We have finally crossed the line into 2021. A new year brings new hope, and this new year couldn’t have come soon enough!
From a theatre perspective, this year has been rough. We have been unable to do what we love: share our humanity by acting in front of an audience of actual living, breathing people. For me there is nothing like the excitement as the house lights dim, an audience shushes, and the whole theatre goes dark. The anticipation of sharing an emotional experience with a group of strangers is intoxicating. But for now that experience remains a memory AND a vision we hold for the future.
When this pandemic started almost a year ago I remember people asking, “will theatre ever come back?”. My response was a resounding “Of course!” Theatre has been around since time immemorial. As we laughingly say, it is the second oldest profession in the world. Theatre won’t go away; we need it. The pandemic shines a light on our very human need to share stories with each other. That is a good thing!
We at The People’s Shakespeare Theatre spent this year adapting to our new normal and I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished. We decided to put our creative efforts into a new outreach project, ShakesCheer, and we produced our first live-streamed Zoom event, an abridged A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in May. We offered The Taming of the Shrew in July and now we are ready to debut our third, Twelfth Night. We continue to grow in our understanding of the medium and each production is more rich and layered than the last. A special thanks to our two Millersville University students in Entertainment Technology, who have helped us enormously in making ever-sweeter lemonade of Zoom-based theatre.
So many people are hurting these days, and we are proud to share donations received for each live-streamed production equally with a local non-profit. It’s our small way of supporting our beloved community in very trying times.
And thanks to our wonderful teachers, we were able to continue offering our popular summer camp, Camp Will, in a smaller, on-line format. We are determined to continue our High School Shakespeare Festival this spring whether it be online or in person. Our students deserve these opportunities, and so much more.
We don’t know what this year will bring, but we are hopeful that we will soon be able to welcome you in person and share the beauty of Shakespeare once again. We miss your laughter, your gasps of recognition, your hushed silences, your applause. This past year has been hard in every way for everyone; our hope is that we have grown in resiliency and creativity and when the time is right, we will share what we have learned with all of you. In person!
Until that time we wish you joy, love and good health.
Laura Korach Howell is an Equity actress, a roster artist with The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a seasoned theatre teacher and director. She received her training at Circle-in-the-Square Theatre (NYC), The Actor’s Center (NYC) and Shakespeare & Co. (Lenox, MA). She has directed professionally and taught students of all ages for over thirty years.