Director's Corner

Rick Davis, Dean and Executive Director.

The Mischief and Magic of Midsummer Nights

Late June has a special quality. The summer solstice (on which, etymologically if not astronomically, the sun “stands still”) gives us our longest day of the year, and signals the eternal renewal of the cycle of the seasons. It’s a chance to pause (like the sun before it switches directions again) and look both backwards and forwards.

And, in many cultures and traditions, it’s an excuse to join in communal merriment and celebration and maybe even a little mischief (see also Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night, and its famous musical scion, A Little Night Music, among many artistic evocations of this magical suspension of time, and of rules).

Looking back, we have much to celebrate at the Hylton Center. If you were among the nearly 1,000 people who enjoyed Leslie Odom, Jr.’s performance in late April, you know what I mean. You know what I mean if you performed with one of our Arts Partners or Affiliates, or came to see one of your family or friends or fellow community members grace our stages. If you participated in a Veterans and the Arts Initiative workshop or an Education Initiative program, you know what I mean. It was a season of unusual joy and energy, as we discovered how much we missed being together on and off stage.

Looking ahead, I invite you to spend some solstitial time with the articles in this newsletter. The Hylton Center is busier than ever this summer with artistry of all kinds (visual and performing), exciting new partnerships, continuing programs, and of course the friendliest Ticket Office staff in show business just waiting to help you choose your seats for the 22-23 season, in air-conditioned comfort.

As for mischief, I leave it to your (in)discretion. But I have a recommendation. Let the free-flowing energy of midsummer be your permission slip to try something new, or rediscover something old, in the wide world of the arts, as a creator or consumer (or both). My true indiscretion confession: I trained and worked as a scenic designer in my (relative) youth, but for some reason these days I am only brave enough to pick up a brush during the long days of summer. It’s as if that solstice rhythm stops the clock for a hot second and I am freed from the inhibitions of self-critique. Or anyone else’s critique, for that matter, since hardly anyone sees the fruits of my labors, and that is as it should be. What gets painted in midsummer stays in midsummer. But what a joy it is to do the thing.

So – as the sun stands still, take a moment to look back and look ahead with us – and make some mischief on a piece of paper or a piano or that old trombone in the corner; pick up a dusty volume of Shakespeare and cut loose on a soliloquy; twirl a pirouette in your living room or your favorite park; sing sing sing whenever the midsummer spirit moves you. We’ll never tell.

Rick Davis
Dean and Executive Director