“This is like coming home,” said an enthusiastic Jan Scott, seated in the Historic Hall, also known as the IOOF Building, at 128 Bridge St. in the Arroyo Grande Village.
She has been volunteer curator of collections for the South County Historical Society for 10 years.
Scott, a retired actress, said she is excited that she can use her theater background to continue producing summer plays that she began last year for the Arroyo Grande centennial. Again this year, there will be one play for each month this summer.
“The Old Days,” which was shown last August, plays this month. It consists of stories about growing up in Arroyo Grande in the 1930s and ’40s. “Voices from Halcyon” will show in July and is a play about Halcyon’s history and people. August will highlight “This Terrible Tragedy,” a story of the 1886 lynching in Arroyo Grande.
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Scott went to New York in 1968 to become an actress, earning her living for eight years on stage as an actor, singer and dancer, often on the road. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in communications, developing technical skills that serve her well now with the plays.
After moving to Los Angeles, she took design classes at UCLA, then produced and directed educational films. She has taught set design and stagecraft.
Scott is busy overseeing installation of a new stage and lighting in the Historic Hall, where she has an office. She is grateful that the community has donated money, lighting and materials, “setting the stage” for years to come.
The Historic Hall was buzzing with activity on a recent Thursday. Volunteers were busy with a variety of activities — from working on garments for the plays to installing lighting to taking phone calls.
Scott’s husband, Kirk Scott, is also a retired actor and has appeared in more than 100 commercials. He is past and current president of the Historic Society. Kirk Scott acts in “The Old Days.”
He gave a tour of the building, explaining that businesses, including a furniture store, once occupied the main floor. Up a long flight of stairs on the second floor was where the Oddfellows met. Today, chairs and photos decorate the space. On the third floor, they played cards and other games.
For “Voices from Halcyon,” Jan Scott went to Halcyon leader Eleanor Shumway for information on the people who came to the area in the early 20th century.
“I wanted to show who they were and how they got there. It is an intentional community,” she said.
She spent hours looking over old documents at The Temple of the People in Halcyon, and used a book, “The Wayfaring Man,” as a framework for the play.
“The Terrible Tragedy,” the play showing in August, explores the complexity of murder and hangings of a father and son in a land dispute.
Each of the plays will begin at 2 p.m. and are less than an hour long. They are showing each Saturday, beginning this week and continuing through August. The shows are free.
Volunteers and actors are wanted, and donations are accepted. For more information, call 489-8282 or go to www.southcountyhistory.org.
Gayle Cuddy and Cynthia Lambert write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cuddy at 489-1026 or firstname.lastname@example.org.