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Donna Evans-Deyermond, born and raised in Vancouver, B.C., has lived in Buffalo, New York, for more than 35 years. However, for more than ten years now, she and her husband, Cal Deyermond, have called Sayulita home during the winter months, as according to her, Buffalo winters leave a lot to be desired. Seven years ago, Donna, along with Peter Glass, founded Live Theater Sayulita (LTS).
How did you get involved with Live Theater Sayulita?
I never thought I would become involved in theater at this stage of life. However, after doing a murder mystery dinner and talking with Peter, who had experience in community theater, I decided to take a risk and start producing plays.
How does Live Theater Sayulita make a difference in Sayulita?
Cal and I have been dubbed the “King and Queen” of culture in Sayulita. This town has a lot of entertainment, but is a little short on events such as plays and concerts. Our plays make a difference for the people here who enjoy theater. Plus, since ticket sales go mainly to support the local Primaria and the Secondaria schools (with some donations going to the women’s shelter) we feel we are making a difference in the lives of the teachers and students.
What motivates you to continue to try to make a positive impact in Sayulita?
I’m motivated by two things: the audiences and the funds we have been able to contribute to the schools. We are always a sell out, and people are so appreciative of the plays we produce. Over the years we have provided school lunches for children who can’t afford to buy them, bought supplies for teachers and students, and purchased fans for classrooms. The directors of the schools and the teachers have been very appreciative of our help.
What changes do you want to see brought about by Live Theater Sayulita?
My “blue sky” dream for Live Theater Sayulta is to see a permanent theater built that could be used not just for our plays, but also for music and choral concerts and other cultural events. It’s my belief that culture such as theater greatly improves the quality of life in a community. Secondly, I would like to see the public schools succeed in graduating more students. The good news is enrollment is up, but there are still many kids who don’t go to school on a regular basis and who leave school early. I’m told that during the rainy season kids don’t go to classes. I’d like to make the schools a more comfortable and attractive place for them to be during the hot and humid months.
What role do you play?
Besides being “Miss Daisy,” “Melissa,” and an unnamed dog? When we started I did just about everything, from helping find the venue to deciding what plays to produce, writing plays, public relations, poster design, selling tickets, directing and acting. I left ticket sales and sound to Cal. Now we have a great team of volunteers, so I’ve been able to step back and focus on the choice of plays, casting and acting . . . although I’m still tinkering around with playwriting.
What have you gained from your involvement with Live Theater Sayulita?
LTS has been a fabulous experience for me. I’ve learned a lot about play production (mostly by the seat of my pants), I’ve developed wonderful friendships, I’ve gained satisfaction from bringing something to our community that didn’t exist before, plus the satisfaction of being able to make improvements in the Sayulita schools.
What positive changes have you seen brought about by your efforts? What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the fact I’ve been a part of something that the community really appreciates, that becomes more self-sustaining each year, and that works to improve the quality of public education here in Sayulita.
What additional change(s) would you like to see in the future and what are you doing to make this happen?
I’d love to have more people — especially younger people — auditioning for roles and participating in the plays. Each year we try to encourage younger generations to come out for auditions, but it is a big commitment and I know it’s hard for them to give as much time as those of us who are retired can give. We are making connections with CVIS that could result in more of the parents getting involved, and also in acting opportunities for the students. Unfortunately, most of the folks who are involved in LTS are not bilingual, which limits us. We would love to add Spanish-speakers to our company so we could expand our repertoire and appeal to larger audiences.
How can others help?
Come out to auditions, volunteer to help behind the scenes — come out to see the performances — we give good value for your money, and it goes to a great cause!