Response to COVID19
August 2020 Update
If 2020 had gone as we planned, we would have wrapped up performances for Be Here Now last weekend. We would be tucking away Season 14, getting some building projects done, and ramping up for Season 15. As we all know, 2020 has not gone as planned.
Although our stage is currently dark, we thought we’d let you know what we’ve been up to and what our tentative plans for the coming months are.
Although we canceled the final two productions of the season, the royalty holders have been very generous in allowing us to reschedule to future seasons. You will see both Alabaster and Be Here Now in an upcoming season. They are going to be great!
The fundraising for Phase 2 of our capital improvement plans (aka get rid of the poles) was interrupted, and the construction industry experienced delays, we are still making progress. The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs worked with us on altering the scope of our project as covered by our capital improvement grant. We have been able to utilize all grant funds that we were awarded and the many generous donations we had already received, so we were able to complete the foundation reinforcements and install structural elements in the theatre space. The poles are, sadly, still there. We hope to be able to remove them in the summer of 2021. But the economic impacts of the pandemic may reach into next year and inhibit our ability to raise the necessary funds. We are exploring all options and continue to plan for the project to be completed on schedule.
As we announced earlier this year, we are not planning to re-open until March 2021. Our board of directors passed a budget for Season 15 which provides for three productions that will run from March to August 2021. We are holding off on announcing specifics about the productions until later in this year. We are monitoring as other professional theatres across the country (only two so far) open, and working with our colleagues here in Michigan to establish best practices for bringing our audiences back safely. All plans are necessarily flexible to account for the presence of the coronavirus in our community.
In the meantime…
We received a PPP loan, however that only covered us through mid-June. For the time being, we are all furloughed. This is allowing us to protect our reserve funds so that we will be able to mount our March 2021 production. But we are working on some small audio projects that we hope to be able to make available to our audiences throughout the fall. Stay tuned for more information about those.
Add to your mask wardrobe!
So many of you have reached out to let us know that you are thinking about us and that you miss live theatre in your life. Thank you! All those messages mean so much to us. We miss you too! One way you can help us to re-open safely is to follow all the guidelines about washing your hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask. Getting sick of your mask options? We have just the thing! We are offering Williamston Theatre face masks for a very limited time. Now through August 31 buy your official WT mask through our Booster campaign. You’ll get a stylish and comfy face covering, and proceeds of all sales will help us re-open when the time comes. Click here to purchase your official WT mask: https://www.customink.com/fundraising/mask-up-for-the-williamston-theatre.
Please know that we think of our patrons constantly. We cannot wait to see you all again and gather together for great theatre. Until then, stay safe and healthy!
John, Tony, Chris, Emily, Holly, and Aaron
May 13, 2020 Update
Williamston Theatre Announces Suspension of Production
Williamston, MI — The Williamston Theatre announces the cancellation of the remainder of its 2019-2020 season. The productions of Alabaster and Be Here Now, scheduled for May through August, have been temporarily postponed. The Theatre hopes to incorporate these beautiful plays into future seasons. In addition, the Theatre will not resume public performances until sometime in 2021.
“There is so much uncertainty at the moment,” said Williamston Theatre Executive Director John Lepard. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to not resume public performances until sometime in 2021. Our first priority is the safety of our patrons and creative teams. But we are also very conscious of preserving our very limited reserve funds in order to be able to open when it is safe.”
A vibrant arts and cultural scene is important to strong communities and Michigan’s excellent quality-of-life, and ultimately, to Michigan’s economy. The Williamston Theatre recognizes its role in the economic health of Williamston’s downtown area business district. Each year, approximately 11,000 patrons attend performances at the Theatre, often combining their visit with a trip to a local restaurant. The Theatre founders recognize the importance of a strong re-opening, and are committed to continuing the work that has established their reputation of excellence over the past fourteen years.
“Gathering together to share stories is part of being human, it’s part of our DNA,” said Artistic Director Tony Caselli. “It’s one of the ways we connect, make the world more bearable, and more joyful. This is just a pause and we’re looking forward to the next time we can gather together. Until then, we’ll work on staying connected, and sharing stories in different ways. Williamston Theatre has had fourteen wonderful seasons of storytelling, and when this health crisis is over we’ll be here for our community with season fifteen.”
In the interim, the Williamston Theatre will be working on presentations that the public can safely access while maintaining social distancing.
The Williamston Theatre is mid-Michigan’s only professional, resident theatre company. Additional information and updates are available on the Theatre’s website at www.williamstontheatre.org, Facebook page, or by calling (517) 655-7469.
April 1, 2020 Update
The time has come!
We have finally gotten everything ready for you to watch our production of These Mortal Hosts from the comfort and safety of your home. Thanks for your patience as we worked through this unprecedented shift in our presentation format. The video will be ready to stream beginning on Friday, April 3rd at 3pm. Tickets go on sale Wednesday, April 1 at noon. Please help us share this news by forwarding this e-mail to your family and friends!
Big, Big Thanks!
