Director's Corner

Rick Davis, Dean and Executive Director.

Happy Merry Days (and Nights)

Why do we wish each other all the things we wish each other at this time of year with such warmth, such genuine enthusiasm, such liberal applications of the adjectives Happy and Merry, with whatever following nouns may apply? Why is it so important to repeat these rituals? And, more importantly for the purposes of this edition of Director’s Corner, why do we turn out for artistic offerings in greater numbers and with greater enthusiasm than at any other time?

I’ve written in this space before about one of my favorite little bits of etymology: the word focus, in its Latin original, means hearth. Think about that roaring fire in the fireplace and how it focuses your attention; or the bonfire, scented with the last of the autumn leaves, that roasts your S’mores. As the days get shorter and the nights colder, we focus on those sources of light and heat, as they bring us together to keep warm, to tell stories, sing songs, make shadows dance. 

Now imagine that the stage is our focus. Shining out from the surrounding darkness, all the light and warmth concentrated there draws us in and warms us up as surely as a campfire or a hearth. It gives us a reason to gather, and do all those things that sustain us as a community. It gives us a chance to shower each other with those heartfelt Happies and Merries, confirming for each other that although we might be celebrating different things, or the same things differently, we all are part of the same winter’s night.

That is the power of community, and we are so happy (and even, sometimes, merry) to play a role in creating a focal point, a splash of light, a radius of warmth, in the spirit – and responsive to the nature – of the season.

Speaking of community, our food donation drive in partnership with SERVE is going strong. When you come to your next performance, why not bring along a contribution of non-perishable food and drop it in the big box next to the Ticket Office?

I look forward to seeing you around the hearth we call the Hylton Center this season. From Mason Opera to our great Arts Partners to the Hylton Presents series, there are so many logs on the fire that I know you’ll be drawn back again and again. I’ll even be on stage a bit, with the return of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” with the American Festival Pops Orchestra on December 9, and then narrating a lovely world premiere of another Ben Bernstein/Bob Staake collaboration, "The Path," with the Manassas Symphony Orchestra on December 10. As many of you know, I love putting words and music together, and am grateful to these two great ensembles for the opportunity to tell stories around the hearth.

Keep warm, stay bright, and Happy Merry Days and Nights to you!

Rick Davis, Dean and Executive Director