CLOTA goes on: Despite COVID shutdown, a 50-year history of shows

CLOTA goes on: Despite COVID shutdown, a 50-year history of showsBY LAURA QUEZADA

“The show must go on” doesn’t work during a pandemic shutdown. Nevertheless, local theater group, CLOTA (Community Light Opera and Theatre Association) is still here and ready to hit the boards with The Diary of Anne Frank once restrictions lift.

On February 21 at 3pm, CLOTA holds their Annual Awards Meeting. In previous years the meeting was a gala event with speakers and performances. This year awards presentation is held for members on Zoom. There are four annual awards according to Board Member Josh Cotterell, “The Jane Bugay Award - a Lifetime Achievement award, the Carol Venturi Volunteer Award, the Florence Green Production Award usually recognizing two people, and the Firecracker Award for a newcomer who explodes on the CLOTA scene.”

There are also Director Awards and a spotlight on individuals that were awarded the CLOTA Robe for each play.

For more than 50 years CLOTA has involved the community in productions.

The orchestra’s first shows were staged in backyards, then for years they performed at Parker Performing Arts, and since 2001 at their current location, CLOTA Center Stage, 1425 North Inyo, Ridgecrest. The theater seats about 60 audience members with the stage creatively transformed for each production.

Pre-pandemic the group staged about three full productions per year, dramas, comedies, and musicals. Also presented was Readers Theater - actors reading plays, Radio Plays - actors reading into a mic with an artist in full view creating sound effects, and an annual Spook House. In 2020, the Spook House was held outdoors. Imagine, if you will, a dark labyrinth and around every turn you get a scare.

Newly elected President of the Board, Kevin La Brie assures, “They actually adjust the scare level and let the cast know how intense to make each effect.” There is something for everyone, whether you are thrill seeker or just enjoy the special effects.”

The success of the Spook House contributed to keeping CLOTA going during the shutdowns. However, the organization counts on private donations which can be contributed via their website where one can also apply for membership: CLOTA.org.

Pictured: CLOTA President of the Board, Kevin La Brie sits in the empty theater. — Photo By Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2021-02-12