Jefferson Public Radio interviewed me about The Cherry Orchard Project, my career and growing up in a small town. Click here to listen.
The Siskiyou Daily News also wrote a front page article about the project! Click here to read the article on their site. Or read it below.
Theater producer native wants to preserve Etna's history
By Amanda Hinds Doyle
March 11. 2015 11:47AM
ETNA – Theater director Kate Jopson is making a name not only for herself in the big city, but for her hometown of Etna, California, with The Cherry Orchard Project.
The ultimate goal of the project is to use a live performance to create a bridge between rural and urban communities in California.
Producer Camille Schenkkan and playwright Octavio Solis also have rural roots.
Jopson said the idea came about in 2013 after reading “The Cherry Orchard,” by Anton Chekhov, which tells the story of a family in rural Russia that defaulted on the mortgage of their ancestral cherry orchard.
When they fail to see the world is changing, they lose the thing they love the most – their cherry orchard.
The orchard is then sold, demolished and the land is used for vacation rental homes.
Jopson realized that the play was highly symbolic of what could happen to her hometown.
“I realized how deeply terrifying that would be,” said Jopson. “As time passes it’s growing more difficult to make a living in rural areas and most people leave, including me.
“If we don’t share our stories we won’t survive,” said Jopson’s high school English teacher and longtime Scott Valley resident Melanie Fowle.
The trio plans to adapt Chekhov’s play to reflect life in Etna.
Jopson said doing this play is her way of trying to educate and hopefully preserve rural towns such as her own.
Jopson said she is really looking to the community to tell her their stories, such as when and why their family came to the area, what they feel is unique, what fears they have and what they hope for in the future..
Some residents have already come forward.
Alex Kwasnikow said, “While I did not spend my entire childhood in the valley ,I did experience a cultural shock moving from the city to Scott Valley. One of the many positive things we experienced was the waving of complete strangers on Highway 3. At first we couldn’t understand why and who was waving at us as we drove our cars. Eventually, we figured out people were just being friendly and probably mistook our vehicle for someone else they knew. As even more time went on, we made lots of friends and recognized their vehicles and would always wave at correct/incorrect vehicles too. This however has changed over the years. I notice less and less waving. People these days seem much more in a hurry than before.”
Jopson said the play is in its first stages.
Currently the project is in need of nearly $10,000 to cover costs.
From there, Jopson plans to apply for many grants to fund the whole $200,000, two-year production.
The first showing is set for the summer of 2016 in a farmhouse in Etna, according to Jopson.
From there, the production will travel to other rural areas to raise awareness about the struggles facing rural communities.
“My dream is that we will be able to preserve California’s amazing diversity of natural resources, people, places and lifestyles, including my cherry orchard – my hometown,” said Jopson.
As Etna’s Mayor Marilyn Steward told Jopson, “Life without history is just existence.”
To find out more or donate to The Cherry Orchard Project, visit http://www.rockethub.com/projects/54216-the-cherry-orchard-project