This has been a true experiment in creative problem solving. Many thanks to our amazing creative team, cast, and crew for rolling with the punches and adapting to get this done. Many thanks to our union the Actors’ Equity Association for creating a whole new contract, and playwright Eric Coble for his blessing so that we could do this and make the production available to our audience. And super huge thanks to Andy Kirshner, our filmmaker patron saint, who stepped in to capture this production before we had to shut it down.
Information you’ll need to know during your purchase
1. You’ll be asked to choose a performance date and time. This is not the only time you will be able to view the performance. This is just the way our ticketing system is set up, and allows us to track “seats” sold per our contract with the union. Streaming begins on Friday, April 3 with the 3pm performance. Tickets will be on sale through Sunday, April 26.
2. You’ll be offered four price points – $20 (Friend), $25 (Donor), $30 (Saint), $35 (Angel). All four price points receive the same viewing experience. If you buy a $20 ticket, thank you for helping us survive the pandemic, enjoy the show! If you buy a $35 ticket, thank you for helping us survive the pandemic, enjoy the show! We’re not going to mince words, more money will be more helpful, but we know that everyone has different resources. This pandemic is threatening the very existence of arts organizations throughout the community. We want to be here to welcome you back once the health threat is over. Whatever price point you choose, we are glad you are joining us for this unique experiment in theatre.
3. Once your purchase is confirmed, you will receive a link and password via e-mail. You will have a two-week window within which to watch the show once. Please don’t share this login and password information with others.
4. The streaming platform is Vimeo. If you have any problems viewing the video, here is a link to Vimeo’s troubleshooting page. Please e-mail Managing Director, Chris Purchis at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are unable to watch the entire video and she will get back to you as quickly as possible.
Thanks for joining us during this singular time in history and enjoy the show!
March 26, 2020 Update
Tonight would have been the first preview performance for These Mortal Hosts. Our filmmaker-angel Andy Kirshner is working hard to edit the film of the show we made last weekend. Post production involves editing shots from two different runs and selected scenes filmed separately, color correcting, adjusting sound throughout between the two boom mics and three personal mics, and adding things like credits and music and such. It’s a HUGE job. And it’s not something that was built into the schedule to begin with, obviously. So it will take just a little longer before we are able to sell virtual tickets to watch the finished product. We promise we will update with all the information and instructions as soon as it is ready. Thanks for your patience!
Sent to ticket holders on March 19, 2020
Dear Williamston Theatre Patrons:
Thank you for your continued support of the Williamston Theatre. As you well know, we are now experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis in Michigan and, indeed, the world. Per the executive order from the State of Michigan, the Williamston Theatre has cancelled its scheduled performances of These Mortal Hosts to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
We are working on making a video of the production that would be available for a one-time viewing to ticket holders via a secure streaming site, which you will be able to view at home. We will know more details about this next week. If you prefer to not use your ticket for a one-time viewing of the performance on video streamed in your home, we ask that you consider a couple of other options that will help us out in this time of uncertainty. We can either issue you a Gift Certificate for the amount of your purchase or convert your purchase to a donation. Or, if you prefer, we will offer a full refund of your ticket purchase.
Thank you for helping us in our time of need. We look forward to seeing you at the Theatre as soon as is possible.
John, Tony, Chris and Emily
Announced to patrons on March 17, 2020
Dear Williamston Theatre Patrons:
Thank you for your continued support of the Williamston Theatre. As you well know, we are now experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis in Michigan and, indeed, the world.
Our first priority is the health and wellbeing of our patrons and our WT team. Per the executive order from the State of Michigan, the Williamston Theatre is cancelling its scheduled performances of These Mortal Hosts to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. We hope that everyone in the community continues to encourage social distancing in order to assist in flattening the curve of this outbreak.
We are very disappointed to have to cancel our production of These Mortal Hosts. Our staff and actors spent months preparing the show for you, and we know you were looking forward to seeing this production come to life on the stage. Good news! For a limited time, you will be able to watch the production in your own home.
Because of our commitment to you, we are taping a performance and will be sending a password protected link to current ticket holders and those who’d like to purchase the opportunity to view These Mortal Hosts. More information will be forthcoming about purchasing. Director Paige Conway, Artistic Director Tony Caselli, and Executive Director John Lepard will have a close hand in bringing the production to life on the screen. The production will be filmed and completed in the coming weeks, and then we can share it with ticket holders. We don’t want you to miss this show, which is uniquely appropriate at this time in history.
As a non-profit organization, which employs many talented staff members and artists, we ask that you support the Williamston Theatre in any way you can at this time. Their livelihood is at risk. Since ticket sales only cover 50% of our operating costs, please consider making a contribution here. Your help allows us to take care of our employees so that the Theatre can continue to serve you after this crisis is over.
Thank you for helping us in our time of need. We must all rally to get through this pandemic and continue sharing stories. We look forward to sharing These Mortal Hosts with you soon. And we’ll see you at the Theatre as soon as possible.
John, Tony, Chris and Emily