The early morning rain, falling on my window
Makes me think of you again
I pretend that you're here with me
And tho' it seems like April again
It's not the same
It's not the same…
— Dean Martin
Hello, Huckleberry Friends!
It’s April 2021. Thirteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Nineteen months since a live Honest Pint production graced a stage. Although we have seen you virtually a few times for some Zoom events, it’s just not the same.
It’s just not the same as being together in the room, sharing our humanity, our experience, our thoughts, our fears, our laughs. But with another spring ticking off the calendar, we continue to hold out hope that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel. As we write this letter on Easter Sunday, we feel a sense of hope. Whether the day celebrates Christ’s resurrection or whether it means chocolate bunnies and hiding eggs, it is a day and time to celebrate renewal and rebirth. No, it won’t be the same coming out of this pandemic. We won’t be the same, and we shouldn’t be. Nothing will ever be the same.
That’s an intimidating and perhaps scary thought — to be reborn into something new and unfamiliar. But if we lead with love and faith that we will be better for having gone through this time of change and rebirth, we will not only be ok, we will be stronger, more courageous, more vulnerable, more kind, more open, more supportive, more reflective, more everything.
So stay in this moment, and feel all of your feelings about it. Surrender to the change and trust that even though things will never be the same, they will be ok. Not just ok, they will be GOOD. Maybe even GREAT if we allow them to be.
Hot off the press
WE GOT OUR VACCINES!!!
We are so grateful to be fully vaccinated and for the volunteers, scientists, and leaders that made this possible! The vaccination site was full of people laughing and smiling and we all felt so good knowing we are moving forward as a country. There is light at the end of the tunnel and this is our first step to being back in the room with you. Small but determined steps…
But we also thought you might be interested in hearing about how other, larger regional theaters are adapting and coping one year into the pandemic. Here is an excerpt from American Theatre Magazine:
“Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? With the pandemic necessitating adaptation, flexibility, and, yes, even branching outside of the normal way of producing, two theaters in the Southwest have pushed through the limitations of the pandemic to try something different. In Phoenix, the 101-year-old Phoenix Theatre Company (the sixth oldest regional theatre company in the country) has taken this opportunity to set aside digital productions and instead venture outside to produce for the first time in their history.
“We felt like our subscribers were not terribly interested in virtual experiences,” said producing artistic director Michael Barnard (he/him). “Even though we were doing a number of them during the course of the summer, nothing was really striking a chord at the same level as live.”
Meanwhile, in Dallas, Dallas Theater Center (DTC) has found a surprising amount of hope, despite what could be seen as a recent setback. As The New York Times reported last week, DTC was at the center of an uproar that saw over 2,500 people sign a petition expressing frustrations with Actors Equity Association's reopening plans, guidelines, and purportedly inscrutable decision-making. This came after the plug was unceremoniously pulled on DTC’s production of Tiny Beautiful Things mere days before rehearsals were to begin; the theatre and Equity had reached an impasse on safety protocols, despite a 45-page safety plan from the theatre.”
Just this week, Equity has finally released it’s COVID-19 protocols for re-opening and it is intense!
An abbreviated list of guidelines issued by Actors Equity Association can be found here.
The whole shebang can be found here.
The more you know: Honest Pint has been trying to produce Tiny Beautiful Things for 3 years!
Here’s one more article we loved reading this week. Broadway reopened for 36 minutes last Saturday, to a masked and tested crowd of 150 people seated in theatre with 1,700 seats.
The first small but determined step after 387 days of closure:
April's guest blogger
Friends, we have another guest blogger for you this month.
Many of you know this fierce and determined theatre-maker, Rachel Pottern Nunn. Rachel has been our trusted adviser and helper for a few years now, pitching ideas to us and pitching in whenever possible. She is tireless and full of energy and good will. We love her dearly. She holds BA’s in theatre and English from William Peace University. She has been active in the Triangle area theatre scene since 2015 as a performer, director, designer, and administrator for companies including Bare Theatre, Raleigh Little Theatre, Honest Pint, Women's Theatre Festival, and more. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Arts Leadership at Virginia Tech. We can’t wait to see how she sets the world on fire once that diploma is in hand! Take it away, Rachel!
