Bits 'n' Pieces: Washougal actor returns to roots

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Washougal’s Kyle Henick, 23, discovered his passion for acting as a student at Washougal High School. It’s only fitting that he returned to his alma mater earlier this summer to star in a semi-professional theater production.

Shortly after graduating with a bachelor of arts in theater arts from Western Washington University in June, Henick teamed with two classmates to form the Merely Players Theatre Company.

“It basically started as a ‘Why not?’ sort of thing, and it became, ‘We can actually do this. There’s no reason not to,’” he said.

The group premiered its production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” in June.

“We all really love Shakespeare,” Henick said. “This play, in particular, is more about chemistry between the performers than any other element.”

Community members were enthusiastic about the production, so the trio took the production on the road, performing in Bellingham, Seattle and Olympia.

Henick, who serves as the group’s artistic director, said that reactions to the production have been positive.

“We’ve been met pretty enthusiastically so far,” he said. “People seem to really want us to come play.”

The production’s most recent stop was at Washougal High School’s Washburn Performing Arts Center. It was a nice homecoming for Henick.

“It’s really good to be back in that space,” he said.

Those who missed the company’s Washougal production can catch “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” Nov. 12-14 at the Shoe Box Theater in Portland. Ticket information can be obtained by sending an e-mail to merelyplayers@hotmail.com.

Former Vancouver resident experiments with artwork

When the Grand Rapids Art Museum invited Vancouver native Janice Arnold to create a piece for the international ArtPrize competition, she decided to make something experiential.

Arnold, a 1971 Fort Vancouver High School graduate and Clark College alumna now living in Olympia, created a felt installation to line a passage of the Michigan museum. The piece, titled “Chroma Passage,” measures 50 feet long, 34 feet high and 8 feet wide.

Arnold, 57, finished in the top 25 in the competition and was interviewed by “The Today Show,” as well as local news stations in Grand Rapids.

The piece was inspired by water, a life-giving force central to Grand Rapids and to the felting process. Felt is a non-woven fabric created by layering sheep’s wool, wetting it and then applying agitation and pressure until it mats and shrinks. It is a natural process that dates back more than 9,000 years.

The way “Chroma Passage” is designed, it looks different depending on the time of day and degree of natural light. People walk through the passage and experience the art, rather than just look at it.

“In my medium, it’s a very powerful experience when you can be surrounded by handmade fabrics,” Arnold said.

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, e-mail features@columbian.com.