Clear Space Theatre Company: A Passion for Play
“Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”
These are the wise words of the inimitable Dolly Levi in the classic musical Hello, Dolly! Perhaps Dolly was on to something. And surely those words apply at Clear Space Theatre Company, where artists reach out to young people and families, working with them on both sides of the theatre apron.
Artistic Director David Button agrees, with the possible exception of the manure metaphor. Button is a graduate of DeSales University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre with a focus on Acting and Directing, and teaches as a member of the Clear Space Arts Institute faculty. He has been at Clear Space for 13 years, long enough to see the influence the theatre has had on the surrounding community, both young and old.
“Our vision is to be the artistic epicenter of Southern Delaware,” David says.
Clear Space goes about achieving that vision by producing every kind of theatre, for every kind of audience. Their current summer season shows that off with three high-energy blockbuster musicals—(Mamma Mia!, The Wedding Singer, and the aforementioned Hello, Dolly!), plus two children’s matinees, an improv comedy show, and a singing string quartet (the well-known Well-Strung).
On the education side, Clear Space, through its Arts Institute, moves students through a progression of learning experiences, developing young actors’ self-confidence and skills. Classes at Clear Space cover all aspects of performance, including acting, voice, and dance. Classes include Makin’ Music: Rockin’ Rhythms (toddlers through age five), Broadway Bound (grades 1 through 8), Spotlight on Young Performers (grades 4 through 12), Broadway Legends (50 and older), and the Summer Camp Intensives (grades 1 through 12). Offering an institute for the performing arts continues to be at the forefront of the Clear Space mission.
When asked what he loves about working at the theatre, Button quips, “I get to do what I love, at the beach!” Of course, there are other draws. He loves teaching, and when not steering the ship as artistic director, he gets to direct and act.
For the shows, they use a mix of local talent and professional performers (especially dancers) from New York. David goes to Manhattan auditions each year, and finds many college-age performers interested in spending a summer getting paid to sing and sunbathe.
Programming decisions are informed by the diverse community. Whether it’s choosing plays that resonate with the LGBTQ community, focusing a season on strong female roles, or doing shows with a lot of kids in the cast, there’s something for everyone.
There are challenges, of course. Money ranks high on the list (when does it not?), although the theatre feels blessed to be supported by the Delaware Division of the Arts, as well as generous donors in the local business and residential communities.
And like Dolly Levi, the folks at Clear Space are spreading that money around to entertain and educate. Come buy a ticket and provide some more fertilizer for the arts.
For show dates and times, or to find out more about the summer and fall theatre seasons, find Clear Space at ClearSpaceTheatre.org, or call 302-227-2270.▼