Locals don’t have to go far to see quality local theater performances in Pacifica. The Pacifica Spindrift Players have been producing live theater for the community for more than 60 years. 

The theater has been housed in a garage, a library room and school multipurpose room, but the organization has grown substantially in the years since and now has its own space. The nonprofit provides opportunities for adults and young people to learn and create live theater. It presents traditional plays and musicals as well as contemporary theater and houses Pacifica’s only nonprofit performing arts school for students of all ages. 

Like many entertainment venues, the Players have struggled with closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a challenging year and a half, but the group found a way to still engage and entertain the community. 

“We did some streaming events and some cabarets, we also had, from May until October, outdoor theater in our parking lot,” said Ruth Amber, the box office manager and theater administrator for the Pacifica Spindrift Players. 

The Theater in the Woods Reading Series was held from May 15 through June 27 in the upper parking lot. Each performance was open to 25 audience members and it mostly sold out each performance. 

Shows included, “The End of the World,” by Arthur Kopit, “A Doll's House,” by Henrik Ibsen, “A Doll's House Part 2,” by Lucas Hnath, “Beyond Therapy,” by Christoper Durang, “How to Destroy an American Girl Doll,” by Jan Rosenberg, “Radio Golf,” by August Wilson, and “Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them,” by A. Rey Pamatmat. 

“That worked out well and we were able to do something,” said Amber. 

The Players plan to open indoors on Jan. 14 with a production of “The Mad Ones." The Pacifica Spindrift Players are excited to reopen indoors as the outdoor performances could get a bit cold as they were held in the late afternoon. 

It’s also been a challenging time for local schools and students of theater. 

“It's been incredibly difficult,” said Scot Schneider, visual and performing arts co-department chair at Terra Nova High School, in an email to the Review. “Transferring a performance-based curriculum online was an epic challenge, but along with all of the other teachers, I managed.”

Schneider said some assignments worked on Zoom.

“At least students didn't need masks,” he said. “We even had a few online events for performances. I'm really proud of the work my students accomplished.”

Terra Nova High School usually puts on two productions — a drama in the fall and a musical in the spring. Schneider also holds small lunchtime performances in the drama room theater. 

“This way we get to feature the best of work students are doing in class, and hold open mics and poetry slams,” said Schneider. 

The big shows can involve 100 students with the tech crew, dancers, pit band and performers.

“We were in rehearsals for ‘The Addams Family Musical’ when the pandemic hit, and hoped again to put it on the next spring ... but alas it was still not possible, and most have now graduated,” Schneider said. 

Terra Nova students are back in person, with masks, and Schneider has already started holding lunchtime performances again. Terra Nova is planning a fall show and hopes for at least one big show in the spring. It will also have a film festival in May.

This version eliminates a description of the production of "The Mad Ones" that may have been confusing, and it corrects the spelling of Scot Schneider's name in one instance.

Emma Spaeth is a staff writer for the Half Moon Bay Review covering community, arts and sports. Emma grew up in Half Moon Bay before earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oregon.

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