July 9, 2020
I write with great news regarding our future together.
I begin with a most sincere wish that you are well and with wishes for the good health and safety of those you love. We here at Stages continue onward in conviction to do meaningful work that connects to you and builds up our community. We know that art heals, uplifts and transforms us and we are more dedicated than ever to making sure that stories can reach you and support you.
This challenging time has provided Stages an extraordinary opportunity to expand our tools for expression and innovate for our future. We've realigned our season to be flexible, responsive, and responsible with a program that offers more of what our audiences love hosting a range of events and productions that can be experienced in person, in alternative venues, and through on-line platforms. As one of our most loyal patrons, you have stood with us as we've adapted to this new reality and I’m thrilled to share our 2020-2021 Season plan with you.
We’ll kick off July 20—the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing—with a radio-style broadcast of the brand new play Pieces of the Moon in co-production with the remarkable One Year Lease Theater Company. We’ll follow up with our first-ever ZOOM-captured performance: Sensitive Guys, M.J. Kaufman’s powerful drama about gender identity and rape culture on a college campus. We’ve also created a bonus “making of” Sensitive Guys documentary, which reveals the artistic challenges we encountered in moving the play from the stage to an online medium.
In the fall we continue with our second ZOOM-captured performance as the radiant Sally Edmundson stars in Rebecca Gilman’s A Woman of the World. October will bring the re-opening of Honky Tonk Laundry and for the holiday season, we’ll welcome fan favorites Ben Hope and Katie Barton (Ring of Fire, Hank Williams: Lost Highway) in a world premiere country celebration of their own devising—Holiday at the Hope’s. Our Panto this year will be re-imagined to consider our pandemic reality with the all-new Buttons’ Sleeping Beauty: A One-Man Outrageous Unbelievable COVID Lockdown Panto! Goodness only knows what a one-person Panto looks like but we are going to dare to find out!
Our Winter/Spring season brings some exciting additions to our previous schedule. While we won’t be able to produce Nashville Jukebox Live! (but we’ll still have Ben and Katie at the holidays!), we will offer the astoundingly beautiful musical Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, which imagines one of Billie Holiday’s final performances. The world premiere of MacGyver the Musical is now moved into the late spring of 2021. A Giant Void in My Soul: A Play for Fools, Black Super Hero Magic Mama, Cost of Living, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and a visit from Denise Fennell as Sister round out our thrilling season.
Our plan is bold and aspirational. It is designed for maximum flexibility and moves from smaller, socially distanced programs to a full return of audiences to the Gordy by spring of 2021. We acknowledge the uncertainty that continues to exist in the world, but we are moving forward in hope. We are artists and dreamers; hope is our domain! We can promise this—WE WILL NOT STOP IN OUR EFFORT TO CONNECT YOU TO THE ART THAT YOU LOVE!
From the start, Stages’ approach for navigating this pandemic has been slow and steady. We have worked with our stakeholders to strengthen our collective resolve to face the unknown. And we have brought forward plans based first and foremost on the health and safety of artists, audiences and staff. We’ve been flexible along the way, facing obstacles together—with you, our dear patrons. And we will continue to do so. This is a strange turn in our human journey, one that we will reflect upon and grow from for years to come. And art will go on.
We know that you’ll have questions about the details. Click here for more information regarding Stages Subscriber's next steps. And as always, our patron services team is standing by to assist you and will be in touch with ticket-holders in the coming days.
I invite you now—and always — to venture with us as we work, to make a stronger Houston filled with the voices and stories of all people.
Until the much-longed-for day when we are together again in the theater, I wish you much peace,
June 10, 2020
Dearest Stages family,
Since our first performance cancellations in March, we have been working to realign our organization and our resources as we adapt to the changing world. We have been deep in planning for the 2020-2021 Season, endeavoring to craft programming that will allow us to be adaptable and flexible over the coming year.
At this moment, we know that we do not expect to be producing theater in the “traditional” sense - with actors, musicians, and crew on and off stage, and audiences filling the seats in our three new spaces - until this fall. We are working on a calendar that protects each of the productions previously planned for this summer: Honky Tonk Laundry will resume in the fall, MacGyver The Musical will move to spring 2021, and Hook’s Tale will follow next summer.
We believe that Stages has the capacity to be a leader in presenting performing arts experiences for Houstonians in the months ahead. We are focused on innovative and creative ways to bring audiences and artists together in this time of social distancing. There are many artistic projects in development in ways we never could have imagined 90 days ago!
We are taking steps to get our work moving forward in a safe and responsible way. We are excited to share updates with you in the weeks ahead.
We cannot wait to be together again at The Gordy and are figuring out everything we need to do to make that possible as soon as we can!
Monday, May 4, 2020
This has been a tough time for so many in our community. We hope you and your families are well and adapting to our ever-changing world.
Like many of you, we at Stages have had to make challenging decisions in recent weeks. For us that has included canceling productions that have a real impact on our artists, audiences and staff.
