Let me start by saying I hope each of you is well, and doing your best to stay safe. This is a strange time, and even as we isolate ourselves we need to find ways to make and keep a sense of community. The presence of friends and family—whether in person or by phone and internet—is sustaining.
Like everyone, we’re working at Chester Theatre Company to preserve what matters most while responding to this moment. So, on a practical level, we are working remotely—with regular online meetings. Angela Combest, Tara Franklin, and I make up the year-round staff, supported by our marvelous board. We are also trying to continue what matters to us even in these new circumstances.
Angela participated last night in an online story-telling event—originally scheduled to take place in person in Schenectady. I’ve been making plans to start teaching my Smith College students remotely (and just try imagining online directing and acting classes). Tara, her husband James, and their son Sam made the marvelous Lego Chester Town Hall that you see below.
I don’t know whether anything has made me smile as much as that beautiful, silly recreation of the building where we gather each summer to share stories and conversation, to look at our own lives and the lives of those with whom we share this world. Just last month, I was working with the board on revising our mission statement, and our new version finishes as follows: “We are committed to theatre as a means to explore and celebrate our shared humanity.”
That’s why Chester Theatre Company exists: to tell stories, to bring us together, to explore and celebrate our shared humanity. That sharing is hard right now, especially when staying apart may be what we most need to do for each other. Yet in its own way, that choice is an act of hope and optimism, a commitment to the future.
So here’s our commitment to the future. We are currently continuing to prepare for the 2020 Summer Season, full of stories I’m so hoping we get to share with you. You can buy season passes and individual tickets here on the website on Monday at noon. We are postponing phone sales for now, but if you have difficulty with an online order, please leave us a phone message and we’ll get back to you and help you through.
We are also, of course, looking ahead to imagine how we can sustain Chester Theatre Company through this time, especially if it turns out that we cannot have a season this summer. In that case, we are committed to coming back in full force the following summer. As a small non-profit theatre trying to sustain our institution through this difficult time, we would be extraordinarily appreciative of any charitable contributions that help us continue operating through this unprecedented event.
Each choice we make to look out for each other is an act of hope. Each story we share and treasure is an act of hope. Our planning for this summer is an act of hope. That model of the Town Hall is an act of hope.
Thank you for caring about Chester Theatre Company, and for being a part of the community we make together. You’ll hear from me again as we move forward, and I hope I will hear from you as well. Please take care of yourselves and each other.