Posted by: mesabimisadventures | June 21, 2009

What fills your soul?

“It’s not always math and science that fills people’s souls.” – Mike Ricci (outgoing theatre director at HCC)

It’s easy to dismiss the Fine Arts as frivolous, insignificant and undeserving of our money, time and attention.  Although Hibbing Community College hasn’t directly come out and said that their theatre department meets those criteria, their recent decision to not replace Mike Ricci has left me with that impression.

With budget cuts, layoffs and all the other magical wonders of this recession hitting colleges and universities, it’s understandable that sacrifices are going to have to be made.  Unfortunately in this case, theatre has been chosen to be sacrified to the recession Gods. 

What these decision-makers may not understand is that creativity breeds creativity.  Society stereotypes science and math geeks, such as myself, as being painfully left-brained, focused on facts, reason and a concrete reality.  In truth, science and math would never exist or thrive without us geeks venturing into our right-brains.  The Arts help us discover and develop the abstract, creative side of our brains that is required to make new discoveries, to challenge the accepted, to advance knowledge. 

My degrees say “science,” but my soul thrives on “arts.”  From acting in high school plays to earning an English minor, this science geek has led a more fulfilling life through what many deem frivolous.  Sports may bring in more money, but being in theatre productions left me with a greater sense of camaraderie and teamwork than any of my years on sports teams. 

In the early days on the Iron Range, people recognized the need for performing arts.  It brought civilization to a not-so-civil place.  Theatre signified a greater purpose and provided a more fulfilling, colorful life for the roughnecks that created our area.  Why should the 21st century be any different?  Television should not be our primary storyteller, weaving together generations and cultures.  We should not have to travel to Duluth or the Twin Cities to experience Art. 

Our souls need to dance, paint, draw, sculpt and perform and if we are so left-brained that we ourselves have become incapable of creating, then we need to be allowed to experience new life through the creations of others.  I am incapable of creating music, but my life would be hollow if others had not been encouraged to create it for me to experience.  Their auditory visions have empowered me, calmed me and made my soul dance throughout my entire life from my childhood spent playing my dad’s 45’s to my present, neverending life soundtrack courtesy of my iPod.  Their visual creations have challenged my assumptions and laid bare a new world for me to question.

Theatre has enriched my life and it has enriched the Iron Range.  I understand that difficult decisions had to be made by Hibbing Community College, but I also feel that many in our community do not understand the true impact.  Theatre is not frivolous, it is not insignificant and it most certainly is deserving of our time, money and attention.


“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” – Oscar Wilde






  1. Well said. But it is hard to convince people who hold the purse strings of any of that. People like flash-in-the-pan stuff like sports. Schools, all schools, need to rethink what is important to the WHOLE LIFE of the students. For example, teaching Life Time sports rather than just those that go away when we start getting stiff later in life. (For example, golf and cross country skiing rather than just football and basketball.) And how about Life Time math (practical skills regarding credit cards, investment math, and probability) not just higher math, which seems to be what almost every student is required to take, even when they can’t balance the check book.

    We need to get back to some good home economic classes and home repair classes (this was taught in the high school I attended, but I didn’t have room in my schedule for shop.)

    Certainly some basic art and art appreciation, as well as basic music and music appreciation would qualify for Life Time skill-basics.

    We need more classes that help us learn about other cultures and ways of life.

    I started at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee intending to be a teacher. Speech, Art history and music appreciation were required of all people going into teaching. Makes sense, looking back on life from my older years now.

    Theater: as you mention, there are a number of skills to be learned by those who participate, such as working together. And for those who just view the plays, well, we learn to stretch our imagination and we learn how great authors envision the human condition.

    We could use more of that, rather than TV shows that encourage putting other people down, laughing at the condition of others, rather than learning empathy.

    I’ve come to visual “art” late in life, but I’ve really appreciated my band classes in public school and my time in the local choir.

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