Making connections through theater

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Eve Daugherty
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Shadows fold around the figures on stage as the lights dim. The empty theater fills with silence as the performer’s study their scripts laid out in front of them.
Suddenly, a spotlight illuminates the face of U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kim Jones, yeoman.

Jones, assigned to the Warrior Transition Program, was the narrator for the staged reading of Act 3 of Lorraine Hansberry's play “A Raisin in the Sun,” in celebration of Black History in the arts. Jones began following the Kaiserslautern Military Community theater through social media, which led to her auditioning for her role as narrator.

“This opportunity has opened my eyes to another gift that I am blessed with; to share,  inspire, and reach others through my talents,” said Jones. “I think the KMC theater provides an outlet to inspire those who are interested in theater.”

Connecting with others who share similar passions can be a great way to alleviate some of the challenges that come with being stationed overseas. Some KMC members have found this community through their passion of theater and the performing arts.

“I have lived in the KMC area for a little over a year and just recently started participating because I was unaware the theaters here existed,” said Brittney Marie, staged reading performance director. “Now that I know, I am committed to getting more involved and I plan to share opportunities with others in my community.”

Performing arts provides a platform for people in the community to come together, form bonds, and share important stories with an audience.

“A theater performance can reduce the barriers preventing mindset expansion and growth,” Marie said. “Individuals who get involved in shows have the opportunity to build strong relationships with new people they may have never expected to interact with or feel connected to.”

Marie has been involved in theater through dance for over eight years but she has found a new passion in directing. She takes pride in guiding a cast through a production from start to finish, watching a performance grow from the initial script reading to the polished end scene of a final show.

“Directing allows me to connect with the cast, I’ve seen my cast grow and change for the better,” said Marie. “It is an amazing experience.”

Participating in a show from beginning to the end can give performers a strong sense of pride and fulfillment as well.

“My goal was to bring the play to life by setting the scene and providing the audience with emotions behind telling the story,” Jones said. “I felt very pleased, and proud of myself and everyone for coming together to make it a successful production,” said Jones.

Theater may be an outward expression of emotion, but the experience can impact individuals on a deeply personal level as well.

“You learn more about yourself - tapping into past or current personal experiences to rehearse for a character,” Marie said. “Acting allows one to be creative and explore new depths of their personality.”

Connections made at the KMC theater have flourished into new avenues of personal passions for community members.

“Some of the cast members from “A Raisin in the Sun” have started a free writing group at the Ramstein Library,” said Marie. “Members of the community are able to workshop creative pieces, participate in free writing, and network with likeminded individuals.”

It isn’t difficult to get involved in theater, KMC OnStage offers a variety of classes, including directing and improv for individuals of all backgrounds and ages.

“All you need is a willingness to try and a strong desire to keep your commitment to the theater to participate,” said Marie. “There is a place for everyone in the theater.”