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Susan Fishman-Tudor remains a friend of the arts — in California

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SUSAN Fishman-Tudor, the former president of the CNMI’s Friends of the Arts who left the island on March 26, is eager to start new life in Vallejo, California once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

“When restrictions are lifted I plan to get involved with the dance community in the area, and there is also a community theater in the neighboring town of Benicia that I will approach — I’m starting over,” she told Variety in an email interview.

Led by Fishman-Tudor and her team for the past 15 years, the Friends of the Arts or FOA on Saipan staged several productions for the island community.

She said the organization that eventually became known as the FOA was formed in the mid-1980s by a group of talented people. When she arrived on Saipan in March 1998, the organization had not had a performance in about three years. A reorganization was arranged by another newcomer to the island, Harold Easton, a Marianas High School teacher. “I auditioned, got a part and never stopped being involved,” Fishman-Tudor said. “This was when the organization became known as Friends of the Arts.”

“Prior to my presidency we launched several innovations,” she added. These included a series of postproduction discussion groups that were funded by the Humanities Council, and junior Broadway musicals, she said.

The FOA also staged four major productions a year.

“We decided that the FOA would be best served if we were able to set a schedule for the year instead of deciding every few months what we would do. We set a board conference and a retreat weekend to review the previous year — our strengths, weaknesses, advantages, among other things. We were able to provide the community with every production that we had planned. We may have had to juggle dates or venues, but ‘the show must go on,’ ” Fishman-Tudor said.

Over the past few years, she noted, more and more public and private schools have also shown interest in the performing arts. “Today almost every school has a Thespian chapter. Notwithstanding the excellent coaching each school provides, students who participated in FOA performances — alongside adult veteran actors and took direction for an FOA production — fared very well as their performances in competitions was enhanced with that experience,” she said.
She added that some local students who participated in national competition have been recruited to four-year fine arts colleges with full and partial scholarships.

“I believe that the FOA was instrumental in promoting and maintaining interest in live theatrical performances which also taught students public speaking, poise, communication, projection, enunciation and all the qualities of an actor,” Fishman-Tudor said as she also expressed gratitude to the FOA’s small yet loyal group of corporate and private sponsors and supporters.

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