Our Front Porch

By on 26 April, 2016 in Sarah Thornton with 0 Comments

courtyardNew York City is one of a kind. It is vibrant and fast-paced and filled to the brim with every kind of person you could possibly imagine. There are a million things to do, see, and be there. It is also expensive, intimidating, exhausting…

There is something that happens to a person after they have lived in NYC for long enough (this mostly applies to “transplants” and not native New Yorkers). There is a profound change in mentality, and over time you find that you no longer connect with the people and things around you in quite the same way. As one of the GRITS (Girls Raised In The South), I had a certain Pollyanna quality, a friendliness, an outgoing nature upon moving up to the Big City. People warned that such qualities might make me a target for ill-meaning sorts, and that fear kick-started a defensive change in me. During my years living in NYC, I became one of the subway zombies with eyes down, earphones in, darting in and out of the slow-moving tourists in my big hurry to X, Y, or Z. There is an element of “eat or be eaten” (some might call it “drive”) when you live in a place like New York. Keep up with the flow of traffic or get trampled, in the metaphorical, and oftentimes, literal sense.

I moved back home to Montgomery just before Thanksgiving, and the transition continues to be bumpy at times. However, there are moments where I’m reminded of the pure joys of life in the South: neighbors who wave to each other, making pleasant small-talk with store clerks, taking a leisurely walk around downtown, sitting outside on a nice evening…

The Cloverdale Playhouse recently broke ground on our new Courtyard project, an outdoor performance space. I find myself drawn outside to sit under the twinkling lights, using any excuse to prop the doors open and sit on the wooden stage admiring our Magnolia tree. The students love to have class outside while the weather is still mild, our opening night parties have a little extra ambiance, and now there is an additional performance venue for all of the many exciting things going on here. What was previously hidden within our walls can be trumpeted out of doors, with hopes of welcoming new neighbors to stop by and sit a spell.

This month’s Joe Thomas Jr. “Guitar Pull” marks our 50th consecutive singer/songwriter night, and there is added excitement at the prospect of performing it out in our new Courtyard. Imagine the folks strolling down Cloverdale Road on their way home from dinner, when they catch the sound of a guitar floating on the air over our stone wall. They follow the music into our yard and suddenly we have two new friends who join us every month to hear the talented artists singing their stories out for our captive audiences.

My heart delights that this new treasure on our grounds will offer such opportunities again and again. Our Playhouse nestled in the heart of Cloverdale has done wonderful things during its first four years, and as we journey through our fifth season, moments like these make me truly happy to be home.

Sarah Walker Thornton is the Artistic Director of the Cloverdale Playhouse, who walks like a New Yorker and waves like an Alabama girl. She is a product of a Montgomery arts education, with several years of life in NYC thrown in for extra flavor.

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