Peggy Boelk – Bringing Theater to Life
Peggy Boelk loves living the nightmare she has created for herself. That nightmare is Tahoe Truckee High School musical theater.
“Musicals are so huge; there’s the technical aspect, the costumes, and I demand big big productions, so I have created my own nightmare. I want the closest to Broadway that a little tiny town can get on a horrible stage. And everybody always looks at me and says ‘You want what?!'”
Peggy says acting is in her blood. Her grandmother was an actress and director, her mother is an opera singer who started a small theater and is now a producer. So for Peggy, being on stage is second nature, and often the place she prefers to be.
“When I am on stage or directing, I can be me, I can be anything that I want to. And when I am on stage or directing, nobody says, ‘no you can’t do that’, or ‘why are you crying,’ or ‘why are you laughing hysterically’; ‘why are you acting like a little kid?’ I am constantly telling kids, ‘act like a 2 year old,’ because they are the ones that have no inhibitions,” she says.
Peggy moved to Truckee from Los Angeles nearly 25 years ago, and upon her arrival jumped right into developing the Truckee Actors Guild. In their first year, the guild produced four shows, an impressive number for a young organization.
“There were a lot of interested people, you just start doing it and people come out of the woodwork,” she says.
After 10 years with the guild, Peggy moved on to larger productions, including two episodes of the early ’90s television show “High Mountain Rangers,” as well as a couple of Reno-local commercials. Unfortunately, every television show she attempted was cancelled. Coincidence, or lucky twist of fate? Just a few years later she inherited her current position as an acting coach at the high school, a role which she now says is one of the most exciting opportunities she has taken.
“I was going to quit this year, because it is just so much work, and so much emotional draining. But then I went to Italy, and I stood in the Coliseum, and you get this feeling like you have to have a purpose in life. And then it came. And I stood up there, and went, ‘wow, I have to use my talent, I have to give my energy,'” Peggy says.
Watching her eyes and smile widen as she explains is proof enough that she made the right decision.
“She has great energy for the kids, and really motivates them. Every spring the school musical has been such a success and every year everyone looks forward to it,” says Chris Hess, whose children were involved in Peggy’s musicals. Peggy makes it a point to be involved in all of the other activities that her students are in too. She has a lot of students that are involved with the band, so she goes to the band concerts, and she’s at the drama productions. She is a very outgoing person and everyone just loves her.”
“Watching kids gets me excited. I stand back at the theater, and when they get something that I have asked them to do, and when you see that its just gone cellular, it’s exciting. A lot of the audience members say that they like to watch me just because I get so excited. And when I see something on stage that is awful, I fall to the ground.”
And she’s not just that dramatic about theater. Peggy is honest and aware, and will tell you that she is glad to be here, and glad to be able to touch kids with art. It is something that she believes enriches the community.
Elizabeth Archer, who has known Peggy for close to a decade through the high school musical productions, says that Peggy’s energy is what allows her to gain such lasting relationships and experiences, and that her artistic expression is what most strongly defines her.
“Peggy’s main focus is on Truckee’s kids. She gives her students an experience that is rare in a small town atmosphere, and they just adore her. And I think that shows in the kids that leave and come back and can speak to the way her professionalism has impacted their life,” Archer says.
That dedication and professionalism are the result of decades of effort and focused passion. And she will tell you that any kind of art takes work beyond the creative side.
“You have to let yourself go, to let yourself be that 2 year old. Don’t think about it, do it. Just let your inner spirit talk. Not that thinking doesn’t have its place, but it sure does stifle the imagination.”