We’re so grateful for your encouragement and support! Thank you to all of you who have reached out to see how we are and share your own stories.
An overwhelming majority of audiences have donated the value of their tickets for canceled performances back to Stages. Thank you for this investment! This is helping ensure we will be able to start work together again as soon as it is safe for us to do so.
Our number one priority through this time has been the health and safety of our Stages family. This remains true today and will continue to guide us in the weeks and months ahead.
In March, following the CDC guidance limiting public assembly of groups of 50 or more through mid-May, we canceled performances through May 17. At the time, we understood we might need to extend this hiatus, but did not feel we had enough information to make a definitive choice.
Today, we know the moment for us to gather again is still further off. Unlike movie theaters, live performance venues are NOT included in the current list of re-opened businesses in Texas, and we will continue to follow guidance from our public officials and our community.
With this in mind, we will not resume performances before July 2020. We have been working diligently through scenario planning and devising a production calendar that endeavors to create new performance dates for all currently scheduled productions.
We have the aspirational hope that we may be able to join together again in the months ahead. Rather than announcing new dates today and having to make another change forward, we are asking for your partnership and patience as this pandemic continues to evolve.
Because of our size, staff infrastructure, and producing model that focuses on Houston-based artists, we have the ability to act quickly when the time comes to assemble again. This flexibility will allow us to be responsive to the ever-changing needs of our community.
If you currently have tickets for a May or June performance, we will be in touch when the performance has been rescheduled.
We’ve also put together a task force to help us think about how to create the safest possible environment for our audiences, artists and staff as we begin to gather again. This task force will consider counsel and guidelines from state and local government, best practices developed for a range of business sectors, and guidelines from the professional union Actor’s Equity.
Our goal is to make The Gordy as safe an environment as we possibly can so you can focus fully on the art when you return.
We are thinking about you and sending love from our family to yours! We can’t wait to be reunited at The Gordy again when our community is ready.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Dear Stages patrons,
Like you, we have been closely following the spread of COVID-19. As the global impact continues to grow, Stages stands with Houston and our community, and is taking clear steps to slow the spread of the virus in accordance with the latest local and CDC guidance regarding gatherings of more than 50 people through mid-May.
To best support your health and safety, along with that of our artists and staff, we are acting quickly to make the following adjustments to our performance schedule through September 2020:
Honky Tonk Laundry - Performances are canceled March 12 - May 17. Performances currently are expected to resume May 20 and will run through July 26, 2020.
Sensitive Guys - Performances are rescheduled to June 10 - 21, 2020.
Hook's Tale - Performances are rescheduled to July 10 - August 2, 2020.
MacGyver The Musical - Performances are rescheduled to August 7 - September 20, 2020.
The previously announced productions of Circle Mirror Transformation , Airness and Pieces of the Moon have been canceled.
We are taking steps to protect and share the remarkable stories that were already in rehearsal or performance and that our artists have put so much time and energy into - Honky Tonk Laundry , Sensitive Guys and Hook's Tale - by rescheduling them and canceling future productions instead.
For productions that have been postponed, we’ll be sending tickets by mail for new performance dates based on the schedule above. For canceled productions, we will be issuing ticket vouchers. These will be mailed directly to you and will include an option to turn back tickets as a tax-deductible donation, if preferred. Our goal is to get these packages in the mail to you in the coming 7-10 days. You may contact Patron Services at 713.527.0123 or email@example.com with any questions.
Many of you have asked about how Stages is faring during this turmoil, and we are profoundly moved by your care and concern. These schedule changes represent 151 canceled performances across two seasons and 102 artist contracts that will be canceled or postponed. At this time, we are projecting the immediate ticket-related revenue losses for Stages to be in excess of $643,000.
We will continue to be strong financial stewards of the investments so many of you have made in Stages. In the weeks and months ahead, we'll remain focused on sustainability so that we can continue our growth in the future. Your support can have an immediate impact on this goal.
In this rapidly evolving situation, Stages will continue to monitor guidance from the CDC, along with our local and state public health authorities, to make any additional schedule adjustments moving forward. At this time, Stages' administrative functions are continuing to operate with adjustments put in place to minimize activity in our building and allow for remote work by staff.
On behalf of our Board, staff and artists, we are so deeply grateful for the extraordinary generosity, resilience and support of our Houston community - especially YOU, our loyal patrons.
This is a powerful moment with the people of our world facing so much that is unknown. As theater artists, the very essence of our art form - the gathering of a community - is not possible for now. In the midst of so much uncertainty, there is one thing that we know is true - we can make it through this challenge. And we will be stronger for the effort.
We have been #HoustonStrong through 9/11, through Allison and Ike, from the crisis of 2008 to Hurricane Harvey, and we have stood tall every time. In fact, each time we have emerged more unified, more compassionate and closer as a community. We will be #HoustonStrong again and we look forward to great productions in our future together.
Kenn McLaughlin and Mark Folkes