A note from our Artistic Director, Charlie Flynn-McIver:
Hi NC Stage family. I hope you all are doing well and staying safe.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to learn that NC Stage has cancelled the rest of its season with the cancellation of The Lifespan of a Fact, which would have had its opening night on April 29th. Since this means that our 2019-2020 season is officially over, I want to thank all the staff, ushers, artists and audiences who made the 2019-2020 season such a memorable one. I’m very proud of our productions of Fire of Freedom, Doll’s House, Part 2, Handle With Care, and our world premiere of Jeeves Saves the Day. To the artists who were to be a part of Well and The Lifespan of a Fact, thank you for the hard work and dedication you had already put into these productions. I’m hopeful we’ll see the results of your efforts soon!
We were also about to start rehearsals for our Community Tour of Dexter and Winter’s Detective Agency that was to be performed for audiences that experience barriers to attending more traditional theatre spaces. These include rural schools, lower income community and senior centers, and prisons. The folks in those places are of particular concern right now and I’m thinking of their safety and health as well. We have found this program to be quite vital and appreciated by those audiences so we hope we can get that back up and running as soon as health and safety for all is guaranteed.
The staff of NC Stage is observing the stay at home orders and working remotely, the stage still has half of the set for Well which was cancelled right before we went into tech rehearsals, we’ve had our most recent board of directors meeting over Zoom (with the obligatory 20 minutes of working out technical issues!) and we’re all trying to figure out what the future holds for life in general and theatre in particular.
As we all watch the news and contemplate the worst and best case scenarios for the economy and for the life and death risks for all of us during this pandemic, uncertainty abounds. There are a few certainties I have though. One, there are not going to be any performances for live audiences at least through the summer. Two, there will be considerable reluctance on an audience’s part to attend live performances long after any relaxation of social distancing guidelines until there is a vaccine. And three, live performances will have a place in whatever the new normal ends up being. We just have no idea what that will look like and when it will take place.
Many businesses are able to pivot in some ways. Office environments can pivot to working from home virtually, restaurants can turn to take out service, and some businesses have even retooled to help the healthcare industry with equipment shortages ranging from vital lifesaving devices to personal protective equipment.
Personally, I have spent much of my own energy altering my home routines in an effort to maintain a sense of normalcy within my family. Creating schedules to help the kids keep engaged with their online schooling, my wife and I are scheduling who’s using the Zoom account for our work meetings and who’s checking in on the kids and dogs while the other is working. My daughter, who is a senior in high school, just got her prom dress delivered for a prom that is no longer happening, so I’m setting up a sound system in our living room with a light show complete with mirror ball (one of the advantages of having access to a theatre that is dark!) and we’re all dressing up in our finest for our own little “house prom.”
But for the theatre there are few opportunities for pivoting. Logistical issues and equipment make it hard to do online “performances,” copyright and union regulations make it nearly impossible to broadcast recordings of past shows, and so much of our work really has to be done in person.
We are, however, working on it. For the moment we are planning a 2020-2021 season but it’s all dependent on what national, state, and local regulations will be and what we morally feel is the right thing to do to protect our workers and audiences. But if there’s one thing that is certain about theatre, is its ability to innovate and problem solve. So I ask that you be patient as we figure this out. We will be maintaining some engagement through our blog and social media and we hope you’ll check that out in the coming weeks.
Lastly, a special thank you to all of you who have gotten in touch with words of encouragement and donations. Since the cancellation of the season we’ve seen close to a third of our annual revenue simply evaporate and the donations and supportive emails have helped tremendously.
I’ll leave you with two quotes for the time being. One from John Steinbeck’s collection of World War 2 articles called Once There Was A War: “The theater is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.”
All of you are those tough and devoted people. And to that I give you the second quote, from Act III Scene 3 of Twelfth Night: “I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks; and ever thanks.”
Stay strong and be well. We will see you soon.