[Originally published in the Star & Wave newspaper on June 22, 2022]
By Roy Steinberg, Producing Artistic Director
A new energy is coursing through Cape May’s cobblestone streets and back alleys and down its beachfront promenade.
Just as western civilization experienced epochs such as the Golden Age of Greece, the Dark Ages, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the Information Age, Cape May has passed through many eras: Old Victoriana, New Victoriana, the Rise of Fine Dining and, most recently, a Renaissance in the Arts Community. The plague that shuttered businesses and meeting places instilled a deep hunger in people to congregate and celebrate their humanity—at music events, art openings, poetry readings and live theater. The emergence of this renaissance is palpable in Cape May.
We are social beings and many of us suffered from isolation in the recent past as we quarantined in our homes and ventured out only when necessary, terrified that the airborne virus would find us. Fortunately, most of us are vaccinated and boosted now and practice protocols that scientists have encouraged us to use.
Today, we welcome sights and sounds of life outside our doors. Music emanates from the Washington Street Mall. Galleries showcase visual artists’ latest works, and reopened theaters offer us spaces to sit together, laugh and cry as one and be transported by the magic of live theater.
Cape May has always been a haven for artists. Victorian-era actors vacationed in Cape May as a respite from New York City summers. Today, many artists come to Cape May to create their art, drawing inspiration from the town’s glorious sunsets and majestic seascape, regardless of whether they reflect it on a canvas, in a song or onstage as actors explore the psychology of a character.
For me, the theater is a place that combines all of the arts. Set and lighting design represent the visual arts; scripts connect to one of the highest forms of literature; and actors, singers and dancers showcase the performing arts.
The newest play to come to Broadway from London, “Leopoldstadt,” is by four-time Tony-Award-winner playwright, Tom Stoppard. The show’s director said that he expects the play to resonate with audiences differently now because of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“With any play, what’s happening in the real world affects the way you watch it,” he explained.
I go to the theater to find behaviors I recognize in myself and in others. I can laugh at people like—and unlike–me. I can also empathize with people going through ethical and moral decisions and put myself in their situation.
None of us are alone—we are all part of that tribe called the human race. Come celebrate that spirit in a song, a painting or a play. Join the artistic renaissance swirling all around us in Cape May and enjoy the civilizing tonic of art at Cape May Stage.