Dear friends in our community,
While the COVID-19 crisis has shattered our communal lives and hurled us into uncertainty, one constant remains: when crisis hits, we turn to stories for comfort and clarity. Whether it’s reading to the kids or grandkids, or binge-watching a television series, or hunkering down for a movie-marathon, or even absorbing news stories as fast as they churn them out, we’ve got a primal human desire for narrative.
Telling stories, of course, is what OTC does best. But here we are in this insane situation: the thing we exist to do – tell stories with you, in a room, together – is on hold until the crisis passes.
But we’ve got a lot of incredibly talented theatermakers on our payroll, a ton of pent-up creativity to unleash, and a passion to keep telling stories. So here’s how we’re going to keep sharing stories through this crisis. We’re going to do it together, and we’ll come out stronger on the other side, I feel it in my bones.
Here’s my suggested schedule of activities for you:
- TELL US YOUR STORY. We want to hear a 3-minute story from you about what your life is like now. What unique experience can you share that will make us laugh, surprise us with an expected twist or help us feel less alone? What insane thing did your kid do this afternoon out of boredom? What random act of kindness touched you deeply? We’ll share the best ones we get on this page. And when all this is behind us, we’ll ask some of our favorite storytellers to join us onstage for a StorySlam at SummerFest on July 21, 2020.
- WATCH "THE AMATEURS" ONLINE. While we had to cancel remaining performances of The Amateurs, we made a professional recording of the show while we were rehearsing and in previews. And it’s a comedy about actors putting on plays during a plague, so who wouldn’t pay to see that? Here’s the trailer: check it out, and you can stream it for $20 on Vimeo. It's only available through April 5. Thanks to our colleagues at Actors’ Equity Association and the Society for Directors and Choreographers for making this possible.
- CALLING LEARNERS OF ALL AGES! Our artistic staff and National Players will be offering free, virtual drop-in classes every day, Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, for kids out of school and adults going stir crazy. Catch daily storytelling for the very young with Jason King Jones, or join me once a week for a deep dive into a classic play, or let your teen work on a monologue with a National Player. Visit our website to see the class schedule that everyone in your household can take to unleash their creativity and stay engaged with us.
- APRIL 4, 11:00 AM: JOIN ME FOR A VIRTUAL SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT. Join me live, online, as I reveal the new 2020-21 season on our YouTube and Facebook pages! A world-premiere musical with Broadway ambitions, three highly-anticipated DMV premieres, a golden-age classic musical with a shimmering new twist, and singular artists rediscovering iconic roles… I can’t wait to share it with you!
- APRIL 4, 5PM: A VIRTUAL PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE ARTS AND THE CRISIS. Our production of The Humans, which has been postponed to the fall, was supposed to open on April 4. Since we can’t do that, let’s talk about what we can do. Join me, Washington Post chief critic Peter Marks, and three other DMV artistic directors: Raymond O. Caldwell (Theater Alliance), Maria Manuela Goyanes (Woolly Mammoth) and Ryan Rilette (Round House) for an online panel discussion about how theaters will change how they tell stories in the aftermath of the crisis. It will stream live on our Facebook and YouTube pages -- comment to ask a question!
- CATCH I & YOU ONLINE FROM LONDON! Many of you remember our Rolling World Premiere of Lauren Gunderson's I & You, which we helped launch into the world in 2014. Though we're not allowed to share our archival video of our production, we're happy to tell you that the London production, starring Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), is available for streaming here, through this Sunday, March 29. Relive what you were part of giving to the world!
- ANYTIME, FOR ARTISTS: VIRTUAL PLAY SPACES. We’re keeping as many artists on payroll as we can, and keeping them creatively engaged via our new Remote Literary Office and Virtual Play Development Spaces.
- ANYTIME, FOR OTHERS: With so many cancelled productions, hundreds of freelance artists are suddenly unemployed due to the crisis. So we’d also be grateful if you’d spare something for the hundreds of theatre workers in the DMV – actors, directors, stage managers, house managers, and so on – who are in need. They really need support. I’ve pledged $1,000 myself towards the Taking Care Fund for freelance artist support, and hope you’ll consider the same.
- ANYTIME, FOR US: Support us in our storytelling by making a tax deductible donation here. I know you’re besieged with hands out, and feeling uncertain yourself. But if you’re in a position to help us weather this storm, we’d be grateful. That’ll help us keep the lights on, keep everyone on staff and the National Players at full employment, and set us up for a triumphant return.
- AND COME BACK IN JUNE! If we all do our part, with a little luck we’ll be back to normal in June, when you can catch our productions of Pippin, 2 Pianos 4 Hands, and a free weekend of outdoor Shakespeare on the Root Family Stage. Visit our website for updates and buy tickets… because when we can all get back together, and share the space for some in-person storytelling, it’s going to be an amazing celebration!
We’ll get through this, but only if we work together, and keep telling each other the stories that matter. We’re so proud to be your theater, especially at this extraordinary moment.
Stay healthy, in mind and body,