‘Locals’ returns to the Grange

Islanders grace the stage for a weekend mini-festival of live performances.

Courtesy Circuit Arts

Creativity and community promise to merge in “Locals,” a two-night mini-festival highlighting Islanders’ diverse talents on Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, at 7:30 pm at the Grange Hall.

“Locals” is a chance for Vineyarders to share their music, dance, story, song, scene, or any other artistic expression. The lineup for both evenings is a testament to the diverse talents in the community, featuring Molly Conole, Mark Lovewell, Abby Bender, Danielle Mulcahy, Lagan Love, Katherine Reid, Scott Barrow, Nicole Galland, and Samantha Cassidy. 

Brooke Hardman Ditchfield, director of Circuit Stage, and Circuit Arts’ executive director Brian Ditchfield, brought the concept of “Locals” from their experience at Boston University. They took a class with fellow Islander John Lipsky, a playwright and their freshman acting professor, in which students could come and try out any material. “The idea was that it was a safe and supportive room to come and try things out without the pressure of perfection or performance,” says Brooke. In honor of Lipsky and what he did for them, she wanted to welcome people in and ask, What have you always wanted to do? What have you always wanted to try? 

“That always stuck with me as an actress and director. So often, we find ourselves thinking about the bottom line, production, and performance. To truly have that safe space is really rare these days. Not only is it important in the artistic process, but it is important to invite our community in. This is a community gathering space, after all,” Brooke says.

Live theater became part of Circuit Arts two years ago. It aligns with its mission to have the arts be accessible, and create conversation and connection. “As an actor, educator, and director, that’s what I know and love about live theater,” Brooke says. She believes there is a different opportunity when speaking about presenting something in real time. “We have a special reverence for it, especially now that we are post-COVID. Some skills atrophied during COVID-19 include knowing how to gather and collectively experience things. It was different when we first came back. There was a fear and a distance. I think we’re unpacking that now.”

Brooke speaks too about the remarkable immediacy we have as audience members with any live performance when we sit in our seats in that dark theater. “It’s a wild endeavor when you think about it. We all agree to come together and collectively, without saying anything, believe what you will portray in front of us, or allow our heartbeats to sync up in time with music together, without discussing it beforehand. There is a collective soul that can happen. And when it’s live, anything can happen. There’s a certain madness and beauty and danger in that.” The frequent focus on the final product affects the creative process: “I’m really happy that we get to play. We so rarely do.”

Unlike most stage productions, “Locals” was an open-ended call, and performers had free access to the Circuit Arts space to try things out. Brooke has yet to see the pieces, although she will go in, get a sense of them, and help out where needed in the coming week. “It’s exciting to know we have a show in 10 days and not know what it looks like. So much of our lives is dictated by the perfecting of things.”

About the delicious Island line-up, Brooke says, “I want people to walk away with a sense of celebration about the creative process, and how truly joyful it is when you are creating for the purpose of creating, and not the purpose of a product. And to celebrate our incredibly creative community.”

“Locals” will be performed on Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, at 7:30 pm at the Grange Hall. For pay-what-you-wish tickets, go to circuitarts.org/locals2.