Changing the World
A Vision of a Circleway Village
4. A New Culture
Beyond the common at the end stands a very large building with two long wings extending on either side. This we are told is the Village Cultural Center. As we enter the front door of the central section we find it to be a huge oval dome, similar to the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Like that building the acoustics here are remarkable. A pin dropping at one end can be clearly heard throughout. Rows of seats holding several thousand people rise around a center space for speakers, choirs, theater-in-the-round, or even circus acts.
“This was designed to contain the entire Village population of around a thousand,” the guide says. “Here people come for weekly socials with singing and dancing, and also to discuss and make decisions about the Village. The tiers of seats at the far end can be moved to turn towards a large platform stage beyond. Here there is often a performance of some kind on weekends, a play by the Village theater company, or a dance by the dance company, concerts of jazz, rock, classical, folk and world music by teachers and students of the Village music school, and occasionally by visiting artists. All events are free to the villagers and the outside public is requested to donate any free will gift.
“Visiting players donate their performances and get free room and board and access to all facilities. Other artists may come for a retreat in order to work on some project, a book, a painting or sculpture, a music drama or whatever, and share their progress when they choose with other artists. Most Circle Way Villages have some specialty, and ours is our arts schools and programs. If you wanted to study some science, such as nuclear physics or astronomy, or creative writing perhaps, or say some branch of philosophy or technology, agriculture or gardening, or the environment, say, you could find a village that specializes in that. One of our youth has gone to a coastal village that teaches boat building. I guess if he likes it he’ll stay and do that for his vocation.”
We are invited to inspect backstage and marvel at the design which can be adapted to theater of all periods, with an elaborate lighting, sound, and scenery technology, all produced in the Village. Later we will view an amphitheater where performances and gatherings are held in clement weather.
The wings that extend out from the left of this theater house the music school, with rehearsal studios and classrooms, private practice rooms, and a small recital hall. There is also a listening room with comfortable chairs and some writing tables, where people are listening through headphones to whatever they have chosen from a vast library of recorded music.
The wings on the right begin with a gallery of art by Village artists, with a room for visiting collections from other villages or galleries. Beyond are studios for painting, sketching, sculpture in stone, wood, metal and other constructs, and classrooms for the students, a print room and library of paintings which are free for loan to villagers.
Between the theater and the music and the art wings are both outdoor and indoor play spaces for the children of attendees to events and classes. Surrounding the whole vast structure on the sides and behind are many gardens with walking paths, benches, arbors, gazebos, fish ponds and a little brook that runs through. These paths may be charmingly illuminated during dance nights or outdoor concerts in summer.