Pamela Sterling’s play "LOUISA MAY ALCOTT: THE POWER OF A WOMAN" will be produced by Hanford Multicultural Theater Company. HMTC is discovering all that makes Pamela tick before her production locally.
This is the second column dedicated to this power of a woman, Pamela Sterling. An actress, playwright, director, theater educator, and former arts administrator.
In last week’s column, Pamela discussed the free acting and performance opportunities from her youth funded by The Oregonian. Clearly, this partnership made the arts available to the community and impacted the youth.
“I don’t think I would have had the opportunities [otherwise],” said Pamela of her early exposure to performance arts.
Along with early performing arts exposure, Pamela had strong women role models throughout her youth. It began at the Portland Civic Theatre and continued through high school. To her fortune, she interacted with people well known in the industry. One was playwright Marion Johnson. Pamela performed in Mrs. Johnson’s adaptation of "The Red Shoes." She also played the Cricket in her adaptation of "The Cricket on the Hearth," and dwarf Seven (NOT “Disney’s Dopey” she insisted) in her adaptation of "Snow White."
Johnson’s scripts all featured strong girls and young women. One of Johnson’s most successful plays, which was produced by children’s theatres around the country, including the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, is titled "Greensleeves Magic."
Johnson was a graduate of the Goodman School of Theatre in Chicago and was a classmate of Viola Spolin and worked with famous children's theatre playwright Charlotte Chorpenning.
Pamela says, “I think it may have been largely due to her influence that I have always thought that it was possible to 'do it all'; to write, to teach, to direct — and in my case, also to act.” Pamela’s list of strong women continues. “Most of my theatre mentors were smart, strong women."
High school drama teachers often give students the inspiration to pursue theater as a career. Pamela remembers Marie Churchill from Grant High School who taught Beezus and Ramona author Beverly Cleary. Churchill directed Pamela in children’s plays but also cast her in "The Importance of Being Earnest" and in "The Amorous Flea" that were both performed in the PCT’s intimate second theatre space, the Blue Room.
“The Blue Room was an early example of theatre in the round, a form where the audience completely surrounds the actors in a circular formation. The Blue Room was one of very few theatres of its kind at the time,” Pamela said.
She was fortunate to learn now to perform, and direct in this kind of space.
“To this day, my favorite venue to perform and direct in, is an intimate space that surrounds the action of the play” said Pamela.
The Hanford Multicultural Theatre Company offers opportunities for youth and adults to learn the performing arts. To HMTC it is never too early or too late to learn teamwork and leadership skills, with the bonus of increased confidence through the arts. It was classes such as these that Pamela credits as her staircase to her achievements.