Speeding Up to Slow Down

As I write this at the end of March, I have just spent a week traveling at breakneck speed in order that I could stop on a dime at the end of this day, Friday March 20. I will remember the events of the last week for years–as I am sure you will–and am looking forward to having the time to more concretely record my thoughts in the next couple of months as I, and my colleagues at ASC, experience true social distancing in our furlough.

In the lead up to our ramp down, I have often thought of Ethan McSweeny’s, ASC’s Artistic Director, mantra for Slow Theatre, because while it looked like we were moving at the speed of light this week, it was actually years of preparation and taking time that made each and every effort possible. We have been filming the workshops that we have built over many years with the amazing Arielle Zamora, a visiting practicum fellow who came at just the right time–though all of our brilliant, methodical plans for her to assist us with a new initiative had to be put on hold to deal with the present crisis. The care we had taken in preparing for her visit allowed us to shift gears and put her substantial talents to use immediately. I stood in amazement as Lia and Aubrey swung into overdrive to organize material for YOU to use on the break–and I hope you have been finding it on our social media and website. They also used the care they had taken in putting two sessions of our summer camp together–years, of relationship building, deliberate curriculum and artistic staffing choices–to use as they made the difficult call to scale back to a Super Session for 2020. I witnessed our artistic team swing into action to film and stream the wonderful, carefully rehearsed and produced shows that would go on hiatus far too soon, but will now have a second life for you to enjoy. I felt such pride (and relief) as I dug into our Study Guide collection, my gratitude to Cass for her brilliant work over many years of developing them struck me again as I was able to pull a variety of thorough, interdisciplinary lessons ready made to offer to those of you in education and who find yourselves home with the kids and needing material to offer them.   

Then, the stunning gifts began pouring in from you, our audience members and friends. We heard from you on Facebook, on Instagram, as we reached out to you about your tickets for Midsummer or the workshops you had planned. The generosity and kindness you showed did lighten our dark moods and heavy hearts. We take for granted our dear friends, the joy of seeing their faces reminds us of our mutual feelings, but in the time of distancing, we found that your words and care inspired the joy we had been missing.

And so, I sit at my desk for the last time in a while taking a breath before I take my leave. I feel the heaviness that Shakespeare and his company must have felt when the theatres closed for plague–especially as I watch my colleagues at so many theatres shift their schedules, shutter their spaces, and hunker down. I am so proud of each of them, of the artists we have been fortunate to share, of the way we are looking out for one another, and looking forward to what’s next. Would that the last few weeks had been only an April Fool’s day chase, but I am so glad that it has reminded me of the value each of us has for one another. Soon, ASC will turn the key and swing open our hearts as we warm up our engine so that we can greet you, our friends, in the playhouse again. Until then, please be well.