Rotary Club chapters are known for sponsoring and providing volunteers for service projects to meet community needs.
The Rotary Club of Richmond is doing just that with its latest service project, but in a way that may be a first for chapters of the worldwide service organization.
The Richmond chapter has commissioned the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts to produce a play based on local history intended to connect young people to the city's past and inspire them about its future.
"Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle: A Story of the Heart of Richmond" is a dramatization of the youth novel "Richmond Tales" by Summer Brenner, which has been widely circulated and read by thousands of area middle school students since its first printing in 2007. The play debuts this weekend at the renovated arts center.
Rotary community projects directed at young people typically involve mentoring and guidance, or upgrading or creating facilities that serve youths.
When it comes to a chapter coproducing a play, "To the best of my knowledge, no one else in Rotary has been crazy enough to take on such a venture" said Jim Young, president of the Richmond chapter.
The production is an extension of an earlier Iron Triangle mentoring program by the service club known as the Richmond Rotary Peace Project.
The dramatization of the book about a friendship that develops between two youths in the Iron Triangle neighborhood takes in "the broad historical forces and waves of immigration that have shaped the neighborhoods and trajectory of greater Richmond as well as the imagination of two children."
The coming-of-age/ historical exploration story should resonate with young people well beyond Richmond.
Performances will be at 7 p.m. May 17, 18, 24 and 25 and 3 p.m. May 19 and 26 at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, 339 11th St. at Macdonald Avenue, in the middle of the historic area where "Richmond Tales" is set.
Tickets are $10 general, $5 students and seniors. Tickets are available at the EBCPA box office, by calling 510-221-6353, at eastbaycenter.org or at the door. Secured parking will be available at the lot across the street from the performing arts center for $4.
Learn more about Richmond Rotary and its service projects at www.richmondcarotary.org.