A special update from our Artistic Director
First, we would like to extend an incredibly large and heartfelt amount of gratitude to all of our donors. As I’m sure you are aware, the performing arts are having an extremely trying time with all in-person events cancelled for the foreseeable future. That makes it more important than ever to make donations to your local arts groups. At the end of June, our fiscal year’s end, we sent out word of a challenge gift that would match every dollar up to $1,500 donated before July 1st. That then brought forth another donor with an additional $500 in the form of a challenge gift. I’m happy, and relieved, to say that you all more than met the challenge. Every contribution at this time helps us stay open. We’re in a good position to make it through the next year no matter what happens with the pandemic and that is all thanks to you, our generous donors.
But we’re not content to sit around either! We’ve been busy doing things online and connecting people with a theatrical experience. In early June, we held a week-long Intergenerational Theatre Workshop which had traditionally been called Mind the Gap. In previous years, Mind the Gap happened in partnership with the New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) and the WNC AARP. For so many reasons, it was not possible to work with the NYTW this year so with support from AARP and funding from Walnut Cove Members’ Association, we developed a virtual intergenerational program using Zoom with a group of 8 participants: 4 adults over 60 and 4 students ages 17 – 23. It took us about two months to develop, including running a test group through an abbreviated version of what we were trying to do. It was facilitated by two amazing teaching artists – Patrice Foster who is an assistant professor at Brevard College and Julia Christgau, a local interdisciplinary artist in theatre, music, and film, who also leads some of our summer camps. It was truly developed over Zoom in that the teachings artists who facilitated and the participants never met each other in real life. We had a great time, made some new friends, and are all looking forward to when we can all meet in person. As an aside, a virtual program allowed us to do a really cool thing – participants were joining us from 4 areas: Mills River, Arden, Asheville, and Winston-Salem. it also helped us understand the potential for connection. Click here to check out some highlights from their final presentation.
Lastly, we held a small donor/subscriber event to bring supporters up to speed on the challenges and successes NC Stage has experienced in the past four months. It was also a bit of an experiment. I’ve held that the theatrical experience exists between the people on stage (and of course all the people, technicians, designers, playwright, director, and on and on that bring that performance to life) and the people in the audience. If we’re not able to this in person, we need to find a way to do this in separate locations. Many people have taken to recording performances and have them available for audiences to stream whenever they want, and others have produced live stream events over platforms like Facebook where audiences watch the live performance of an artist performing in front of a camera. What we did was to have every “audience” member at our Zoom event projected onto a large screen in the center section of our audience seating. The effect was to actually have a group of people to perform to. We had around 100 people projected onto the screen in the seating area and as a special treat we had Ben Mackel perform a few songs. What we experienced was something we hadn’t experienced in months. The people on stage and the people in the audience had a theatrical experience. Granted, we were all in different places and spaces but for a moment in time, we were all in the same emotional, intellectual, and spiritual space. The people on stage could see the faces of the audience members and were affected by their responses, their smiles, their nods of recognition when they hear a lyric. In short, it was remarkable. And very moving. Click here to check out this short clip from the event.
We will continue to work on innovative ways of engaging during the pandemic and let you know as soon as we might have something to offer you. Until then, stay safe and healthy and be kind to each other.
– Charlie Flynn-McIver, Artistic Director