Best Life Ever TRANSCENDENCE THEATRE COMPANY
OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 877-424-1414 | WWW.BESTNIGHTEVER.ORG
WHO SAVED THE STATE PARK? A STORY OF A COMMUNITY
On a cool night in October of 2011, I stood on the hill just above the ruins in Jack London State Historic Park. It was the evening of Transcendence’s first one-night performance to benefit the park. The success of this production would either signal the beginning of Transcendence or act as the curtain call on our big dream. High above, a million shining stars twinkled, and among the ruins below, 900 people sat enthralled as a singer performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” with everything in their heart. I stood with an arm around Ranger Bob, a park ranger who’d helped point us in the direction of the state park slated closure. When I looked up at the big ranger, it was amazing to see tears running down his face. Each time I climb up that hill, I remember that amazing night beneath the moon and the stars and feel blessed that I get to stand above the ruins again and again. People love to hear the story about how Transcendence “saved” the state park, but the truth is, we didn’t do it alone. During a time when parks across California were closing, a lot of people in the community came together to save Jack London State Historic Park. As we were going into our first season, Valley of the Moon Natural History Association, a nonprofit, stepped in and established Jack London Park Partners (JLPP) to take over operations. Back when we took our big RV trip across America, we were always looking for our permanent home. We knew we needed to find the right place for this dream to flourish. I can’t imagine being anywhere else but here. There’s no other park I’ve been to that’s quite like Jack London State Historic Park. There’s a history here, having once been the home of such an amazing adventurer and writer. What’s more, there’s an energy you can’t replicate. You feel it when you step onto these trails. It’s what brought us here, and I imagine it also brought JLPP here, too. Today, we work closely with JLPP and their Executive Director, Tjiska Van Wyk. From the very beginning, we have been in this together. Five dollars from every ticket sold for a Broadway Under the Stars show goes to supporting the park. After this current season, I estimate we will have given back $350,000 to Jack London State Historic Park. With this and other donations, JLPP
has done an incredible job revitalizing the park and making it a place people want to come back to.
I cannot count how many guests come to see a show and fall in love with the park. Many people who have lived in Sonoma their whole lives never set foot in the park until they come to one of our shows. Next thing you know, they’re bringing their families back to appreciate the beauty of the Jack London. Attendance goes up for both our shows and the park as a whole. Transcendence and JLPP have formed a symbiotic relationship I don’t think you’ll find in any other park in the world, or any other theatre company for that matter. We both want to see the park thrive, and I believe together with this amazing community we can do just that. I’m inspired to see how much we’ve grown in just six years. It’s a unique privilege to call Jack London State Historic Park home, and I look forward to the years to come.
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