See the Elephant: Artistic Opportunities for All in El Dorado County
Creative couple Jamie and Tiffany Van Camp have answered the community’s call for a livelier arts culture with their growing theatre company See the Elephant. Although still in its early stages, the duo—alongside a partnership with El Dorado Arts Council’s (EDAC) Fiscal Sponsorship program—are well on their way of making performing arts accessible to all. “Between our own goals and what [EDAC is] trying to accomplish, we see a lot of exciting projects and collaborations on the horizon,” shares Tiffany. This month, See the Elephant and Studio 81 are presenting a co-production of Trojan Women (May 10-12). Stay tuned for touring shows this summer and a premiering dance show at the second annual Applecore Fringe Festival (September 7-9 and 14-16).
HLB: How did See the Elephant develop?
TvC: We’ve both been heavily involved in the arts locally; Jamie continued to study theater in Vancouver, Canada, and then graduate training at Dell’Arte International, while I studied dance and theater at UC Davis. We had a strong desire to bring more theater and dance to Placerville, so although our company is relatively new, we feel that the idea has been long in the making. We’ve produced various shows locally, but it was difficult to get the momentum we needed, mainly because of lack of funding for the arts in rural areas. In 2016, Jamie received a prestigious grant from the Theater Communications Group to research and develop a company, which launched our plans forward and gave us time to develop a tangible vision.
HLB: In what ways are you making performance art more accessible in our region?
TvC: Our goal is to provide shows that can be accessible to anyone, whether they can afford it or not. To that end, we are collaborating with a variety of local organizations to perform shows in their spaces for people who wouldn’t normally have access to live shows. We also perform for paying audiences who want to see professional theatre. In this way, we hope to make performing arts feel inviting and accessible to everyone. The key is making quality shows that tell stories and resonate with everyone.
HLB: As husband and wife, are there challenges of working together?
TvC: We were friends and collaborators long before we married, so these two worlds fit together easily for us. Thankfully, we like being around each other 24/7. The challenge is breaking up work time with personal time. It feels strange to have to turn off one part of our partnership to be more efficient and professional.
HLB: How is your mission relevant in your own artistic self-expression?
TvC: What brought us together as artists was a passion for performance as a tool to connect our community. Performing arts, to us, is something that can give audiences a chance to feel human and see characters they relate to or be inspired by. Good storytelling, whether it’s visual or verbal, can uplift people’s lives and give them hope. We think the arts should always remain relevant with the times and speak to what we’re all experiencing together, or help us have empathy for what we haven’t experienced ourselves. seetheelephant.net
By Heather L. Becker