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Culture in the Country

One might assume that there are certain things you give up to live in the country:  Art museums, sushi bars, theater. But in a community as resourceful as the Applegate Valley, that’s not necessarily true.

The Little Apple Players are a local theater group pulled together by long-time Applegate resident, Maud Powell. Powell has a talent for recruiting participants.

“Some people have never tried theater before, and for others, it was traumatic as a kid. This is an opportunity to try it out as an adult in a collaborative and supportive environment. It’s amazing the actors we’ve discovered through this.”

The Apple Players have completed six productions and the event grows in popularity every year; it reliably sells out even with several performances. The productions are staged in an Applegate-appropriate venue— a gorgeous high-celinged barn called The Shiny Barn.

Don’t underestimate the power of small, local theater. When the stage lights drop, it’s astonishing to watch local bread bakers, farmers, and kids–transform into characters as they act out vignettes.  including one that was silly homage to Leo Tolstoy.

Over the years, the productions have grown richer. The Players are now writing the vignettes themselves. Maud praises the change: “This is culture that is born out of our landscape, and deals with familiar issues—logging, climate change, pot grows, farming, and California.”

The plays also speak to personal issues the players are dealing with: empty nest, aging parents, or friends moving out of the valley.

Maud doesn’t have formal theater experience, but grew up in a family where performing plays was a tradition. In fact, her great-grandmother, from Northern Ireland, converted a chicken coop into a community theater where children could put on plays for one another.

Maud caught the bug. “Community theater has always been a little sparkle in my eye,” she says.

One of the things she loves most is the community collaboration. She’s partnered with another local theater group, Wanderlust Theater. They lend technical and production expertise.

“It’s such an iterative process,” she explains. “The playwright has the original concept, the actor animates it, and the producer adds the bells-and-whistles.

The Little Apple Players run on a shoe-string budget, but in 2023 year received an Innovation Grant through A Greater Applegate. This helped them with some of the infrastructure costs.This project fits under the Prosperous & Vital section of the Applegate Valley Vision, an 89-page resident-guided document that outlines strategies for improving quality of life in the Valley.

No matter what, though, Maud wants to keep the budget modest and the event low-waste.  The focus will remain on the local actors, who lie at the heart of the production:

“It’s really brave to get up on stage in front of people. This an opportunity to help people shine.”