Shakespeare on the Sound prepares for uncertain future
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,/ As I foretold you, were all spirits and/ Are melted into air, into thin air.”
This quote from “The Tempest,” which was to be the 25th anniversary production of Shakespeare on the Sound this summer, has unfortunately proven to be true for its season.
The nonprofit theater company announced on its website that this year’s production was canceled due to the impact of the coronavirus.
“For 24 years, Shakespeare on the Sound has delighted in sharing Shakespeare’s plays with you. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we must announce the postponement of our 25th anniversary production of ‘The Tempest’ in Pinkney Park this summer. The decision to postpone was a difficult and painful one we felt necessary to ensure the safety of our patrons, artists, staff and community at large,” the website says.
And with the performances in Rowayton canceled, the organization is trying to figure out ways to serve the community.
Artistic Director Claire Kelly and her team have been discussing tentative plans for the summer and the fall.
“For the summer, because no one knows what’s really going to happen, we’ve been discussing if gatherings of 50 people or less are allowed, we’ll have what we’re calling a pop-up Shakespeare reading, which would be a reading of a play in the park. That’s not probable but it is something we have discussed,” she said.
In trying to figure out the logistics on holding some events or camp, the theater company is uncertain how it would keep kids six feet away from each other. Some Shakespeare theaters are holding virtual camps, but many of them aren’t as affected by the pandemic.
“We feel that virtual camp after all these months of virtual schooling, would not be ideal. As a parent, I probably wouldn’t sign up my student for a virtual camp. I think they’re bored,” Kelly said.
Since sleepaway and performing arts sleepaway camps are canceled, older kids might be able to participate in a monologue camp or scene work camp that that focuses on acting tools with a Shakespeare thread.
“Normally, we put on an hour-long version of one of the plays. That’s just not possible,” she said.
In the fall, Shakespeare on the Sound will hold its rescheduled “Macbeth” reunion reading, which had originally been scheduled for the end of March. If groups of 50 people or fewer are allowed, the theater group would like to have two viewing of the readings in Rowayton so more people can attend. If large gatherings are not allowed, it might create a filmed version for one night only for a suggested donation.
If regulations allow it, the organization would like to have a few community events such as pop-up play readings or a performance of “R+J Forever,” an interactive play with only Romeo and Juliet in the play. In the winter, it is hoping to have a fundraiser of a staged reading of “A Christmas Carol.”
Kelly spoke about the impact of the pandemic.
“When we canceled our show, we were lucky in that, because of the timing, we hadn’t had to pay anything out yet. We’re going to raise money because our loss of income is staggering,” she said.
Even though the theater company can’t do a show this summer, programming, staff and bringing educational programming to schools has to be paid for.
Kelly added, “We’re trying to figure out how to support our community, also how to remind our community that we feel like we’re a vital part of that summer community. This little enclave in Fairfield County, there’s really nothing like us here. We are also really the only theater in the area that goes into schools and brings educational programming.”
“Specifically, I know that everyone has been struggling financially and people have lost jobs. Things are really bad so we’re not asking for big donations, we’re just asking if you have an extra 10 bucks or five bucks, which is the cost of a daily Starbucks,” she said.
Shakespeare on the Sound’s shows support the local community by bringing in audiences from in and outside of Fairfield County to visit and shop at local businesses.
“If we’ve brought you joy over the past 24 years, please consider a donation of any size because we want to be able to be here for another 25,” Kelly said.
To donate, visit shakespeareonthesound.org.