Open Borders, Open Minds

This vacant Borders books in Thousand Oaks has been transformed into a showcase for art and talent of all kinds.

The Agoura Youth Beat is a new summer column devoted to places, events and activities for young folks living in our community. We've responded to the oft-heard complaint: There's nothing to do for young people in our town. If you have any suggestions, please contact us at susan.pascal@patch.com.

The moving play Once on This Island, Jr. was performed on Saturday at Open Borders, the new theatre space previously inhabited by Borders book store in Thousand Oaks. The play was organized through Stages Performing Arts, a non-profit summer theater program that helps young thespians develop their performance skills.

The play told the bittersweet story of a young island girl who falls in love with a wealthy tourist after saving his life.  Separated by race and class, and tested by the gods of the island, their love is unlikely from the outset, but the young girl persists, proving that her love is strong and outlasts even death.

The showcase was staged well and the performances were admirable. The sets and tropical soundtrack, filled with catchy musical numbers, kept the play lively and interesting.

Open Borders is a “music, arts and digital media extravaganza,” according to its website.  The space is large and versatile, clearly a good venue to host a variety of events, including an impressive line-up of musicians spanning from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, to Meiko and Tom Freund, to Rooney.  Open Borders brings some much-needed culture to the “bubble,” but sadly, it will not be a permanent addition to the area. It closes its doors at the end of this summer.

During intermission, I perused the Open Borders space while noshing on a snack, purchased from the concession area.  Original artwork and photography hung on the walls, as well as three-dimensional displays placed throughout the exhibit. The back wall was decorated with the paintings and signatures of past performers, a colorful and commemorative display.

Open Borders provides the perfect opportunity for creativity and talent to flourish at any age, as I learned after speaking to some of the members of the young cast about their experience. “The best thing about being part of the camp is the friends that you make and being back stage,” said Caroline Bachman, 12. 

As I left the building, I noted that the welcoming and professional environment provides encouragement to all those who attend. 

To learn more about Open Borders and to see the upcoming events, visit the web site.



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