I am excited to dedicate the next few columns to a talented artist named Pamela Sterling. HMTC will be producing her one woman show, “Louisa May Alcott: The Power of a Woman” with Pamela performing the part of Louisa.
Louisa was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet, and is best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868). In a recent performance, Pamela Sterling did an incredible job in giving us the world of this novelist in theatrical form. Both Louisa and Pamela are truly gifted woman.
When did Pamela have her start in theater? This is what I found out.
Pamela started in the world of the arts at an incredibly young age. She grew up in Portland Oregon, which had a thriving recreational arts community. Apparently, there were many opportunities for young people to take free or inexpensive classes in dance, music, and theatre. The Oregonian newspaper funded some of these classes through a program called Young Oregonians, and that is where she got her start. When she was 6 years old, she played the character The Man in the Moon in a play titled "Mother Goose’s Tea Party." Her part consisted of cartwheeling onto the stage and reciting the nursery rhyme about ”The Man in the moon who came down too soon....” The director of the play was impressed by her advanced reading skills and suggested to her mother that she think about enrolling her in drama classes at the Portland Civic Theatre. There she did more acting.
The Junior Civic Theatre School produced plays that were open-auditions for students. She auditioned for a play adapted from Hans Christian Anderson’s story of The Red Shoes and was cast as a little boy (probably in part at least because of a Dutch Boy haircut at the time) named Nils. What is vivid on her mind even now is how her first line for the character was “Girls are stupid.” She has proven many times over that is not so.
From the age of 7 through high school, she continued to take classes and perform in plays for the Junior Civic Theatre, and in plays produced by the “adult” Portland Civic Theatre. Looking back, she realizes she was part of the arts movement that had gained momentum through the interest and efforts of the mostly female-led Junior Achievement organizations that sprung up around the country in the aftermath of World War II and were hitting their stride in the 1960s.
In cities like Seattle and San Francisco. This movement grew from the Little Theatre movement to the beginnings of Regional Theatre (professional theatre located in regions and cities outside of Broadway and New York.) However, in Portland, the “Little Theatre” or community theatre movement, where actors performed for free, remained so strong that it took many years for a professional theatre movement to gain a foothold. Now there are several nationally recognized professional theatres in Portland.
Pamela is also a professor of theater at the Arizona State University and with her guidance, has nurtured many artists. Just the way she was nurtured when she was very young.
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