At the start of summer, Samantha Cook and Meagan Wiltshire would have been hard pressed to find Bahrain on a map, let alone talk about it beyond the common stereotypes.
But when the two veteran members of Missoula Children’s Theatre returned this week from the island nation in the Persian Gulf, they did so as diplomats, wise to the ways of that distant culture.
“It was pretty wild,” said Wiltshire, seated Tuesday at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts. “It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. It was strange and kind of surreal.”
Wiltshire, of Livingston, and Cook, of Missoula, were one of five teams from MCT sent around the world this summer to lead children from military families in theatrical performances of “Robin Hood.”
The shows are contracted through the Department of Defense, giving children who often jump from base to base – following parents through distant deployments – a chance to test their talents in the performing arts.
While MCT has taken on a decidedly international flavor in recent years, sending teams abroad isn’t something the company takes lightly. Those selected for the task view themselves as diplomats, both for the company and the country in general.
“Whenever we go out, whether it’s international or local, MCT does a good job of reminding us we’re ambassadors wherever we go,” said Cook. “We already have that ingrained in us that we’re representing something greater than ourselves.”