Every summer, during Transcendence Kids Camp, cast and crew members work with kids to inspire creativity, build confidence, and teach them lessons about theater. Annette Lee is a young woman who’s attended Kids Camp since its very first year, and she’s been able to bring the skills she’s learned with Transcendence into the community. Last summer, Annette joined “The Passage Project,” a special workshop founded by local director, Cat Austin. Their inaugural performance, “Unleashed”, featured five amazing teenage girls who told their stories through song, monologues, dance, and poetry. With Cat’s facilitation, and drawing from skills she learned in Kids Camp, Annette was not only inspired to write a number of original songs but also work as a leader for one of the group songs. Annette isn’t the only member of the
Lee family to be inspired by Transcendence. Her younger sisters also participate in Kids Camp, and her mother, Shannon Lee, was reintroduced to her longtime love: tap dancing. The Lee family has been a Transcendence patron from the very beginning. Before the company even had a stage, Annette’s mother and grandmother showed how much they believed in the Transcendence dream when they became some of the first patrons. This July, we’re thrilled to feature Annette’s original song from “Unleashed”, performed by Transcendence artists on the very stage our patrons helped us build!
When Meggie says Transcendence leaves you changed, she doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get engaged at a winery while Amy Miller hides in the bushes to take pictures — but she isn’t going to say it’s completely impossible.
At every new session at Transcendence, our artistic coordinator, Meggie Cansler, poses this challenge to cast members: “I dare you to leave unchanged.” She explains, “Transcendence has such an impact on the community and on your own emotions; being part of this company increases your ability to believe in yourself more than you ever have before.”
When Meggie first came out to perform with Transcendence, she thought she would just sing and dance in wine country for a while. She never guessed she’d leave her place on Broadway, performing in shows like “Wicked,” “The Apple Tree,” and “Finian’s Rainbow,” in favor of Sonoma, but the positive energy and wonderful people pulled her back. When an opportunity presented itself, Meggie jumped at the chance to join Transcendence full time in 2015. But first, she went to a New York restaurant, ordered a veggie burger, and met the love of her life.
At the restaurant with a terrible meal and a loud, crowded restaurant, she requested the check before she’d been seated for long. Beside her, a guy asked, “Is the food really that bad?”
“Absolutely,” she replied. “I have to get out of here now.”
The check took long enough for the gentleman to introduce himself as Brian and start a conversation. When the check finally arrived, Brian asked if they could go someplace to hear each other better. Meggie agreed, and the two ended up talking for over four hours that evening.
What might have been a bittersweet example of “two ships passing in the night” changed into something truly serendipitous when Brian mentioned he lived in California, just two hours from Sonoma. Meggie’s cheeky farewell of “talk to you never,” turned into “talk to you every night for at least three hours, start dating, and ultimately get engaged.”
When Meggie says Transcendence leaves you changed, she doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get engaged at a winery while Amy Miller hides in the bushes to take pictures — but she won’t say it’s completely impossible.
HOW THE STORY OF TRANSCENDENCE WENT FROM ME TO WE
Transcendence is a story of serendipity — a thousand little moments of impossible happenstance led myself and many others to come together under the banner of living the best life ever.
The story of Transcendence may have started with me, but because of the support from wonderful patrons like you, the story goes on. Thanks to you, the vision of Transcendence Theatre Company has come alive, and so many magical moments have happened — and continue to happen — every day. Many of you have heard the story of Transcendence, or parts of the story. I could write a book — and someday I will! — about all the incredible stories that led us to where we are today. They’re stories of lives changed, marriages, babies, personal transformation, and so many more. You are as much of a part of this story as I am. The story of Transcendence isn’t about me; it’s about we. One of the most unusual elements of the Transcendence story is where it started: creative collapse. There are moments in your life when you find yourself balled up on the floor, trying to figure it all out again. After years on Broadway and in national television commercials, I hit a wall and wondered if this was all I ever wanted. When you end up in these moments, all you can do is look deep inside to find your passion again. I got back to my feet and knew what I wanted out of life was to reach my full potential as an artist, to get as healthy as I possibly could, and to create something with my art that would make a difference in the world. I envisioned a theatre under the stars where having the best show wasn’t the only goal — you were there to have the best life. Through a series of serendipitous events, my husband and I found ourselves in Baja Mexico, working with friends and strangers from across the United States to bring to life our first Transcendence project, creating art and connecting with the community. It was in Baja that my vision of an outdoor theatre transformed from just my personal dream into something I shared with others. The way I see it, art should be about more than just expressing yourself. If a community has offered you a home, for whatever amount of time, why miss the opportunity to make a positive impact? As I look back on the last decade of the Transcendence story and how far we have come together, I cannot thank you enough for being a part of the Big Dream. I hope you find the stories we share in this newsletter to be interesting and exciting, and that through them, you get to know Transcendence on a deeper level. We are all in this together!
– Amy Miller