Melissa Chalsma &
"We're raising $15,000 for the 15th anniversary of the Festival we love!"
So far David & Melissa have raised $5,346!
In 2004, we created our first free Shakespeare production in a Los Angeles City Park. It was The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Our daughter (now looking at colleges!?!) was only three. The stage was just 16 feet wide. And all the lighting equipment we had were work lights company member Lorenzo González pulled out of the trunk of his car. We really didn't know what we were getting into. But we loved working with our friends, we loved performing outdoors, and- despite the challenges-at the end of that summer, we realized we were on to something.
One afternoon that summer as we were getting ready, a woman happened by with her children and asked what was going on. David told her, and said they should come back for a performance. She demurred, confiding that they came to the park because it was a free thing to do and she wouldn't be able to afford tickets to a play. Upon hearing the performance wouldn't cost anything, she excitedly said they would be back.
That evening, she and her kids attended the show. At the end of the night, we had our donation buckets out (something we still do today as you have probably seen.) As this small family left, the woman took David's hand as her thank you. Meanwhile, her son pulled out all his pocket change and put it into the bucket. Upon observing that. Melissa knew the future of the company as surely as if it were set down in a book. Theater was for everyone, and it makes people feel loved and cared for. What better way to spend our lives could there be?
Since that time we have been fortunate to meet all sorts of people, work with wonderful artists, both succeed and fail in our artistic endeavors, and watch this company grow and grow. It is a crazy feeling to look out into the audience and see a sea of people looking back. We can no longer meet everyone who comes to the plays, but we still want each and every person to feel loved and cared for. Theater can do that--bring joy to a community, healing to a heart, and turn strangers into companions for the road we all share.
If you can, please help us raise the needed funds!