Fawnskin History: Theater of the Stars

Above: Live Performance at the Theater of the Stars in Fawnskin, California

One of the most interesting and well-known landmarks of early Fawnskin was The Theater of the Stars. It was the dream of Fannie Charles Dillon, a local Fawnskin resident, who was also a world famous composer.

It was Dillon’s dream that Fawnskin develop an outdoor theatre similar to the Bohemian Grove, an outdoor theater in Monte Rio, California. She hoped to facilitate an atmosphere of beauty and good fellowship in the new Fawnskin artist colony.

Miss Dillon gained the financial backing of two town developers, Waybright and Thompson, toward this goal. One of her first actions was to invite Arthur Farewell, a well- known musical play producer and composer, to help develop the outdoor theater.

Above: Fanny Dillion & Arthur Farewell in Fawnskin Circa 1925

Fannie Dillon had pre-selected several sites for Mr. Farewell to view, but after hearing how sound carried at the meadow (next to the Rim of the World highway and behind Pederson’s sawmill) that was the location he selected for the Theatre of the Stars.

According to the theater’s August 1925 program, Mr. Farewell claimed that this natural mountain amphitheater was devoted to the progressive, experimental development of the arts of music, drama, and light (electricity).

His goal was to take a single stroke out of the usual and conventional environment (in art) and link them to heroic and primitive nature, to bring back the vanishing romance and wonder, and send it forth newborn and charged with a new message of release and beauty of humankind.

Above: Day Time at Theater of the Stars Circa 1925

In June of 1925 Fawnskin Folks attended the Saturday night music and color productions and by August 1925, two Sunday night performances were added. Locals paid their entrance fees (50 cents per person) in town and then walked the short distance to the theater.

Many nestled at the scattered campfires provided for comfort. There were several different options for seating, some were on clean decomposed granite covered with pine needles and others were on the smooth rocks and boulders around the site.

For those needing extra comfort there were log seats or cushions–and camp chairs could be rented for a nominal fee.

The first season started with many orchestra performances and closed in September with the play, The March of Man. The musical pageant by Farewell portrayed the man’s destructiveness to nature.

Above: Fawnskin Folks at Theater of the Stars March of Man Performance 1925

The March of Man began with the trees and rocks fearing their destruction by the woodman who cuts down a tree, an engineer who plants a blast of dynamite, and human partiers who start a forest fire.

Fortunately, the elements of nature come together and create a storm that extinguishes the fire. The world soul fears that the progress of civilization will not protect nature.

Nature calls for a sign that this spot shall be held sacred. In response, a singer appears 40 feet above on a towering rock and his prayerful song reaches the heavens–awakening the light of a new day.

What an experience it must have been to see them cut a giant pine tree, use lights to create a brilliant flare of fire in the canyon, and hear the hills echo with the sound of dynamite–all at the Theater of the Stars in the artist colony of Fawnskin.

About the Contributor: Eileen Downey bought a home in Fawnskin as a retreat from the fast pace of the big city. Living here she has found inspiration, a renewed spirit, an endless amount of creativity and curiosity. Off the mountain, Eileen is an elementary teacher for children with autism but for the last three years, her passionate hobby has been to collect, read, and sort through the history of Fawnskin and its founding settlers. She hopes you will enjoy her series and be inspired by the first Fawnskin residents who called themselves “Fawnskin Folks.”

If you have any additional information you would like to share, or have questions about the history of Fawnskin, please comment below.

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 9th, 2008 and is filed under Fawnskin Folk, Fawnskin History, Mountain Lake Resort.

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