The Oberto girls thought every town had an Arts Guild and that everybody’s neighbor could act, draw or paint. That’s what their mother, Lori, says with a smile as she reminisces about the family’s long-standing ties to the Guild. “It wasn’t until they left for college and made new friends from other cities and states that they realized that the Northfield Arts Guild was unique,” she says.
“The early plays they saw were the accessible Shakespeare productions in the park,” she remembers. “My children were still very young – one still in a stroller, probably –when they saw the local doctors and other townspeople playing roles, acting in productions.” She grins when she thinks about watching Norm Butler play one of the mechanicals in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” one of Shakespeare’s most lively comedies. “My daughters had a sense, growing up, that art was what everybody did, what everybody made. There is a rich tradition here that ‘everybody does all of these things’ and that families are interwoven. Someone’s dad builds sets or someone’s mom cleans the theater because it needs to be done.” Lori notes that, since 95% of the cost of keeping the doors open at the Northfield Arts Guild needs to be raised every year, it takes many helpers!
Involvement in YPT
Lori Oberto strolled the downtown area with her small daughters on crisp autumn afternoons or bright spring mornings, stopping in to what she still sees as, “that cute little building with the amazing art. As the girls got older, one by one they enrolled in what my husband, Norm, calls ‘Boot Camp’ but which other people call the Young Persons Theater – YPT.”
What They Are Up to Now
Now the Oberto girls are all in college, and YPT is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Lauren, the oldest, is pursuing a dance degree at the University of Minnesota. Allison, three years younger, loves to dance and work with young people; she is contemplating a master’s degree in theater and dance instruction. The youngest, a St. Olaf student, wants to become an English teacher and will probably stay involved in theater. Their dad, Norm, an engineer and businessman, does his part as art appreciator, and enjoys the high-quality, varied visual art produced at the Guild, too.
Just as her daughters are growing up, Lori admits that Northfield has become a more mature, diverse city. “I know that times have changed, and Northfield has grown to the point where you can’t just put a poster in the window and attract students. The Northfield Arts Guild has been becoming better at outreach, just as they are reaching out to do more marketing,” she says. She cites new approaches that she has noticed that will help serve new groups of people, from a more ethnically diverse population to retired or mature adults who are moving here to make Northfield their new home.
“Our family is just one of many families who has been involved in the Arts Guild, and who have watched each other grow and develop as artists and young adults. So many of us have been glad that the Northfield Arts Guild was here to make the arts accessible!” Lori says.
Join YPT This Summer
Your children can make memories this summer just like the Obertos at the Young Person’s Theater workshop this summer. Register now!