Artist of the Month - October 2020
Written By Jim T. Gammill
Arts Council Menifee
Sarah Kristen Gibbon was born and raised in Murrieta and discovered a love for theater while attending High School. Sarah recalls how she came to be involved in theater:
“I had a fantastic theater teacher and I had so much fun in the after-school program, little did I know that theater would become my passion! Theater programs and great teachers are so important, because, like many other kids, I didn’t have anything else in high school like sports or yearbook, and the program definitely made me feel like I was part of something great.”
Sarah’s educational journey would result in her moving south to the city of Escondido. While living in North County San Diego, Gibbon attended Palomar College and later Cal State University San Marcos, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Visual and Performing Arts with an emphasis in theater. After completing her coursework, Sarah and her family moved to French Valley before finally coming to settle in Menifee in 2017.
Sarah has devoted 19 years to theater and has worked both on-stage and behind the scenes as an actor, stage manager, director, and producer. Gibbon is also an active producer and board member in Shakespeare in the Vines, a mostly Shakespearean theater troupe that was founded in 2005 by Sheila Ryle. The organization puts on regular shows (usually 3-4 per season) and began by traveling from winery to winery in Temecula before finding a permanent home at Baily Winery.
Recent projects include performing as "King Lear" in The Quarantined Theatre Company's Zoom Production of "King Lear"; playing "Sylvia" in Ophelia Jump's Zoom Production of "A Poison Squad of Whispering Women", and directing Shakespeare in the Vines' fundraising Zoom production of "Leading Ladies" by Ken Ludwig back in June.
2020 has been a challenging year for the theater arts (and everyone else for that matter) and the season (the first to be headed by innovative Artistic Director, Preston Helms) was put on hold, but this did not keep Sarah from driving forward to keep productions going. Taking the helm as director on Leading Ladies happened after she had found confidence that she could create in the “digital world” after performing in King Lear.
“It was such a great experience,” Sarah recollects, “I got to work with several actors that I was familiar with and three new ones from Texas that I had never met! We held rehearsals via ZOOM that would last between 3 and 4 hours before finally debuting for one performance on Facebook Live.”
This is not to say that Sarah is not looking forward to getting back on the physical stage. She thinks of some past projects like her experience acting in Sense & Sensibility under the direction of Eric Ruiter, founder of the Ophelia West Theater Company with a smile on her face.
“It is great to work with a fantastic director like Eric,” Sarah said, “he has such a skill at pulling the best out of actors without being too overbearing. It is working with people like that that I miss the most!”
When she is not on stage, Sarah can be found organizing children’s programs with her colleagues over at Shakespeare in the Vines. The organization does a summer program every year and was even able to put on a virtual camp this year. The group is also planning on putting together a virtual improv camp later this year, so be sure to keep an eye out on the Shakespeare in the Vines Facebook page or at their website located at www.shakespeareinthevines.org.
Sarah resides in Menifee with her husband of nine years and their two children. Gibbon expressed thankfulness for her husband’s patience and her ability to pursue her passion even during these times of distance learning, children at home, and other COVID limitations.
Arts Council Trustee, Monica Reichl had the following to say about her friend and fellow actor:
Sarah is a meticulous and supremely organized stage manager and director. She brings that level of thoroughness to all the roles she plays.
The Importance of Being Earnest, at Shakespeare in the Vines, was the first time we got to be on stage together and she so completely impressed me with her talent, intelligence and commitment to be utterly ridiculous as Celily to my Gwendolyn. Since then, she has done numerous shows in a variety of roles and I know it will be an excellent show. Sarah directed my first ever Zoom performance this summer and I have seen numerous before and since and that one, that I came late to, was one of the most enjoyable I have seen.
I can't wait to get on stage with her again, whether my stage manager, fellow actress or director, she is such a joy to work with.
It is for her impressive achievements and her dedication to the theater arts that Arts Council Menifee is pleased to name Sarah Gibbon as its Artist of the Month for October 2020.