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Delafield Arts Center nurtures performing, literary, visual arts

Oct. 31, 2012

The Delafield Arts Center (DAC) debuted "Iconic," an original comedic play by local playwrights Amy Schwaab and Nancy Bicha-Dale last weekend. The play will also be staged this weekend.

"Iconic" is the third play to be performed at the arts center since its opening almost two years ago. In that time, the center has also featured the works of more than 50 visual artists, hosted book talks and poetry workshops and offered a variety of arts-based classes.

The DAC's partnership with "Iconic" is the latest example of its efforts to emphasize that the center is a place for all types of art: visual, literary and performing.

The DAC has a solid process in place for its visual artists to be considered for a gallery show, said Susie Steiner, DAC co-founder and president of the DAC Board. Artists first fill out an application, available on the center's website, then submit works for review by a jurying committee.

DAC leaders are trying to develop a similar process for performing and literary artists. Different things have to be considered with those submissions, however, such as the need for rehearsal time and space

"There's just so many more variables with that than putting art on the wall," Steiner said.

While the center does not include a typical theater, its main gallery can seat 60 and accommodate a small stage, Steiner said. The performance space and its location within an arts center provide a unique theater-going experience.

"People come a half-hour before, they walk through the space, they enjoy the visual arts display, then they sit down and enjoy a play," Steiner said. "It's a very different environment versus just going into a black-box theater."

Bicha-Dale, who has taught children's theater camps at the Delafield Arts Center for the past two years, approached the DAC about featuring her work. More traditional theaters typically have tight seasons focused on their own schedule of plays, and sometimes don't have the flexibility to accommodate independent plays, said Bicha-Dale.

While the performance space offered by the DAC isn't a standard theater, any space can be used to tell a story, Bicha-Dale said. Centers promoting a variety of arts, like the DAC, are much more typical in places like New York City, but the center is an usual combo for Lake Country.

"This is a small arts center that doesn't just want to be a gallery," Bicha-Dale said. "I think that's risky, I think that's brave."

The DAC is doing more for Delafield than just providing a place to appreciate art. Steiner poineds out that the arts center also supports local businesses by bringing people into downtown.

"Our calendar has things going on almost every day now, which helps all of these neighboring businesses," Steiner said. "That's a piece of it that we're really trying to help the community understand, so that they're more apt to support our events, to come to things, because it's helping the whole community."

"Iconic" is an adult comedy that focuses on a group of budding playwrights and the iconic characters who have their own ideas about what makes a better play. "Iconic" will be performed at the Delafield Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at BrownPaperTickets.com, with a limited number available at the door.

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