Writers Theatre Executive Director Kathryn M. Lipuma and Artistic Director Michael Halberstam address questions about how COVID-19 has impacted the company and how we are looking forward to a future where we can once again come together to lean forward and engage.
Last month, WT put out a statement saying that the final two productions of the 2019/20 Season, The Last Match and Mementos Mori, were suspended until further notice. Are there any updates?
MICHAEL HALBERSTAM: Yes. We have come to the realization that we cannot responsibly produce The Last Match and Mementos Mori this season. It was a very difficult decision to make, but now that we’ve made that call, we are focusing our energies on working to innovate how we produce theatre at this challenging time for arts organizations and make plans for our upcoming season. Subscribers and patrons who had tickets to The Last Match and Mementos Mori can expect to hear from the Box Office in the coming weeks about accommodations.
In fact, if you have not yet heard from the Box Office, ticketholders with a WT account log-in and password can click here to review options, including donating the value of their tickets to WT right now! Every bit counts. (Other ticketholders can click here!)
Can people expect to see The Last Match and/or Mementos Mori produced in the future?
MH: We really do hope so! At this point, there are several scenarios on the table to do just that. There was such a tremendous amount of excitement surrounding both of these productions, and both teams were doing incredible and exciting work. It is possible that one or both pieces may end up in the upcoming season or even a future season.
How has the day-to-day of WT been affected by COVID-19 and the resulting government regulations?
KATE LIPUMA: This pandemic has affected not only Writers Theatre, but the entire performing arts industry across the country in ways we could not have imagined. Our work is driven by the notion that we all believe it is important for people to come together for a shared experience of a live event, and of course with everything going on, we cannot do that right now. When the government started making recommendations that restricted our ability to work in our building, the entire staff, including box office associates, was able to transition to working from home in the span of maybe 3 or 4 days in order to maintain operations. Our offices are empty, and our theatres may be empty – but we are working hard to look ahead and remind ourselves that this is only temporary.
How are you planning ahead? What will the 2020/21 Season look like for WT?
MH: The global situation has challenged us to think even more creatively than usual about how we produce a season of programming in a safe and responsible way for patrons and artists alike. For that reason, we are in the midst of developing a new responsive model of producing for 2020/21. This new flexible model will allow us to more nimbly accommodate for extenuating circumstances, should they arise. And in terms of the art and the artists in next season’s roster? We are returning to our roots and focusing squarely on the word and the artist as our primary sources of inspiration. While staying true to our mission, we are planning to bring you an array of entertainments that will lift your spirits, inspire your imaginations and stir up your souls.
How can audiences engage with WT in the meantime?
MH: If you don’t yet follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, now is the perfect time to do so! You’ll find a variety of content being shared on our channels, including stay-at-home lesson plans curated by our Education department for all ages, a look back at top WT moments over the years and more.
Until the theatre is back to its regular mode of operation, are there ways to help WT?
KL: Yes! As a not-for-profit organization, we always rely heavily on charitable contributions – but this is an unprecedented time that requires extraordinary support. Without any shows running, we are unable to support any of our operations through ticket revenue, so right now donations are the most direct and immediate way to ensure that Writers Theatre will be able to weather this current storm, and also continue producing for many years to come. Click here to support WT today!
And if you happen to be a ticket holder for The Last Match or Mementos Mori, there is a very easy way to support us: if you are in a position to convert that ticket to a donation, that would help immensely. Ticket holders with a WT account log-in and password can click here to donate the value of their tickets to WT right now, if they have not done so already! Other ticket holders can click here! Our staff in the box office can help you process your request and we would be happy to recognize it as a fully tax deductible contribution.
In whatever way you can help, we need your support to come through this and be in a strong position to once again bring you incredible, intimate and engaging theatre on the other side.