Families, adults sought for Tent City acting classes


ATASCADERO Atascadero Colony Days’ Tent City arose from an idea to bring Atascadero’s 1916 Tent City period to life in 2003. The historic Tent City re-enactment is populated with exhibitors from the community, each sharing part of the early Atascadero story. The 2018 event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Tent City re-enactment will be held in the Sunken Gardens along El Camino Real for the second year.

Tent City grew from nine small tents and two large ones — showing residential camp life and a school and a land office — to a teeming little community that includes the Land Office, Ice Cream Parlor, a working Blacksmith, John J. Roth (architect), Atascadero Mutual Water Company (first business in Atascadero), Agriculture/Apples, Mercantile, Atascadero News outlet, Diner, Red Cross, Barbershop, and Federated church (heart of service for the community).  It also has a stage, residences, live music and a very active games area.

Rehearsals for Atascadero’s Colony Days re-enactment of the start of Atascadero — called Tent City — begin on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Actors of all ages are sought to portray different citizens of Atascadero from the city’s beginning in 1913.

The rehearsals will be held every Tuesday through Oct. 9 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at 6100 El Camino Real. The actors will “perform” during the Colony Days celebration on Saturday, Oct. 6.

During the class, actors will learn Atascadero history, period dances and songs and acting techniques, while perfecting their characters.

Tent City Committee Chairwoman Dianne Greenaway, who started Tent City in 2003, said she is seeking families that would like to be apart of Tent City together.

“We will engage in the culture of the period, singing songs and learning some dances,” Greenaway said. “We also welcome entire families to join in. Becoming ‘history’ together is a great experience.”

While anyone can attend the classes on Tuesday, those that do must be committed to taking on the responsibility and develop a character role, which will be more merged with exhibitors this year. However, if someone is interested in being a part of Tent City, but can’t join the first week, arrangements may be made with Greenaway.

“We always welcome newsies, who will go out in pairs to sell newspapers during Colony Days,” Greenaway said. “I’m looking for someone high school age or older to work at the Caladero exhibit, which was created by Atascadero Land Preservation Society/Atascadero Native Tree Association, to work under their supervision with an apple press and apple slice experience.”

The biggest change to Tent City this year will be its location — it is moving to Sunken Gardens due to the construction of the pedestrian bridge connecting Colony Square with Sunken Gardens.

At Tent City during the Colony Days celebration on Saturday, Oct. 6, people can learn something about Atascadero’s history, can learn about the water situation as it pertains to homeowner growing, they can get a haircut, learn about Caladero, taste apples, get ice cream and lunch, visit the blacksmith, do laundry and more. Bob “Johann Johannsen” Gentry will lead games for the kids, plus kids can enter a pie eating contest.

Tent City, as well as the whole Colony Days celebration as a whole, is made possible by a cadre of volunteers and sponsors.

“We can always use help with setup and takedown, and always looking for people who would like to be a part of the cast and help tell the story of Atascadero,” Greenaway said.

Other needs for Tent City

• Helpers to pick up and move costumes, accessories and clothing racks from storage to the Tent City warehouse

• A truck to transport the items

• Returning costumes to storage after Oct. 21

• An assistant to attend each acting class and make sure all required forms are completed and collected from all actors and/or parents for those under 18

• An assistant to attend each acting class and get participants’ measurements and collect any costume fees

• One or two assistants to assist and coordinate all costuming appointments and/or fittings for actors and others needing costumes

• One or two helpers to help organize, iron and/or help with mending or costume adjustments

• Volunteers to perform light shoe cleaning and labeling shoes with sizes

To volunteer or to sign up for the acting class, please contact Dianne Greenaway at [email protected]

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