Rachel Pottern Nunn (she/her)
I wrote this blog post in my head while mowing the lawn. Repetitive work outside is my favorite way to disconnect and lean into the soft focus, drifting thoughts, and aimless mental wandering where I encounter my creativity and best ideas time and again. I’ve been thinking a lot about artists and self-care. The term “self-care” has become somewhat commodified, but I’m thinking instead about self care as seeking resilience. Artists deal in questions. Questions are hard, though, at a time when the call for immediacy, results, and action threatens to obliterate our relationship with productive uncertainty. This is what I mean when I talk about resilience; how can we be resilient enough as artists to engage in hard questions without jumping too quickly to simplistic answers? This has been the task of artists for time immeasurable, but in the age of social media and the cultural expectation of immediate reactions, it takes more courage than ever to say, authentically, “I don’t know. But I’ll try to find out.” These are big themes. Let me zoom back in. Summer 2015. Bare Theatre was doing Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. I was sitting on a rehearsal room floor holding my maimed sister in my lap and crying so hard snot was running into my mouth. My director crouched beside me. She didn’t say anything, but let me choke my way through my lines, her hand just lightly resting on my shoulder--not distracting, but giving me that one point of contact that grounded me, saying hey, this is pretend. You’re safe. In March 2020 I learned that that strength didn’t need to come in the form of a physical hand on my shoulder. I collaborated with the Women’s Theatre Festival on a show that was planned for stage, but quickly pivoted to virtual. Following in-person casting, my co-director and I never worked together in person, and yet there were countless times when she or another of our collaborators laid a virtual hand on my shoulder. Hey. I’m here. You can safely go to these unscripted places because I’ve got your back. I’ve always found resilience as a theatremaker in the partnership of my collaborators. Honest Pint let me come on a very unscripted journey with them in the summer of 2018. My formal training and experience had mostly been in acting, directing, and design, but I was feeling a pull towards arts administration. I came to them and said, hey, I love the work you’re doing. I don’t know much, but I want to learn, and I want to help. Susannah and David said cool, let’s make this up together. Isn’t that what theatremaking is at the end of the day? “Let’s make this up together”? One night I joined Susannah in the back of a dark theatre during a dress rehearsal that had been fraught with complications. “I don’t know how this is going to turn out,” she confided. I said nothing for a moment. We sat in silence. “I bet it will turn out better than you think,” I said finally. Sometimes solutions aren’t necessary. Sometimes what we need as artists is someone to sit in the dark with. My entire approach to theatre work has been shaped by the generosity, patience, and ability to sit with uncertainty that characterizes our local Raleigh-area theatre scene. Time and again I have seen abundance as a guiding value in how we treat each other. Of course we all have our moments; we’re humans. Humans trying to do a very hard, very vulnerable thing with very few resources. But when we’re generous with each other we increase our capacity to ask better questions. Harder questions. Questions that take us to unscripted places. Because we know we don’t have to go there alone. Adrienne Maree Brown, a Black feminist thinker I have been turning to a lot in recent months uses nature metaphors to describe resilience: “oak trees don’t set an intention to listen to each other better, or agree to hold tight to each other when the next storm comes. under the earth always they reach for each other, they grow such that their roots are intertwined & create a system of strength which is as resilient on a sunny day as it is in a hurricane.” Of course I immediately thought of our City of Oaks. Hands on shoulders; roots underground. We can not only withstand hurricanes but lean into them with confidence, because we are not alone. There’s a tree in my front yard where I live now in Blacksburg, Virginia. It would be too poetic if it were an oak--alas, it’s a red maple. I mowed carefully around its roots this afternoon. Our world needs action, now more than ever. The demands--and that word “demand” is intentional and useful--we are called to respond to are important and urgent, both within the theatre industry and without. Racism, inequality, environmental concerns, and more are issues too long unaddressed. But they are not tasks to be neatly checked off a list. To do the good work, the productive and necessarily complex work that 2021 demands of us, we need to commit to the long haul. To the uncertainty. To the unscripted places. And we need all the resilience of our fellow oak trees in the journey ahead.
Rachel’s words hit us right in the heart.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand more than ever that this art form, like everything in life, only succeeds when we have our roots in the ground and our hands on each other’s shoulders. What a beautiful image this is. By supporting each other, we emerge renewed and resilient and more prepared to make this up TOGETHER.
Thank you so much, Rachel for your beautiful words.
And we continue our work on the Untitled Kafka Project. Playwright Tamara Kissane continues her writing and edits, and we are so excited about what she is cooking up! We know you will be, too!
Meanwhile, many of you sent us your stories and photos of treasured dolls and toys from your childhoods. We are so thankful! THERE IS STILL TIME AND ROOM FOR MORE!
We want as many as we can get. Maybe your kids currently have a special best friend and they would like to share that with us. Tell us about it! You don’t have to be a writer to write something valuable for this project. Or maybe you just want to send in a photo, that’s ok, too. We will be creating a community component of this project and we want YOU to be a part of it. Please email your writings and photos to: email@example.com
One last thing before we go: We have relaunched our Patreon page after almost a year of being dormant due to the pandemic. We are now producing this new work (the Kafka Project) and it needs funding. Your monthly gifts allow us to plan for the future and sustain the company. Your dollars go directly to paying artists a stipend and to production costs. There is zero fat on the bones of this company, so trust you are helping people who have been financially impacted severely in the past year and will come together to create a new community-centered piece of theatre. You can access our Patreon page here. If you prefer to give a one-time donation via a credit card, that’d be swell, too. There is a link on our website where you can use PayPal or your credit card. You can go there now by clicking here.
Thank you so much for your continuing support and for keeping the faith in us as we wake up from our long sleep and resurrect the company. We will have changed and grown, and we won’t be the same. But that is exciting to us! The world can be better than it was before if we make it that way.
We cannot wait to become serial huggers and to be in a theatre with you again! Stay safe, stay vigilant. Wear your mask and remain socially distant when in public. And please get that vaccine as soon as you can. It’s SO worth it!
DRINK DEEP! 🍺
— Susannah and David