Local library and theater team up for summer performances

Published 12:02 am Thursday, July 20, 2023

SALISBURY — One of the reasons that makes theater so popular is how tactile it is. The actors get to be in the same room as the audience, which makes the performances feel more encompassing and special. Every summer, the Rowan Public Library partners with Lee Street theatre to put on a string of shows to help the spread the word about their Summer Reading program for kids of all ages.

Summer Reading is supported by Friends of Rowan Public Library, a non-profit committed to making sure the county’s libraries maintain a high standard. One puzzle piece to the overall learning program is Lee Street theatre going around to all of the county libraries to perform and share their work. Rod Oden, executive artistic director at Lee Street theatre, appreciates the chance to open up these kids to a world that they may want to live in one day.

“It exposes them to different kinds of theater. I think a lot of people go and see theater in big venues, the really great thing about what the Friends of Rowan Public Library, and the library itself, is it brings theater to them and it allows them to see that they can do that or they may have interest in seeing more of that,” Oden said.

Lee Street theatre performed “The Wolf and Its Shadows” complete with costumes, mood music, and even some lighting. The story is about a wolf and a dog who tell each other tall tales. While choosing what to perform for the libraries, the theater said it wanted to go out of its way to share untold stories that would still resonate with kids.

“We try to traditionally focus on stories that entertain or engage younger people. This year, we found a really unique piece that had more of a Native American folklore feel. I think a lot of that oral tradition that is done in storytelling isn’t done as much anymore,” Oden said.

Besides being a member of Lee Street theatre, Caeley Mayo also teaches theater at Salisbury High School. She played “the dog” and Grey Burns played “the wolf” in “The Wolf and Its Shadows.” As someone who has passion and knowledge for the theater, Mayo recognizes the value of what they do and the delight on the kids’ face when she performs.

“I like the narrative-type of storytelling. The kids seemed to enjoy it and I think they like the fact that we’re up here in funny costumes with makeup, too. It helps them have a fun time, I love their reactions,” Mayo said.

Next summer, Lee Street theatre will be putting on an all-youth production of “Finding Nemo.”