When news broke over two years ago that the Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre would be relocating from its original home in the Pawtucket Armory to the former Ocean State Theatre on Jefferson Boulevard, there was plenty of reasons to be excited about the potential.
For the Gamm, the advantages of coming to Warwick were obvious. It was a bigger space that could be finely crafted from the ground up to fit their unique brand of intimate theater – a more centralized and accessible location that, oh by the way, just so happened to have already been a theater in the past. Warwick, meanwhile, could boast an event center and artistic feather in its cap that would make even the state’s art capital of Providence a little jealous. There’s no problem finding parking at the Gamm.
Potential isn’t always fulfilled, of course, but through conversations with the Gamm’s administrative staff and their creative team, it was clear from the start that they wanted to create something special with their clean slate. And in theatrical fashion, they have done just that.
The Gamm has already put on a number of highly-acclaimed shows, and they’ve done it while seamlessly blending the work of brand-new playwrights with remade classics – from fresh sequel takes on the classical Ibsen to their interpretation of modern masters of the stage. Artistic Director Tony Estrella has run the gamut of writing, directing and starring in productions that makes one truly amazed. His vision for thematic threads running through each season brings a cohesion that is readily apparent while still maintaining a varied independence from one another so things never feel stale.
Having an established theater company producing such a high-quality product would be a point of pride for any community – but what truly makes us gush about the Gamm is how quickly and naturally they have begun to become a part of the Warwick community.
Specifically, we’re talking about their programs that attempt to reach and bring theater to students. They work with local talent to transform popular children’s books like Judy Moody and Charlie Bumpers into interactive theater for kids, and bring them in from the schools on special field trips to enjoy it. Seeing theater performed so passionately at such a formative age could be the catalyst for a child’s love of the arts for the rest of their lives.
Now, as we report in today’s Beacon, the Gamm is working to expand its reach into Warwick’s school population – thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Warwick Rotary Club. Those are funds the club has raised through its fundraisers being directly invested back into Warwick. Further it’s an endorsement of The Gamm and what it brings to the community.
The grant will enable the Gamm to potentially impact close to 2,000 students at the elementary, middle and high school levels through directly bringing theater to the classroom, bringing the students to the theater or a combination of the two.
We believe that children, even if they don’t know it at the time, benefit greatly from exposure to the arts at a young age. For those children who have already found an interest in theater, getting more exposure to it throughout their middle and high school years can enrich their childhood and keep them involved inside and outside of school. It can lead to lifelong friendships.
By committing to work in the Warwick community, the Gamm Theatre has done so much more than simply provide a means for entertainment for the adults in the city – they have taken a leading role in developing the next generation of art-loving adults who will go forth to carry the torch of creativity and expressing all the beauty the world has to offer.