This morning, I attended a 10:00 a.m. event, “Coffee at Cotuit,” at the Cotuit Center for the Arts. I was warmly welcomed at the sign-in desk and invited to help myself to hot coffee, cold apple cider, french toast casseroles (regular and gluten free) with maple syrup, Bays english muffins with butter and jam, poppy seed cake, and scones. I browsed the gallery’s newest photography exhibit, “7 Deadly Sins,” and sat for a few minutes chatting with other attendees; some members, some not. A table was staffed with volunteers to answer questions. Other volunteers were tending the refreshment tables, making sure everyone had whatever they wanted. The atmosphere was relaxed and cordial.
About 10:30 a.m., a cheerful, energetic woman carrying a small sign marked “TOUR” asked if anyone would like to see the Center. A had no idea what there was to see, beyond the places where I watched live performances and films, and studio spaces where I took classes, so I said, “Yes!” and was rewarded with a 90-minute look behind the scenes. Our group of ten followed the guide through spaces where costumes are fitted and racked, where performers get their hair and makeup done; through dressing rooms, and set and prop storage areas for the current production; then up the back stairs to the stage of the main theater. We walked around onstage in the set of the current play; and all the while, our guide’s humor and passion for theater made the Center’s past, present, and future come alive. She answered questions about sound and lighting, production budgets, and whatever else we asked.
We left the main building and crossed the parking lot to a second building where we met a set designer who was painting scenery for the upcoming production of “Mary Poppins.” After looking at her handmade model of the final set, we were joined by the prop master who told us there are more than 300 props for “Mary Poppins,” these stored in one of two other buildings on the property (not on the tour).
Last, we visited a building that houses the tiny Black Box theater, used for original stage plays and other performances. We saw the all-in-one backstage space for the Black Box and one of the studio spaces where dance classes are taught. As we said our goodbyes, I noted a fourth building where art and music classes are held.
Wow. Coffee. Treats. A photography exhibit. A tour behind the scenes of a vibrant community center for the arts on 7.5 acres only seven minutes from home. A place where I can be student, teacher, cast member, volunteer, and audience. My small effort, just getting up and out of the house for two hours this morning, was rewarded a hundred fold with fresh inspiration and new opportunities.