Why the arts are important to me - A blog post by Craig Scott
Oftentimes, people ask me why I love theatre and arts and how I got involved in the first place. My mom and dad both loved the arts. My dad actually trained to be a classical pianist and we listened to music both his classical and my rock on many a road trip. So that neither one of us tired of the other’s music on those long road trips in Southern Ontario, we made a pact. Each person was allowed to veto a maximum of two songs per side of the cassette. You had to be careful in your choosing of course as the next song may not be to your liking. I had a huge advantage on this as a classical movement is much longer than a Beatles song, my early musical influence. Ironically, I used this same game later on when I became a father with my daughter. Astonishingly, I grew to like some of my dad’s classical and Pink and Bif Naked thanks to my daughter. My dad also wrote and still does to this day. He is afraid of getting Alzheimer’s like his mom so keeps his mind active.
While my dad did play the piano, I only once got to hear him play. He thought that we were all out and he was playing on our upright piano in the basement. I snuck down the stairs and opened the door a smidgeon to see who was playing. It was a magical moment. Up until then, I did not know he played. We my dad turned 80, I let him know how beautifully he played on that day as I knew that I had witnessed something private, personal and somewhat painful to him. I found at later he had learned from a lady who whacked his and his sister’s fingers whenever they got a note wrong with a pointer.
As well, he was envious of my mother who could play a song by listening to it once and could play everything from Beethoven to Anne Murray to the Beatles without even so much as breaking a sweat and sang like an angel. She was incredibly talented and as such, was the choir leader at our church, before kids, performed in the Sound of Music, ran the glee club at our elementary school creating all the musical theatre there. As well, she had the audacity to take the Hiram Walker house and turn it into a theatre to musically direct and stage Oklahama one magical summer. She made the costumes, was a voice coach, choreographed, yes she could do it all. She swept us into her endeavor and we were all richer for the experience. She continued to entertain throughout her shortened life and her music gave hope to everyone who heard it. I remember when she was waiting for her next bout of chemo at the cancer clinic once. She noticed the long faces in the room and the depressed atmosphere. She noticed that there was a piano and began to play it. Not long after, there was an impromptu sing along and everyone was happy. One patient asked me if she was hired to play or was she the regular entertainment. I said no, she is a patient here. She shook her head in disbelief. She succumbed to cancer a couple of years later but always had hope because of her music. Any time, I hear Annie’s Song, I think of my mom.
Thanks to my mom and dad who taught all of us kids an appreciation for the arts by taking us to concerts, musicals, plays and movies. I decided to try my hand at acting in Grade 6 at the tender age of 11 in a school production of Dragon Stew. I got the lead and no my mom was not in charge of this particular production. The simple truth was my teacher knew I was loquacious, a fancy word for a big mouth. I did not act for years after that. Why you ask? Life got in the way, we moved, the schools did not always have the drama programs you see today and which are grossly underfunded even now considering their huge benefits, I digress. I got married, had kids, divorced, got remarried and had some more kids.
When our son James decided that he wanted to act, we enrolled him into Treehouse Theatre. After a couple of shows, I realized like me, that my mini me was also a ham. I thought about my one play, how cool it would be to show my son that I could act and with the cajoling of my wife and a good friend, I auditioned for And Then the Lights Went Out which was performed by Central Alberta Theatre in 2009. Yes that is right, I had a 35 year hiatus before stepping on the stage. The experience was incredible. Since then, I have been involved in over 40 shows, whether directing, acting, building or designing sets.
My life, my children’s lives, my sibling lives have all been influenced by the arts. My brother Mark is a sensational writer. My brother Brian writes and plays music. My sister takes those lessons taught by our parents and introduces it to her Grade 3 and 4 classes. I have been on stage with two of my children and three of them act, while the other, David plays music on multiple instruments.
And that is why I am passionate about the arts. How does the arts move you?