When my husband and I purchased our house in Staunton over 10 years ago now, we did it knowing that we would be remodeling. We intentionally chose a house that we could add value to and that we could also live in throughout the process. This month, as our theatre has been shifting our practices and as our nation has been wrestling with the changes thrust upon us, I’ve been thinking about what intent we bring to the process.

We are fortunate enough to have parents who were actively involved in our house hunt, redesign, and even some demo. They gamely put up with sleeping in a room that was down to the studs (I promise, we made it cozy!), with a shared bathroom while one was out of use, with slow-cooker and grilled meals while the kitchen was in transition. They also made (a lot) of suggestions, some helpful. My dad, for instance, suggested that we tackle the Pepto-pink 1970’s bathroom as our first project. We started work on it, our last room left to redo, this summer.

For ten years, we have been showering in a yellowed tub and leaving our guests little choice but to do so, too. I think that we assumed it wouldn’t ever be pristine again, that we would either have to replace it or pay to have it refinished. So we just let it sit as is until we were ready to do the whole thing.

In this uncertain time for so many, Alex and I have been trying to do this remodel on a shoestring budget while still creating a welcoming and modern space. So, when we got a $450 quote to refinish the tub, we were a little taken aback. I remembered reading about an old tub that my favorite DIY home blog, Young House Love, managed to make look new again and decided that I had to try it before committing to that expense. Alex picked up some Bar Keeper’s Friend (I swear they aren’t sponsoring this in anyway!). I spent a few hours on a Saturday morning. And the decades old stain was gone. The tub looked new.

A willingness to try, sound advice and guidance, and working hard removed a decades old stain.

Out, out, damn (old) spot.

Why did we wait so long? Why do we want to have all of the answers before taking small steps, before trying? Why not make some effort “in the meantime”? When our intentions are good, should we make an effort even if we might fail, won’t we learn in the process?

In this time of upheaval and change, ASC has, intentionally and sometimes just instinctively, shifted pretty much everything. We’ve moved forward without having all of the answers. We’ve striven to remain connected to our audiences. We’ve filmed and streamed shows, learned how to deliver workshops from a distance. Created a lectures series that embraces the moment we are in. Supported and celebrated 18 campers producing two unique and amazing online productions. We have maintained the spirit of our programming and the joy it brings because we believe that theatre, and particularly the way we collaborate to create it, is a necessity and essential to humanity.

It’s been said before (and will be said again), Shakespeare went through plagues, too. He wrote beautiful plays not knowing when, or even if, he would ever see them performed. As his company’s modern counterpart, we have the advantage of being able to connect with our audiences in ways he couldn’t have imagined. But I think he would be pretty impressed with our determination and intention. At least, I hope he would.

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