Juggling skills of new NCRD Theatre head put to test

Sierra GjerdeBy Laura Swanson

Sierra Gjerde is a juggler, as in she can literally keep half-a-dozen balls in the air, and that’s exactly one of the skills she’ll be utilizing as the North County Recreation District’s Theatre Coordinator. Gjerde jumped into this part-time position with a series of events focusing on community-based forestry in August, and it’s been nonstop since then.
Between Riverbend Player productions, a Helen Hill play, Circus playtime performances, the CARTM Trashion Show, the NCRD Theatre has hosted many crowds the last few months.
In anticipation of the completion of the Theatre renovations now underway, most importantly the new seats, and also includes a stage extension, sound system and flooring.
With the addition of comfortable seating, Gjerde looks forward to booking more programs in the theater, and she’s looking to the community for ideas.
“What do we want to use the space for?” she asked.  “What types of performing arts would you like to see in our own backyard?
I want to extend the reach of programming beyond Nehalem, cat a wider net to gather the potential that this venue can provide,” Gjerde added.  “I’m looking for partnerships with existing arts and theater groups and collaborations.”
Even with the venue closure in effect through late winter, Gjerde is working to grow a cadre of actors and actresses, with the youth department.  Watch for more about a youth performance of “A Christmas Carol.”  She is also facilitating an Improv Theater and Character Development workshop each Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30.  “This is an informal way for people to learn theater skills, modes of character, stage presence and projection, body language, voice and facial expressions that we apply to improv games,” she explained.  “And it’s a lot of fun!”
And, believe me, Sierra is all about fun!  “I want to use my creative power to form connections within the community,” enthuses Gjerde.  “what I want to contribute to the community and our sustainable living is access and participation in arts and music, the theater experience.”  Gjerde “found” theater in high school, during a brief period at Neah-Kah-Nie High School when English/Speech instructor Marisa Real championed and supported a theater group.  “Huge thanks to Marisa for getting us on stage,” said Gjerde.  “It launched me into college and opened up another world for me.”  College at Humboldt State in California focused on social work and early child development, but Gjerde really found herself and sense of community from time spent touring with a circus.  “I found a group of people with no barriers, the outcasts and freaks were comfortable with themselves and there was no judgment, just acceptance,” she explained. “You were encouraged to be weird and that environment brought me out of my shell and was a healing process.”
It’s difficult to believe Sierra was ever in a shell as she exudes energy, enthusiasm and excitement about the possibilities at the NCRD Theatre.  “It’s about getting people together, building this foundation to build resilience as an outlet to inspire youth, for parents and elders to discover or rediscover, and bringing together arts and social issues – all that can be facilitated here at NCRD,” she explained.  As the theater undergoes it’s final renovations, Sierra Gjerde, NCRD Theatre Coordinator looks to transform the NCRD Theatre programs into valued and appreciate community resource.  Watch for more information as the renovations are completed in early 2016, plans for a grand re-opening of the Theater and many exciting things to come.  For more information, go to or call 503-368-7008.