

Perhaps you might join me with your own membership in Available Light.
It's affordable — and downright cheap if you enjoy it as it is
intended: a see-all-you-want, bring-all-your-friends-(one-at-a-time)
theatre smorgasbord.

Need More Persuasion?
From the brochure:

Available Light is Ohio’s hippest and hottest presenter of new and original theatrical productions. Voted “Best Live Theater” in 2009 by the readers of the Columbus Alive, AVLT is renowned by audiences and critics alike for bold creations by local artists and regional premieres of important new work by playwrights from around the globe.

We create theatre that other troupes do not and could not produce because we believe it is our duty as artists to engage our community, to examine our culture, and as we often put it, “to add to the sum total of joy and brotherhood in the room.”

Our tickets regularly go for the wickedly reasonable price of “Pay What You Want” because now, more than ever, we all really need great art. And because now, more than ever, we cannot allow economic circumstances to shut anyone out of the theater.

We are committed to developing local talent and contributing to the local arts scene, and making Columbus a better place to live and work. We also collaborate with creative small businesses and provide opportunities for volunteers who don’t have formal theatre training. It’s all part of our mission to enable artists and audiences alike to live the life of the imagination.

To what art and culture will you commit this year?